Course Descriptions


Winter Quarter (W18)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor

In this course, we will read selections from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as centrally important cultural documents and works of literary artistry in various genres. We will consider such questions as the variety of literary genres and strategies in the Bible; the historical and rhetorical situation of its various writers; the representation of God as a literary character; recurrent images and themes; the Bible as a Hebrew national epic; the New Testament as a radical reinterpretation of the “Old Testament” (or Hebrew Bible); and the overall narrative as a plot with beginning, middle, and end. Since time will not permit a complete reading, we will concentrate on those books that display the greatest literary interest or influence, possibly including Genesis, Exodus, and parts of Deuteronomy; from the Prophets, Second Isaiah and Daniel; excerpts from the books of Judges, Ruth, Psalms, and the Song of Songs, along with the saga of King David and portions of the Wisdom literature. In the New Testament, we will read from the Gospels according to Matthew, Luke, and John.

While the Bible is of course a foundational religious document in many traditions, we will not be looking at it as theology or revelation; respect for others’ religious or non-religious orientation is important, but we will be emphasizing the Bible’s literary aspects, its rhetoric, and its cultural significance for believers and non-believers alike. No previous acquaintance with the Bible is presupposed. Requirements: short response papers, essay, final exam.
Days: TU TH  12:30-01:50 PM


This class addresses the history of the Second World War within the context of its origins in Europe. The course will discuss some of the many wars that made up this global conflict, such as the civil wars between collaborators and resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe, the Allied bombing war that targeted civilians, the Nazi war against the European Jews. The course will highlight the moral dimensions of World War II that appeared in the daunting choices faced by both individuals and groups. We will examine the attempts, at the war's end, to administer justice and address questions of memory and of loss.
Days: TU TH  02:00-03:20 PM


Judaism and Christianity: Co-Formation and Development
The first few centuries of the Common Era witnessed one of the most important developments in religious history: the formation of both Judaism and Christianity. According to the traditional understanding of the formation of these groups, Judaism was an ancient religion, extending from the time of the Bible, and Christianity was a small upstart that “parted ways” from Judaism and eventually emerged as a major world religion all on its own. After their parting, according to this understanding, Judaism and Christianity were almost exclusively hostile to one another. In recent years, however, the traditional understanding has been challenged and largely dismantled. It is now clear that both groups continued to define and redefine themselves in dialogue and/or competition with the other; that Judaism itself is formed alongside Christianity in this period; that lines between the groups remained blurry for centuries; that the discourse of an early and total “parting” was created in large part by elite men describing and creating the “parting” they hoped for; that Jews and Christians interacted in ways that were not hostile but in fact productive and positive.

In this course, we will study the ways that Judaism and Christianity continued to overlap throughout antiquity, as well as the many discourses that were applied to draw lines between these overlapping groups and to cause them to “part.” While the content of the course will focus on Judaism and Christianity, the implications of our investigation apply to the definition, evolution, growth, and other issues that attend groups and their formation in both antiquity and the present. The course will address larger questions related to how history and rhetoric are fashioned, how identities are shaped in conversation with each other, how orthodoxies are formed and challenged, and more.
Days: TU TH  03:30-04:50 PM


This course is an introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, a collection or ancient library of fascinating texts produced by dramatically different groups in drastically different places and time periods. The texts in this collection are some of the world’s most enduring works of literature, ideology, theology, and more, and continue to shape our world, just as our world continues to shape how the texts are understood.
Each class will center around the meaning, historical context, and significance of a specific book or portion in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. We will compare the biblical texts with other similar works produced in the Ancient Near East, and situate biblical events in the context of the political, diplomatic, military, economic, and other major issues of the time.
The goal of the course is to acquaint students with the central texts in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and to situate these texts in their historical contexts. Secondary goals of the course include introducing students to the various theoretical and methodological frameworks scholars have used to better understand these text, and well as to introduce students to the reception of these texts by ancient Jews and Christians. Students will leave the course with a firm grasp of the texts in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, as well as the context in which this fascinating library was produced.
Days: TU TH  09:30-10:50 AM


The Holocaust, the Nazi state’s attempt to murder all European Jews, is a defining moment in modern history. How do we comprehend the incomprehensible? Can we make sense of such a horrifying event? Does it defy explanation? Is it unique or can we compare it with other forms of genocide? In this course, we will explore these questions by learning about the nature of Jewish communities in Germany before the Holocaust; considering other forms of genocide that preceded the Holocaust; and analyzing the Nazi rise to power and the Nazi state’s move toward the “final solution. In the second half of the course, we will look carefully at how the Holocaust has been remembered and commemorated since 1945. Readings will consist primarily of historical primary sources.

Fulfills General Education Category: IV. Arts and Humanities AND VIII. International/Global Studies
Days: MO WE  01:00-01:50 PM


This course offers the history of an idea and a history of the effects of that idea. Students learn how numerous ancient mythological 'evil entities' in various world cultures contributed to the devil idea. Students then trace the development of devil traditions in ancient Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts and contexts. Students then learn of the deadly effects of the devil idea: the devil idea fed centuries-long European anti-Jewish sentiment; it aided in the persecution and killing of European heretics; it was a major factor in a 300-year-long European satanic panic called the witchcraze, which executed some 100,000 'witches'. Next, students examine the uses of the devil in medieval European folklore and modern Western literature. Students then review a 1500-year history of devil iconography in Western art and a 100+ year history of the devil in Western films. Lastly, students survey the relation of the devil idea to very recent sociological phenomena like black metal music, satanism, satanic ritual abuse, and modern witchcraft. Along with lectures, there will be weekly readings (book chapters and/or handouts), weekly writing (short reviews of the reading), and weekly full-class discussions. Since the class meets once a week, any absence has a very ill effect on grades. One final exam (comprehensive). By the way: the class is not an examination of---or a promotion of---the occult.
Days: W  03:00-05:50 PM

Courses Offered by the Jewish Studies Minor or other Schools at UCI

Winter Quarter (W18)

Dept Course No., Title   Instructor