Religious Studies | Studies in African, European, and West Asian Religions
A300 | 28624 | S. Imhoff

Topic: Understanding the Rabbinic Mind
When we read Jewish texts from the early common era, we might easily think: What were
these rabbis thinking? This class will provide an introduction to rabbinic literature in general
and in particular seek to understand how the rabbis interpreted the Bible, created laws, and
told stories. How do the rabbis create seemingly bizarre interpretations of what look like
straightforward biblical verses? Why do the rabbis put together two biblical verses that seem
unrelated and then tell a story that connects those verses? Did the rabbis really believe the
stories they told? We will also consider contemporary questions about rabbinic literature. Why
have modern literary scholars begun to look at rabbinic literature? Can rabbinic literature
speak to modern concerns about language and its ability to communicate fully?