Products>Mobile Ed: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament (5 hour course - audio)

Mobile Ed: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament (5 hour course - audio)



In this course, ancient language expert Dr. Michael Heiser gives a thorough background of the Hebrew Bible’s writing, composition, canonicity, and transmission through the ages. This course also surveys text criticism—what are Hebrew scholars today doing with these ancient manuscripts? How does their work affect English translations of the Bible? By understanding criticism, your personal Bible study will be richer, even with little knowledge of the Hebrew language.

This is the audio only version of OT281 How We Got the Old Testament. To purchase the full course, click here.

Course Outline


  • Introducing the Speaker
  • Introducing the Course

Unit 1: Preliminary Issues

  • The Term “Old Testament”
  • The Scope of the Old Testament
  • The Number of Old Testament Books
  • The Order and Structure of Old Testament Books
  • Titles of Old Testament Books
  • The Authority of the Old Testament
  • A Roadmap for the Course

Unit 2: Inspiration

  • Two Sides to Inspiration
  • A Flawed Conception of Inspiration
  • A Coherent Conception of Inspiration
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Ezekiel
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: The Synoptic Gospels
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Borrowed Material
  • Searching Ancient Near Eastern Literature for Old Testament References
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Changing Laws
  • Summary of Inspiration

Unit 3: Scripts and Writing

  • Summary and Preview
  • The Development of Writing
  • Scripts
  • Early Alphabets
  • The Semitic Alphabet
  • Writing Materials
  • Writing Instruments
  • Searching Images for Information on Ancient Writing

Unit 4: The Process of Composition

  • Preview of the Composition Process
  • Oral Tradition
  • Literary Techniques
  • Known Sources
  • Lost Sources
  • Speculative Sources
  • Original Material
  • Collecting Material
  • Editing
  • Inspiration as a Process
  • Inspiration and Inerrancy

Unit 5: Canon and Canonicity

  • The Concept of Canon
  • Complicating Factors for the Canon
  • The Canon through History

Unit 6: Early Transmission of the Hebrew Bible

  • Manuscript Evidence Prior to 1947
  • The Aleppo Codex
  • The Leningrad Codex
  • Exploring the Leningrad Codex
  • The Cairo Genizah
  • Summary of Manuscript Evidence Prior to 1947
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Textual Evidence from Qumran
  • The Hebrew Bible in the Exile
  • The Old Testament from 586–400 BC
  • A Book in Transition
  • The Old Testament from 400 BC to AD 100
  • The Rise of a Scribal Class
  • The Rise of Multiple Textual Traditions
  • The Local Texts Theory
  • The Masoretic Text in the Local Text Theory
  • The Surviving Texts Theory
  • Scribal Practices at Qumran, Part 1
  • Scribal Practices at Qumran, Part 2
  • Viewing Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls in Logos and Online

Unit 7: A Period of Ancient Translations

  • The Septuagint
  • Comparing the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible
  • Aramaic Targums
  • Later Translations
  • Creating a Layout of Ancient Translations

Unit 8: The Hebrew Bible from AD 100–1000

  • The Importance of AD 100
  • The Role of the Scribes
  • Scribal Innovations
  • Marking Problems in the Text
  • The Masorah
  • Viewing and Searching for Ketiv-Qere Readings
  • Vocalization System
  • Variation in the Masoretic Tradition
  • Important Manuscripts

Unit 9: The Hebrew Bible since AD 1000

  • Transition to Modern Editions
  • Pre-Reformational Editions of the Old Testament
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 1500s
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 18th and 19th Centuries
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 20th Century
  • Editions of the Old Testament in the 21st Century

Unit 10: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: Overview

  • Preview of the Process
  • Determining Variants
  • Gathering Evidence: The Specialist
  • Gathering Evidence: The Non-Specialist
  • Examining Textual Variants with the NET Bible
  • Evaluating Evidence

Unit 11: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: Variant Types

  • Unintentional Variants: Letter Confusion
  • Unintentional Variants: Word Division
  • Unintentional Variants: Vowel Pointing
  • Unintentional Variants: Eye Skipping
  • Unintentional Variants: Haplography
  • Unintentional Variants: Dittography
  • Unintentional Variants: Graphic Transposition
  • Unintentional Variants: Faulty Hearing
  • Intentional Variants

Unit 12: Principles for Evaluating Variants

  • Determining the Best Reading
  • Internal Considerations
  • External Considerations
  • Using Favorites to Collect Key Resources on Textual Criticism
  • An Example
  • Studying a Text Critical Problem in Isaiah 8:11
  • Revisiting Inspiration and Inerrancy

Unit 13: The Hebrew Bible and English Translations

  • English Translations
  • Evaluating English Translations


  • Summary of the Course

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Michael S. Heiser

Dr. Michael S. Heiser was a former Scholar-in-Residence for Faithlife Corporation, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He then served as the Executive Director of the Awakening School of Theology and Ministry. His varied academic background enabled him to operate in the realm of critical scholarship and the wider Christian community. His experience in teaching at the undergraduate level and writing for the layperson both directly contributed to Logos’ goal of adapting scholarly tools for nonspecialists.

Dr. Heiser earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and holds an MA in ancient history and Hebrew studies. He was the coeditor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations, and he was able to do translation work in roughly a dozen ancient languages, including Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Ugaritic cuneiform. He specialized in Israelite religion (especially Israel’s divine council), contextualizing biblical theology with Israelite and ancient Near Eastern religion, Jewish binitarianism, biblical languages, ancient Semitic languages, textual criticism, comparative philology, and Second Temple period Jewish literature. In 2007 he was named the Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.


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