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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Center for Judaic Studies

Degree Programs

CENTER FOR JUDAIC STUDIES

Courses and Degree Programs

The Judaic Studies program combines courses in Judaic studies (JUST), English (ENGL), Hebrew (HEBR), History (HIST), Philosophy (PHIL) and Religious Studies (RLGS) to give students a well-rounded perspective on Jewish culture, thought and history.

Undergraduate students can earn a minor in Judaic Studies. Graduate students can apply 3000-level Judaic Studies courses toward a number of graduate degree programs at DU.

Register now for Fall 2014



Subject Code Course # Title Credits Days/Times Instructor
HEBR 1001 Elementary Hebrew 4 MTWR 12-12:50  Sari Havis
HEBR 2002 Intermediate Hebrew 4 MTWR 1-1:50  Sari Havis
JUST/HIST 1610 History of the Crusades 4 TR 8-9:50am Jonathan Sciarcon
FSEM   The Bible and Social Justice 4 TR 10-11:50am Alison Schofield
FSEM   US-Israeli Relations 4 F 9am-12:50pm Jonathan Sciarcon
JUST/ENGL* 2742* Modern Hebrew Literature 4 TR 2-3:50 Adam Rovner
RLGS 4150 Biblical Aramaic 4 TR 2-3:50pm Alison Schofield
THEO 6137 PhD Colloquium in Biblical Interpretation 4 W 5:00-6:30 Pamela Eisenbaum
JUST 2991 Independent Study Var   Contact CJS
JUST 3982 Internship Var   Contact CJS
JUST 3991 Independent Study Var   Contact CJS

We have included the latest list of Judaic studies courses in the above table. The list of Fall 2014 courses is also downloadable as a PDF.

*JUST/ENGL 2742 is an Honors course. Non-honors undergraduate JUST minors may be able to enroll; special permission of instructor required.

Register by searching "Judaic Studies"; for cross listed JUST courses, register either under JUST or under the cross-list subject.

Note: HEBR 1001 and 2001 are not listed under "Judaic Studies"; they do, however, count toward the Judaic Studies minor. Register for these courses by searching under "Hebrew."

Please contact cjs@du.edu if you have any questions or need help registering.

Current Quarter's Judaic Studies Courses

CJS is offering several courses this Spring quarter. Click here for the list of Spring 2014 courses.

Associated MA Programs

CJS does not have an independent MA program; rather, we work with existing MA programs on campus. If you would like to pursue MA level Judaic Studies work, you will need to apply for and be accepted to one of the many MA programs available at DU:

Associated PhD Programs

CJS does not have an independent PhD program; rather, we work with existing PhD programs on campus. If you would like to pursue PhD level Judaic Studies work, you will need to apply for and be accepted to one of the many PhD programs available at DU:

  • English
  • Education
  • University of Denver-Iliff School of Theology Joint Doctoral Program (various PhD tracks, including: Biblical interpretation; theology, philosophy, and cultural theory)
  • Other: 3000-level and 4000-level Judaic studies courses can be integrated into many PhD programs at DU.

Course Catalogue: Full listing of CJS courses

If you are looking for a list for this quarter's classes, see "Current Quarter's Judaic Studies Courses" above.

The expandable menus below show the complete list of Judaic studies courses from the DU Course Catalog. We've broken down this complete list of courses by their subject departments: English (ENGL), Hebrew (HEBR), History (HIST), Philosophy (PHIL), Religious Studies (RLGS). There are also some Judaic studies courses (including internships and independent study options) only listed under "JUST".

English (ENGL)

The Bible as Literature (4-quarter hours)
JUST/ENGL/RLGS 2104
This course is an analytical/critical study of selected books of the Bible with an emphasis on its literary qualities, genres and influence. We read the Bible, one of the most important works in all of Western culture, as a masterpiece of literature. Rather than focusing on theological questions about this work as inspired scripture, we instead focus on its rich literary qualities and explore some ways in which these stories have influenced modern society. Reading select passages, we discuss its literary genres, forms, symbols and motifs, many of which are important in modern literature, such as hero stories, origin stories, parables, apocalyptic literature, the loss of Eden and the Promised Land. Cross listed with ENGL 2104 and RLGS 2104.

