Surveys and considers the achievements and contributions as well as the traumas and catastrophes experienced by Jewish individuals and groups from the late 18th century until now. Achievements and contributions of Jews and Judaism include: the rise of economic capitalism; political socialism; discoveries of theoretical physics; advances in applied medicine; “higher” literary criticism; mass communication; popular entertainment. The collective Jewish experience in modernity also includes their unique exposure to 20th century totalitarian movements—fascist, Nazi, and Stalinist including the horrors of the Holocaust. Many individuals who define the modern world’s economic, social and intellectual traditions are Jewish: the Rothschilds, Marx, Einstein, Freud, Kafka, Woody Allen and George Soros. Through reading, reflection, writing and discussion students will learn about the impact of Jews and Judaism upon the modern world and how modernity has affected them for better and for worse. Missional Christian learners will understand and appreciate the place of Jews and Judaism in their own context so that meaningful interactions can be shared with them.
The Jewish religion is not only a shared belief system but also a shared experience and identity. This course can not replicate this identity and experience but it can inform students of the ways Jewish identity has been shaped by experience and introduce learners to the personalities whose lives, contributions and stories were shaped by and influenced the modern Jewish world.
Missional Christians are well served by familiarity with and appreciation of the contributions of Jewish people in contemporary culture.
The Biblical basis is two-fold: first, the idea that the Jews as descendants of the Israelites are God’s chosen, holy people (Genesis 17:7, Deut. 14:2); second, the words of Jesus Christ who said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24; cf. Romans 1:16).
Evangelicals may be called to interact and engage in dialogue with a Jewish community for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The contemporary missional context may include interactions within Jewish communities that value and take pride in their own contributions to and experience in the world of ideas.
Students will understand and appreciate how our world has been shaped and influenced by Jewish thinkers, artists and entertainers, economists, medical researchers and scientists.
The topics explored in this course occur at the intersection of faith, spirituality, religion and life and touches on the real, lived lives and social dimensions that affect the identities and sense of self of Jewish people among whom we live and serve.
By gaining an understanding of and respect for the contributions and experience of Jews and Judaism in our modern world the Evangelical believer will have an opportunity to be transformed by God’s grace into a more compassionate and caring respecter of our Jewish neighbors and a more effective communicator of the Gospel.