INTRODUCTION TO EARLY JUDAISM (RELI 106/JWST 106)
Professor Jodi Magness
121 Saunders Hall; tel. 962-3928
Office hours: Mondays 3:00-4:30 pm or by appointment
Teaching Assistants: Brian Coussens, Michael Knight, Lenny Lowe, Matthew Lynch, Candace
This course surveys Jewish history and religion beginning with the First Temple period (from
the time of David and Solomon) to the rise of rabbinic Judaism and the Muslim conquest of
Palestine (640 A.D.).
We focus especially on the Second Temple period (516 B.C.–70 A.D.),
covering such topics as the impact of Hellenization (Greek culture) on the Jews, sectarianism
among the Jews (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes), the reign of Herod the Great, and the Jewish
revolts against Rome.
It was in this environment that Jesus lived and preached and early
Our readings include sacred and historical texts from this period,
including the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the Apocrypha, and the works of Josephus.
Although students are encouraged to ask questions and discuss readings during class, the course
is structured primarily in a lecture format. Weekly recitations with the TAs are devoted to
reviewing material covered in class, discussing selected topics or readings, and preparing for
the term paper and examinations.
1) Robert Goldenberg,
The Origins of Judaism from Canaan to the Rise of Islam
Cambridge University, 2007).
2) James C. VanderKam,
An Introduction to Early Judaism
(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B.
You may also wish to acquire a Bible if you do not already own one.
It should include a
Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Tanakh + Apocrypha + New Testament.
Any modern scholarly
translation is acceptable.
Avoid editions that paraphrase, highlight, or otherwise simplify or
alter the original text.
The Apocrypha are generally found in Bibles that include both the
Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.
Students may also consult the following course reserve materials at the Undergraduate Library:
The Jews in the Greek Age
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1988).
J.H. Hayes and S.R. Mandell,
The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity, from Alexander to Bar
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998).
A History of Israel from Alexander the Great to Bar Kochba
The Jewish and Christian World 200 BC to AD 200
Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah
H. Shanks (ed.),
Ancient Israel, From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple