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An Ancient Revolution: The Written Word PDF Version
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Prayer book for the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur with religious girdle poems written by Judah ha- Levi (1075-1141) and Moses ibn Ezra (1055-1138). Manscript from Catalonia, ca 1280. (Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem)
This lesson plan allows students to appreciate how writing transformed society and to explore the ways that ancient texts, notably the Hebrew Bible, both reflect and influence a society's beliefs.

In the same way that the Neolithic revolution in agriculture pushed society forward through the use of tools and farming, writing altered the economic, social, and political sectors of ancient civilizations. Students will see how writing enabled a more sophisticated society to evolve.

Students will examine the Bible - one of the earliest written sources - as a compilation of narratives, some historical and others reflections of folklore passed down through generations. They will address such questions as: When was the Bible written? Can we distinguish fact from fable? Students will search the resources on the HERITAGE DVD-ROM for historical "proof" as well as create their own stories and scripts based on ancient events.

Students will also examine ancient texts from different civilizations, make conjectures as to their historical accuracy, and compare texts from polytheistic societies with those of a monotheistic culture. They will consider how written communication contributes to spiritual life, and whether the modern day "information/technology revolution" may have the same impact that the introduction of writing had in its time.

Students will learn about the development of writing and its impact on the ancient world, particularly as it allowed people to record history in permanent, written form. Students will also study the Bible as a historical text and examine the concept of worshipping one god as compared with the practice of most ancient Near Eastern societies, which were polytheistic.

Students will:
1. appreciate the way in which the development of writing influenced the evolution of civilizations;
2. study selections of the Bible as primary source material;
3. create their own writing system;
4. utilize various research methods to compare events recorded in the Bible with events recorded in non-biblical texts;
5. use their knowledge of the ancient Near East to write their own ancient text.

Subjects Covered:
Biblical History, Ancient Civilization, World History, World Religions

Suggested Time Frame:
This entire Lesson Plan can be completed in approximately seven 45-minute sessions (Learning Activity 1, Session 3 may require additional time). Individual learning activities break down as follows:
The Impact of Writing on Society (3-4 sessions)
The Essence of Judaism: Monotheism and the Bible (2 sessions)
Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Texts (2 sessions)

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