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Unit information: Ancient Jewish Novels in 2015/16

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Unit name Ancient Jewish Novels
Unit code THRS30071
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Campbell
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is concerned with a selection of writings that can be described as ancient Jewish novels or novellas from what scholars call the Second Temple period (circa 500 BCE – 70 CE) of Judaism. Chief among them are the books of Ruth, Esther, Judith, and Tobit, as well as what is arguably one of the world’s oldest detective stories in the chapter about Susana found in one edition of Daniel! While some consideration will be given to similarities to and differences from both the Hellenistic-Roman novel and modern novel, the unit will focus on these fascinating and diverse classic Jewish writings from a range of perspectives, including the historical, literary, and theological.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will have (1) developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of several ancient Jewish novels; (2) gained an in-depth understanding of the evidential and theoretical contexts pertaining to understanding those novels against the relevant historical, theological, and literary backgrounds; (3) demonstrated the ability to analyse and evaluate competing scholarly perceptions of the significance of ancient Jewish novels; and (4) shown an ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument. Additionally, as part of a level H/6 unit, students will be expected to (5) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing the novelistic aspects of the primary data concerned.

Teaching Information

20 hours (seminar)

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 6 (50%).

Reading and References

A Brenner, A Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith, and Susanna (1995); F Bush, Ruth/Esther (1996); T Cohn Eskenazi & T Frymer-Kensky, Ruth (2011); E Lucas, Daniel (2002); CA Moore, Tobit: A New Translation with Commentary (1996); LM Wills, The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World (1995).