I saw the latter hour and a half of a two hour Nova tonight on PBS, called “The Bible’s Buried Secrets.” In seminary terms, it would be Hebrew Bible survey; indeed, I could see this being popular for seminarians, or those beginning an in-depth study but without access to formal lessons.
The Nova hook is the new archaeology that contends that the Israelites, rather than invading and conquering the Caananites, were marginal members of Caananite society that organized a new simpler and more egalitarian culture in the hill country. There, they might have been joined by a small number of actual escaped slaves from Egypt and others to make “the motley crew.” Interesting stuff.
Once conceit of the documentary is asking when the Israelites became monotheists, which is later than most members of the decending traditions would like to admit, so there’s some appeal for neo-Pagans — well, up to the point when the other deities disappear.
A short spell of violence — a real contemporary Samaritan animal sacrifice, to depict Temple worship — but otherwise appropriate for a wide range of ages, and would be a good place — with its accompanying Web site — for secular people or religious people who admit a historical-critical approach to study the formation of Israel and the Torah. (Note: for sensitive souls, should it matter to you, the Tetragrammaton/God’s personal name is spelled out and pronounced.)
Indeed, I think I’m going to go back and read Nehemiah, recalling God’s wonderous acts . . . .