Readings and Lectures


Wed., Aug. 28
Course Introduction and
Origins: Israelite History


Wed., Sept. 4
Discussion: Biblical Literature

Readings: Scheindlin, 1-23; Leviticus 26; Judges 3, Judges 4
Question: Sum up in one or two sentences the main theological point(s) of Leviticus 26. Refer to specific verses in explaining your answer. Does Judges 3-4 exemplify the same theology as Leviticus 26, does it violate it, or does it present a different stance?

Mon., Sept. 9
Exile, Diaspora and the Emergence of “Judaism”

Readings: Scheindlin, 25-33; Ezra 10: 1-44
Question: After the destruction of the first Temple, how are the Israelites who are exiled to Babylonia able to maintain their religion and identity as a minority in a foreign land?

Wed., Sept. 11
The Second Commonwealth

Readings: Scheindlin, 33-42;  I Maccabees 1-2; II Maccabees 6-7
Question: Compare the two accounts in I and II Maccabees, paying attention to how the conflict is portrayed (motives, methods, etc.) and who the key parties are.

Mon., Sept. 16
The Late Second Temple Period

Readings: Scheindlin, 43-9
Question: What are the issues over which the Jewish sects of the late Second Temple Period divided? Be prepared in class to cite the specific positions of each sect on these issues.

Wed., Sept. 18
Bar Kokhba and Early Rabbinic Judaism

Readings: Scheindlin, 51-9 (top)
Question: What are the challenges faced by the Jewish community:
a) as a persecuted minority in Palestine?
b) as a minority in a foreign land (Alexandria, Babylonia)?
c) as an independent political entity in Palestine?

In class: read selections of the Mishnah (tractate Berakhot, chapters 1-4)and Talmud (Babylonian Talmud 26b). Read the selections of the Mishnah and Talmud. Identify two distinctive features (literary, content, treatment of texts, etc.) of each of these genres of Rabbinic literature. List at least two motives a society would have to produce documents such as these. We will also discuss how a Page of Talmud is constructed.

Mon., Sept. 23
Separating Cousins: Judaism and Early Christianity

Readings: Scheindlin, 59-64 (middle); Marcus, #20
Question: In what ways was early Christianity continuous with late Second Temple Judaism, and in what ways was it a break?

Wed., Sept. 25
Shifting Centers: From Byzantium to Babylonia

Readings: Scheindlin, 64-9; Marcus, #1; Genesis 17: 1-14
1) What was the relationship between Jews and Christians a) when Christianity was another minority religion within the Roman Empire, and b) when it became the religion of the Roman Empire?
2) Cite three (3) ways Jewish life was different in Sassanid Babylonia than it was in Byzantine Palestine. How was the Jewish community in Babylonia different than any previous diaspora community?


Wed., Oct. 2
The Jews of Islam

Readings: Scheindlin, 71-82 (bottom); Marcus, #3, #38
Question: Explain how the spread of Islam after the seventh century helped transform Jewish life politically, economically and religiously. Give at least one major change for each category.


Mon., Oct. 7
In-class film: Jews and Muslims: Intimate Strangers (excerpt)


Mon., Oct. 14  – NO CLASS, FALL BREAK

Wed., Oct. 16
The Growing Jewish Diaspora
Readings: Marcus, #6; Barnavi, selections
Question: Under what circumstances does a new center of Jewish life emerge and break away from an older Jewish center?


Wed., Oct. 23
Growing Religious Diversity: Rationalists and Mystics, Legalists and Pietists
Readings: Scheindlin, 82 (bottom)-95 and two sets of pages from Barnavi:
Set One and Set Two
Question: In the reading and in class we will be leaning about four (4) major religious tendencies in evidence among medieval Jewry: rationalism, mysticism, legalism and pietism. For each, describe one factor (historical, sociological, intellectual, political) which contributed to the growth of the tendency.

Mon., Oct. 28
The Formation of a Persecuting Society
Readings: Scheindlin, 97-112; Marcus, #23, #25, #27 and #29, Barnavi pages
Question: Christianity and Judaism had been in contact for almost 1,000 years when, in the late 11th century, anti-Jewish sentiment began to intensify. Describe at least three factors that combined to produce this trend.

Wed., Oct. 30
Western European Expulsions and their Impact (SECOND EXAM DISTRIBUTED)
Readings: Scheindlin, 112-21; Marcus, #5, #11, Barnavi pages
Question: From a Christian perspective, give a reason why the expulsions were necessary. From an historian’s perspective, give a reason why the expulsions occurred. You should be country-specific.


