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, and discuss examples of Jewish biblical exegesis. Linked themes, such as scribal activity, fallen angels and apostasy, will be considered at each stage, thus 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 analyze, 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

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 & The Rise of the Sages

Midrash (e.g. Genesis Rabbah and Pesiqta of R. Kahana) & The Rabbinic Corpora

Mishnah & 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 teaching activity33Lectures
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
Essay1006,000 words1-13

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-13Refer/defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985)

I. 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)

A. 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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