University of Calgary Department of Religious Studies Course Outline
Prof. E. Segal
Department of
Religious Studies
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N. W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2N 1N4

Office: SS 1302
Phone: (403) 220-5886
Fax: (403) 210-0801

Religious Studies 367-01

Course Outline, Winter 2002

The Judaism of the Talmud and Midrash

MWF 11:00 - 11:50 p.m.


Eliezer Segal


SS 1302

Office Hours:

M 11:50 - 1:00 p.m.

or by appointment





Course Web Site:


Course Description:

The religious institutions produced by the Jewish Rabbis from the first to the seventh centuries C.E. played a decisive role in determining the shape of Judaism for subsequent generations. This course will explore the principal areas of rabbinic activity, including:

  1. Aggadah: The distinctive religious ideas and values formulated during that period including concepts of God, the Torah, sin, repentance Jewish peoplehood and Messianism, etc.
  2. Halakhah: The main institutions of Jewish law as derived from the Written and Oral Torahs; the major works of halakhic literature; the religious dimensions of the Halakhah; the model of the scholar as judge and communal leader.

The teachings of the Rabbis have been preserved in a variety of different literary compendia, including the Mishnah, Talmuds and a diverse assortment of collections belonging to the genre of "Midrash"; i.e., works that focus on the interpretation of Hebrew Bible as a source of ideas, values or religious law.

This course will provide an introduction to the aspects of Judaism that are embodied in this literature.

Core Competencies:

While learning about Rabbinic Judaism, students will be trained in research skills, which include: learning how to find and collect data (primarily through library research) and how to draw historical conclusions from the evidence, as well as how to evaluate the plausibility of claims and theories proposed by scholars.

Central to this joint objective is the recognition that all reconstructions of ancient religion are based on original documents, or other evidence, that have survived from antiquity. In the case of Rabbinic traditions they have undergone complex processes of redaction, reinterpretation and transmission in oral and, later, in manuscript form.

Students will also be developing the ability to present the results of their research in a logical and coherent manner.

Weekly Schedule:

Monday and Wednesday classes will normally be devoted to lectures and discussions based on the textbook (S. Schechter Aspects of Rabbinic Theology).

In the Friday classes we will read representative passages from different genres of Rabbinic literature. Descriptions of these works are found in Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash.

Course Requirements:


Date Due

% Weight


Research essay stage #1: The preliminary proposal will consist of a descriptive title, abstract, outline and annotated bibliography of the scholarly books, chapters and articles that have been consulted at this stage (Approximately 5 pages).

February 4



Research essay stage #2: The first submitted draft (Recommended length: 4000 words/16 p pages)

March 4



Mid-term test, based on assigned readings

March 22



Research essay stage #3: Final, polished draft (Recommended length: 4000 words/16 p pages).

April 15


There will not be a Registrar’s office scheduled final examination in this course.

Suggestions for paper topics, bibliographies and library orientation will be provided at a later date.

Some recommended books:

  1. Alon, G. (1980). The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age. Jerusalem, The Magnes Press.
  2. Aschkenasy, Y. and N. Stichting Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum. Assen, Netherlands, Philadelphia, Van Gorcum ; Fortress Press.
  3. Baron, S. W. (1962). A Social and Religious History of the Jews, Vol, 2. New York and London, Columbia University Press.
  4. Cohen, S. J. D. (1987). From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. Philadelphia, Westminster.
  5. Elon, M. (1975). The Principles of Jewish Law. Jerusalem, Encyclopaedia Judaica.
  6. Ginzberg, L. (1909-39). The Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America.
  7. Hartmann, G. and S. Budick, Eds. (1986). Midrash and Literature.
  8. Heinemann, J., J. J. Petuchowski, et al. (1975). Literature of the Synagogue. New York, Behrman House.
  9. Kadushin, M. (1952). The Rabbinic Mind. New York, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
  10. Schiffman, L. H. (1991). From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. Hoboken, N.J., Ktav.
  11. Steinsaltz, A. (1976). The Essential Talmud. New York, BasicBooks.

Grading System:

A numerical mark will be given for each course requirement. Following the final examination, a letter grade will be assigned on the following number and letter grade scheme (standardized within the Department of Religious Studies).

A 100 - 90 A- 89 - 85
B+ 84 - 80 B 79 - 75 B- 74 - 70
C+ 69 - 65 C 64 - 60 C- 59 - 55
D+ 54 - 50 D 49 - 45 B- 44 or less


Students should be familiar with University regulations regarding academic integrity, as set down in the University Calendar

Academic Accommodation

It is a student's responsibility to request academic accommodation. If you are a student with a disability who may require academic accommodation and have not registered with the Disability Resource Centre, please contact their office at 220-8237. Your academic accommodation letters should be provided to your instructor no later than fourteen (14) days after the commencement of this course. Students who have not registered with the Disability Resource Centre are not eligible for formal academic accommodation.

(DRC web address is:

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