Religious Studies | Studies in African, European, and West Asian Religions
A300 | 31237 | J. Mokhtarian


Topic: Torah, Temple, & God in Ancient Judaism
This course traces three of the ideological bedrocks of Ancient Judaism through the
reading of primary and secondary sources. Throughout the semester students are exposed
to a wide spectrum of literary genres, beliefs, and key events in Ancient Judaism beginning
with the promulgation of the authoritative code of the Torah under the Persian
Achaemenid Empire circa 458 B.C.E. up to the Rabbinic composition of the Mishnah circa
200 C.E. Topics covered include the role of the Persian Empire in the history of the Torah
and the Second Temple; the deep impact of Hellenism on ancient Jewish cultures; the
Hasmonean revolt; the canonization of the Torah and the tradition of the rewritten Bible;
the Jewish diaspora in Egypt; Philo; the Dead Sea Scrolls; the destruction of the Temple;
and the emergence of the Rabbinic movement. This course guides students through the
scholarly process of performing close readings of primary texts from within their
respective historical and cultural contexts. Texts to be read in translation include Ezra-
Nehemiah, Daniel 1-6, 1 Enoch, Wisdom of Ben Sira, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Dead Sea Scrolls
(e.g., Community Rule), and Mishnah Avot. Supplementary assignments include numerous
introductory articles, as well as S. Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society; S. Cohen, From
the Maccabees to the Mishnah; J. Vanderkam, An Introduction to Early Judaism; E.P.
Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief: 63 BCE-66 CE.