Jewish Studies

[version 2023.05]


JS2000/OT2014/NT2014 History of Classical Judaism

This course offers a broad introduction to the history of Classical Judaism from the Second Temple period until the conclusion of the Talmud and the early middle ages. The emphasis is on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationships among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as on Jewish society and culture. The course will consider the importance of the temple and synagogue, the various political and religious movements within Judaism during the Second Temple period and how the early Jesus movement fits into this pluralistic Jewish world.


JS2001/OT2018/NT2015 Jewish Life, Sabbath and Festivals in Biblical and Classical Times

This course studies the cycle of (the biblical) and Jewish year. It explores the historical development and theological motifs of the Sabbath and the different feasts, such as Pesach and Passover; Shavuot and Pentecost; Rosh Hashanah and the New Year; Yom Kippur and the Day of Atonement; Sukkot and the Feast of Tabernacles; Chanukkah and the Feast of the Dedication; and Purim. The emphasis for each feast is on liturgies, practices, traditions and, when applicable, connections with the cycle of the Church year.


JS2002 Modern Hebrew: A Primer

The main emphasis of this course is on elementary conversation, reading and basic grammar of Modern Hebrew. In addition, the course traces the development of the Hebrew language from biblical to modern times and explores the revival of modern Hebrew towards the end of the 19th and into the 20th century.


JS2003/OT2015/NT2018 The Land and the People of the Bible

Most books in the Old Testament relate to the people of Israel and to the Promised Land. The course will explore the biblical concept of election and covenant linked to a particular people and land, as well as the universal perspectives in the Old Testament and Jewish tradition. It will also deal with the geography of the land and the cultural and religious environments of the Gospels. With focus on the land and peoplehood, the course will investigate connections and contrasts between the Old and the New Testament, as well as between Judaism and Christianity.


JS2004/OT2016/NT2019 Jewish Faith and Life - Window to the Biblical World

That Jesus was a Jew is an undeniable fact. But what characterized this Jewish life? The course will present themes such as the Jewish lifecycle from birth to death, life in the synagogue and the temple, the Jewish home and the role of women, Jewish identity markers and covenantal signs. Focusing on the Second Temple period and the following centuries, the course will explore the cultural and religious environments of the New Testament world. The relation between classical and modern Judaism will also be investigated.


JS2005/OT2019/NT2020 The Messianic Ideas in Hebrew Scriptures

This course presents the messianic concept from its deepest roots in the Hebrew Bible to the gradual development of various messianic ideas and figures in the Second Temple period. Which parts of the Scriptures were used as the basis of the various messianic expectations? Which historical and theological developments sparked the hope of an eschatological saviour? Special focus will be given to New Testament texts related to previous and prevailing eschatological ideas. The developments after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. will be explored with a survey of the messianic ideas in Rabbinic literature. The importance of the theme of Jewish-Christian understanding will also be part of the course.


JS2006/OT2021/NT2023 Atonement and Forgiveness in the Bible and Jewish Traditions

Atonement and forgiveness are certainly two of the major themes in the Bible. They are the focus of numerous laws and regulations, for instance the sacrificial system, and are the topic of numerous psalms, prayers, liturgies and holy days. The course will explore biblical and later sources, as well as the historical development of Judaism after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and the cessation of the sacrificial cult. The vicarious suffering and atoning death of Jesus is at the center of the New Testament texts and the developing Christology. Hence, atonement and forgiveness are also main themes that unite and divide Jews and Christians.


JS2007/OT2022/NT2024 Let My People Go! Jewish and Christian Interpretations on Exodus

What makes the Bible a living book is the fact that it has always been interpreted and applied into real life. The first interpreters of the Bible were the people of Israel. Therefore, the first focus of this course will be the Jewish commentaries. However, even Christians share in these interpretations, since the Book of Exodus is part of the Christian canon and Christianity emerged from the Jewish people. We will walk through Exodus and explore the richness of Bible interpretation, which both unites and divides Jews and Christians, and demonstrate the endless treasure of God’s living word throughout the ages.


