Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Undergraduate Class Produces Podcast Series on the Hebrew Bible


Last semester, twenty-six Emory undergraduates employed modern scholarly approaches to explore ancient religious texts in JS 205: Hebrew Bible and its World(s), a course taught by Timothy McNinch, an advanced PhD student in the Graduate Division of Religion. McNinch created a comfortable atmosphere for students from a range of religious backgrounds to delve deeply into the Biblical text, exploring its history, content, and impact. Toward the end of the semester, students used their insights to create a podcast series, which they produced together as a class.

In guiding his class through the narratives, poems, laws, and prophecies that make up the Hebrew Bible, McNinch wanted to leverage the familiarity some students have with these texts, while also exposing them to new perspectives. To accomplish this goal, he designed the course around what he calls the “different worlds” of the Hebrew Bible: the historical world, the literary world, and the “world in front of the text.” Exploring the historical world provided an understanding of the cultural and geopolitical circumstances that gave rise to the texts of the Hebrew Bible and informed their religious worldview.  In focusing on the literary world, students familiarized themselves with the rhetorical tools different authors used in the Hebrew Bible and, in light of the genre, interpreted the rhetorical aims of the different authors.  Finally, students moved beyond the historical and literary contexts in which the Hebrew Bible was created to consider the “world in front of the text”—the impact the Hebrew Bible has had in different periods and settings throughout the ages. 

Reflecting Emory’s diverse student body, students came to the class with differing views and differing levels of knowledge about the Hebrew Bible, including many with no previous exposure to the text. According to one student, Julia Aaronson 25C, she and her classmates felt welcome to share their thoughts and were able to learn from one another. “Professor McNinch fostered great classroom discussions,” she noted, “and consistently kept an open mind to everybody's ideas.”

As a way of tying all the course material together, students worked in teams to create a series of podcasts, which took deeper dives into particular texts from the Book of Genesis. Over the course of the semester, each team, with assistance from McNinch, recorded their own conversations exploring the different “worlds” of their selected text. Each episode served as a springboard for a class discussion, and the students learned by teaching as the different teams lead the class in conversation about their work.  (To listen to one of the podcasts, see the link at the bottom of this page).

Prior to his graduate studies at Emory, where he is completing a dissertation on the composition history of the “Ark Narrative” in the Book of Samuel, McNinch served in professional ministry for over a decade, studied abroad in Israel and China, and earned a M.Div. degree from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, an institution he chose, in part, to gain insight from feminist pioneers and scholars of color with particular interests in Black Church Studies and Postcolonial Studies. This fall, McNinch will be joining the faculty of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana as Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible.

Published 7/7/22