Graduate Courses

Graduate Courses 2017 - 2018

Some graduate courses may be open to undergraduates with the consent of the instructor.

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BIBL 34210 Jonah and Joel (Biblical Hebrew III)
Simeon Chavel
Ident: HIJD 34210
A classic text-course covering prose narrative and poetic prophecy; attends to grammar, semantics, genre, and history.
PQ: Biblical Hebrew I-II

BIBL 35901 Joseph and His Brothers: The Biblical Accounts
Baruch Schwartz
M/W 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m. (S208)
lose reading of the “Joseph Cycle” in Genesis 37–50. Detailed examination of the literary form, content, theology and composition of the Biblical text, with the aim of identifying the questions it poses and evaluating the methods employed and the solutions proposed by commentators and critics in their attempts to answer them. This course is designed for students who have some familiarity with the critical study of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., for those who have taken Introduction to the Hebrew Bible or equivalent). Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is desirable but not required. If you have any question as to whether you qualify, please consult the instructor.

BIBL 40350 The Composition of the Torah: Reasserting the Documentary Hypothesis
Baruch Schwartz
Winter M/W 2:00 - 3:20 p.m. (S208)
Detailed textual study of selected passages from the narrative portions of Torah (i.e. in Genesis, Exodus and Numbers) with the aim of illustrating the literary basis for the hypothesis that the Torah has been created by merging four pre-existing sources into one continuous text. Consideration will also be given to the diverse approaches employed by exegetes and critics, whether prior to the rise of the documentary hypothesis or subsequent to and in opposition to it. This course is designed for students with a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew who have already had a critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible, including the critical approaches to the Torah. If you have any question as to whether you qualify, please consult the instructor.

BIBL 44003 Philo of Alexandria
David Martinez
Autumn T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S208
Ident. GREK 25117/35117
In this course we will read the Greek text of Philo’s de opificio mundi, with other brief excerpts here and there in the Philonic corpus. Our aim will be to use this treatise to elucidate the thought and character of one of the most prolific theological writers of the first century. We will seek to understand Philo as a Greek author and the nature and origins of his style, Philo as a proponent of middle Platonism, and Philo as a Jew in the context of Alexandrian Judaism. We will also examine his use of the allegorical method as an exegetical tool, and its implications for pagan, Jewish and early Christian approaches to sacred texts.
PQ: At least two years of Greek

BIBL 44700 The Book of Samuel
Simeon Chavel
Autumn W 9:30 am-12:20 pm MMC Library
Ident: NELC 30061
Introduction to textual criticism (= manuscript analysis) of the Bible through comparison of the book of Samuel in the Hebrew Massoretic Text (MT), the Greek Septuagint (LXX), the Dead Sea scrolls, and parallels in the book of Chronicles.

BIBL 45100 Innerbiblical Exegesis
Jeffrey Stackert
Winter Th 2:00 - 4:50 p.m.
This course will explore the phenomenon of literary revision in the Hebrew Bible and, to a limited extent, its precursors and successor texts. In addition to analyzing various examples of innerbiblical exegesis, we will consider the theoretical issues related to literary revision, including the question of criteria for determining literary dependence and direction of dependence and the intents of texts that reuse source material.
PQ: Strong Biblical Hebrew

BIBL 45250 "Christians" and "Jews," Rhetoric and Reality
Margaret M. Mitchell
Autumn T 6:30-9:30 pm S403
Ident: HCHR 45250
A critical assessment of different scholarly positions on the relationship between “Christians” and “Jews” in the imperial period up until the end of the fourth century (e.g., “the siblings model,” “the parting of the ways,” the “wave theory model,” the “ways that never parted,” and others) as tested against close analysis of such literary sources as the letters of Paul, the gospels of Matthew and John, Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, Melito of Sardis’ Peri Pascha, Tertullian’s “Against the Jews,” various works of Origen, and John Chrysostom’s 8 homilies “Against the Jews/Judaizing Christians.”  Our goal is careful methodological and historiographical analysis of whether or how from such sources we might discern and reconstruct historical reality – local and/or trans-Mediterranean – about persons and groups, and their identities, viewpoints, practices and interactions.
PQ: Greek skills; students who may be interested in this course but do not yet have Greek skills should contact the instructor.

