Jewish Studies Courses at Elon University

1. Required for the Minor

REL 205: Jewish Traditions
This course traces the history of the Jewish community from its origins in ancient Israel to the present day, considering the evolution of its major ideas and practices as well as the diversity of Jewish cultures throughout the world. We will explore a range of classical and contemporary Jewish approaches to theology, ethics, ritual, gender, peoplehood, spirituality, authority, and relations with other communities.

2. Elective Courses

For the minor, no more than 12 total credits may come from any department; this means that no more than 8 elective credits may come from Religious Studies.

ARH 376: Contact/Conflict/Culture: The Visual Culture of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

ENG 259: Literature of the Holocaust
This course will explore a variety of literature with the Holocaust as its central theme. Genres of literature will include short and long fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama and film.  The Holocaust will be explored through the historical, spiritual, cultural and literary viewpoint s of first and second generation survivors, witnesses, deniers and perpetrators. Guest speakers and field trips to local museums and synagogues will be considered as well as an overnight visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

GST 218:  Kafka and the Kafkaesque
Eligible for Jewish Studies credit with an appropriately focused research project.

GST 227: Holocaust Perpetrators
Since the summer of 1945, a debate has raged over how to portray Holocaust perpetrators. In this course, students will examine the political consequences of literary, film, and other artistic representations of Holocaust perpetrators. Alongside an investigation of works by Stanley Kramer, Hannah Arendt, Peter Weiss, Art Spiegelman, and others, students will choose one work in any genre as the topic of a semester-long research project.

GST 240-IS/ENG 240-IS: Holocaust Journey (Winter-Term Study Abroad)
This course will allow participants to learn about the Holocaust through tours of concentration/extermination camps, ghettos and discussions with Holocaust scholars and survivors. The course originates in Amsterdam, continues to Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Prague, and concludes in Nuremberg, Germany — all significant locations for Jews during the Holocaust.  Students will also have the opportunity to visit Jewish museums and archives, synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, as well as more traditional tourist attractions such as cathedrals, castles and art museums. Preparation for the course will include reading the novel Treblinka (Jean-Francoise Steiner) and Night (Elie Wiesel). Students will also keep a journal and conduct research throughout the journey and will prepare their final project after they return to the States. Class discussions will occur throughout the term. Free time will be available in every city for individual research and exploration.

GST 289-IS: Israel, Palestinian Territories, and Jordan: Living Stones of Peace (Winter-Term Study Abroad)
This study abroad course will explore the religious, cultural, historical, and socio-economic dimensions of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We will consider how Israeli and Palestinian people live together given a history of mistrust, intolerance, and violence, and what justice implies in such settings. Students will spend time with people from diverse religious and cultural communities and will hear stories that express the painful and joyous realities that make up life in Israel, Jordan, and Palestinian territories. We will visit Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holy sites and begin to understand the basic tenets, similarities, and differences between these faiths. Students will critically examine contexts and models of reconciliation through historical texts, comparative religious study, and encounters with individuals and organizations, grass roots movements, and in situ contexts where people of differing commitments live peacefully and hospitably, and also with great tension, alongside one another. The ultimate goal of this course is for students to be able to articulate many layers of this conflict, to experience compassion for all those impacted, and to critically analyze opportunities for peace.

GST 359: The Media and the Middle East
This course examines the ways in which the Middle East is covered and portrayed in both Western and non-Western media. It aims to broaden students’ perspectives on a critical part of the world and to deepen their understanding of complex problems they read and hear about daily. By drawing on both contemporaneous and historical accounts, the course will encourage students to examine the diversity of views, each of them rooted in a different history and a different culture. The course will be taught in a seminar fashion and will require substantial reading, not only in contemporary journalism but also history, religion, cultural studies and international relations. This course is writing intensive. Open to students in the third or fourth year of study.  Eligible for Jewish Studies credit with an appropriately focused research paper.

HEB 121: Elementary Modern Hebrew I
This course is designed for students with no prior experience in the language.  Special emphasis is placed on active communication to develop oral and comprehension skills.. 

HEB 122: Elementary Modern Hebrew II
This course builds on skills learned in HEB 170 and continues the study of basic Modern Hebrew grammar and syntax and provides further development of culture, communication and comprehension skills.  Prerequisite:  HEB 170 or permission by chair of the department.  

HEB 221: Intermediate Modern Hebrew I
This course provides intensive development of all language skills, focused emphasis on reading and composition.  Students will learn to describe, analyze, and express opinions on cultural topics.  Prerequisite:  HEB 171 or permission by chair of the department.

