JEWISHST 148 / HDS 1463 – How Jews Read (and Write)

JEWISHST 148 – How Jews Read (and Write)

Semester: Fall
Offered: 2021
Instructor: David Stern
Meeting Time: M 12:00pm-2:45pm

No activity is more closely associated with Jews than the practice of reading, and no text has been read by Jews more intensively and in more different ways than the Bible. This course will explore the history of Jewish Biblical interpretation from antiquity, beginning with Philo of Alexandria’s allegorical commentaries, to the early modern period, culminating in Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.   And because the practice of reading is intimately connected with the way a text is inscribed—whether in a scroll, a handwritten codex, or a printed book—this course will also treat the history of the Bible as a material text along with its physical features. All readings will be in translation. In addition to Philo and Spinoza, readings will include the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic midrash, Karaite commentary, and selections from medieval Jewish exegetes as well as examples of Ancient Near Eastern, Greco-Roman, and Christian interpretation which have had an impact on Jewish interpretations. The class will meet for two hours a week. For those students able to read texts in Hebrew, there will be an additional special section which will meet for another hour to an hour and a half per week in which primary texts will be read in the original language. Students who wish to take the additional section should contact the instructor for special instructions about registering.

Offered jointly with Harvard Divinity School as HDS 1463

For more details please visit the Harvard Course Catalog.