MIDEAST 242 - Rabbis: Literature and Culture
Fall 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
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Requirements & Distribution:
Credit Exclusions:
No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in HJCS 470 or JUDAIC 470 or HJCS 570 or ACABS 570 or JUDAIC 570.
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Rules, norms, and laws shape how people live their lives. Rabbinic literary texts, representing Jewish law and ethics, as shaped by a group of Jewish scholars known today as the rabbis, are considered by many to be masterpieces of the ancient world. The Talmud, the primary text in the rabbinic corpus, is one of the most influential documents in the history of Judaism. These texts offer a vivid portrayal of ancient lives as they discuss topics such as Jewish food and dietary laws (the most famous is the prohibition against pork), marriage customs, family, city and village life, clothing (fashions of the times), finances, crime, and even sports. The rabbis debate these topics but also tell enchanting stories and anecdotes about their lives and the experiences of their communities. This course will explore the history and substance of rabbinic writings on three levels. First, we will situate the rabbinic literary enterprise within a broader cultural, historical and religious context, using archaeology and art to shed light on those texts. Second, we will examine the various genres that constitute rabbinic literature and get acquainted with the sages, an elite group of Jewish intellectuals living in the Roman and Byzantine periods, who created this corpus. Finally, we will trace the way subsequent generations gradually shaped these texts to their current form and endowed them with exalted status. The course will include weekly readings of original rabbinic passages (all provided in English translation) which will be used to recreate the settings of the rabbinic environment.

Intended Audience:

Undergraduate students of all level; no knowledge of languages beyond English is needed

Class Format:

One 3-hour meeting weekly


MIDEAST 242 - Rabbis: Literature and Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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