Religion 323

Spring 2005

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

102 Knapton, ext. 3694

Office hours:

MWF 10:30-12:30 PM
Th 9-11 AM and by appointment.

This seminar is intended to deepen your understanding of and familiarity with the major trends and concepts of Jewish thought, and to learn and practice the skills and methods characteristic of the academic study of Judaism. We will pursue this program through shared readings, discussions, researching and writing a paper, and an oral presentation of your research. Regular class meetings will focus on readings in Jewish thought from the Hebrew Bible to the modern period, and on the historical contexts from which they emerged. In these readings, you will be exposed to various methodologies used to interpret Judaism: psychology, sociology, history, phenomenology, theology, philosophy, or some combination of these disciplines. Seminar members will pursue intensive independent study formulating a paper topic in consultation with the instructor and writing a major research paper.

This course is classified as Writing Intensive for two reasons.

·       First, we will explore the connection between writing and critical, active reading in weekly in-class writing assignments intended to maximize your understanding of sometimes difficult scholarly works on Judaism.   One-paragraph on-line responses to reading assignments are expected weekly.

·       Secondly, you will compose a research paper. Though each student ultimately will be alone responsible for the final draft she or he turns in, we will work as a class on library research skills specific to the discipline of Judaic studies (including a field trip to the Judaica collection of a university library in the region)

§       choosing and defining an issue in Judaic studies

§       compiling an annotated bibliography

§       proper documentation

§       drafting and outlining

§       editing

Research Paper Assignment:

In this paper (suggested length is about twenty pages) you will pick (in consultation with me) one particular Jewish text that you think is important and discuss (1) how it represents one (or more) of the Jewish spiritual trends of thought we have studied this semester, and (2) how it both reflects and responds to the specific Jewish historical context (s) in which it was composed and read.  As you formulate, research, and write this paper, you are encouraged to reflect seriously on your own presuppositions, methods of analysis and personal values. Although the paper need not explicitly adopt any one methodological approach to its subject, it should include your own reflections on the puzzles arising in any self-conscious and critical study of Judaism. You will report orally to the class on your research during the last part of the semester. You must complete at least two rough drafts of your paper. The first rough draft of your paper is due prior to the oral report. I will review this draft with you, making suggestions for improvements. Submit this revision (your second draft) to at least two of your classmates for suggestions and comments. Incorporate their suggestions and mine into the final draft that is due on the last day of class.

Required texts:

Green, Arthur. Ed. Jewish Spirituality . Vv.1-2: From the Bible through the Middle Ages and From the Sixteenth Century Revival to the Present. World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest 13-14. New York, NY: Crossroad, 1987.(JS1 , JS2)

Biale, David. The Cultures of the Jews: A New History. New York, NY: Schocken, 2002. (CJ)

Schedule of Reading Assignments

1/25 Tu Bishvat

1. 1/26 First day of Class: Introduction

Biblical Thought

2. 1/31 JS1 5-31 (D. Sperling, "Israel's Religion in the Ancient Near East"); 82-112 (J. Rosenberg, "Biblical Tradition: Literature and Spirit in Ancient Israel")

3. 2/2 CJ 43-76 (R. Hendel, “Israel Among the Nations: Biblical Culture in the Ancient Near East”)

4. 2/7 JS1 32-61 (J. Levenson, "The Jerusalem Temple in Devotional and Visionary Experience"); 62-81(M. Fishbane, "Biblical Prophecy as a Religious Phenomenon")

5. 2/9 CJ 9-42 (I. Pardes, “Imagining the Birth of Ancient Israel: National Metaphors in the Bible)

Rabbinic Thought

6. 2/14 JS1 171-197 (J. Neusner, "Varieties of Judaism in the Formative Age")

7. 2/16 CJ 77- 134 (E. Gruen, “Hellenistic Judaism”)

8. 2/21 JS1 232-251 (R. Goldenberg, "Law and Spirit in the Talmudic Religion")

9. 2/23 CJ 135-181 (E. Meyers, “Jewish Culture in Greco-Roman Palestine”), 223-266 (I. Gafni, “Babylonian Rabbinic Culture”)

Medieval Thought

10. 2/28 CJ 313-389 (R. Scheindlin, “Merchant and Intellectuals, Rabbis and Poets:  Judaeo-Arabic Culture in the Golden Age of Spain”), 449-518 (I. Marcus, “A Jewish-Christian Symbiosis: The Culture of Early Ashkenaz)

11. 3/2  JS1 313-355 (F. Talmage, "Apples of Gold: The Inner Meaning of Sacred Texts in Medieval Judaism")

12. 3/7 JS1 367-404 (D. Matt, "The Mystic and the Mizwot");

13. 3/9 CJ 389-441 (B. Gampel, “A Letter to a Wayward Teacher: The Transformation of Sephardic Culture in Christian Iberia”)

3/ 10 THURSDAY First Draft of paper, bibliography  due

 Spring Break 3/14-3/18 NO CLASS

14. 3/21 JS2 34-63 (J. Katz, "Halakhah and Kabbalah as Competing Disciplines of Study"); student presentation

15. 3/23 CJ 519-572 (Moshe Rosman, “Innovative Tradition: Jewish Culture in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth”) ; student presentation

3/24 Erev Purim, 3/25 Purim

Early Modern Thought

16. 3/28 CJ 637-670 (Y. Kaplan, “Bom Judesmo: The Western Sephardic Diaspora”); 671-724 (Sh. Sabar, “Childbirth and Magic: Jewish Folklore and Material Culture”)

17. 3/30 JS2 64-98 (L. Fine, "The Contemplative Practice of Yihudim in Lurianic Kabbalah); 99-126 (L. Jacobs, "The Uplifting of Sparks in Later Jewish Mysticism")

18. 4/4 JS2 206-244 (I. Etkes, "Rabbi Israel Salanter and his Psychology of Musar") ; student presentation

19. 4/6 CJ 731-798 (R. I. Cohen, “Urban Visibility and Biblical Visions: Jewish Culture in Western and Central Europe in the Modern Age”) ; student presentation

4/7 THURSDAY  2nd Draft of paper,  revised bibliography  due

4/11 JS2 245-82 (C. Weissler, "The Traditional Piety of Ashkenazic Women"); student presentation

4/13 CJ 799-862 (D. Biale, “A Journey Between Two Worlds: East European Jewish Culture form the Partitions of Poland to the Holocaust”) ; student presentation

Modern Thought

4/18 JS2 283-316 (A. Eisen, "Secularization, 'Spirit,' and the Strategies of Modern Jewish Faith"); student presentation

4/20 CJ 1099-1147 (S. Whitfield, “Declarations of Independence: American Jewish Culture in the 20th Century”) ; student presentation

Pesach 4/23 (Evening)  -  5/1

4/25 Second Day of Pesach No Class


4/27CJ 1011- 1062 (A. Hirschfeld, “Locus and Languages: Hebrew Culture in Israel, 1890-1990”), [1063-1098 (Eli Yassif, “The ‘Other’ Israel: Folk Cultures in the Modern State of Israel”)]

5/2 JS2 371-401 (E. Luz, "Spiritual and Anti-Spiritual Trends in Zionism"); student presentation

5/4 Final draft of paper due