JHIS 1201 - L Classical Jewish History
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This course will survey the history of the Jews during the Diaspora, Second Temple and Rabbinic periods (600BCE-600CE). This period is witness to the development of many aspects of Judaism as we know it today, such as, the holidays of Purim and Hanukkah, the fast days, the canonization of Tanakh, the publication of the Mishnah and Talmud, and the rise of the Rabbis. But this period is also interesting for the variety of forms of Judaism and groups of Jews that did not gain hegemony: Samaritans, Hellenists, Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Dead Sea sect, among others. Each of these groups had to respond to and a find a way to survive two destructions and exiles, many wars and revolts, strong influences from foreign cultures, and internal strife while at the same time remaining committed to monotheism and the Biblical tradition. Not all of these groups were successful; we will try to figure out why. The relevance of this material for understanding our own identities and for evaluating the current state of Judaism and its future prospects will become obvious. In addition to these themes and questions, class discussion will focus on historical analysis and critical evaluation of primary sources. We will learn to think and write like historians. By identifying all relevant literary and archaeological sources, recognizing the interpretive difficulties presented by these sources, and evaluating the methodological issues confronting the modern historian, we will be able to formulate not only what we know, but also how we know it, how sure we are of it, and what gaps are there in the historical record. As with everything in life, you’ll only get as much from this course as you put into it, so let’s dig in!
HIdary, Richard J. (2021, Fall), Syllabus, JHIS 1201 - L Classical Jewish History, Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.
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