JS2008/OT2023/NT2025 Jewish Prayer and Worship

This course explores the biblical concepts of prayer and worship, sacrificial worship in the tabernacle/temple, and also individual prayers in the context of Classical Judaism, with the developments in the Second Temple Period and the period after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. This course includes a study of Jewish prayer and worship in the synagogue (as we know it from Rabbinic literature) and the Jewish prayer book (Siddur), with roots in the Second Temple literature, the New Testament and early Christian literature. A study of the connection between Jewish and Christian prayer and worship, and an outlook towards modern Judaism and various Christian forms of prayer and worship will be also included.


JS2010/OT2026/NT2029 The Dead Sea Scrolls Texts in Context

This course introduces the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran library, the site and community of Qumran, and also archaeology. Selected texts will be studied in this course.


JS2011/OT2027/NT2031 The Jewish "Trinity": God, People, Land

Three concepts in Judaism, which are extremely important and constitute the core of the religion, are God, people and land. This course facilitates an understanding of Judaism as a living and developing religion on its own terms. It will also increase understanding of Christianity, which has its roots in Judaism and will lead to a discerning reflection on the unique relationship between Judaism and Christianity, including similarities and differences.


JS3000/NT3014/CH3011 Beginnings of Judaism and Christianity and the Parting of the Ways

This course explores the ancient synagogue as the seedbed of two world religions, Judaism and Christianity. It examines the historical circumstances, the mutuality, cooperation, tension and ultimate separation of the two, during the early periods of their formation. The course also surveys how the Hebrew Scriptures, through interpretation and re-interpretation, spawned two different cultural and religious systems.


JS3001/OT3011/NT3015 Formation and Transmission of Scripture

This course will present answers to a simple question: How was the Bible made? The evidence concerning the production, editing, and copying of biblical and parabiblical texts will be covered. Special emphasis will be placed on examining how various scriptures came to be collected into canons in various faith communities, Jewish and Christian.


JS3002/OT3012/NT3016 History, Archaeology, and the Bible

This course examines how to appropriately use the Bible and other sources as a means to reconstruct the history of the world of the Bible and early church. It consists of an introduction to archaeological method and practice, changing concepts of historiography, as well as the geographical location and history of important biblical sites in Israel/Palestine. The course also highlights important literary sources for selected periods and events in order that students can gain a firm grasp of knowledge of the biblical world.


JS3003/OT3013/NT3017 Judean Nationalism from the Maccabees to Bar Kochva

This course will investigate the ways the Judean people, both at home and in the Diaspora, conceived of themselves during the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. The course will engage with ancient texts and archaeological findings in order to reveal the contours of a Judean national identity that spawned no less than three revolts in three hundred years.


JS3004/OT3017/NT3021 Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus

Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus are the most important Jewish authors of the first century CE, outside of the New Testament. Their writings are indispensable for reconstructing Jewish conceptions of history, philosophy, and the reception of scripture during the Roman period. Few other sources can give us insight into the way upper-class Jewish citizens interacted with Roman culture. This course will focus on some of the most important works by these prolific authors, highlighting their contributions to our understanding of the growth and spread of Judaism and Christianity.


JS3005/NT3019/NT3019 Rabbinic Literature: A Primer

This course introduces students to the background and history of Rabbinic literature, as well as its content and various collections of texts, such as Mishnah, Tosefta, Midrashic commentaries and the Talmud. The course explores theoretical and theological aspects of Jewish interpretation of Scripture, as well as its relevance for the understanding of the New Testament as it uses and interprets the Old Testament. The course will also include readings from these collections of texts.


JS3006/OT3014/NT3013 Second Temple Literature

This course provides an introduction to the writings from the Second Temple Period, such as the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, and the Qumran literature. The course examines historical contexts, theological content, and literary types, such as apocalypses, wisdom literature, and philosophical treatises. The course will also reflect on the role of Hellenism in the formation of Judaism.


JS3007/WL3004 Jewish Roots of Christian Sacraments

See WL3004.


JS4000/OT4000/NT4000 Study Tour: The Bible Land

This course offers theoretical and practical opportunities to learn about the history and geography of Israel, the cultural and religious environments of the Gospels, Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity in the Holy Land. It includes a study trip to Israel with excursions to ancient sites, on-site and classroom lectures, and exposures to worship in synagogues, churches and mosques.