Syracuse University, Fall 2020

The Temple & the Dead Sea Scrolls

Model of Herod's Temple


(Writing Intensive)

Time: TTh 3:30-4:50.
Place: HL 207
Each week: one class in person,
one class asynchronous online

Instructor:   JIM WATTS (PhD) 
Office:  Hall of Languages 501 
Office Hours: T 4-5 pm & by appointment
Phone:  443-5713 

Qumran Cave




Students interested in the Bible or ancient religions and wanting to fill Humanities and Writing Intensive core requirements, as well as majors and minors in Religion, Jewish Studies, and History.

Prerequisites/Co-requisites: None.

Course Description:

The period between the construction of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 515 B.C.E. and its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E. witnessed major historical upheavals and significant religious changes that would affect all subsequent Western religions. The origins of the authority of scripture, of the centrality of law and morality in religion, of the synagogue and of apocalyptic expectations for the future all developed in the Judaism of this period. This investigation of the history and literature of Second Temple Judaism will train students to analyze and integrate different kinds of historical sources (primary texts from archeological finds, primary texts preserved in Western cultures, and secondary evaluations by modern historians) to understand religious developments in the period and their later influence.

Course Objectives:

The goals of this course goals are to have students:

  • Gain the ability to summarize and analyze the literary sources for Second Temple Jewish history;
  • Demonstrate skill in historical reasoning by using literary and archeological data for drawing historical conclusions;
  • Use the context of Second Temple Jewish culture to think both critically and imaginatively about the nature of religion as a basic response to and expression of the human condition;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Second Temple Jewish history and literature as an instructive example of human religious phenomena.

This course meets the Writing Intensive requirement of the Liberal Arts Core in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Course Requirements:

The course consists of class discussions, lectures, student projects, and, most of all, readings. This course is a reading course, and students' completion of all reading assignments is essential for their success. Assignments, discussions, lectures and tests all presuppose that students have read carefully and on schedule the assigned readings. 


Students are evaluated on the basis of their performance on:

  1. Three papers (20% each) of 1500 words each (see due dates and links to paper assignments in schedule below). Students may choose to substitute a 3,000-5,000 word term paper instead of papers 2 and 3. Late papers assignments will not be eligible for an 'A' grade. Papers 1 and 2 can be revised and resubmitted for a higher grade.
  2. A group report (20%), built on Paper 1, in the form of an asynchronous lesson for the rest of the class on September 29, October 5, 13, or 20 (see schedule below).
  3. Short assignments (10%) on the readings for asynchronous lessons due at 5 pm on those days (marked in grey on the class schedule below).
  4. Participation in class discussions and activities (10%).

The grading scale is: A+ = 100, A = 95, A- = 92, B+ = 88, B = 85, B- = 82, C+ = 78, C = 75, C- = 72, D+ = 68, D = 65, D- = 62, F = 55. Student may check their grades online through the Blackboard Learning System. Incidents of plagiarism or cheating result in no credit (0) for the test or assignment and may result in further disciplinary action.

Classroom Behavior:

A successful learning experience depends on students' behavior in class, as much as on the quality of their work and on the teacher's presentations.

  • I encourage energetic discussion of relevant topics and expect different opinions among class members, but always express your ideas with respect for those who might disagree with you.
  • Arrive on time. If you must be late, enter quietly. Do not leave during class except for an emergency, unless you have informed the instructor in advance.
  • Turn off cell phones. Texting, e-mailing or web browsing during class are grounds for being dismissed from that day’s class.

In addition, during this public health emergency, I expect you to abide at all times by your Stay Safe Pledge. Syracuse University’s Stay Safe Pledge reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on the well-being of our community members. This pledge defines norms for behavior that will promote community health and wellbeing. Classroom expectations include the following:

  • wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times,
  • maintaining a distance of six feet from others,
  • and staying away from class if you feel unwell.

Students who do not follow these norms will not be allowed to continue in face-to-face classes; repeated violations will be treated as violations of the Code of Student Conduct and may result in disciplinary action.

Academic Integrity:

Syracuse University’s Academic Integrity Policy reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on honesty in academic work. The policy defines our expectations for academic honesty and holds students accountable for the integrity of all work they submit. Students should understand that it is their responsibility to learn about course-specific expectations, as well as about university-wide academic integrity expectations. The policy governs appropriate citation and use of sources, the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments, and the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verification of participation in class activities. The policy also prohibits students from submitting the same work in more than one class without receiving written authorization in advance from both instructors. Under the policy, students found in violation are subject to grade sanctions determined by the course instructor and non-grade sanctions determined by the School or College where the course is offered as described in the Violation and Sanction Classification Rubric. Syracuse University students are required to read an online summary of the University’s academic integrity expectations and provide an electronic signature agreeing to abide by them twice a year during pre-term check-in on MySlice.

