ANT4140EN - Survey of Anthropology of Religion: Judaism

Course description

Survey of historical and contemporary expressions of Jewish culture through film, literature, poetry, and ethnography. It sets Jewish religious texts, practices, and identities within their broader cultural and global contexts, while investigating relations of race, ethnicity, nationality, community and religion. Students will explore what it means to be Jewish through the anthropological lens.

How this course benefits students

The Bachelor’s level course gives students a basic understanding of how religious and moral teachings of Judaism have been intertwined with Jewish practice and culture. It equips students with a rudimentary knowledge of Judaism in its diverse forms, and prepares them for interactions with Jewish practitioners.

Why this course is important

Judaism constitutes a part of Christian heritage and history and, therefore, its knowledge is important for Christian practitioners. With its political power, historical significance, and shared theological references, Judaism represents a religious tradition that helps Christians to better understand their own cultural roots, religious precepts, and foundations of practice.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.
Dr. Kent Hallman, Professor of Social Anthropology

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

This course will use Biblical sources as part of its course material.

Missionally driven

As Christians we are called to embody Christ in our interactions not only with fellow Christians but also with people of other faiths. Learning about those faiths instills in students the idea that all humanity represents God’s creation and, therefore, is worthy of respect, compassion, and understanding.

Contextually informed

Teaching resources used in this course include articles, videos, music, poetry, and other media that illustrate the material and allow students to put it in concrete cultural and historical contexts. Moreover, Jewish traditions are to some degree a part of our cultural heritage and by learning about them students put their own faith and culture in a context as well.

Interculturally focused

Jewish diasporas represent not only examples of Jewish culture but also encompass traditions of other neighboring groups. Learning about diverse forms of Judaism by definition acquaints students with other cultures as well.

Practically minded

There are two levels of practical engagement fostered in this course: a) exercises and discussions that present students with real case scenarios; b) knowledge gained in this course will allow students to interact with Jewish practitioners in culturally sensitive ways. Practical skills developed by students include the ability to apply their basic knowledge of Judaism in contact with various local Jewish communities, or while traveling abroad (undergraduate level). The upper level course advances the students’ ability to analyze and compare different forms of Judaism in their local contexts as well as to theorize causes of the contemporary divisions within the Jewish communities and the forces behind the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both levels enhance critical thinking skills.

Experientially transformed

The assignments in this course encourage students to interact with people from a Jewish community and to apply during these interactions knowledge gained in this course.