Zachary Seguin

JS Courses

JS 105A – Classical Hebrew 1

Biblical Hebrew for beginners. A study of the alphabet, and some of the basic vocabulary and grammar of the language.

JS 105B – Classical Hebrew 2

A continuation of RS 131/JS 105A. Most of the rules of grammar will be covered in this course and students will begin to read texts in the original language.

JS 114 – Jews and Jewishness

This course examines the central elements that make up contemporary Jewish identity/identities, traditional and otherwise, with particular focus on the North American Jewish experience and the nature of Jewish modernity. It explores historical, literary, religious, and social issues that have contributed to the formation of these identities.

JS 120 – Relationships in the Bible (Old Testament)

Students will be introduced to the Hebrew Bible by way of selected readings which deal with a particular aspect of the human predicament. The focus will be on exploring relationships via narrative passages in the Old Testament and particularly in the Book of Genesis. The following relationships will be discussed: (a) Spousal (b) Human/God (c) Parent/child (d) Siblings (e) Gender issues in narratives of rape, incest, seduction and dominance.

JS 125 – Great Texts in the Jewish Tradition

This course will trace the development of biblical exegesis in the Jewish tradition. Interpretive methods and approaches to problems in the text such as redundancy, contradiction, and gaps will be surveyed, commencing with the Bible itself, through the classical period of the Talmud and concentrating on major medieval commentators. (The biblical episode of the 'Binding of Isaac' will be used as a paradigm to illustrate various approaches to the text.)

JS 130 – Power and Corruption in the Bible (Old Testament)

This course will deal with the period of the Prophets, e.g., Joshua, Kings, and Samuel. It will examine the uses and abuses of power analyzing the historical narratives and study the conflict between Saul and David, the political as well as the moral rise and fall of David.

JS 131 – Big Ideas of the Bible

The Bible is the most translated and most read document in human history. This course explores central biblical ideas, from creation to the end of time, violence to redemption, and political intrigue to family ties, and examines their impact on Judaism, Christianity, and Western Culture.

JS 150 – The Quest for Meaning in Modern Judaism

How does an ancient religious tradition remain relevant in the face of shifting cultural morals and beliefs and especially in light of the West's emphasis on relativism and freedom of choice? This course will explore the major themes and challenges that face Judaism and the Jewish people at the start of the 21st century. We will compare the insights of an extremely diverse group of Jewish thinkers on the place of tradition in the modern world, and examine the perpetual quest for meaning at the core of Judaism.

JS 203 – Jewish Responses to the Holocaust

The catastrophe and devastation of the Holocaust and the radical nature of its evil demanded responses within contemporary Jewish thought, identity, and experience. This course will explore philosophical, theological (Jewish law, rabbinic), literary (novels, poetry, memoirs, plays), and artistic (museums, memorials) attempts to deal with the issues the Holocaust raises.

JS 205 – The Hebrew Prophets

A study of the biblical prophets with special attention to their religious experience, social critique, visions of the future, and the writings that bear their names.

JS 210 – Jewish Philosophy

The course will explore the thought of various Jewish scholars throughout history on issues that were vital to their faith. The texts studied will be representative of the philosophical and rabbinic traditions on such matters as the nature of God, the problem of evil, creation, miracles, prophecy, and providence.

JS 211 – Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism

This course will survey the roots, history, and symbolism of the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah. Students will be introduced to the major texts, charismatic mystical masters, and schools of Kabbalah, beginning with the ancient Rabbis through to contemporary exponents such as Hasidim and messianic groups. Particular attention will be focused on the Zohar (Book of Splendour) and popular appeals to the mystical tradition.

JS 215 – Visions of Israel in Judaism: From Biblical to Modern Times

This course surveys the significance of the land of Israel in Judaism from historical, textual, and religious perspectives. Topics covered include the politics of Ancient Israel, the concept of Israel in prayer and the rabbinic and medieval Jewish imagination, portrayals of Israel in Christian and Muslim texts, and the origins, visions, and challenges of Zionism and the modern State of Israel.

JS 217 – Judaism

An introduction to the religious tradition of the Jews, in terms of beliefs, practices, ideals, and institutions from the beginning to the present time.

JS 233 – The Holocaust and Film

An examination of the Holocaust as portrayed in feature films and documentaries. Do cinematic attempts capture the horror of the Holocaust faithfully, or trivialize it? The background to anti-semitism, use of religious imagery in propaganda films, and what counts as "success" or "failure" in cinematic representations are discussed.

JS 236 – Paul: Life and Letters

The career and thought of the apostle Paul, at once a Jew, a Graeco-Roman, and a Christ believer, living within the Roman Empire. Attention is given to issues such as spirit, Jewish Law, grace, freedom and slavery, Christ, church, politics, gender and sexuality.

JS 237 – Insiders and Outsiders in the Bible

This course explores the tension between insiders and outsiders in the Bible, examining the rationale for and implications of issues such as purity, holy war, the chosen people, and the Gentiles.

JS 250 – Special Topics

One or more special courses will be offered at different times. Consult the Department for current offerings.

JS 301 – Canada and the Holocaust

An analysis of the response to the Holocaust, from 1933 to 1945, and the legacy of the event since the war in Canadian society.

JS 306A – Intermediate Classical Hebrew

Reading and grammatical analysis of selected passages from the Hebrew Bible.

JS 306B – Ancient Semitic Texts and Inscriptions

Reading and analysis of Iron Age inscriptions and ostraca in Hebrew or closely related Canaanite dialects, including the Siloam and Mesha inscriptions and the Lachish letters, plus a selection from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

JS 310 – Jews in the New World

Push and pull factors led Jews from Europe to the so-called New World (Canada, the United States, South America, the Caribbean) as well as South Africa and Australia. The mass movement of migrants leaving 19th century Europe dramatically transformed world Jewry. This course explores the experiences of various national Jewish communities, the variety of new world Jewries, and the relationship between modern states and their religious and ethnic minorities.

JS 313 – Moses Maimonides: Life and Thought

This course examines the life and thought of Moses Maimonides, the most important thinker in Jewish history. It explores his contributions to philosophy, law, biblical interpretation and his attempt to reconcile religion and science.

JS 338 – Seeking Wisdom in the Bible

This course explores the theme of wisdom in the Bible and related literature in the period from ancient Israel to the first century CE. It examines the varied cultural influences on biblical wisdom traditions.

JS 339 – The Bible (Old Testament) and Archaeology

This course examines the Bible in relation to the archaeology and material culture of the Ancient Near East. It will explore how archaeological discoveries contribute to our understanding of the events, personalities and narratives of the Hebrew Bible.

JS 341 – Jewish Contributions to Political Thought

This course examines Jewish communal organization and contributions to political thought. Issues discussed include the nature of legitimate authority in conditions of Jewish diaspora, the intellectual and political foundations for governance in the Jewish tradition from the time of the Exodus to the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

JS 350 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies

One or more special courses will be offered at different times. Consult the Department for current offerings.

JS 450 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies

One or more special courses will be offered at different times. Consult the Department for current offerings.