HEB 222: Intermediate Modern Hebrew II
This final course in basic language experience consolidates all skills learned in previous Modern Hebrew classes or  students previous experience.  Advanced reading, writing and speaking skills are refined through study of more advanced cultural and literary topics.  Prerequisite:  HEB 172 or permission by chair of the department. 

HST 316: The Modern Middle East
This course offers an historical perspective for better understanding the contemporary Middle East.  After surveying earlier events, the class focuses on the twentieth century.  Among the topics we will explore are the two world wars, the effects of the Paris Peace Conference and mandate system, the rise of modern states, the development of Arab nationalism and Islamic revivalism, contemporary social tensions, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and revolution, war and the political economy of oil in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

HST 338: Germany: War, Democracy and Hitler, 1914-1945
This course will explore the history of Germany from the outbreak of World War I through the end of World War II. It begins with an examination of the Second Reich (1871-1918) but concentrates on the two world wars and Germany's experiments with democracy during the Weimar Republic and dictatorship during the Nazi era.

HST 339: A History of the Holocaust
This history of the Holocaust explores the roots of this event, beginning with historical anti-Semitism and the impact of this tradition on Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Topics also include Hitler's racial policies between 1933-1938, their spread throughout Nazi Europe between 1939-1941, the evolution of the Final Solution from 1941-45 and post-World War II Holocaust developments and questions.

HST 460: Seminar: Nazi Germany

JST 481: Internship in Jewish Studies
The Internship in Jewish Studies provides students with the opportunity to explore Jewish Studies outside of a classroom setting. Prerequisites: At least one course in Jewish Studies and permission of the Jewish Studies program coordinator.

JST 491: Independent Study
Advanced students may complete individual study in an area of special interest under faculty guidance. Proposals for independent study should be prepared and submitted in the semester prior to enrollment. Prerequisites: At least one course in Jewish Studies and permission of the Jewish Studies program coordinator.

JST 499: Independent Research in Jewish Studies
Advanced students may pursue a research project in Jewish Studies with a selected faculty mentor. A research proposal should be prepared and submitted in the semester prior to enrollment. Prerequisites: At least one course in Jewish Studies and permission of the Jewish Studies program coordinator.

PHL 339: Martin Buber and the Eclipse of God
This course explores Martin Buber’s dialogical philosophy as a response to the modern condition that is both uniquely Jewish and at the same time universal, and as a philosophy of healing in both the individual and the collective sense.

PHL 350: The Spirit of Israel
The 20th century proved to be one of the most challenging and defining periods in Jewish history; from the emergence of political Zionism and the tragedy of the Holocaust to the creation of the State of Israel. It is from this national entity that future Judaism will have to speak and serve its historical purpose, that is, “the great upbuilding of peace.” This course will examine the philosophical writings of thinkers associated with the spirit of Israel and the latter’s manifestation in Jewish history. Special attention will be given to the expression of such a spirit in the contemporary relationship between Israel and the world.

PHL 361: Themes in the Films of Woody Allen
This course examines the works of Woody Allen as a paradigm case of the artistic nature of films and as a source for profound philosophical issues. Students are introduced to the general framework of the philosophy of art and look critically at issues concerning the medium of film as an art form as well as the problem of relativism across the many realms of value.

REL 211: The Hebrew Bible
This course introduces students to the critical study of the Hebrew scriptures.  We will explore the ideas and practices of ancient Israel in light of the Near Eastern context in which the Bible developed, while also studying the traditions of ancient biblical interpretation that especially shaped Judaism and Christianity.  We will carefully and critically read the Bible's narratives, poems, proverbs, and law codes, giving particular attention to its diverse conceptions of justice, love, holiness, gender, nature, power, and God.

REL 212: Introduction to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature
In this course students approach the writings of early Christianity as literary and rhetorical responses to ancient social, political, and religious concerns. Students are introduced to the multi-faceted worlds surrounding the emerging Christian communities, as well as some of the realities created by these writings. In so doing, this course equips students with the tools for reading complex and ancient texts from a critical perspective.

REL 239: Judaism and the Environment
This course analyzes historical and contemporary teachings of the Jewish tradition regarding animals and the natural world.  We will study the stories of creation in the Bible and in the Jewish imagination; the treatment of nature in Jewish law, philosophy and mysticism; traditional prohibitions on causing suffering to animals, wasting natural resources, and various forms of pollution; and responses to current environmental crises among contemporary American and Israeli Jews.

REL 324: Theodicy: The Problem of Evil in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature
This course examines the ways in which ancient Jewish and Christian communities describe, explain and struggle with the issue of evil or “why bad things happen to good people.” Attention is given to different types of literary responses (prophetic, wisdom, historical, apocalyptic, and martyrdom accounts). The course also attends to modern appropriations of these ancient traditions.

REL 325: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Ancient and Modern
This course examines the enduring and widespread fascination “apocalypse,” studying the ancient genre of apocalyptic literature as a response to specific historical and social concerns and modern interpretations of the ancient.  While a variety of ancient and modern texts will be read within this course, special attention will be given to the Book of Revelation as a political-religious response to the Roman Empire.

REL 326: Sex Lives of Saints
Early Christian writings and traditions have exercised enormous influence upon modern views of gender (masculinity and femininity), sex and family. In this course we explore how these ideas are shaped in relation to the Jewish and Roman contexts of early Christianity. Students will engage a variety of ancient primary sources, including select New Testament writings (e.g. the letters of Paul, Revelation) and early Christian saints’ lives.

REL 327: Messiahs, Martyrs, and Memory
This course examines ancient Jewish and Christian messianic movements and the ways these traditions inspire the practice and idealization of martyrdom. In addition to exploring the ancient practice of memorializing through death, this course addresses some of the ways messianic figures and martyrs are remembered and memorialized in modern contexts.

REL 366: Jews and Muslims: Symbiosis, Cooperation, and Conflict
This course examines the so-called “symbiosis” between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, focusing on questions of identity, community, and crosscultural exchange and communication. These questions are then explored in their continuing relevance from the early modern period to the present day along with their implications for contemporary Jewish-Muslim relations.

REL 367: Religion and Empire in Late Antiquity
This course examines the complex interrelationships between empire and religion in Late Antiquity. We explore how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed in this era, taking on their definitive shapes and becoming “world religions.” We focus on the intertwined themes of belief, authority, community, and identity as we proceed through the eras of Greek, Roman, Persian, and Arab-Islamic dominion in the Near East and Mediterranean.

REL 379: Jewish-Christian Dialogue
The history of Jewish-Christian relations has been marked by deep hatred and violence. This course will consider that history, its influence on the atrocities of the Holocaust, and the new dialogue that emerged between Christians and Jews in the post-Holocaust era. In considering the history of Jewish-Christian encounters, the course may give particular attention to debates about subjects including God, Jesus, sacred texts, the construction of identity, power and powerlessness, the State of Israel, and the future of Jewish-Christian relations

REL 382: Jewish Ethics
This course explores traditional and contemporary Jewish approaches to ethics. Central topics will include questions regarding love and justice, sin and repentance, respect for the human body, and the relationship between ethics and law. We will examine how understandings of Jewish ethics have been shaped by modernity, giving special attention to American Judaism; and we will consider how classical Jewish sources might speak to a range of contemporary moral and political issues.

REL 383: Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism: Guiding the Perplexed
This course focuses on the efforts of medieval Jews to interpret traditional Jewish ideas, narratives and practices in light of the ideas of ancient Greek philosophy.  Giving particular focus to Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, we will explore Jewish philosophical visions of the good life and the good political community, of mystical longing for God, and of the secrets allegedly contained within the Torah’s narratives and commandments.  We will also consider the passionate opposition to the philosophical enterprise, especially from the medieval Jewish tradition known as Kabbalah, which offered its own radical vision of the secrets of the Torah.

REL 384: Modern Jewish Thought
This course offers a historical and philosophical investigation of modern Jewish thought, considering the approaches of major Jewish thinkers from a range of movements and approaches.  We will explore perspectives on topics including the meaning of Judaism, the relationship between the Jewish people and other nations, the authority of tradition, the nature of moral goodness, and the nature of God.

SOC 341: Race and Ethnic Relations
Students examine the meaning of minority group status in terms of the general patterns and problems confronting all minorities as well as the specific issues facing individual minority groups such as African-Americans, Jews, European-Americans and Asian-Americans. Discussion emphasizes the nature of prejudice and discrimination, the structure of minority-majority relations and strategies toward social equality. Prerequisite: SOC 111.  Eligible for Jewish Studies credit with an appropriately focused research paper.

Please also consider the Jewish Studies courses offered through our study abroad affiliates.

This page was updated on June 30, 2014.