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SHS3020 - Jesus and the Jews

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader(s): Paul Forgasz and Michael Fagenblat


Clayton First semester 2009 (Day)


Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew, as did many of his earliest followers. Beginning with an exploration of the character of first-century Judaism, including apocalypticism and sectarianism (eg the Dead Sea Scroll communities), the unit then concentrates on the way the Jewishness of Jesus was represented by the two emerging religions of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. Relevant issues include the origins of anti-Semitism, the relationship between the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, Jewish depictions of Jesus and messianism, and important modern debates about "the parting of the ways" between Judaism and Christianity or about the very idea of a "Judeo-Christian tradition".


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. locate "Jesus the Jew" in the context of early first century Judaism, especially with respect to sectarianism and apocalypticism
  2. understand how Jesus' Jewishness and relationship to other Jews is represented by New Testament writers
  3. demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between the Gospels' depictions of Jesus and early rabbinic thinking
  4. appreciate how the Hebrew scriptures and key Jewish ideas were reinterpreted in light of the New Testament's theology of Jesus
  5. understand the historical processes that led to the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity and alternative positions adopted by other groups of the period
  6. critically appreciate different scholarly approaches to the subject
  7. analyse evidence from primary sources.

In addition, students at third-year level will:
  1. demonstrate evidence of wider reading and greater reliance on primary sources
  2. understand the complexity of various issues addressed in the unit.


Written work: 90%
Oral presentation: 10%

Contact hours

One 90-mintue lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week



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