Religious Studies | JUDAISM IN THE MAKING
R317 | 25393 | Harrill, J
The purpose of this course is to engage the student in a study of
the lives and thoughts of all kinds of Jews in the Classical World
of Greece and Rome. The period covered stretches roughly from 538
BCE to 200 CE—that is, from the Jews’ return from the Babylonian
Exile to the promulgation of the Mishnah, with an emphasis on the
Greco-Roman era. Of course, the study of Judaism in the period is
fascinating in its own right, part of the human story, but it also
has a special importance for the understanding of Western culture.
The normative rabbinic Judaism that we have today, as well as the
Jewish heresy known as Christianity, both developed in this era.
This is the Judaism of Jesus and his first followers. Jewish ideas
of this period also had a profound impact on the later rise of
Islam. Many key ideas developed in this period, which have so shaped
life and thought in the West: the “Messiah,” the “Resurrection of
the Dead,” the “Final Judgment,” and the idea of “the Bible” to name
a few. To explore these ideas, we will examine a variety of texts
composed in this period: the so-called apocrypha and pseudepigrapha;
Jewish Hellenistic authors (Philo, Josephus); the Dead Sea Scrolls;
the New Testament; and some early rabbinic texts. Requirements: A
modest (6-8 page) essay, a midterm, and a final exam.