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JWM5010 - Reading Jewish Texts: From Antiquity to Modernity

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Nathan Wolski, Michael Fagenblat and Paul Forgasz


Not offered in 2007


Jewish literary creativity and religious life are characterised by on the one hand an extraordinary fidelity to a fixed text and on the other, a commitment to interpret that same text across all that history presents. Since the emergence of the biblical canon, the 'People of the Book' have read scripture (Torah) in diverse modes, ranging from literary to legalistic, philosophical to mystical. This unit explores the different reading strategies employed by the Jewish tradition from the earliest rabbinic works, through the great medieval commentators and on to some Jewish moderns.


On successful completion of this subject students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to:

  1. Understand and explain the different hermeneutic practices present in the Jewish tradition.
  2. Demonstrate a familiarity with the different genres of classical Jewish literature.
  3. Read and analyse selected texts from the Jewish tradition.
  4. Apply the reading and interpretative skills they have learned to unseen texts.
  5. Appreciate the exegetical horizons facing contemporary readers of scripture.
  6. Appreciate the continuities and ruptures between classical, medieval and modern interpretative practices.

Students successfully completing JWM5010 will be expected to demonstrate, in addition:
  1. Advanced skills in analysing primary sources and in developing an independent position regarding the meaning and significance of these sources.


Research paper (6000 words): 60%
Seminar paper (1000 words): 10%
Comparative analysis of two interpretive approaches to a biblical text (2000 words): 20%
Seminar preparation and participation: 10%

Contact hours

A weekly one hour lecture followed by a 90 minute seminar