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Jewish Law from the Ancient Near East to the Israeli Supreme Court

Jewish Law from the Ancient Near East to the Israeli Supreme Court

30 teaching hours, equivalent to 5 ECTS

Dec 11 – Dec 22

Prof. Phillip I. Lieberman    

Phillip I. Ackerman-Lieberman is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Law, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, and Affiliated Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and History, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. A social, economic, and legal historian of Jewish life in the medieval period in the lands of Islam, his 2014 book The Business of Identity: Jews, Muslims, and Economic Life in Medieval Egypt (Stanford University Press) was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His current research examines and challenges the received wisdom regarding Jewish urbanization under early Islamic regimes and subsequent migration of Jews from Iraq to the Islamic Mediterranean.


Course Description 

In this course, we will survey the development of Jewish law from its origins in the Ancient Near East to its flowering in the contemporary period. As we explore the history of Jewish law, we will pay particular attention to the literary genres of Jewish legal writing and the interplay between these genres. By the end of the course, students should have a clear understanding of how rabbis bring positive law and precedent to bear in offering their opinions, as well as the distinctions to be drawn between Jewish law as one might find it in classical legal materials and as it is actually lived on the ground–including within contemporary Jewish reform movements. Finally, we will discuss the effect that renewed Jewish political sovereignty with the founding of the State of Israel has had on Jewish law, and how Israel’s place as a Jewish state has brought it into dialogue with Jewish law. At the end of our course, we will have a short take-home written exam.

To participate in the course, please contact Paideia at info@paideia-eu.org.