American Jewish Literature (4-quarter hours)
JUST/ENGL 2741
This course surveys more than 100 years of American Jewish immigrant narratives, beginning with the great exodus of Eastern European and Russian Jewry at the end of the 19th century and ending with recent arrivals from Israel and the former U.S.S.R. Canonical works by central authors reveal the great successes of Jewish immigrants alongside their spiritual failures. A selection of memoir, novels, short stories, and poetry in English and in translation from Hebrew and Yiddish demonstrate the multilingual character of the Jewish experience in America. While helpful, no knowledge of Jewish tradition is necessary to succeed in this course. Cross listed with ENGL 2741.

Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation: Against All Odds (4-quarter hours)
JUST/ENGL 2742
This course offers a survey of significant works of modern Hebrew literary fiction by major authors in translation. To flesh out the historical context, a number of documents, essays, excerpts will also be provided. Students will consider how the development of Hebrew literature has contributed to the formation of contemporary Israeli identity, and how the conflicts that define the turbulent history of Israel are treated in works of prose fiction by canonical authors. The selection of diverse literary materials exposes students to the social, political, and historical changes wrought by the rise of modern day Israel. Through lectures, close-reading, and exercises, students will gain an appreciation for some of the fundamental tensions that define Hebrew literature and Israeli culture: (1) collective vs. individual identity, (2) Jewish vs. Arab/Palestinian nationalism, (3) the concept of Diaspora vs. Zion. Our study aims to reveal the historical and ideological context of these tensions to offer a nuanced perspective on an area of the world in conflict. Readings are roughly chronological, and will be drawn from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Students will be coached on various interpretive strategies, the intent of which is to make their time spent reading more valuable. While helpful, no knowledge of Hebrew, Jewish tradition, or Israeli history is necessary to succeed in this course. Cross listed with ENGL 2742.

Jewish Humor, Origins and Meaning
JUST/ENGL 2743
Writers, scholars, and comedians all claim to locate an identifiable strain of "Jewish humor" running from the Bible through to today's literary humorists and provocative stand-up comics. This course takes humor seriously in an effort to reveal the development of "Jewish humor" in America[T1]  from a comparative context. But is there such a thing [T2] as Jewish [MB3] humor? And if so, what are its sources and characteristics? Does it exist across cultures and in different linguistic communities? Through lectures, discussion, exercises and papers, students will gain a broad understanding of the history, psychology, and philosophy of humor as it relates to Jewish arts and letters in America. Cross listed with ENGL 2743.

Postmodern Visions of Israel
JUST/ENGL 3405
This course investigates how representations of Israel as a modernist utopia have been replaced in contemporary literature with images of Israel as a dystopian Tower of Babel. We will discuss the historical context that gave rise to visions of an idealized Israel, and the role the Hebrew language played in consolidating and connecting narration to nation. Next we will consider how belles-lettres from recent decades have reimagined Israel as a series of multilingual "multiverses." A selection of novels and short stories translated from Hebrew will form the core of our reading. Theories of postmodernism drawn from America and Israel will help us conceptualize the poetics of postmodern fiction. No knowledge of Israeli history or Jewish culture and language is necessary to succeed in this course. Cross listed with ENGL 3405.

Modern Jewish Literature (4-quarter hours)
JUST/ENGL 3743
This course explores stories, novels and memoirs by 20th-century Jewish writers considering issues of generation, gender and the idea of Jewish literature as a genre. Cross listed with ENGL 3743.

Hebrew (HEBR)

Elementary Hebrew (4-quarter hours each)
HEBR 1001, 1002, 1003
Elementary Hebrew is an introduction to classical grammar, syntax and modern speech patterns. It is a three-quarter-long sequence.

