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, the following topics: The historical background of Judaism; 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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• Demonstrate comprehension of and intelligent engagement with the rich philosophical and spiritual traditions of Judaism in its varied forms, in addition to the central philosophies and traditions of the Jewish faith.
• Discuss and demonstrate a strong comprehension of Judaism’s classic sources and their subsequent articulations by various central interpreters of the tradition(s).
• Apply philosophical insights, themes and debates from different Jewish schools appropriately to broader social, political and disciplinary contexts, including the medical and biological sciences, and law.
• Demonstrate a critical and sophisticated understanding of the multi-faceted complexity of Judaism, for example, in the relationship between specifically religious beliefs, texts, practices and institutions, and wider social and cultural structures, norms, aesthetics and aspirations.
• Present relevant information on a topic related to Judaism in a clear, coherent and engaging manner, demonstrating a firm understanding of the topic in question.
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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
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- 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.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
- 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
- Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in
• 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.