This course explores Judaism from Late Antiquity through the beginning of the Middle Ages. Rather than a traditional survey format, we will cover this period through historical, literary, and cultural approaches to primary literature (including focus on rabbinic literature) organized thematically. Throughout, we will read primary and secondary sources on two levels: exploring the historical and literary narratives they weave about this period in Jewish history, while paying close attention to their rhetorical choices. We discuss rabbinic self-representation simultaneously as we analyze the ways historical narratives and primary texts have been mobilized in the contemporary Jewish clime. Finally, we will treat the question of how this body of literature came to be of such central importance in Jewish culture.
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