Judaism in the Time of Early Christianity


Dr. Tzvee Zahavy, Professor

Course Syllabus

Religious Studies 3000: Topics in Religious Studies

Judaism in the Time of Early Christianity

This course covers the main developments in Judaism from 70 to 640 C.E. in Israel and Babylonia in the context of late antique culture. It surveys the period's history and social setting and draws on recent scholarly analysis of rabbinic Judaism and its literature. The course examines in detail studies of the issues of rabbinic biography and the development of the ritual of Jewish prayer in the era as responses to the changing social and political circumstances of the era.

Required books:

Jacob Neusner, From Testament to Torah: An Introduction to Judaism in its Formative Age, Prentice Hall, pb =FTT

Jacob Neusner, There We Sat Down, KTAV Publishers =TWSD

Jacob Neusner, Judaism and Christianity in the Age of Constantine, University of Chicago Press=JCAC

Erwin Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Graeco-Roman Period, Princeton, pb=GOOD

Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Penguin, pb=SCROLLS

Supplementary books (reserve):

Tzvee Zahavy, The Traditions of Eleazar Ben Azariah, Scholars Press =TEBA

_____, The Mishnaic Law of Blessings and Prayers, Scholars Press =MLBP

_____, The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Tractate Berakhot, University of Chicago =TLI

_____, Studies in Jewish Prayer, University Press of America =SJP

Additional Readings (reserve/photocopy):

Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, excerpts =PBW

_____, "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity." =PBHM

M. Avi-Yonah, A History of the Jews in Palestine, excerpts =AY

Tzvee Zahavy, "Recent Methodological Advances in ... Talmudic Scholarship." =RMA

Video Tape: T. Zahavy, "Ancient Synagogues Explored." =VIDEO

Course requirements: mid-term take-home examination; final take-home examination; participation in class.

Syllabus Topics:

I. The Second Temple Period, FTT 1-14

II. First Century Judaism, FTT 15-40

III. Judaism of Mishnah, FTT 41-65

IV. The major trends of late antiquity in the near East. TWSD, ch. 1; AY; PBW

V. The development of rabbinic Judaism: power, myth and function. TWSD, chs. 2-4

VI. Analytical study of Babylonian Judaism and the Talmud. MLBP, chs. 1, 2; PBHM

VII. Critical biographies of Judaic religious leaders. TEBA, chs. 1, 3;

VIII. The development of liturgical rituals and the role of the synagogue. SJP, chs. 1-3; VIDEO

IX. Conflict between scribal and priestly interests in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple. SJP, chs. 4-5

X. Judaism in the fourth century. FTT 66-132, TLI, tba

XI. Study of Symbolism in Judaism. FTT 133-170; GOOD