MAJOR THEME: change in religion. People change, people meet other people and change.
Change culture, change religion
Christianity and Islam much younger than Judaism. Islam and Christianity took ideas from
Judaism. Couldn’t have had their religions without them.
If you look at the world census (pie chart). Christians and muslims, theological explaination is
that god likes Christians or muslims better than jews. They are missionary religions, want to
convert others, jews do not.
To tell the history of jews is to tell the history of many civilizations and much of history.
Influenced and were influenced by Canaanites, Assyrians, Ethiopians, Babylonians, Persians,
Ishmaelites, Greeks, Pagan Romans, Christian. Have mostly been ruled under, sometimes ruled
over. Have also married people of these civilizations. Intertwined ideas and on a personal level.
Inter-marriage accelerates change in religion. Takes away from their “pure” race, therefore there
is no pure race. With interaction and history comes change.
Who is a Jew?
According to rabbinic (sp) law now, you are Jewish if your mother is Jewish. You can
change what you think or act, but can’t change the fact that you’re Jewish. Interesting. More
lenient forms of Judaism argues that this is too strict (liberals) converting can also make you
Jewish. Jews can’t agree with one another with who is Jewish. There is no governing body over
world jewry. So “who is a Jew” depends on who you ask, how liberal (where on the spectrum
There are religious and non-religious Jews. Cultural Judaism (eat bacon, might not believe in
god). Exists in Christianity and Islam.
Religion can become a cultural artefact
Sephardic-a Jew who is of Spanish or Portuguese or North African descent.
Ashkenazi -A Jew of central or eastern European descent. More than 80 percent of Jews
today are Ashkenazim.
Geographic lines in Europe: spain, north Africa. Northern Europe. Different ways of worshipping,
This unites all Judaism:
Three elements of Judaism
◦ One God: Shema ◦ Torah as word of God
◦ Future Salvation
This is full extent of Jewish creed. Almost all Jews agree is the Torah is the word of God.
But this means the Torah is timeless (conservative), or situated in world context, and our
understanding needs to change (liberal)
Jewish year: 5772 as of Sept 28. Muslims also have their own dating system. Therefore use
Christian dating system because everyone does, whether or not they are Christian or not.
Adam and Eve; Garden of Eden; Creation
Tower of Babel
Examples of etiological myths (myths of origin, why are we different from them)
And god saw it was good (radical statement that distinguishes them from Mesopotamia, and
other’s around them. Identity formation).
Starts at Genesis 12
Abraham and Sarah
c. 1900-1700 BCE
1st Patriarch (one of first father’s of Judaism)
Jews, Christians and muslims fight over Abraham. All argue over his legacy, and which one he
belonged to. Therefore, called Abrahamic legacies
Promised by god that if he moves from Ur to Canaan, he will be ruler of a great nation. They are
old and childless (a major liability, so adoption is popular, and surrogate parenthood). Sarah tells Abraham to impregnate Hagar, their slave. Have Ishmael. Common practice. At 80 years old,
god performs a miracle and allows Sarah to have a child at 80. Now they have a problem, and
cast Ishmael and Isaac out of the house. They go south and disappear. Ishmaelites take Joseph
to Egypt. All we see of them. Become Islam.
Ishmael and Isaac
Isaac is the second patriarch of Judaism. JacobIsrael is the son of Isaac. Once one has had an
encounter with god, you change, and so does your name.
Jacob / Israel
“God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”
◦ The three patriarchs
The Israelites in Egypt
Israelites stay in Egypt for a number of years, but these people are not Egyptian, so are
persecuted. Were enslaved to build pyramids. Around 1200-1400 BCE, MIGHT be evidence in
the drawings of slaves that look different from Egyptians.
Moses: Mass killing of first born sons. One mother who wraps up this baby. Mother sends baby
down the river, an Egyptian princess takes him in and raises him. A bush talks to Moses. Gives
the name of God (for the fist time in this narrative). This name LATER CHANGES.
All of the Genesis stories were edited after the name came.
Passover: the angel of death passes over the houses of the Egyptians killing their first borns
and saves the isrealite children. God will always intervene when the Jews are being persecuting
and need it
Mt. Sinai (god reveals himself to moses and gives him the torah (law/instruction))
Torah = law
Mitzvah = commandment (pl. = mitzvot)
Mosaic Covenant (not the first covenant, first was Abraham.)
◦ Treaty (2 way contract) Jews will be protected.
Canaanite gods: Ba’al and Asherah
◦ Henotheism (there are many gods, but you worship only one) vs Monotheism
(single god, but denies that there are any other gods)
12 Tribes ruled over by “judges”
Narrative tells of complete conquest. Anthropology shows that over several hundred years,
Jewish population takes over
David (ruled c.
◦ Most famous king
◦ Most loved king
Reaches most unified state with David.
David (ruled c. 1000-960 BCE)
◦ Model king
Consolidation of the kingdom - Israel
Peace and prosperity
Wealth and power follow unity