Syracuse University

Spring, 2016

The Temple &
the Dead Sea Scrolls

(Writing Intensive)

Time: TTh .
Instructor:   JIM WATTS (PhD) 
Office:  Hall of Languages 501 
Office Hours: M & by appointment
Phone:  443-5713 



Audience: 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 subequent 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 begin with the history of political and religious developments, then read various types of literature from the period (such as apocalyptic and some of the scrolls from the Dead Sea), and conclude by considering the developing role of scripture in religious thought and literature, to set the stage for interpreting the emergence of rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity.

Course Objectives: The goals of this course goals are to have students:

  1. gain a thorough knowledge of the literary sources for Second Temple Jewish history;
  2. investigate the impact in this period and culture of social forces on religious beliefs and practices, and of religion on social institutions;
  3. 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;
  4. develop an understanding of Second Temple Jewish literature as a key instance in the diversity of human religious phenomena, and achieve a fluency in interpreting and describing it.

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. 

Evaluation: Students are evaluated on the basis of their performance on:

  1. Daily assignments on the readings due at the beginning of each class (20%).
  2. Four papers (70%) of 1500 words each (see due dates and links to paper assignments in schedule below). Students may choose to combine substitute a 3,000 word term paper for papers 3 and 4. Late papers assignments will not be eligible for an 'A' grade.
  3. Participation in class discussions and activities (10%).

The grading scale is: A+ = 100, A = 95, A- = 92, B+ = 88, B = 85, B- = 82, etc. 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.

Academic Integrity:
The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. In this course, students found cheating on a test or assignment will receive zero (0) credit for that test or assignment. For more information and the complete policy, see

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 a religious observance provided they notify their instructors before the end of the second week of classes for regular session classes and by the submission deadline for flexibly formatted classes. For fall and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through MySlice/StudentServices/Enrollment/MyReligiousObservances.

Disability-Related Accommodations:
Students who are in need of disability-related academic accommodations must register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS), 804 University Avenue, Room 309, 315-443-4498. Students with authorized disability-related accommodations should provide a current Accommodation Authorization Letter from ODS to the instructor and review those accommodations with the instructor. Accommodations, such as exam administration, are not provided retroactively; therefore, planning for accommodations as early as possible is necessary. For further information, see the ODS website, Office of Disability Services

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.

  • We 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 or TA in advance.
  • Turn off cell phones, laptops, and tablets. If you wish to use an electronic device for class work (notes, assignments), you must sit in the front row of the class. Texting, e-mailing or web browsing during class are grounds for being dismissed from that day’s class.

Required Textbooks (available at the campus bookstore in Schine Student Center): 
         Schiffman, Lawrence. Texts and Traditions (KTAV, 1998) 
         Vanderkam, James C. An Introduction to Early Judaism (Eerdmans, 2001). 
Recommended:  New Oxford Annotated Bible = NOAB (New Revised Standard Version) OR The Jewish Study Bible (JPS Tanakh translation, Oxford University Press)

Topics & Assignments: Readings from textbooks appear by author and page numbers, readings from biblical books appear as book title (italics) and chapters, World Wide Web assignments are marked WWW. Further resources for biblical studies and religion may be found by at




Assignment (due by class on date listed)

T Jan 17



Israel's Religion & Culture

Th Jan 19

End of kingdoms

2 Kings 16-20, 22-23, 25

T Jan 24

Prophets and Sages

Schiffman 50-65

Th Jan 26

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

No Class

T Jan 31

History and land

Genesis 12, 15; Schiffman 11-29, 39-50

Th Feb 2


Schiffman 29-39, Deuteronomy 5-6, 30-31

History & Literature of the Persian Period (539-330 C.E.)

T Feb 7

Persian period

Vanderkam 1-11, Schiffman 65-73

Th Feb 9

Temple & Synagogue

VanderKam 193-213, Schiffman 93-96

M Feb 13
Paper #1 12 noon: Paper #1 Due in Blackboard dropbox

T Feb 14

Ezra, Nehemiah & Samaritans

Schiffman 80-93, 96-103

Th Feb 16


Vanderkam 147-150, Schiffman 73-79

T Feb 21

Prophecies & Polemics

VanderKam 53-58, 135-137, Schiffman 109-117, 329-330

History & Literature of the Hellenistic Period (330-63 B.C.E.)

Th Feb 23

Hellenistic period

VanderKam 11-16, 175-185, Schiffman 121-50

T Feb 28

Maccabean Revolt

VanderKam 16-24, Schiffman 151-169

Th Mar 2


VanderKam 24-32, Schiffman 235-266

M Mar 6
Paper #2 12 noon: Paper #2 due in Blackboard dropbox

T Mar 7

Pharisees, & Sadducees

Schiffman 231-34, 266-75, VanderKam 186-90

Th Mar 9

Apocalyptics & Ascetics

VanderKam 150-66, 191-93, Schiffman 275-300

Mar 11-19
Spring Break No Class

T Mar 21


VanderKam 102-115, Daniel 7, 12; Schiffman 340-341, 359-61, 365-66.

Th Mar 23

Wisdom & Hymns

VanderKam 115-34, Schiffman 321-23, 326-329, 330-336, 356-358, 366-67.

T Mar 28

Canonization of Scripture

Schiffman 117-120, 211-220, 306-307, VanderKam 213-217

History & Literature of the Roman Period (63 B.C.E.-2nd c. C.E.)

Th Mar 30

Roman period & Diaspora

VanderKam 32-41, 49-52, Schiffman 175-203

M Apr 3
Term paper topics due Make appointment to meet with Prof. Watts before today or sooner

T Apr 4

Herod & Roman governors

Schiffman 372-407

Th Apr 6

History & Stories

VanderKam 59-88, 138-146, Schiffman 203-211, 220-230, 308-326, 479-486

T Apr 11


Th Apr 13

Origins of Rabbinic Judaism Schiffman 503-517
M Apr 17
Paper #3, or term paper thesis, bibliograpy & outline  12 noon: due in Blackboard dropbox

T Apr 18

Origins of Christianity Mark 1-16; Acts 1-4, 9-10, Galatians 1-2

Th Apr 20

Halakhah Schiffman 103-106, 361-365, 517-522, Matthew 5

T Apr 25

First Revolt against Rome & Aftermath VanderKam 41-48, 166-173, Schiffman 414-479

Th Apr 27

Bar Kochba Revolt & Aftermath

VanderKam 48-49, Schiffman 487-495, 522-26, 529-31, 537-43, 571-74

T May 2

Commentary & Rewritten Bibles

VanderKam 88-102, Schiffman 106-109, 326-30, 336-340, 341-356

May 10 12:45 pm

Paper assignment #4

12:45: Paper #4 or Term Paper due in Blackboard drop box