Scribes, Apostles and Sages: Early Jewish Biblical Exegesis (THE3118)

StaffProfessor Siam Bhayro - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This option module will:

  • introduce the various Jewish corpora from the Bible to the Talmud
  • discuss examples of Jewish biblical exegesis
  • consider linked themes, such as scribal activity, fallen angels and apostasy providing a combination of a chronological and thematic treatment of the various corpora.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Describe and understand the context of each successive stage of exegesis
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of the exegetical methods used at each stage
  • 3. Identify elements of change and continuity between each stage
  • 4. Appreciate how scripture as sacred text was used at each stage

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate, with limited guidance, detailed comprehension of and engagement with the richness of successive Jewish corpora in its varied forms
  • 6. Discuss and demonstrate detailed comprehension, with limited guidance, of the sources of classical Judaism
  • 7. Demonstrate detailed understanding of the multi-faceted complexity of successive stages of Jewish exegesis, and in particular the relationship between the various corpora and the biblical text and the corpora themselves
  • 8. Evaluate and analyse, with limited guidance, a diversity of primary and secondary sources

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Undertake guided work within broad guidelines
  • 10. Shape detailed information into a coherent account, with some guidance
  • 11. Demonstrate consistency and rigour in method and argument
  • 12. Make thorough use of selected written sources, with some guidance
  • 13. Communicate clearly in writing
  • 14. Participate appropriately in a learning group
  • 15. Discuss sensitive issues with appropriate generosity

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Early Jewish Corpora from Bible to Talmud
  • Ancient near eastern and Biblical scribes (e.g. Jeremiah and Baruch)
  • Inner-Biblical Exegesis
  • Pseudepigrapha (e.g. 1 Enoch and Jubilees)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls – Pesharim (e.g. Pesher Habakkuk)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls – Rewritten Bible (e.g. Genesis Apocryphon)
  • Apocrypha (e.g. Baruch and Tobit)
  • New Testament (e.g. Matthew, James, 2 Peter & Jude)
  • Targum and The Rise of the Sages
  • Midrash (e.g. Genesis Rabbah and Pesiqta of R. Kahana) and the Rabbinic Corpora
  • Mishnah and Talmud

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Lectures
Guided independent study267Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Preparatory reading for each classOne chapter per class11, 12, 14, 15Classroom discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1006000 words1-13

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-13Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985)
  • Jacobs, The Midrashic Process: Tradition and Interpretation in Rabbinic Judaism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • T.H. Lim, Pesharim (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002)
  • L. Moscovitz, Talmudic Reasoning: From Casuistics to Conceptualization (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002)
    • Samely, Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • G. Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (second edition, trans. and ed. by M. Bockmuehl; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996)
  • J.C. VanderKam, An Introduction to Early Judaism (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2001)

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