Free Hebrew Bible Course with Shaye Cohen

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2015.—Ed.

Learn about the Hebrew Bible in a free course of 25 video lectures by Shaye Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University. This course, which you can start and stop any time, surveys the major books and ideas of the Hebrew Bible (also called the Old Testament), examining the historical context in which the texts emerged and were redacted.

A major subtext of this free Hebrew Bible course is the distinction between how the Bible was read by ancient interpreters (whose interpretations became the basis for many iconic literary and artistic works of Western Civilization) and how it is approached by modern Bible scholarship. James Kugel, former Harvard professor and author of the course’s textbook, contends that these ways of reading the Bible are mutually exclusive. Professor Shaye Cohen respectfully disagrees.

The course syllabus is your primary road map; it contains general information about the course and lists the topics covered and assigned readings for each of the 25 lectures. Video recordings of each lecture can be viewed alongside Professor Cohen’s lecture notes. A series of timelines is available to illustrate aspects of the course which unfold over time.

Click here to start the free Hebrew Bible course!

Sample the course by watching Professor Shaye Cohen’s first lecture:


Click here to check out Professor Shaye Cohen’s free Hebrew Bible course!


This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on February 25, 2015.

In the free eBook Exploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s earliest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Defining Biblical Hermeneutics

Who Are the Nephilim?

The Man Moses by Peter Machinist

Searching for Biblical Mt. Sinai

Did I Find King David’s Palace? by Eilat Mazar


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  • Richard says

    Please enroll me in your free Hebrew Bible course.

  • MALINDA says


  • Margaret says

    Thank you so very much for posting Dr. Cohen’s series of lectures. I have listened carefully to each one and am studying the lecture notes. Dr. Cohen does an excellent job of examining the varying viewpoints of traditionalists and modern biblical scholars. I am writing a book of historical fiction about various women in the Hebrew and Christian bibles and I now have a much deeper understanding of biblical history and context. Thank you for offering intelligent and provocative insights that are understandable to those of us who are trained in fields other than biblical history and archaeology.

  • youngkyu says

    thank you

  • ndu says

    I just got to now of the free Bible Course. As one engaged in ministry work, I am interested in it. It is my hope that i will be better informed at the end of the course. At the end of the course will there be a certificate issued? Thank you.

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