In this course, students found cheating on a test or assignment will receive zero (0) credit for that test or assignment and may result in further disciplinary action. For more information and the complete policy, see the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) in Bird Library or at

Academic Integrity Online:

All academic integrity expectations that apply to in-person quizzes and exams also apply to online quizzes and exams. In this course, all work submitted for quizzes and exams must be yours alone. Discussing quiz or exam questions with anyone during the quiz or exam period violates academic integrity expectations for this course. Using free or paid websites to obtain exam solutions or assignments completed by others and present the work as your own violates academic integrity expectations in this course.

This class will use the plagiarism detection and prevention system Turnitin. You will have the option to submit your papers to Turnitin to check that all sources you use have been properly acknowledged and cited before you submit the final paper through Turnitin, which compares submitted documents against documents on the Internet and against student papers submitted to Turnitin at Syracuse University and at other colleges and universities. I will take your knowledge of the subject matter of this course and your writing level and style into account in interpreting the originality report. Keep in mind that all papers you submit for this class will become part of the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers.

Discrimination or Harassment:

The University does not discriminate and prohibits harassment or discrimination related to any protected category including creed, ethnicity, citizenship, sexual orientation, national origin, sex, gender, pregnancy, disability, marital status, age, race, color, veteran status, military status, religion, sexual orientation, domestic violence status, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender.
Any complaint of discrimination or harassment related to any of these protected bases should be reported to Sheila Johnson-Willis, the University’s Chief Equal Opportunity & Title IX Officer. She is responsible for coordinating compliance efforts under various laws including Titles VI, VII, IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She can be contacted at Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services, 005 Steele Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1120; by email:; or by telephone: 315-443-0211.

Federal and state law, and University policy prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sex or gender (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, and retaliation). If a student has been harassed or assaulted, they can obtain confidential counseling support, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, from the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team at the Counseling Center (315-443-4715, 200 Walnut Place, Syracuse, New York 13244-5040). Incidents of sexual violence or harassment can be reported non-confidentially to the University’s Title IX Officer (Sheila Johnson Willis, 315-443-0211,, 005 Steele Hall). Reports to law enforcement can be made to the University’s Department of Public Safety (315-443-2224, 005 Sims Hall), the Syracuse Police Department (511 South State Street, Syracuse, New York, 911 in case of emergency or 315-435-3016 to speak with the Abused Persons Unit), or the State Police (844-845-7269).

I will seek to keep information you share with me private to the greatest extent possible, but as a professor I have mandatory reporting responsibilities to share information regarding sexual misconduct, harassment, and crimes I learn about to help make our campus a safer place for all.

Religious Observances Policy:

SU religious observances policy, found at, recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holidays according to their tradition.  Under the policy, students are provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to are religious observance provided they notify their instructors before the end of the second week of classes. For fall and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through MySlice/StudentServices/Enrollment/MyReligiousObservances from the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.

Disability-Related Accommodations:

Syracuse University values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation. My goal as your instructor is to create learning environments that are useable, equitable, inclusive and welcoming. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or accurate assessment or achievement, I invite you to talk with me to discuss additional strategies beyond accommodations that may be helpful to your success, and to collaborate with the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) in this process.

If you would like to discuss disability-accommodations or register with CDR, please visit Center for Disability Resources. Please call (315) 443-4498 or email for more detailed information. The CDR is responsible for coordinating disability-related academic accommodations and will work with the student to develop an access plan. Since academic accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact CDR as soon as possible to begin this process.

Required Textbooks

        Schiffman, Lawrence. Texts and Traditions (KTAV, 1998) 
        Simkovich, Malka Z. Discovering Second Temple Literature (University of Nebraska Press, 2018)
        (available at the campus bookstore in Schine Student Center)  

Recommended:  The Jewish Study Bible (NJPS Tanakh translation, Oxford University Press) OR The New Oxford Annotated Bible = NOAB (New Revised Standard Version)

Schedule of Topics & Assignments:

Readings from textbooks appear by author and page numbers, readings from biblical books appear as book title and chapters, World Wide Web assignments are hotlinked. Journal articles (author and "title"; see full citations in course bibliography) must be retrieved through the SU Library

Mode of instruction: White = face-to-face in HL 207, Yellow = synchronous online, Grey = asynchronous online with assignment due at 5 pm on that class day.



