Jewish Bible as an Artifact: Ancient to Modern Times (3 points)
Not available until after November 15.
Instructor: Prof. Lawrence Schiffman
Day & Time: Tuesday 11:00AM – 1:45PM
Description: The Bible as an object, whether in the form of scrolls or later in the codex, has served as a central object in Judaism, both from a religious and cultural point of view. This course aims to trace the history of the Hebrew Scriptures concentrating both on the development of the Hebrew text and the physical form in which it has been transmitted from ancient to modern times. Much attention will be paid to reflections of the wider historical and cultural contexts in which Jews read and transmitted their Bible. Because of the great significance of biblical literature in the development of Judaism and the history of the Jewish people, familiarity with the history of its text and transmission will greatly enrich students’ ability to understand a wide variety of other aspects of the wider field of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Further, the course aims to supply students with a variety of important primary and secondary sources that illuminate various historical and cultural developments. Primary texts will be read carefully with attention to their context and the manner in which they make use of earlier source materials. In this way, the course will contribute as well to the overall training of students in Judaic Studies. Students will be expected as well to develop their skills in critiquing secondary literature. It is expected that research papers will allow the students to work on topics relating to their own areas of specialization, thus adding a new perspective to their work.
Judaism and the Arts (3 points)
Instructor: Prof. Elisha Russ-Fishbane
Day & Time: Wednesday 11:00AM – 1:45PM
Description: Does the historic Jewish tradition, founded in part on its opposition to idolatry, have a place for the visual arts? Marc Chagall, icon of modern Jewish art, once declared that “Judaism struggled with ancient idolatry so that it remained with no share in the treasures of graphic art.” This course takes a close look at the approaches to the visual arts in the Jewish tradition, from antiquity through modernity, reflecting a spectrum of positions and perspectives far more nuanced than Chagall’s statement would warrant. It also explores the rich and creative treasures of what historians identify as uniquely Jewish art. Our survey in this course encompasses synagogue and ceremonial art, manuscript illumination, micrography, and new developments by Jewish artists from the nineteenth century to the present. The course is designed as integrative, open both to doctoral and masters students. Nearly all primary Hebrew sources are available in English translation. Doctoral students are expected to read and translate the original Hebrew texts.