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|JCIV 254 - Arguing with God: Bible as Lit|
In a somewhat idiosyncratic essay, the literary critic George Steiner made the intriguing observation that the true homeland of the Jewish people was not necessarily Zion, the synagogue, or some other space, be it physical or meta-physical. Rather, Steiner insisted that the true Jewish homeland was the text. In this course, we will introduce you to a wide variety of classic (Biblical) and less than classic Jewish texts which interpret them. We will argue that for Jews the process of interpreting those texts is every bit as important—if not more so—than understanding the intentions of those who authored them. This then is a class about the interpretive injunction inherent in Jewish tradition, or its unique and relatively liberal propensity for discussing, interpreting, questioning, and even arguing – not only with the text but with G-d Himself. We will understand Jewish texts from a historical, literary and above all, comparative perspective, and examine all the many ways in which Jews read their texts. It will be our working hypothesis that it is this very interpretive, or hermeneutical, process that lies at the core of Jewish identity. Our inquiry is beholden to certain classic Jewish forms of argumentation and disputation. As such this class will be taught in a manner that replicates many classic Jewish learning styles, so the student should be prepared to speak up and out, all the while listening very carefully to the thoughts of their colleagues. No previous knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, Jewish history, literature or culture is assumed. Class performance is entirely based on analytical investment.
3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
Schedule Types: Seminar
Jewish Civilization Department