Intermediate Hebrew (4-quarter hours each)
HEBR 2001, 2002, 2003
Intermediate Hebrew is a continuation of language study with emphasis on the living language of contemporary Israel. It is a three-quarter-long sequence.
Prerequisite: HEBR 1003 or equivalent

Aspects of Modern Hebrew (4 quarter hours)
JUST/HEBR 3010
This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Intermediate Hebrew. It facilitates communicative competence in Hebrew across interpretive, interpersonal and presentational modes through constant immersion in Hebrew. It also expands knowledge of Israeli culture while interacting solely in Hebrew. This course is not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 2003 or equivalent. Cross listed with HEBR 3010.

History (HIST)

The History of the Crusades
JUST/HIST 1610
This course traces the origins and development of the Crusading movement as well as its impact on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish society in Europe and the Middle East from the 11th through the 14th centuries C.E. This course also examines ideas of Christian/Muslim/Jewish difference in this period. We pay special attention to primary source material. Cross listed with HIST 1610.

Israeli Society and History
JUST/HIST 2040
Through historical sources, documentaries, movies and scholarly research, the course examines the major wars and clashes between Israel and its neighbors in the years 1948 to 2011. In this way, we will examine in depth the complexities of Israel's relationship with their Arab neighbor States, with a particular focus on the details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moving chronologically, the course aims to develop historical perspectives on the State of Israel, and the impact of emerging historical realities on Israeli society, including implications for religious identities, economics, political parties, security issues, and nationalistic movements. Cross listed with HIST 2040.

Culture and Conscience in Vienna (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST/RLGS 2107
This course focuses on the cultural and social history of the city of Vienna as the hub of culture, politics, and religion for Central Europe with special attention to its religious heritage as the seedbed for its rich cultural traditions. The course examines how the city's religious heritage, particularly Judaism, shaped its rich cultural heritage and the birth of modernism. A special segment of the course is devoted to the Nazi period and the Holocaust, including the study of the resistance of religious groups. The course concludes with a history of the post-Nazi period with attention to the development of Vienna as the hub of international social justice projects. The class is taught in seminar format and combines lectures with site visits to major cultural and historical sites around the city. The course consists of a weekly colloquium that discusses in a moderated format the implications, religious, social, and cultural issues, and common experiences of students engaged in international service-learning as part of a faculty-led international service learning quarter-long program in Vienna, Austria. Cross listed with HIST 2107 and RLGS 2107.

American Jewish History (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 2242
This course explores the origins and development of the Jewish community in the United States from 1654-1948, and the interaction of American and Jewish culture and relationships among different groups of Jewish immigrants. Cross listed with HIST 2242.

History of the Modern Jewish Experience (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 2245
Study concepts, documents, movements and practices of modern Jewish history. Cross listed with HIST 2245.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1881–2000 (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 2300
This course aims to introduce students to the political, social and cultural history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from the initial Jewish migration to Palestine in the 1880s through the Oslo Accords. Cross listed with HIST 2300.

The Modern Middle East: 1798–1991 (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 2310
This course traces the history and development of the modern Middle East from Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 through the Persian Gulf War in 1991. We pay special attention to the impact of colonialism and great power diplomacy on the region. Cross listed with HIST 2310.

US Foreign Policy in the Middle East (4 quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 2320
This course aims to introduce students to both Middle Eastern history and American Foreign Policy by exploring the politics and culture of U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the post-WWII period. In doing so this course will pay special attention to the impact of the Cold War in the Middle East, American policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict, the role of oil in American foreign policy, American responses to the rise of Islamist movements, the impact of media and culture on the formulation of America's Middle Eastern policies, and U.S. relations with dictatorial governments in the Middle East. Cross listed with HIST 2320.

History of Zionism and Israel (4-quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 3314
This course covers a brief history of Jewish and non-Jewish life in Israel from rabbinic times to rise of modern Zionism, the history of Zionism and development of political, religious, economic, and social culture and institutions of modern Israel, and the significance of the land and state of Israel to world Jewry. Cross listed with HIST 3314.

