Post-Biblical Jewish History From Greco-Roman Times to the Enlightenment
JWST 241/HIST 241 Drew University
Spring Semester, 2017 Prof. Allan Nadler
Office: Faulkner House, 305
Time & Place of Classes: Campus Tel. x 3222
Tue/Thurs: 1:15-2:30 PM
Brothers College room 120

Course Description and Goals:
This course introduces the history of the Jews and Judaism from end of the Biblical period until the dawn of the modern era in Jewish history. It thus begins with the age of national restoration and religious renaissance that followed the return to Judea of the Jewish exiles from Babylonia and ends with the transformative impact of the French Revolution and European Enlightenment on medieval Jewish life and traditional Judaism. While set in the larger setting of world history -- the particular historical experience of the Jews, especially after the destruction of the Second Temple and the consequent endurance of their exilic condition and religious beliefs-- is largely the history of the development and endurance of their faith. This course accordingly focuses on religious and intellectual -- rather than political, social or economic -- history. The course aims at providing students with a basic comprehension of the contours of that history and the means by which the Jews survived for almost two millennia without a national homeland and despite continuous persecution and expulsions.
Final Grade will be based on class participation (25%), mid-term (25%) and final examination (50%). Absenteeism will affect final grade at rate of 5% per missed class. I will provide a detailed calculation sheet during the first week of the semester.

Required Texts:
Seltzer, Robert. Jewish People, Jewish Thought.
S. Daniel Breslauer, Understanding Judaism Through History

Recommended Texts:
Ben Sasson, H.H., A History of the Jewish People. I advise purchasing (Still: A copy will be at Reserve Desk in Rose Library).

Aspirational Learning Outcomes:
Attainment of a broadly conceived understanding of how the Jewish people, and the Jewish religion, evolved in post-Biblical times (circa: 5th century BCE) through to the mid. 18th century. Insight into the methodologies of different approaches to Jewish history, with a strong emphasis on “intellectual history”, but not entirely excluding socio-political history.

Calendar Outline of Class Themes/Topics and Readings

Classe Dates Theme Readings
January 19th
Th. What is “post-Biblical” Judaism ?
The end of the Biblical Monarchy and Priesthood Seltzer, 122-155; Breslauer, 30-52
Jan. 24th & 26th T/Th Exile and Return: The Scribes and the Second Temple era No readings
Jan. 31st\Feb.2nd

The Encounter Between Judaism and Hellenism Seltzer, 155-187; Ben Sasson, 185-216
Feb. 7th & 9th The Roman Period through the Destruction of the Second Temple: Jewish Sectarianism during the birth of Christianity Seltzer, 187-242; Ben Sasson, 239-276
Feb. 14th & 16th
“People of the Book” Rabbinic Judaism and the Creation of the Talmud Seltzer, 243-314, Breslauer, 55-66

Feb. 21st & 23rd

The Geonim and the rise of distant Diasporas. Review and discussion

Seltzer, pp. 323-342;Ben Sasson, 421-439; Breslauer, 66-81

Feb. 28th
Ashkenazic and Sefadic Diasporas (discussion, no readings) Mid-term exam handout
March 14th & 16th The rise of Ashkenazic (Franco-Germanic) Jewry. Take-Home mid-term examination Seltzer, pp. 343-364;Breslauer, pp. 55-66; Ben Sasson, pp. 314-342.
March 21st & 23rd Ashkenazim and Sefardim: The Great Diaspora Cultural Divide Seltzer, pp. 323-342; Breslauer, pp. 66-81;Ben Sasson, pp. 421-439
March 28th & 30th
April 4th/6th The Golden Age of Sefardic Jewry: Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Poetry
The Christian Reconquista, persecution and Expulsion; The Marranos; The Rise of Kabbalah and Messianism
Seltzer, pp. 342-364 & 373-418; Ben Sasson, 452-461.
Seltzer, pp. 419-450 (chapter 9)

April 11th & 18th
NO CLASSES: 1st and 8th days of PASSOVER
April 13th & 20th &
The Great Eastward Migration: The Golden Age of Polish Jewry. The rise of Hasidism Seltzer, pp. 474-497 Breslauer, 118-153 (until end of semester)
April 25th & 27th The Impact of the Enlightenment. Mitnagdim and Maskilim Seltzer, pp. 513-579 (chs. 11-12
Tuesday, May 2nd Final Class. General Discussion & Evaluation Final Essay Examination distributed.

Discussion: I encourage open and vigorous discussion and disagreement in class. The college learning experience should never be hindered by any fear of saying something that other students may find disagreeable or even ‘offensive.” At the same time all disagreement and debate must be conducted with personal civility to all members of the class. Personally demeaning discourse, to say nothing of racist, sexist or other prejudiced forms of speech will not be tolerated.

Attendance: Unexcused absences will have a negative, proportional impact on the participation grade. Regardless of reason, students are responsible for all material covered during their absence.

Late Work: Late assignments will be penalized 1/4 of a grade for everyday that they are late. So, if your essay is late by two days and you received a B- for your merits of your work, then your grade would be a C+.

Academic Integrity at Drew
All students are required to uphold the highest academic standards. Any case of academic dishonesty will be dealt with according to the guidelines and procedures outlined in Drew University’s “Standards of Academic Integrity: Guidelines and Procedures.” A copy of this document can be accessed on the CLA Dean’s U-KNOW space by clicking on “Academic Integrity Standards.”

Requesting Accommodations at Drew
Students who wish to disclose a disability for the first time are instructed to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources, Brothers College, 119B; 973-408-3962. Although disclosure may take place at any time during the semester, students are encouraged to do so early in the semester, because, in general, accommodations are not implemented retroactively.
Returning Students with Approved Accommodations: Requests for pre-approved accommodations for FALL 2016 should be submitted to OAR ideally within the first two weeks of class, and optimally by September 23, 2016. This allows the office sufficient lead time to process the request.
Please call 973-408-3962 , email , or complete the accommodations request at: