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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Martin S. Jaffee
NEAR E 458
Seattle Campus

The Babylonian Talmud

Introduction to the Babylonian Talmud, the classic collection of rabbinic literature. Literary and historic methodologies contextualize the Talmud in the setting of other ancient religious literatures and track the processes of its literary development. Offered: jointly with JSIS C 458.

Class description

This course invites students to enter the literary and intellectual world of the Babylonian Talmud, the greatest work of Rabbinic Judaism.Using as our point of entry the early rabbinic laws governing the rituals of the Day of Atonement, we will follow the Talmud's legal and theological development over the course of 4 centuries or oral tradition. A major part of the course work involves critical analysis of the literary impact of oral forms of transmission on the final written text of the Talmud.

Student learning goals

Familiarity with issues of literary and historical criticism of the talmudic text in translation

general patterns of the history of Judaism

major concepts and disciplines of the rabbinic oral tradition

Ability to interpret rabbinic ideas in cultural context

Ability to decode complex and culturally unfamiliar texts

Ability to synthesize and evaluate historical arguments

General method of instruction

This is an exercise in collective reading and analysis of a dense text from antiquity. Students must be prepared to hold forth on sections of the text during each class session

Recommended preparation

The course does not presume any particular experience in t he study of Judaism, although students who have done coursework in Comparative Religion and/or Jewish Studies will have a richer context from which to approach the material.

Class assignments and grading

To be determined

To be determined


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Martin S. Jaffee
Date: 11/12/2009