HIST 1534: Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures

3 CreditsHistorical Perspectives

This course traces the development of Judaism and Jewish civilizations from their beginnings to the present. With over three millennia as its subject, the course must of necessity be a general survey. Together we will explore the mythic structures, significant documents, historical experiences, narratives, practices, beliefs, and worldviews of the Jewish people. The course begins by examining the roots of Judaism in the Hebrew Bible and the history of ancient Israel but quickly focuses on the creative forces that developed within Judaism as a national narrative confronted the forces of history, especially in the forms of the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. Rabbinic Judaism becomes the most dominant creative force and will receive our greatest attention, both in its formative years and as it encounters the rise of Christianity and Islam. After studying the Jewish experience in the medieval world, we will turn to Judaism’s encounter with the enlightenment and modernity. The historical survey concludes by attending to the transformations within Judaism and Jewish life of the last 150 years, including a confrontation with the experience of the Holocaust. Woven throughout this historical survey will be repeated engagements with core questions: “Who is a Jew?” “What do Jews believe?” “What do Jews do?” “What do we mean by ‘religion’?” “How do Jews read texts within their tradition?” And perhaps most importantly, “How many answers are there to a Jewish question?” Students in this course can expect to come away with some knowledge of the Bible in Judaism, rabbinic literature and law, Jewish mysticism and philosophy, Jewish nationalism and Zionism, Jewish culture, ritual, and worship in the synagogue, the home, and the community, and Jewish celebrations of life cycle events and the festivals.

View on University Catalog

All Instructors

B- Average (2.802)Most Common: B (21%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

47 students
  • 4.25


  • 3.39


  • 4.60


  • 4.35


  • 4.44



      Contribute on our Github

      Gopher Grades is maintained by Social Coding with data from Summer 2017 to Fall 2023 provided by the Office of Institutional Data and Research

      Privacy Policy