US-Israeli Relations (4 quarter hours)
JUST/HIST 3600
This course deals with the history of United States-Israeli relations from 1948 - 2011. Some of the key topics covered include: the U.S. decision to recognize Israel; cultural foundations for U.S. support of Israel; Christian Zionism; the origins of the U.S.-Israeli "Special Relationship"; the Cold War in the Middle East; U.S. peacemaking successes and failures; the role of the pro-Israeli lobby; and the impact of September 11, 2001 on U.S.-Israeli relations. Cross listed with HIST 3600.

Judaic Studies (JUST)

Spaces of Memory: Texts and Contexts of Argentina's Dirty War (4-quarter hours)
JUST 2030
From 1976–1983, the Argentine military government engaged in a campaign of terror against its citizens, some of whom were suspected of dissidence and subversion while many others were considered a threat "by association" to the stability of the regime. It is estimated that during the seven years of this "Dirty War" some 30,000 civilians were "disappeared," abducted by the government and sent to secret spaces where they were detained, tortured and eventually killed. This course, taught in Buenos Aires, explores the construction of memory in both texts and physical spaces touched by the violence, repression and disappearance in Argentina. The course also examines anti-Semitism during the military dictatorship, as well as the role of memory in reconstructing: discourses; testimonial literature, and the modern and postmodern views of representation; narratives of exile and dispersion; and points of convergence between this literature and other survivor testimonial narratives—particularly those of the Shoah. Students will meet with writers and activists whose work is informed by the atrocities of the "Dirty War," and will visit the Organization of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and public spaces of memory, such as the Parque de la Memoria, the ESMA, the AMIA building, the Baldosas, etc.

Israeli Culture Through Film: Society, Ethnicity, and Inter-Cultural Discourse(4-quarter hours)
JUST 2350
This course presents Israeli society and cultural development as reflected in Israeli film from the 1950s to present-day Israel. Topics include history and collective memory, ethnicities and the experiences of immigration, Israelis in their spatial Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern context and Judaism in its old and new representations.

Israeli Society Through Film: Narratives of the Holocaust, War and Terror in Israeli Life (4-quarter hours)
JUST 2360
This course analyzes fundamental aspects of Israeli-Jewish collective identity through a consideration of the trauma of the Holocaust, and explores the representation of these issues in Israeli film from the 1960s to today. The course presents and analyzes narratives of human experience in traumatic times and their after-effects via cinematic perceptions of Holocaust survivors and their offspring, the relationship between the Israeli native Sabra and the Holocaust survivor, the impact of war on soldiers and their families, and the Israeli experience of terror. Screenings of Israeli film is a central part of the course. All films are in Hebrew with English subtitles. No prerequisites

Topics in Judaic Studies (1- to 4-quarter hours each)
JUST 2700, 2701, 2702
Topics vary, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the department and studies of the faculty.

Independent Study
JUST 2991

Topics in Judaic Studies (1- to 4-quarter hours)
JUST 3700, 3702, 3703, 3704
Topics vary, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the department and studies of the faculty.

Internship (4- to 5-quarter hours)
JUST 3982

Independent Study
JUST 3991

Philosophy (PHIL)

Jewish Philosophy (4-quarter hours)
JUST/PHIL 2050
This course sets out to explore the self and the sacred in Jewish tradition by exploring the nature of faith and reason, the call to ethical response and the meaning of divine revelation in multiple Jewish philosophical voices across the ages—including Philo, Saadya, Halevi, Maimonides, Soloveitchik, Buber, Rosenzweig and Levinas. Cross listed with PHIL 2050.

Great Thinkers: Maimonides—Politics, Prophecy and Providence (4-quarter hours)
JUST/PHIL 3023
Using "The Guide for the Perplexed"as our central text, we explore the complex philosophical ideas of Moses Maimonides (1135–1204), one of the central figures in medieval philosophy and Jewish thought.Our study includes analyses of his ideas on: principles of faith, human perfection, intellectual vs. "imaginational" approaches to truth, pedagogy and politics, reasons for the commandments, the nature of God and divine will, the limits of human knowledge, the mechanics of prophecy, and the parameters and implications of providence. Cross listed with PHIL 3023.

Great Thinkers: Maimonides—Greek, Muslim and Christian Encounters (4-quarter hours)
JUST/PHIL 3024
Using "The Guide of the Perplexed"as our central text, we explore the complex philosophical ideas of Moses Maimonides (1135–1204), a central figure in the history of ideas and in the history of Jewish thought. In this course, we examine in depth the relationship between Maimonides' core ideas and various Greek, Muslim and Christian thinkers. Topics include: Aquinas and Maimonides on negative theology; Aristotle and Maimonides on creation, eternity and providence; Maimonidean emanation meets Plotinus, "The Theology of Aristotle" and the "Liber de Causis"; and relating Maimonides' cosmological and political theories to Avicenna, al-Farabi and Averroes. Cross listed with PHIL 3024.

Philosophy Meets Mysticism: A Greek, Jewish and Islamic Neoplatonic Journey (4-quarter hours)
JUST/PHIL 3152
Neoplatonism is a unique genre—somewhere between philosophy and mysticism. In this course, we investigate some of the leading themes of Neoplatonism, tracing the Greek ideas of Plotinus, (the third century "father of Neoplatonism") into later Jewish and Islamic textual traditions. As part of our journey, we will investigate a host of philosophical writings, including the Theology of Aristotle and the Liber de Causis, as well as works by Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, Ibn Tufayl, Avicenna, Isaac Israeli, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, and Abraham Ibn Ezra. Themes to be covered include emanation and creation, apophatic discourse, divine desire, the theological significance of imagination, inward reflection, and the call to virtue. Cross listed with PHIL 3152.

Modern Jewish Philosophy (4-quarter hours)
JUST/PHIL 3215
Covering a range of modern thinkers from the 17th to the late-20th century, this course's topics include reason and revelation, human autonomy and responsibility, aesthetics, post-Holocaust theology, responses to Kant, responses to Heidegger, ethics, and the quest for authenticity. Cross listed with PHIL 3215.

Religious studies (RLGS)

The Bible as Literature (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS/ENGL 2104
The Bible has been one of the most important works in all of Western society. In this course we will read the Bible as a masterpiece of literature. Rather than focusing on theological questions about this work as inspired scripture, we will instead focus on its rich literary qualities and explore some ways in which these stories have influenced modern society. Reading select passages, we will discuss the Bible's literary genres, forms, symbols and motifs, many of which are important in literature today. Of the latter, we will encounter stories of creation and hero tales, parables, apocalyptic literature, and themes of paradise and the loss of Eden, wilderness, covenant, and the promised land. Cross listed with RLGS 2104 and ENGL 2104.

Culture and Conscience in Vienna (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS/HIST 2107
This course focuses on the cultural and social history of the city of Vienna as the hub of culture, politics, and religion for Central Europe with special attention to its religious heritage as the seedbed for its rich cultural traditions. The course examines how the city's religious heritage, particularly Judaism, shaped its rich cultural heritage and the birth of modernism. A special segment of the course is devoted to the Nazi period and the Holocaust, including the study of the resistance of religious groups. The course concludes with a history of the post-Nazi period with attention to the development of Vienna as the hub of international social justice projects. The class is taught in seminar format and combines lectures with site visits to major cultural and historical sites around the city. The course consists of a weekly colloquium that discusses in a moderated format the implications, religious, social, and cultural issues, and common experiences of students engaged in international service-learning as part of a faculty-led international service learning quarter-long program in Vienna, Austria. Cross listed with RLGS 2107 and HIST 2107.

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 2201
The legacy of the Hebrew Bible has been great for both Western and World culture. In this course, we read the books of the Hebrew Bible critically as literature, as religious texts and as courses of sociological knowledge. In this course students gain a general overview of the biblical narrative and its historical context while simultaneously being introduced to the various modes of biblical interpretation. Emphasis is also placed on situating the literature and religious expression of the Hebrew Bible within its ancient Near Eastern milieu. Cross listed with RLGS 2201.