BIBL 45602 Giving and Receiving in Jewish Literature (See below HIJD 45600)

BIBL 46800 Tragedy and the Tragic Vision in Early Jewish and Christian Literature
Jeff Jay
Ident: RLVC 46800
We will start by studying the tragic theories of Friedrich Nietzsche, George Steiner, Simone Weil, and David Tracy, with special attention to how each theorist construes the contested relationship between tragedy and the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is viewed variously as hostile or responsive to tragedy, incapable of anything approaching “authentic tragedy” or productive of the best examples of its kind.  In light of this conflict of interpretations we will then study, discuss, and closely interpret a variety of early Jewish and Christian texts where tragic drama is appropriated, interpreted, and/or composed, and where the tragic vision in some form is (arguably) alive.  Authors to be studied include (among others): Ezekiel the Tragedian (who dramatizes the Exodus in the form of Greek tragic drama), Philo of Alexandria, Paul, Mark, John, Origen, Lucian, and Pseudo-Gregory’s Christus patiens (which is an adaptation of poetic material from Euripides’ Bacchae for a presentation of Christ’s passion and resurrection).

BIBL 53510 Early Jewish Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible
Simeon Chavel
Autumn M 2:30-5:20 pm S403
Ident. HIJD 53510, NECL 30060
Explores Jewish ideas and hermeneutics at Exodus 19-20 and select other biblical texts, in sources from the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls through Targumim and Rabbinic literature to Medieval Jewish commentaries.
PQ: Biblical Hebrew; Biblical Greek or Aramaic; professor approval.

BIBL 55110 Sources of the Pentateuch
Simeon Chavel
Seminar for hands-on experience in identifying, “separating,” and interpreting sources within the Pentateuch (and Joshua) through varied examples.

HCHR 45200 The Holy Land in the Middle Ages
Karin Krause
Autumn T 5:00-7:50 pm CWAC156
Ident: RLVC 45200, ARTH 42205
This course will examine written and visual material testifying to the medieval encounters of the Abrahamic religions in a sacred landscape where the histories of Jews, Christians, and Muslims overlap. While bearing witness to the cultural wealth and religious pluralism that characterize the Holy Land during the Middle Ages, texts and visual artifacts from the period likewise testify to religious competition, conflict, loss, and exclusion. Among the primary textual sources we will read (in English translation) are accounts by pilgrims and other travellers to the Holy Land written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries, extracts from medieval chronicles, and eye-witness accounts drawn up during the period of the Crusades. These writings illuminate how individuals of different religious backgrounds experienced sacred space and rituals performed at various holy sites. On a broader scale, they offer insight into perceptions of religious identity, superiority, and “otherness.“ Last, but not least, these texts inform us about the physical appearance of sites and buildings that no longer exist or have undergone multiple refurbishments. In addition to the textual material, we will study art and architecture created in the Holy Land for different religious communities (e.g., synagogues and their richly decorated mosaic floors, sites and souvenirs of Christian pilgrimage, major works of Islamic art and architecture). The sacred sites and dynamic history of the Holy Land have of course stimulated human imagination and creativity well beyond its geographical confines as well. We will thus also study phenomena of its reception in medieval Europe as manifest, for instance, in the illumination of manuscripts, stained glass windows, architectural replicas of the Holy Sepulchre, narratives of the “Holy Grail,“ or notions of the “Heavenly Jerusalem.”

