HIST101 - THE MESSIANIC IMPULSE IN JEWISH HISTORY

Description: 
Among Judaism’s foundational ideas is the notion of a messiah, a messianic age, and a final denouement of history culminating in a perfect world of harmony and peace. The idea has served both to inspire Jews that despite hardships of their collective past, there was a bright future waiting for them on the horizon. At the same time the messianic idea was also unsettling and destabilizing, assuming a quick and unnatural disruption of their normative Jewish life in Israel and the diaspora. This dual or dialectic function of the messianic idea, as Gershom Scholem once described it,---to restore the previous existence and stability Jews once had but had lost or to establish instead something entirely new, a supernatural utopia unlike anything previously experienced, represents one of the principal foci of this course. The seminar will discuss the history of Jewish messianic ideas and messianism from antiquity until the present through reading primary sources in translation, including how rabbis, philosophers, and kabbalists understood the idea. It will linger on the most important messianic figure of pre-modern times, Shabbetai Zevi, the seventeenth century messianic mystic and his movement. It will also consider the secularized versions of messianism in the modern era as reflected in Reform Judaism, Zionism and socialism; and it will consider the contemporary manifestations of messianic behavior in modern Israel and among diaspora Jewry.
Instructors: 
RUDERMAN, DAVID
Day and Time: 
W 0330PM-0630PM
Room: 
COLLEGE HALL 318
Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
  • JWST103401
Registration Notes: 
CROSS CULTURAL ANALYSIS; FRESHMAN SEMINAR