New Testament (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 2202
This course takes a multifaceted approach (historical, literary, and critical) to the writings that comprise the Christian New Testament. The New Testament are read as a collection of primary documents that chronicle the primitive Church's slow and often painful process of self-definition. In these writings it is possible to discern the tension that arose because of the strong religious and cultural ties early Christianity maintained with Palestinian Judaism, from which it emerged as a sectarian or reform movement. The careful reader also finds evidence of the new religion's encounter with the Greco-Roman world from whose variegated ethos and culture it borrowed considerably on the way to becoming an important religious force in the first century. In exploring the New Testament, then, we attempt to recover something of the sense of what it meant to be a Christian in New Testament times. Cross listed with RLGS 2202.

Religious Diversity in Israel (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 2410
Through religious, sociological and historical sources, as well as documentaries, movies and scholarly readings, this course examines religious diversity in Israel from its establishment (1948) to the current day. Cross listed with RLGS 2410.

Judaism (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3001
A literary and historical journey through Judaism. This course examines the "Jewish story" from its roots to its modern-day manifestations, focusing on select, classic Jewish texts in their historical contexts. From them, students will explore Jewish tradition and practice and will actively engage with and in the vivid interpretive imagination of the authors of Judaism throughout the ages. Cross listed with RLGS 3001.

Early Judaism (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3102
This course traces the development of Judaism in history and literature from the Babylonian Exile and the end of the biblical period through the origins of Rabbinic Judaism and the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (c. 650 CE). However, special emphasis will be placed on Jewish culture in the late Second Temple period (c. 200 BCE to 100 CE) and its impact on the early Christian movement, including Jewish literature from the time of Jesus, lost texts of the Bible, new evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the few surviving historical sources of the Second Temple Period. In addition, students will analyze how the Bible came to be and understand how sacred texts and their interpretations eventually became the new center of both Judaism and Christianity. Cross listed with RLGS 3102.

Dead Sea Scrolls (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3151
The Dead Sea Scrolls represent one of the greatest manuscript finds of the twentieth century and have been said to be the most important discovery in biblical archaeology. These scrolls offer a rare window into early Judaism and Christianity and offer us the earliest and most important witnesses to the (Hebrew) Bible. This course covers the Dead Sea Scrolls in their historical, literary and religious context in English translation, together with relevant scholarly research. Cross listed with RLGS 3151.

Bodies and Souls (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3740
This course examines the unique place of the body in biblical religion. We ask how the Bible and its interpreters have shaped current views on sex and the gendered body in Western society.How has the Bible been (mis)used in relation to current understandings of the physical body? Is the saying that a "human" does not have a body, but is a body as true for the Hebrew Bible as the Christian New Testament? How has Judaism and Christianity (de)valued sexuality, procreation and celibacy? How do biblical traditions shape our modern opinions about the ideal physical body and body modifications? How can we understand "out-of-body" experiences, and notions of death and afterlife in Western religion? Students are encouraged to interpret the Bible and their own beliefs from a uniquely embodied perspective. Cross listed with RLGS 3740.

Religion and Diaspora (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3890
When forced to leave a homeland, displaced communities frequently turn to religion to maintain identity and adapt to—or resist—new surrounding culture(s). This course examines the role of religion and the experience of space and place in the formation of identity. Looking at examples of displaced communities from the past and today, we ask questions such as: What is the relationship between religion and home (land)? How have the biblical themes of exodus, diaspora, promise and restoration been applied to contemporary experiences? And how have our American stories been interpreted through the lens of the Bible? How can we understand the study of lived, or experienced, spaces? As part of the service-learning component, students have the opportunity to work with religious and immigrant aid organizations in the Denver community. Service-Learning course. Cross listed with RLGS 3890.

Justice: A Biblical Perspective (4-quarter hours)
JUST/RLGS 3891
This course explores the ways in which the Bible has been applied to questions of social justice in contemporary society.  In addition to studying major theological and philosophical theories of justice, students will read a variety of biblical texts related to major issues of social and economic justice, such as world hunger, the poor, revolution, just war theory and pacifism, environmentalism, and the role of government.   This course includes a service-learning component. Cross listed with RLGS 3891.