Sophomore Seminar: Was Ancient Judaism a Religion or an Ethnicity?

History 84

Fall 2016
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tu 10-12
  • This course does not count for credit toward the History Major but may fulfill other requirements.
  • This seminar will explore a question whose roots lay in antiquity but whose significance remains of central concern today: were the ancient Jews considered (and did they consider themselves) as an ethnic group or as adherents of a religion? In short, how does one define Jewish identity in the ancient world? We shall investigate this question through reading various biblical stories such as those of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Tamar, Ruth, and Esther, some Jewish writers of the Greco-Roman period like Philo and St. Paul, and selections from Roman authors, like Cicero and Tacitus, who commented on Jews.