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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 social and religious background.


The timetable

Mode of instruction


Course Load

5 EC = 140 hours:
26 hours of lectures (12 x 2 weekly hours)
24 hours of weekly reading for lectures
70 hours of Written exam preparation (reading)
20 hours of Oral presentation preparation

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Lectures: 24 (= 12 x 2)

  • Assignment(s): 26 (weekly reading )

  • Preparation oral presentation: 20

  • Exam(s): 70

Assessment method


  • Oral presentation

  • Written examination with essay questions


  • Oral presentation 40%

  • Written examination 60%


Written examination 100%

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • General information

  • Studying material

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 Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs


Dr. Martin F.J. Baasten


This course will take place with a minimum of 6 participants.