Judaism in the Modern World
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Gareth Evans Jones
Overall aims and purpose
The module aims to provide students with a broad and in-depth knowledge of the Jewish faith, its development, and its practice in the modern world. The module will commence with an exploration of the Hebrew Bible by evaluating the central tenants of the Jewish faith, including the covenant and the mitzvot. We will then go on to discuss certain significant historical events in the development of the Jewish faith, including the destruction of the Second Temple and the evolution of the Jewish diaspora. In this respect, consideration will be given to a selection of important Jewish thinkers in order to appreciate how they influence the nature and practice of Judaism today, including Moses Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn. Having done so, the module will discuss the practice of Judaism in contemporary society by focusing on specific aspects, namely, rites of passage, dietary laws, religious festivals and rituals. The module will also study the diverse denominations within Judaism and how they respond to certain topics, including the emergence of Jewish feminism. In sum, the module offers a broad overview of the history and beliefs which have shaped modern Judaism.
The module may include, but will not be limited to studying: The historical background of Judaism; An overview of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and the central tenants of the Jewish faith, including the covenant, the mitzvot, and the concept of ‘God’s chosen people’; The impact of the destruction of the Second Temple and the development of diasporic Judaism; Influential Jewish thinkers, such as Moses Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn; The practice of contemporary Judaism: rites of passage, dietary laws, religious festivals and rituals; the diverse denominations within modern-day Judaism; Modern Judaism and certain issues: feminism and environmentalism.
Threshold D- to D +
Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows: • Generally accurate but with omissions and errors. • Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning. • Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions. • Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.
Very Good B- to B+
Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: • Very good structure and logically developed arguments. • Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. • Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning. • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.
Excellent A- to A*
Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways: • Has originality of exposition with the student’s own thinking being readily apparent. • Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study. • Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.
C- to C+
Good C- to C +
Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: • Good structure and logically developed arguments. • At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. • Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning. • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.
• Demonstrate an awareness of the various theological and cultural traditions existent in contemporary Judaism.
• Discuss and demonstrate knowledge of the variety of sources existent in the Jewish tradition and appreciate how they can be applied to contemporary world situations.
• Demonstrate an ability to explore the relationship between Judaism and global political issues.
• Apply Jewish insights and philosophies to a variety of social and scientific issues.
Present information on a topic related to Judaism in a clear and coherent manner.
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Teaching and Learning Strategy
Students will be expected to attend 33 hours of formal lectures. The lectures will take on them a seminar element, thus, will be interactive and engaging.
Students will be expected to undertake a level of independent study to coincide with and complement the lectures. Students will be provided with a reading list at the beginning of the module and will be encouraged to consult it.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- Articulacy in identifying underlying issues in a wide variety of debates.
- Precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.
- Sensitivity in interpretation of religious and philosophical texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions.
- Clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts.
- The ability to use and criticise specialised religious and philosophical terminology.
- The ability to abstract and analyse arguments, and to identify flaws in them, such as false premises and invalid reasoning.
- The ability to construct rationally persuasive arguments for or against specific religious and philosophical claims.
- The ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations.
- demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
- demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
- presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
- preparing effective written communications for different readerships
- making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
- making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
- making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
- collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
- appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
• Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. 2017 (2nd ed.). Judaism: History, Belief and Practice. New York & London: Routledge.
• deLange, Nicholas. R. M. 2003. Judaism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Küng, Hans. 1992. Judaism: The Religious Situation of Our Time. London: SCM Press Ltd.
• Goodman, Martin. 2005. The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Rayner, John D. 1998. Jewish Religious Law: A Progressive Perspective. New York: Berghahn Books.