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Level 4

4AAT1013 Introduction to Jewish Thought & Practice


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz
Assessment: Class participation (10%); one 1,500-word essay (30%); one 2,500 word essay (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt - except class participation.

Teaching pattern: one two-hour weekly class over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none

This module introduces the history of rabbinic Judaism and key rabbinic texts from antiquity to the middle ages as a springboard for the discussion of topics including exile, tradition and innovation, narrative and law, and Jewish and non-Jewish relations. The first half of the module focuses on the varieties of Judaism that flourished in late antiquity, the destruction of the Temple and the formation of rabbinic Judaism. Following the reading week, classes will turn to the development of diaspora communities in the Muslim world and in the Latin West in the middle ages. Lectures will be interactive throughout, and based on pre-circulated primary and secondary sources that must be read in advance.

Sample topics

  • The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)
  • Mishnah
  • Midrash
  • Talmud
  • Kabbalistic literature
  • Exile and Memory
  • Responding to Assimilation

Further information

Module aims
  • To introduce key topics in Judaism by studying its history, fundamental texts, concepts and practices
  • To develop a deeper understanding of Jewish thought and practice in late antiquity and the middle ages
  • To study contemporary scholarly works relevant to the primary texts examined
  • To provide a foundation for specialized modules in subsequent years
Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will:

  • be able to engage critically with the primary sources studied
  • be able to present key themes in the development of rabbinic Judaism coherently in written and oral form
  • understand the development, content and significance of Judaism’s most important texts
  • be able to engage critically with debates about the nature of Jewish thought and practice
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available to download here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.


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