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Exploring Jewish Spirituality (RELIGST 53)

Requirements: 
WAY-A-II
53
Subject: 
JEWISHST

It was once accepted as fact that Judaism is, at its core, a rational religion devoid of any authentic mystical tradition. But the past century of scholarship has reversed this claim, demonstrating that the spiritual life has been integral to Judaism's vital heart since ancient times. This yearning for a direct immediate experience of God's Presence, a longing to grasp the mysteries of the human soul and know the inner dynamics of the Divine realm, has taken on many different forms across the centuries. This course will introduce students to the major texts--from theological treatises to poems and incantations--and core ideas of Jewish mysticism and spirituality, tracking their development from the Hebrew Bible to the dawn of modernity. Close attention will be paid to the historical context of these sources, and we will also engage with broader methodological approaches--from phenomenology to philology--regarding the academic study of religion and the comparative consideration of mysticism in particular. This course assumes no prior background of Judaism or any other religious traditions. All readings will be made available in English. Students are, however, invited to challenge themselves with the "optional/advanced" readings of sources both primary and secondary. Pending interest, students with facility in the original languages (Hebrew or Aramaic) will be given the opportunity to do so.

Course ID: 
219 273
Grading: 
Letter (ABCD/NP)