Topics & Assignments (due by class on date listed)

T Aug 25

History and land:
Genesis 12, 15;
End of kingdoms: 2 Kings 16-20, 22-23, 25

August 27 - September 15: History of Judea in the Second Temple Period

Th Aug 27

Persian period: Simkovich xiii-xxviii; 59-63
Judean Restoration: Ezra 1, 3, 6; Schiffman 3.1.2 & Cyrus Cylinder; Xanthus Inscription ;
Ezra & Nehemiah: Ezra 7-10; Nehemiah 1-6, 8-9
T Sep 1
The Samaritans: 2 Kings 17; Ezra 4:1-5; Schiffman 3.4.2, 3.4.4, 3.2.10; Israelite Samaritan Religion, first four sections. WORKSHEET

Th Sep 3

Hellenistic period: Schiffman 121-25; Simkovich 63-70; Schiffman 4.2.1, 4.3.1-2, 4.5.1
The Maccabean Revolt: Schiffman 4.6.1-3
The Hasmoneans: Schiffman 4.6.5, 6.1.1-4.

T Sep 8

Jews in Egypt: Simkovich, 91-113; Schiffman 3.2.1-4, 5.1.2, 5.2.1-3, 5.3.1, 5.4.2, 5.6.1, 5.6.4; WORKSHEET

Th Sep 10

Roman period & Diaspora: Simkovich, 70-89, 115-125; 189-99; Schiffman 6.1.8, 8.3.1
Herod & Roman governors: Schiffman 8.1.2; 8.2.1, 8.3.2
First Jewish Revolts against Rome: Schiffman 9.1.1-2, 9.1.4-5, 9.1.8; Arch of Titus

Bar Kokhba Revolt: Schiffman 9.6.1-2, 9.6.4

T Sep 15 Josephus: Schiffman 9.1.3, 9.5.1-4, cf. 9.1.6, 9.1.9; Simkovich 189-99; WORKSHEET

September 17 - October 25: Archeology & Literature of the Second Temple Period

Th Sep 17 Introduction to the Archeology of Israel: Artifacts and Texts: Simkovich 3-4; Archeology of the Bible; Granerød, “Canon and Archive"
M Sep 21 8 am: Paper #1 due in Blackboard via Turnitin Paper #1 (see paper instructions)

T Sep 22

Al-Yahudu texts: VIDEO introduction; Deloreme, “The Al-Yahudu Texts"; Abraham, "West Semitic and Judean Brides in Cuneiform Sources," 198-201, 206-211; also Ancient tablets displayed in Jerusalem fuel looting debate; WORKSHEET
Th Sep 24 Novels : Tobit, Judith, Joseph & Asenath Simkovich 108-113 (LXX), 251-258 (Joseph & Asenath); Schiffman 7.1.5 (Tob 11-12), 7.1.6 (Judith), 7.1.9 (Susanna)

T Sep 29
Group Report: Elephantine

Read Schiffman 3.2.1-4; Rosenberg, "The Jewish Temple" (through Library online); and the GROUP REPORT (in Blackboard > Information), then respond to only one (1) prompt on the Discussion Board.

Th Oct 1

Stories & History

Daniel 3, 6; Esther (all); Simkovich 173-187;

T Oct 6
Group Report: Jerusalem Read the Group Report PowerPoint and its links (in Blackboard > Information); and review Schiffman 3.1.2; Nehemiah 4; 1 Maccabees 1, then respond to one (1) prompt and also to another student's comment on the Discussion Board.

Th Oct 8

Commentary & Rewritten Bibles Simkovich 221-243; Schiffman 7.3.4, 7.3.5

T Oct 13

Group Report: Qumran Read the group PowerPoint in Assignments or Discussion Board, and Simkovich 49-51, 145-165; review Schiffman 7.3.4, 7.3.5. Then answer the question in the Discussion Board, responding to other answers already posted there.

Th Oct 15

Wisdom Literature
Proverbs 8; Simkovich 129-143 (Philo, Aristeas); Schiffman 7.1.12 (Sira), 7.1.13 (WisdSol), 5.6.6 (Philo); 7.1.1-4 (rabbinic rules against apocryphal books)

T Oct 20

Group Report: Bar Kochba caves

See Group Report and reading assignment in Blackboard > Discussions

Th Oct 22

Apocalyptic Simkovich 258-269; Bible: Daniel 7, 12; Schiffman 7.2.1-3, 7.2.4, 7.3.1, 7.3.3, 7.3.6.

