Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period MSt

Funerary stele of Sabbataios, son of Samuel. Louvre Museum AM 1474. Picture by Marie-Lan Nguyen. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This MSt in Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period aims to provide a good general knowledge of Jewish history, religion and culture in the period from 200 BCE to 135 CE, the period of the Second Temple and early Rabbinic Judaism; to introduce you to the range of primary sources for Jewish history in this period; and to equip you with both the understanding and the ability to use a range of historiographical and critical methods in the treatment of such primary sources.

The course consists of instruction in the history and institutions of the Jews and in three specialised areas of Jewish studies which involve close study of particular types of primary texts. You will be expected to have a working knowledge of the relevant languages before starting the course, and no time is set aside for basic language instruction. The course is examined entirely at the end of the third term by four three-hour written examinations.

You can expect to be engaged in academic work for at least thirty-five hours a week during the full term and to be expected to carry out a considerable amount of work during the vacations.

The course is taught by a mixture of tutorials and classes. Tutorials will normally consist in one-to-one discussion with a tutor of your written work. The general paper on Jewish history and institutions is taught entirely by a series of weekly tutorials (usually eight) in this manner. The classes provide instruction in the translation and interpretation of most but not necessarily all of the set texts which you are required to study for your specialised papers. General questions about these texts are discussed in tutorials.

Teaching for the general paper and the specialised papers which you will have chosen, is carried out in the first two terms of the course. The third term is set aside for revision, although this may sometimes include further tutorials for consolidation.

For the examination, the following papers will be set:

I. Essay questions on Jewish History and Institutions from 200BC – AD135.
II-IV. Prescribed texts - passages for translation and comment and essay questions (a passage or passages for unprepared translation may also be set) on three of the following:

  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Mishnah
  • Midrash
  • Targum
  • Septuagint
  • Hellenistic Jewish Literature

or any other subject approved by the board.

Numbers of students on the course are very small (1–2 per year) and so teaching is tailored according to the needs and interests of individual students. Classes are sometimes shared with those on other similar courses, and there are also seminars covering wider subject areas that students on this course are encouraged to attend.

Graduate destinations

Oriental studies graduates have found employment in many diverse fields including business, finance law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.

Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Oriental studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.

For further information please refer to the Course Handbook.

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