Skip to content | Change text size

JWC2620 - Radical Rabbis: Literature, Theology and Imagination

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Melanie Landau


Not offered in 2007


This subject introduces students to the basic literary genres, ideas and values of the Sages of the 'rabbinic period' (2nd-6th centuries) who assumed the leadership of the Jewish people after the destruction of the
second temple. The subject weaves theological and moral claims made by the Rabbis with introductory explorations into distinct genres of rabbinic writing such as Midrash, Mishnah and Talmud. Some examination
of various polemics that define the enterprise of the Rabbis will also be considered; for example, polemics with early Christians and contemporary 'gnostics' and 'pagans'. The subject will focus on the study of texts from the period, in English translation.


On successful completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  1. understand and explain the social and historical conditions leading to the formation of the rabbinic class,
  2. demonstrate a familiarity with the different genres of rabbinic literature;
  3. read and analyse selected texts from rabbinic literature;
  4. understand and explain how these texts convey moral, theological, social and legal values
  5. understand the significance of the rabbinic period in defining the Jewish people since the second century CE.


2500 word essay 40%
1000 word seminar paper and presentation 20%
One 1 hour exam 30%
Seminar preparation and participation 10%

Contact hours

1-hour lecture followed by a 90-minute seminar


First year sequence in Jewish Civilisation or Religion and Theology or Philosophy; or 12 points at level 2 in Jewish Civilisation or Religion and Theology or Philosophy; or by special permission