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Unit information: Ancient Jewish Novels in 2018/19

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Unit name Ancient Jewish Novels
Unit code THRSM0131
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Gethin
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit is concerned with a selection of writings that can be described as ancient Jewish novels or novellas from what scholars call the Second Temple period (circa 500 BCE – 70 CE) of Judaism. Chief among them are the books of Ruth, Esther, Judith, and Tobit, as well as what is arguably one of the world’s oldest detective stories in the chapter about Susana found in one edition of Daniel! While some consideration will be given to similarities to and differences from both the Hellenistic-Roman novel and modern novel, the unit will focus on these fascinating and diverse classic Jewish writings from a range of perspectives, including the historical, literary, and theological.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a critical understanding of several ancient Jewish novels;
  2. articulate an in-depth understanding of the evidential and theoretical contexts pertaining to understanding those novels against the relevant historical, theological, and literary backgrounds;
  3. analyse and evaluate competing scholarly perceptions of the significance of ancient Jewish novels;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument.
  5. display skills appropriate to level M in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing images and ideas.
  6. apply existing analytical strategies to new evidence with flexibility and creativity
  7. demonstrate the capacity for independent research

Teaching details

2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

1 x summative essay of 5000 words (100%) [ILOs 1-7]

Reading and References

A Brenner, A Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith, and Susanna (1995);

F Bush, Ruth/Esther (1996);

T Cohn Eskenazi & T Frymer-Kensky, Ruth (2011);

E Lucas, Daniel (2002); CA Moore, Tobit: A New Translation with Commentary (1996);

LM Wills, The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World (1995).