Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Judaism: Past and Present

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Oriental Studies

DESCRIPTION The cultural and historical impact of Judaism can hardly be overestimated. Yet, there remain several misconceptions and misunderstandings on what Judaism is and what it means to be Jewish. This study-unit offers an introduction to Judaism from antiquity till modern times. The plural, complex, and dynamic character of Judaism will be explored through select themes which highlight differences between ancient and modern practices and beliefs as well as the persistent dialectic between a core "Judaism" and its many permutations.

Study-unit Aims:

The aims of this study-unit are:
1. to offer an introduction to Judaism;
2. to explore key Jewish texts, practices, and beliefs;
3. to highlight salient features which have characterized Judaism and Jewish communities from antiquity till modern times;
4. to discuss the complex issue of Jewish identity.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. appraise the nature of Judaism;
2. identify, describe, and discuss key Jewish texts, practices, and beliefs;
3. compare and contrast different variants of Judaism from both a synchronic and diachronic perspective.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. demonstrate knowledge of other cultures;
2. develop an interdisciplinary sensibility;
3. critically engage with textual, historical, and archaeological sources;
4. formulate and debate complex arguments.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Biale, David, ed. Cultures of the Jews: A New History. New York: Random House, 2002.
- Cohen, Shaye J. D. The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
- Goodman, Martin. A History of Judaism. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2018.
- Goodman, Martin, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Hahn Tapper, Aaron J. Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016.
- Hayes, Christine, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Judaism and Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
- Jacobs, Steven L. The Jewish Experience: An Introduction to Jewish History and Jewish Life. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010.
- Koltun-Fromm, Naomi and Gwynn Kessler, eds. A Companion to Jews and Judaism in the Late Ancient World: 3rd Century BCE - 7th Century CE. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2019.
- Lange, Nicholas de. An Introduction to Judaism. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Lange, Nicholas de and Miri Freud-Kandel, eds. Modern Judaism: An Oxford Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Neusner, Jacob and Alan Avery-Peck, eds. The Blackwell Companion to Judaism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2003.
- Rosenthal Kwall, Roberta. The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Solomon, Norman. Judaism: A Very Short Introduction. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
- VanderKam, James C. An Introduction to Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2000.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Essay SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Dennis Mizzi

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Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.