Free Hebrew Bible Course with Shaye Cohen

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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  • Edward says

    Is there a lecture on book of ester/?

  • Harold says

    A purely academic question: when people like Simcha Jacobovici (Debunking “Exodus Decoded”) or Timothy Mahoney (Patterns of Evidence – The Exodus) publish their findings with “new evidence” of the biblical account, how are these factored in? These are very convincing publications that need to be professionally addressed to validate or reject their veracity. Otherwise scholars and academics will never gain full recognition or credibility of their work.

  • David says

    Seems that Dr Cohen is intent on destroying the authority of Scripture here. I am not in any sense an Hebrew scholar and am not of the academic eminence of either Dr Cohen or the author to whom he refers throughout these notes, named Krugel. I suspect that both Cohen and Krugel come to this task lacking the faith without which it is impossible to please God; deliberately misrepresenting certain issues within Scripture from an unduly sceptical standpoint, ignoring other scholarship; and overall giving me the impression that “MBS” defined as Modern Biblical Scholarship is in itself a cynical in-joke.

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