Sacred History I: The Old Testament

Adults (over 18 years of age)

Course page opens on June 21

Classes: June 28-September 1, 2021

6:00-7:30PM (eastern) M/W

Price: $400US


This course is a survey of the sacred history of the Old Testament from Adam to the Theotokos and St. John the Forerunner. The two course objectives of the course are a) to help catechists come to an understanding of sacred history and b) to introduce catechists to pedagogical approaches to sacred history.

What is sacred history? It is the mystery of God’s providence, judgment, and love guiding the course of history while preserving man’s free will inviolate. It is also the history of Adam’s fall and God’s economy to save him from death, corruption, and sin. Finally, sacred history is the
account of the preparation (Old Testament) and realization (New Testament) of the Word of God’s incarnation: His entry into history as the Son of God and the Son of Man.

The method of this course will be hagiographical. We shall survey the sacred history of the Old Testament through the lives of the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Church of the Old Testament. The course will focus on the deeds and teachings of the great saints of the sacred history of the Old Testament. Through the lives of the Old Testament holy men, we will be introduced to what the Church of the New Testament—that is, the Holy Apostles and Fathers––teaches about the sacred history of the Old Testament. We will draw from Patristic commentary, hymnography, and liturgy.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able:

• To identify the deeds and teachings of the holy Patriarchs and Prophets of the sacred history of the Old Testament from Adam to the Theotokos and the Holy Forerunner;
• To explain how the deeds and teachings of the holy Patriarchs and Prophets proclaim the coming, mission, and identity of Christ; and
• To understand how the Church approaches sacred history.


    These are the readings for this course. The Principle Readings are required readings. The Recommended Readings are for further reading. They may be cited in assignments and are, therefore, provided here for bibliographical purposes.

    3.1 Principle Readings (to purchase):
    • Lexham. 2019. The Lexham English Septuagint. Bellingham: Lexham Press.
    • St. Gregory of Nyssa. 1978. The Life of Moses. Trans. by Abraham Malherbe et al. Mahwah: Paulist Press.

    • St. Maximus the Confessor. 2012. The Life of the Virgin Mary. Trans. by Stephen J. Shoemaker. New Haven: Yale University Press.
    • Pomazanky, Michael. 1992. The Old Testament in the New Testament Church. Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery Press.
    • Thornton, James. 2010. Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy: Sermons on the Lives and Works of the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament. Etna: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies.

    3.2 Principle Readings (to be provided):
    • Pseudo-James. 1924. “Protoevangelium of James”. In The Apocryphal New Testament. Ed. and trans. by M.R. James. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    • Rose, Seraphim. 2011. “An Orthodox Patristic Commentary on Genesis.” In Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision. Ed. by Damascene Christensen, 105-369. Platina: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.

    4.0 Assignments

    In addition to attending the weekly lectures, students will be assigned the following:
    • Readings. Each week there are assigned readings. Students are to prepare by completing the week’s readings before the week’s seminar. Each unit has a list of “Further Readings”. These readings are optional. However, they may be cited in assignments.
    • Attendance of Lectures. Each week there will be two lectures. Lectures will be conducted via Zoom at the scheduled day/time. Attendance at lectures is essential. Each absence will result in the loss of points. The purpose of the lecture is to provide an interpretation and synthesis
    of the week’s readings. It is the responsibility of each student to prepare for lecture by completing the readings.
    • Unit Essays. A 1000-word unit essay for three of the four course units.

    Schedule of Readings

    Week 1 (June 21-23): Introduction to the Old Testament and the Septuagint
    To read: [1] Pomazansky 1992, 3-40; [2] The Letter of Aristeas; [3] Lexham, ix-xvii.
    Week 2 (June 28-30): Genesis
    To read: [1] Rose 2011, 105-252
    See also: [2] Genesis 1-5
    Week 3 (July 5-7): Adam to Noah
    To read: [1] Rose 2011, 253-369
    See also: [2] Genesis 5-10
    Week 4 (July 12-14): The Patriarchs and Job
    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 13-42
    See also: [2] Genesis 11-50; [3] Book of Job
    Week 5 (July 19-21): Moses, the Law, and the Ritual
    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 43-48
    See also: [2] Exodus 19-31; 35-40; [3] Leviticus 1-27; [4] St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.

    Week 6 (July 26-28): Joshua to Jonas

    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 49-81
    See also: [2] Joshua 1-24; [3] Samuel: 1 Kingdoms 1-25; [4] David: 2 Kingdoms 1 to 3 Kingdoms
    2; [5] Solomon: 3 Kingdoms 3-11; [6] Joel 1-3; [7] Jonah 1-4
    Week 7 (Aug. 2-4): Elias to Esaias
    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 82-113
    See also: [2] Elias: 3 Kingdoms 17 to 4 Kingdoms 2; [3] Elisseus: 4 Kingdoms 2-13; [4] Amos 1-9;
    [5] Hosea 1-14; [6] Isaiah 1-66
    Week 8 (Aug. 9-11): Michaias to Abbakoum
    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 114-146
    See also: [2] Micah 1-7; [3] Nahum 1-3; [4] Jeremiah 1-52; [5] Baruch 1-5; [6] Zephaniah 1-3
    Week 9 (Aug. 16-18): Ezekiel to Neemias
    To read: [1] Thornton 2010, 147-184
    See also: [1] Ezekiel 1-48; [2] Daniel 1-12 (Septuagint text: Lexham, 1267-1292)/Daniel 1-12
    (Theodotion text: Lexham, 1457-1480; [3] Haggai 1-2; [4] Zachariah 1-14; [5] Malachi 1-3; [6] A
    Esdras 1-10; [7] B Esdras 1-13
    Week 10 (Aug. 23-25): The Theotokos and John the Baptist
    To read: [1] St. Maximus, Life of the Virgin, 1-91; [2] Thornton 2010, 185-191
    See also: [3] Theotokos: Protoevangelion of James, 1-24; [4] Forerunner: Matthew 1-2; Luke 1; [5]
    Mark 1, 6; Matthew 3, 11, 14; Luke 1, 3, 7; John 1, 3

    Fr. Dcn. Leonidas Pittos, Ph.D.

    Fr. Leonidas Pittos studied history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He earned a PhD in Byzantine History at the University of Chicago and is currently the Associate Chair of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at Wayne State University, where he also holds a senior lectureship in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies since 2008. In 2020, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius of America. He is attached to St. Irene of Chrysovalantou Parish in Rochester Hills, MI, and also assists at St. John the Forerunner Parish Willow Springs, IL. Fr. Leonidas serves the director of the Catechist Formation Program of the St. John of Damascus Orthodox Educational Initiative.