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.

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. 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.

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.

Assessment

The course is examined entirely at the end of the third term by four timed examinations. For the examinations, 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 approved subject.

Further information on the course, and the examination process, can be found in the course handbook here (information is current for the academic year of publication).

Resources

Oxford has been an important centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies since the sixteenth century. There are unrivalled collections of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books in the Bodleian Library. The Leopold Muller Memorial Library is housed at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in the Clarendon Institute and has a collection specialising mainly in the areas of Jewish history and Hebrew literature.

As well as the Bodleian Library and Leopold Muller library, you will have access to the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Oriental Institute which contains Biblical, Jewish, Islamic and other Oriental works. Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum which, amongst its many other superb collections, houses material on the archaeology and material culture of the land of Israel.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that focus on Oriental studies, such as:

The Sackler Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and ancient Near Eastern Studies. The Khalili Research Centre is the University of Oxford's centre for research and teaching in the art and material culture of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of non-Muslim members and neighbours

You will also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Oriental Institute, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Sources of funding

Applications recieved for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications fulfill the eligibility criteria. Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for.

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities.