Ancient Israel: the Hellenistic Period

University of Minnesota

Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies

Ancient Near Eastern and Jewish Studies 3505

Ancient Israel: The Hellenistic Period

Spring, 1988

Professor Tzvee Zahavy

Visiting lecturers: Professor Phil Sellew, Professor Steve Derfler

Kitty Millet, Teaching Assistant

Office hours: Friday, 10-12 or by appointment.

This course traces the history and religion of the Jews and of Judaism from the sixth century BCE to the first century CE, an era commonly called the second Temple Period or the Intertestamental Period.

Topics of course:

I. Pre-Hellenistic history: Persian rule of Israel, 538-332 BCE

Israel: Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles

Egypt: The colony at Elephantine

II. The Hellenistic Period. Early: 332-167 BCE

Alexander and Israel

Wisdom Literature: Proverbs, Qoheleth, Ben Sira

Egypt: The Septuagint transition

Impact of Hellenism to 167 BCE

III. Maccabeen rule in Israel, 167-29 BCE

History of the Maccabees

Literature, especially apocalyptic: Daniel, Enoch

Impact of Hellenism

IV. Later Hel. period: Herod the Great to the fall Jerusalem, 29 BCE - 70 CE

Impact of Hellenism: Egypt: Philo Judaeus of Alexandria

Israel: History and religion: Samaritans, Pharisees, Sadducees,

Dead Sea sect, Zealots, Sicarii, Scribes, Early Christians.

Course Requirements:

One mid-term essay assignment based on both readings and lectures. In the 9thweek students will submit an outline of the final paper. The final paper (10 pages max.), will synthesize a major aspect of the course. There will be no examinations. All assignments must be typed and double-spaced.

Books, Readings, Office Hours, Grades

Textbooks available at the Minnesota Book Center.

Reserve: Additional reading materials will be on reserve at the Wilson reserve readings room and in 178 Klaeber Court and at Kinkos copy center, if possible.

Handouts: Short handouts will be distributed in class.

Office Hours: The instructor and teaching assistant are accessible during office hours by appointment. See the instructor or TA for an appointment or call the department office (624-0060).

Grades: Based on written work and on classroom participation. A grade of "S" is equivalent to a "C" or better. No grade of "I" will be assigned unless prearranged with instructor.

Changes of schedule: If you cannot attend this class please notify the instructor or teaching assistant in advance.

Textbooks and Information

Required (*)

J. Bickerman, From Ezra to the Last of the Maccabees

D.S. Russel, Between the Testaments


G.W.E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah.

Oxford Annotated Bible and Apocrypha


R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament

L. Feldman and G. Hata, Josephus, Judaism and Christianity

M. Hadas, Hellenistic Culture: Fusion and Diffusion

M. Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism

R. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence

B. Porten, The Archives of Elephantine

M. Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics that Shaped the Old Testament

W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilization, 3rd ed.

V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews

G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls

Video Tapes

Abba Eban, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, tapes 1, 2, 3

Tzvee Zahavy, Ancient Synagogues Explored, tape

ANEJ 3505 Syllabus

Week Readings: Chapters from:

March 30 Introduction Heritage, Ancient Synagogues, tapes

April 6 (Professor Derfler) Archaeology, late Persian

*Bickerman, 3-31 Ezra, Nehemiah,

Smith, 82-147 Chronicles

Nickelsburg, 1-70

April 13 (Professor Sellew) Hellenism and its main

*Bickerman, 32-40 trends and impacts

Porten, excerpts

*Bickerman, 41-53

Nickelsburg, 161-194

Hadas, excerpts

Tarn, 1-54

Hengel, 6-106

April 20 (Professor Sellew) The Septuagint and the

*Bickerman, 72-87 Letter of Aristeas

*Russel, 13-25, 58-63

Tcherikover, 1-174

April 27 *Bickerman, 54-86 Proverbs, Qoheleth,

*Russel, 75-86 Ben Sira

Hadas, 59-71

Hengel, 107-175

Mid-term take-home essay exam distributed to students.

May 4 *Bickerman, 93-152 I and II Maccabees

Heritage: Civilization

and the Jews, tapes 2,3

Mid-term exam due.

May 11 *Russel, 25-35, 41-48 Maccabees, continued

Nickelsburg, 101-160

Tcherikover, 174-268

Hengel, 175-217

Mid-term exam returned to students.

May 18 *Russel, 93-162 Daniel, Enoch

Tcherikover, 269-377

Nickelsburg, 71-100

Hengel, 175-217

Final paper assignments discussed.

May 25 *Bickerman, 153-182 Philo of Alexandria

Nickelsburg, 231-276

Tcherikover, 175-268

Outlines of final papers due.

June 1 Russel, 35-40, 48-57, Josephus, Mishnah, NT


Vermes, 95-117, 235-43

Nickelsburg, 195-230,


June 8 Concluding lecture The social history of the 1st century

(Attendance optional) and any remaining topics.

Final Assignment Due.