Mon., Nov. 4
Between East and West: Kabbalah, Messianism, and Hasidism
Readings: Scheindlin, 123-37, 176-7, 180, sidebar on 182-3; Marcus, #53, #54, Barnavi pages
Question: We have studies Jewish migration earlier when we discussed the emerging centers of medieval Jewry. In most of those cases, the moves were voluntary. The migrations brought about in the late Middle Ages were motivated, in contrast, by persecution and expulsions. How might this difference affect the kind(s) of Jewish society they established in their new surroundings? Offer at least two (2) specific examples.
Question: Mysticism evolves in several ways at the end of the Middle Ages. Name the three major developments in Jewish mysticism from this period, and explain what larger historical factors influenced these developments.

Wed., Nov. 6
Harbingers of Change (SECOND EXAM DUE IN CLASS)
Readings: Scheindlin, 160 (middle)-71
Question: Identify one social and one intellectual change in the pre-modern period which allowed for an improvement in the status of the Jews in Western Europe. Explain how each change actually contributed to this improvement.

Mon., Nov. 11
Jews and Gentiles in the Age of Emancipation
Readings: Reinharz/Mendes-Flohr (hereafter, JMW), documents on Napoleon and Assembly of Jewish Notables, 148-156.
Question: Napoleon asks a series of questions of the “Sanhedrin” about Jewish integration into the state. What concern(s) of the French government do you think underlie these questions? Be specific as to which questions reflect which concerns. In evaluating the answers the “Sanhedrin” gives, which ones seem straightforward and which ones seem to show the Jews struggling to respond? What is the source of this tension?

Wed., Nov. 13
The Rise of Modern Antisemitisms
Readings: JMW, 277-278, 283-284 (Fichte), 306-307 (Marr), 308 (Duehring), 317-319 (Stoecker), 339-342 (Protocols), 527-528 (Manhattan Beach)
Question: Give three (3) ways in which the types of modern antisemitism described in the readings are a continuation of medieval antisemitism and three (3) ways in which they are new and different.

Mon., Nov. 18
Jews on the Move: Eastern Europe and America

Readings: Scheindlin, 180 (bottom)-81, 183 (bottom)-97
Question: How does the mass migration of Eastern European Jews to America between 1880 and 1924 stand out as different from all other Jewish migrations we have studied before? How did the United States, the countries of Western Europe and the countries of Eastern Europe provide three very different settings for Jewish life during the modern period? Give at least two examples for each area to support your conclusions.

Wed., Nov. 20
Sources of Modern Jewish Identity (1): Religious

Readings: JMW, 182 (Hamburg Temple), 211 (Chorin), 217-219 (Frankel), 220-224 (Hirsch), 521-522 (Pittsburgh Platform), 558-561 (Kaplan)
Question:What was the one quality or belief that most distinguished each of the modern Jewish religious movements (Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Reconstructionist). What was something all of these movements shared?

Mon., Nov. 25
Sources of Modern Jewish Identity (2): Secular

Readings: Scheindlin, 217-33; JMW, 599-603 (Herzl), 606-608 (Ahad Ha-am)
1) Both Herzl and Ahad Ha-am are considered founders of the Zionist movement, yet they had very different approaches to Jewish nationalism. Give at least three specific differences in their visions of a Jewish homeland and their plans for achieving it.
2) Aside from Zionism, give three examples of how secular Jewish identity was expressed in the years before World War II. Why did secular Jewishness flourish more in some geographic locations than others?


Mon., Dec. 2
The Holocaust

Readings: JMW, 717-719 (Hitler), 729-731 (Hitler and Nuremburg Laws), 751-754 (Wannsee Protocols)
Question: As we learned in the previous unit, the “persecuting society” of the Middle Ages and its forms of antisemitism were not in and of themselves sufficient to produce the expulsions of the 13th-15th centuries in Western Europe. Rather, a specific set of events and factors had to transpire for a country to decide to expel its Jews. In the same way, explain how a similar course of events transpired to produce the Holocaust of the Nazi era.

Wed., Dec. 4
Modern Israel Since 1948
Readings: Scheindlin, 235-48; Barnavi, 242-5, 254-5, 258-61, 264-5
Question: Since 1948, Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors has been perhaps its greatest challenge. Yet Israel has also faced a number of difficult internal challenges during these years. Cite at least two (2) of these internal challenges, explaining how they arose and what difficulties they have presented.

Mon., Dec. 9
Recent Trends in America and Israel

Readings: Scheindlin, 249-63; Barnavi, 270-71, 274-79
Question: From the readings (and if you have them, personal experiences), list two (2) major issues which are facing Jews in either/both the United States and Israel today. For each, explain what factors contribute to making these issues central, and whether you think they are similar or different to issues Jews have faced in the past. Be specific.


FINAL EXAMS are due by Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 11:59pm. They should be sent electronically to Prof. Goldstein at egoldst [at] emory [dot] edu. No extensions.