Sunday Oct 25


Psalms 1, 130, 137, 150; Schiffman 7.3.2 (Hodayot), 7.3.7 (ApZion)

October 27 - November 24: Religion in the Second Temple Period, and its Legacies

T Oct 27

Pharisees & Sadducees, Apocalyptics & Ascetics Schiffman pp. 231-34, 6.2.1-6, 6.3.1, 6.3.4, 6.3.6; 10.1.6-7; Discussion Board by midnight.
Th Oct 29 From Sectarians to Two Religions  Schiffman 8.4.1; Mark 14-16; Acts 1-4, 9-10, Galatians 1-2; Schiffman 8.5.1-6, 8.6.1-3; 11.2.5; Reading Responses due in Blackboard by 1 p.m.
M Nov 2 Term paper topics due
(list of possible topics)
For optional term papers, make appointment to discuss topics with Prof. Watts before today
T Nov 3 Women in Early Christianity Carolyn Osiek, "Leadership Roles and Early Christian Communities," Oxford Handbooks Online (through Library); Luke 1-2, 8:1-3; 23:50-24:12; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Gospel of Mary (all); Discussion Board by 5 p.m.

Th Nov 5

Women in Rabbinic Judaism Judith Baskin, "Jewish Traditions about Women," Oxford Handbooks Online (through Library); Schiffman 13.5.1-7, 13.6.1-2; Reading Responses due by 1 p.m.

M Nov 9

DUE 8 am via Turnitin in Blackboard Paper #2 (see paper instructions)
OR thesis, bibliography & outline
of term paper

T Nov 10

Jewish Messianiasm
Jewish Messianism; Britannica: "Shabbetai Tzevi"; EBR: "Messianism"-- modern Judaism, pp. 951-54; Discussion Board by 5 p.m.

Th Nov 12

Jewish & Christian Magic
Exodus 7:8-13; Leviticus 20:27; Acts 8:4-24;
Magic Bowls of Antiquity, esp. first part; Ethiopian Healing Scrolls; Gideon Bohak, "How Jewish Magic Survived the Disenchantment of the World," Aries 19 (2019), 7-37.
Reading Responses due in Blackboard by 1 p.m.

T Nov 17

Christian Apocalypticism
Daniel 9:1-3, 20-27; Mark 13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:5, Revelation 19:11-21:2, 22:1-7; Glen Shuck, "Christian Dispensationalism," Oxford Handbooks Online; Discussion Board by 5 p.m.

Th Nov 19

Anti-Semitism: origins and definitions
Goldenberg's review of Schaffer's Judeophobia; Haynes, "Christianity" and Holocaust, Oxford Handbooks Online; Reading Responses due in Blackboard by 1 p.m.

T Nov 24

Fake or Stolen Ancient Texts
Greshko, "Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries," National Geographic, March 13, 2020; Sabar, "Mystery at Oxford," The Atlantic, June 2020; Reading Responses due in Blackboard by 1 p.m.
T Dec 1
Draft of Term Papers due
8 am
W Dec 9 12:45 pm

Paper assignment #3 and Final Term Papers  

12:45: Paper #3 or Term Paper due in Blackboard drop box



Texts in Translation, Surveys, and Textbooks:

  • Simkovich, Malka Z. Discovering Second Temple Literature. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.
  • Magness, Jodi. The archaeology of the Holy Land: from the destruction of Solomon's Temple to the Muslim conquest. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence. Texts and Traditions. Hoboken: KTAV, 1998. 
  • Feldman, Louis H., James L. Kugel, and Lawrence H. Schiffman, eds. Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings related to Scripture. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.
  • Charlesworth, James H., ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983-1985.


On women in the Second Temple period and Late Antiquity:

  • Abraham, Kathleen. "West Semitic and Judean Brides in Cuneiform Sources," Archiv für , Orientforschung 51 (2005/2006), 198-219, especially pp. 198-201, 206-211.
  • Crawford, Sidnie White. “Not According to Rule: Women, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran,” in Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov (ed. by S. M. Paul et al.; Leiden: Brill, 2003), 127–150.
  • Efthimiadis-Keith, Helen. "Judith, Feminist Ethics and Feminist Biblical/Hebrew Bible Interpretation," in A Feminist Companion to Tobit and Judith. A Feminist companion to the Bible, vol. 20, Sheffield: Phoenix, 2015. (open access to article online)
  • Ilan, Tal. Integrating Women into Second Temple History. Mohr Siebeck, 1999. Baker, 2001.
  • Miller, Patricia Cox. Women in Early Christianity: Translations From Greek Texts. Washington: CUA Press, 2005.
  • Meyers, Carol. Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context.  Oxford University Press, 2013. Or her first edition, Discovering Eve ().
  • Silver, Morris. Slave-wives, single women and "bastards" in the ancient Greek world: law and economics perspectives. Oxbow, 2018. Especially chap. 4.
  •  Zlotnick, Helena. Dinah's Daughters: Gender and Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to Late Antiquity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.