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Rabbis and Rebels: The Challenges of Jewish Tradition


Admission requirements

No special requirements. Knowledge of Hebrew is not required.


The core of Rabbinic Judaism is the dogma of the Bible as Sacred Scripture, an unchanging revelation, alongside Rabbinic tradition as a corpus of ever-changing, ever-growing literature, an oral tradition that endeavours to apply the content of religious writings to the challenges of daily life and new circumstances. The central question of this course is: How did the Rabbis seek to ‘adapt’ their Sacred Scripture to the world around them? How did they manage to find new layers of meaning, that would provide answers to new questions? In other words: how did they ‘actualize’ their Holy Writ? In the course of Jewish history, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition was often challenged or denied, causing the Rabbis to find creative ways of defending their stance. This course will provide a tour through roughly two thousand years of Jewish thought.

Course objectives

Knowledge of the major literary and religious works of Rabbinic Judaism. Insight in their structure, use and historical, social and religious background.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar with obligatory attendance.

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation (40%)

  • Written examination with essay questions. (60%).
    The resit consists of an written examination (60%). There is no resit for the oral presentation.

Reading list

H.L. Strack & Günter Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (2nd ed.; Minneapolis 1996) or later editon. Further literature will be assigned on Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


All other information.