HIJD 35113 Jewish Superheroes
James Robinson
Winter T 11:00 a.m. - 1:50 p.m.
Ident: HREL 35113

There has been much recent discussion about Jewish influence on the modern superhero. Many of the comic book artists were Jewish and the superheroes themselves inspired by Jewish themes, for example, Superman has a biography similar to Moses’, while the Incredible Hulk seems the perfect Golem. This course will read this modern literature to help frame our discussion of the premodern inspirations of it. We will focus on superheroes and supervillains found in classical and medieval sources, from Samson, Elijah and Elisha in the Bible to the wonder Rabbis of the Talmud to the many messiahs and mystics of the Middle Ages, identifying their superpowers and exploring the roles they played within traditional Jewish culture.

HIJD 35350 Cultivation of Character in Jewish Moral and Spiritual Literature
Michael Fishbane
Autumn: T 9:30 am-12:20 pm S400
Ident: THEO 35350
This course will survey classical texts and practices in Jewish religious literature from antiquity to the modern period.  Selections will include key portions from: Book of Proverbs; Ethics of the Fathers; Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan; Dererch Eretz; Maimonides’ ‘Eight Chapters’; Bachya ben Asher’s moral proems; Asher ben Yechiel’s ‘Orchot Hayyim’; Moshe Cordovero’s ‘Tomer Devorah’; Jewish Ethical Wills (diverse periods); Tracts of Spritual Practices (Safed and modern Hasidism); Moshe Hayyim Luzatto, ‘Mesilat Yesharim’.  Contemporary literature on moral and spiritual self-formation and practice will be considered; and pertinent comparisons will be made to classical Catholic sources. Texts in Hebrew with English translations. No prerequisites.

HIJD 44290 The Messiah and Messianism in Modern Jewish Thought
Paul Mendes-Flohr
Winter T 6:30 - 9:20 p.m.
Our point of departure will be the early nineteenth-century tendency to shift the focus of messianic hope from the advent of a divinely appointed savior to human agency. We explore the implications of the "depersonalization of messianism" for Jewish conceptions of history and redemption as expressed in the writings, among others, of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Hermann Cohen, Ernst Bloch, Martin Buber, Jacques Derrida, and Gershom Scholem.

HIJD 44500 Religion in the European Enlightenment: Spinoza to Kant
Paul Mendes-Flohr, Richard A. Rosengarten
Autumn: T 6:30-9:30 pm S200
Ident. RLVC 44500
Readings in primary texts that are understood to constitute the historical phenomenon denominated “the Enlightenment,” with particular attention to major themes and the variations played upon them by thinkers at this time: the status of the Bible as sacred and/or historical text; conceptions of truth as revealed, as natural, and/or as revealed by nature; the category of the miraculous, and its relation to conceptions of providence and natural orders; and the place of religion in emerging political structures that have their basis in conceptions of citizenship and rights.

HIJD 45600 Giving and Receiving in Jewish Literature
Michael Fishbane
Autumn: M 3:00-5:50 pm S200
BIBL 45602, RLVC 45600
Emphasis will be on care of the indigent. The focus will be textual (classical biblical and rabbinic sources, also some medieval legal codes), but will include comparative issues drawn from anthropology. The larger concern of this course will be on theological matters.

HIJD 47200 Modern Jewish Intellectual History
Paul Mendes-Flohr
Autumn: W 3:00-5:50 pm S201
A diachronic and synchronic survey of the major figures and themes of modern Jewish thought.  With due regard to the distinctive dynamics of modern Jewish history, we will examine how various Jewish thinkers from the 17th century on confronted the challenges to theistic faith posed by modern epistemologies and conceptions of the good. We will conclude with a critical reading of Hilary Putman, Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (2008).

HIJD 48200 Leo Strauss and Judaism
Paul Mendes-Flohr
Winter W 3:00 - 5:50 p.m.
We will explore Strauss's life-long navigation between Athens and Jerusalem from the perspective of his Jewish writings.

