REL 203
Judaism: Before The Law Fall 2017 Division II; Exploring Diversity Initiative; Cross-listed as JWST101 / REL203
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This course introduces the academic study of Judaism through a humanistic exploration of “the Law” as a concept in Jewish thought and practice. Coverage will include the Law of Moses in the Hebrew Bible, the rabbinic distinction between “Oral Law” and “Written Law,” medieval philosophical justifications for the Law, modern interpretations of the Law as Moral Law, Hasidic challenges to the centrality of the Law, and twentieth-century Jewish fiction that is haunted by a felt absence of the Law. Topics may also include the nature of rabbinic authority, methods of Jewish legal interpretation and innovation, and Jewish law as it pertains specifically to women, gentiles, idolaters, food consumption, and the Land of Israel. Course materials will include classical sources such as the Talmud and Midrash, modern philosophical texts by Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss and Joseph Soloveitchik, Kafka’s The Trial with his parable “Before The Law,” Woody Allen’s film Crimes and Misdemeanors, and ethnographic accounts of contemporary Jewish observance. All readings will be in translation.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 30
Expected: 15
Class#: 1298
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, three short papers, and a final longer paper
Extra Info: not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Jewish Studies concentrators, Religion majors and students who are considering these options
Distributions: Division II; Exploring Diversity Initiative;
Attributes: JLST Interdepartmental Electives; JWST Gateway Courses

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