Undergraduate Course Archive

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Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 202 / REL 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 202 / REL 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, Maimonides's legal and philosophical work, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Yaacob Dweck
Moulie Vidas
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 202 / REL 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the roles of reading and interpretation in forming the Jewish tradition.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Greek and Roman Religions

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 202 / REL 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, medieval Bible commentaries (Rashi, Nahmanides), Maimonides's Mishnah Torah (code of Jewish Law), and the Zohar, the central work of Kabbaah (medieval Jewish mysticism). We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Additional description

Department Area Requirement: Ancient Mediterranean

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 202 / REL 202

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the roles of reading and interpretation in forming the Jewish tradition.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Greek and Roman Religions

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Jewish Mysticism, Magic, and Kabbalah from Antiquity to Middle Ages (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 204 / REL 204

This course traces the history of Jewish mysticism and magic from the Hebrew Bible to the flourishing of the Kabbalah in medieval Europe. We will consider such historical problems as: the roots of the Jewish mystical tradition in Israelite prophecy; rabbinic attitudes toward secret knowledge and ecstatic practice; and the emergence of the Kabbalah against the background of Jewish rationalist philosophy. The course also considers such thematic questions as: the relationship between literary expression and mystical experience; the power of speech and language in Jewish magic; and gender, sexuality, and the body in Jewish mysticism.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Art and Judaism in the Ancient World (LA)
Subject associations
JDS 224 / REL 217

Jews have often been thought of as a "nation without art," who disparaged the visual and discouraged artistic creation. But the reality is very different: Judaism has a rich tradition of artistic production as well as a long history of reflection on the role that objects and images should play in religious life. Using both textual and artistic sources, this course explores the nature and function of art in ancient Judaism, from the Hebrew Bible to the end of late antiquity. A particular focus will be on Jewish attitudes toward and engagement with the visual and material cultures of the wider societies in which Jews lived.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
The Power of Images in Late Antiquity: Jewish Art in Its Historical Contexts (LA)
Subject associations
JDS 224 / REL 217

This course explores the long and rich tradition of Jewish image making and the history of Jewish thought on the power of images in religious life, from the Hebrew Bible through the end of antiquity. We concentrate particularly on Jewish engagement with the visual cultures of the surrounding Greek, Roman, and Christian societies. In spring 2023, we will focus on the new archaeological discoveries in the Roman village of Huqoq in the Galilee, which have transformed our understanding of the place of art in Judaism. Students who take the course will have the opportunity to participate in the Huqoq Excavation Project in summer 2023.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Subject associations
JDS 302 / NES 302 / REL 302 / HEB 322

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with extensive experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

Instructors
Philip Zhakevich
Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Subject associations
JDS 302 / NES 302 / REL 302

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with extensive experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

Instructors
Laura E. Quick
Martyrdom and Religious Violence in the Ancient Mediterranean World (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 305 / REL 305

This course explores the relationship between religion and violence in the ancient Mediterranean world. We will investigate how the shifting discourses and practices of religiously-motivated violence directed both at the self and the other shaped the social, cultural and political histories of specific groups within ancient Mediterranean society. Of special interest will be the emergence of Jewish and Christian traditions of martyrdom against their biblical and Graeco-Roman backgrounds and the impact of the Christianization of the Roman Empire on the relationship between political power, religiously-motivated violence, and communal identity.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
History of Passover: From Moses to Jesus to Harry Potter (HA)
Subject associations
JDS 307 / REL 307

This course explores the history of Passover, from its ancient origins to its modern variations. Students will reflect on Jewish ideas of redemption as represented in art, food, memory, and ritual. Tracing the evolution of the holiday and its meaning, we will consider: sacrifice in its ancient Near Eastern context; Passover's centrality in the development of Christianity; ritual disparity between varying Jewish ethnicities; and non-traditional Haggadahs composed over the last hundred years. In a semester-long project, students have the option to write, create, and/or perform a representation of the main themes of the course.

Instructors
David Sclar
Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Ancient World (CD or HA)
Subject associations
JDS 313 / REL 306

This course considers the social and cultural encounters between religious/ethnic groups in the ancient Mediterranean world. It aims to challenge the idea that these groups (for example, Greeks, Jews, Romans, Christians) had stable boundaries or that they spoke with a unified and authoritative voice. The dynamic and even fluid relationships among these groups had a deep impact on the nature of religious life during the formative period of Late Antiquity and beyond. The course will thus explore religious contact and conflict, proximity and separation, dialogue and prejudice-both ancient and modern.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Brujería is (not) Witchcraft: Religiosity, Power, and Performance in LatAm and Caribbean Imagination (CD or LA)
Subject associations
LAS 228 / SPA 244 / THR 233 / REL 204

This course explores Latin American and Caribbean culture and its connections with Europe and Africa through references to witches, witchcraft, and other forms of religion and power exercised by women, including practices from Santería, Palo Monte and other Afro-Caribbean religions. With a wide lens on how many women and queer bodies have been considered deviants, dangerous, and deemed punishable, this class will look at how colonialism and its aftermath shaped discourses around religion in the Americas, and how legal documents, visual arts, film, novels, and theater, have represented and contested those discourses and bodies.

Instructors
Lilianne Lugo Herrera
Jerusalem Contested: A City's History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (HA)
Subject associations
NES 221 / JDS 223 / REL 216

Jerusalem is considered a holy city to three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, students will learn the history of Jerusalem from its founding in pre-biblical times until the present. Over the course of the semester, we will ask: What makes space sacred and how does a city become holy? What has been at stake - religiously, theologically, politically, nationally - in the many battles over Jerusalem? Is a city that is so deeply contested doomed to endless tension or does history offer more hopeful precedents?

Instructors
Jonathan M. Gribetz
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)
Subject associations
NES 240 / REL 240

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Islam

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)
Subject associations
NES 240 / REL 240

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Islam

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)
Subject associations
NES 240 / REL 240

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)
Subject associations
NES 240 / REL 240

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Introduction to Islamic Theology (HA)
Subject associations
NES 339 / REL 339

This course is a general survey of the main principles of Islamic doctrine. It focuses on the Muslim theological discourse on the concepts of God and His attributes, man and nature, the world to come, revelation and prophethood, diversity of religions, and the possibility and actuality of miracles.

Instructors
Hossein Modarressi