HIJD 48900 Maimonides, Eight Chapters and Commentary on Avot
James T. Robinson
Winter Th 11:00 a.m. - 1:50 p.m.
This reading course will focus on Maimonides' brief eight-chapter introduction to Aristotelian ethics, written as preface to his commentary on the Mishnaic tractate Avot, "Ethics of the Fathers." We will read the text line by line with primary interest in the way he adapts Aristotle's philosophy to Judaism, expressed most clearly in his ethic reading of Avot itself.

HIJD 49700 Readings in Abraham ibn Ezra
James T. Robinson
Autumn: Th 3:30-6:20 pm S403
Close readings of select texts from the diverse corpus of Abraham Ibn Ezra: medieval poet, linguist, biblical exegets, neoplatonic philosopher, and astrologer. The emphasis will be on his biblical commentaries, but the commentaries will be read together with his philosophical, linguistic and astrological writings.

HIJD 53360 Topics in the Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics
Arnold I. Davidson
Ident:  DVPR 53360, PHIL 53360, KNOW 47002
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik’s philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism? PQ: All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.

HIJD 53900 French Jewish Thought
Sarah Hammerschlag
Ident: RLVC 53900, DVPR 53900

NEHC 35149. Architecture and the Zionist Imagination.
A. Nitzan-Shiftan and N. Rokem
Ident: ARTH 36510

This course explores the intersection of form and ideology through the example of the built environments (both speculative and realized) that were part of the formation of the Jewish state and its history. We will follow the evolution of Israeli architecture, starting with the interwar period, in which Zionist institutions were built in Palestine under British colonial rule. In this context, debates centered on the question of how different modernist styles developed in Europe and imported to the Middle East can respond to different streams within Zionism. We then move on to the period of nation-building, in which attempts were made to develop an Israeli architectural style that would respond to the waves of immigration and the formation of state institutions. Now, a debate emerged between the modernist style that came to represent an emergent tradition, and a new generation of architects who sought to develop a more local idiom. The current phase of Israeli architecture is influenced by the political turn to the right, the institution of liberal economic policies, the arrival of a large wave of post-Soviet Russian immigrants, and an opening to global commerce, all of which have weakened the nation state. In addition to studying this architectural history, we will engage with cultural texts (literary, filmic, artistic) that imagine and describe Zionist spaces and places, starting with Theodor Herzl’s Zionist Utopia, Altneuland, and all the way through contemporary TV sitcom.

PLSC 41510 Nationalism and Multiculturalism
Chaim Gans
Autumn W 12:30-3:20 p.m.
Ident: NEHC 34801
The main goal of the course is to conduct a critical discussion of the different types of multicultural and national rights, their possible justifications, and the way they should apply in Israel, compared to some other cases. In order to facilitate this, two general topics will be discussed: the concepts of the nation and of cultural groups; a normative typology of nationalist ideologies and types of multicultural programs. These then will be applied to more particular issues such as national self-determination, cultural preservation rights, nationalism and immigration, with special attention to the Israeli case (e.g. Israel’s Law of Return, refusal to allow the return of Palestinian refugees, etc.).

REES 37019 Holocaust Object
Bozena Shallcross

Winter T/Th 5:00 - 6:20 pm (Cobb 301)l,
Ident: ANTH 35035, HIST 33413

In this course, we explore various ontological and representational modes of the Holocaust material object world as it was represented during World War II. Then, we interrogate the post-Holocaust artifacts and material remnants, as they are displayed, curated, controlled, and narrated in the memorial sites and museums of former ghettos and extermination and concentration camps. These sites which—once the locations of genocide—are now places of remembrance, the (post)human, and material remnants also serve educational purposes. Therefore, we study the ways in which this material world, ranging from infrastructure to detritus, has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representation, we critically engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle the demands of preservation, we apply a neo-materialist approach. Of special interest are survivors’ testimonies as appended to the artifacts they donated. The course will also equip you with salient critical tools for future creative research in Holocaust studies.