Scribes, Apostles and Sages: Early Jewish Biblical Exegesis (THE3163)

StaffProfessor Siam Bhayro - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 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. demonstrate critical understanding of the context of each successive stage of exegesis;
  • 2. demonstrate critical 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 critical understanding of and engagement with the richness of successive Jewish corpora in its varied forms;
  • 6. discuss and demonstrate critical comprehension of the sources of classical Judaism;
  • 7. demonstrate critical 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 a diversity of primary and secondary sources;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. undertake independent work within broad guidelines;
  • 10. shape detailed information into a critical account;
  • 11. demonstrate critical and creative thought argument;
  • 12. make independent use of selected written sources;
  • 13. communicate clearly in writing;
  • 14. participate appropriately in a learning group;

Syllabus plan

Week 1 Early Jewish Corpora from Bible to Talmud
Week 2 Ancient near eastern and Biblical scribes (e.g. Jeremiah and Baruch)
Week 3 Inner-Biblical Exegesis
Week 4 Pseudepigrapha (e.g. 1 Enoch and Jubilees)
Week 5 Dead Sea Scrolls - Pesharim (e.g. Pesher Habakkuk)
Week 6 Dead Sea Scrolls - Rewritten Bible (e.g. Genesis Apocryphon)
Week 7 Apocrypha (e.g. Baruch and Tobit)
Week 8 New Testament (e.g. Matthew, James, 2 Peter & Jude)
Week 9 Targum & The Rise of the Sages
Week 10 Midrash (e.g. Genesis Rabbah and Pesiqta of R. Kahana) & The Rabbinic Corpora
Week 11 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
Learning and teaching22weekly classes
Independent Study128

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative:preparatory reading for eachone chapter per class11-12, 14-15

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
Essay504000 words1-13Verbal and written feedback
Essay504000 words1-13Verbal and written feedback

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

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 (T�bingen: 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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