H502 Jewish History

Instructor:  Rabbi Elliot Klayman
Location: https://mjti.populiweb.com
Dates: October 18–December 20

This course surveys Jewish history from the call of Abraham to the modern era. The class is divided into main time periods: the Biblical period (Tanakh), Second Temple Period, the Medieval Ages, the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and modernity. Specific issues related to Israel’s role as the People of God, the early Jewish believers in Yeshua, the birth of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity and the rupture between the two, the Crusades, pseudo- Messiahs, the Holocaust, followed by the establishment of the State of Israel, the rise of Messianic Judaism, and new Jewish movements, are examined.

This is a core course required by all graduate students. It also fulfills a requirement for ordination with both the UMJC and MJRC.

An understanding of the broad sweep of Jewish history from the call of Abraham to the modern state of Israel is essential in order to have a working provenance and time-frame for intelligent discussion on the varied issues that arise in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic worlds. This is a survey course with heavy emphasis on Jewish History during the Medieval and Early Modern Periods circa 600 to 1700 CE, including the Jews in the East and in the West, Jewish Mysticism, and Haskalah. (Other periods of Jewish History are covered in other MJTI courses including The Beginnings of the Jewish People, Apostolic Writings, Early Rabbinic Judaism I & II, Modern Judaism and Jewish Christian Relations).


The students will need a computer, internet access and an ability to navigate through the Populi platform.

This course will consist of both zoom lectures and podcasts in connection with asynchronous discussions.


The course requires:

  • Attendance and interaction at each of the five zoom meetings to be held on Sunday, October 18, November 1, 15, 29 and December 6, 3:30-5:30 pm ET
  • Interaction on the asynchronous discussion threads.
  • One paper on a topic relevant to the course approved by the instructor consisting of 2500 words, due before the date of the class that covers the topic.
  • Leading a class discussion in connection with your paper.
  • Final examination, consisting of 2500 words due December 20 at 11:59 pm. ET


  • Carr, Edward Hallett. What is History? New York: Random House, 1961 or https://archive.org/details/WhatIsHistory-E.H.Carr (Please read this before the first class.)
  • Goodman, Martin. A History of Judaism. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2018.
  • Klayman, Elliot. “Shades of ‘Pragmatism’ in Halakha” The Messianic Outreach Vol. 37:2 (Summer 2006), 623-658 (in Populi).
  • Rudoph, David. Chapter 1 “Messianic Judaism in Antiquity and in the Modern Era,” in Introduction to Messianic Judaism, 21-35 (in Populi).
  • Scholem, Gershom. The Messianic Idea of Judaism. New York: Schocken, 1971 (in Populi ).
  • Handouts available in Populi.


I have referenced a number of books relevant to this course in hopes that you will be able to make use of them for your paper and/or in the future.

  • Benbassa, Esther & Rodrigue, Aron. Sephardi Jewry. Berkeley: University of Berkeley Press, 2000.
  • Ben- Sasson, H.H., ed. A History of the Jewish People. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.
  • Brenner, Michael. A Short History of the Jews. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010 (translated from German by author).
  • Brooks, Andree Aelion. The Woman who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi. St Paul, MN: Paragon, 2003.
  • Chazan, Robert. Reassessing Jewish Life in Medieval Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Cohen, Shaye J.D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
  • Cohen, Shaye J.D. Josephus in Galilee and Rome. Boston: Brill, 2002.
  • Collins, John J. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
  • Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Fonfobert, Charlotte, Elisheva & Jaffe, Martin S., eds.The Cambridge Companion to The Talmud and Rabbinic Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Flusser, David. Judaism of the Second Temple Period, Vol. 1 Qumran and Apocalypticism. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Erdmans, 2007 (trans, Azzan Yadin).
  • Gerber, Jane S. The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience. New York: The Free Press, 1994.
  • Goodman, Martin. The Ruling Class of Judea: The Origins of the Jewish Revolt against Rome A.D. 66-70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Hayes, John H. & Mandell, Sara R. The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity: From Alexander to Bar Kochba. London: Leiden, 1998.
  • Hayes, Peter and Roth, John K. The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Holtz, Barry W., ed. Back to the Sources. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984.
  • Johnson, Paul. A History of the Jews. New York: HarperPerennial, 1987.
  • Katz, Jacob. Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval & Modern Times. West Orange, NJ: Behrman House, 1961.
  • Lenowitz, Harris. The Jewish Messiahs: From the Galilee to Crown Heights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Marcus, Jacob Rader. The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook: 315-1791. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1999.
  • Rudoph, David and Willits, Joel. Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.
  • Sachar, Howard M. Farewell Espana: The World of the Sephardim Remembered. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.
  • Saperstein, Marc, ed. Essential Papers on Messianic Movements and Personalities in Jewish History. New York and London: New York University Press, 1992.
  • Scheindlin, Raymond P. A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence. From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple & Rabbinic Judaism. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1991.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence H. Texts and Traditions: A Source Reader for the Study of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 1998.
  • Scholem, Gershom. Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.
  • Trepp, Leo. A History of the Jewish Experience. Springfield, NJ: Behhrman House, 2001.
  • Whiston, William, tans. The New Complete Works of Josephus. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999.
  • Wylen, Stephen M. The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction. New York: Paulist Press, 1996.
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