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Unit of study_

JCTC1003: Jewish History from Rome to New Diaspora

How did the religion and history of the Jewish people change from the Second Temple to the rabbinic period? Explore the history of the Jews during the watershed period in Palestine under Roman rule. Study the Hellenist influence on Judaism, the development of different sects and the emergence of Christianity. Explore what takes place after the destruction of the Second Temple and the revolts as the Jewish diaspora takes greater shape. Explore the spread of Judaism into Africa and Asia and the communities there.


Academic unit Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
Unit code JCTC1003
Unit name Jewish History from Rome to New Diaspora
Session, year
Semester 2, 2022
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Michael Abrahams-Sprod,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research Essay
Long Answer/Essay
55% Week 11
Due date: 19 Oct 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 02 Nov 2022
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Participation Class Participation
10% Week 13 Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Critical Assessment of Reading
Short Answer
10% Week 13
Due date: 02 Nov 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 16 Nov 2022
500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Discussion Board Activity
Short Answer
25% Week 13
Due date: 02 Nov 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 16 Nov 2022
1000 words ( 4 x 250-word posts)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.


For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction: time line of major Jewish events in biblical and post-biblical Jewish history; 2. General organisation for the unit Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 1.The Greek period: Greek conquest of Palestine, the difference between Judaism and Hellenism, the Hasmonean revolt and dynasty; 2. Kingdom of Herod: an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Kingdom of Herod Lecture (2 hr)  
Jewish sects: Jewish sectarianism and Jewish eschatological movements; the writings of Josephus, his commentary on these events Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 1. Destruction of the Second Temple: reasons for the first great revolt, its failure and the destruction of the Temple. Study of the writings of Josephus; 2. The new centre at Yavneh: theological concerns arising from the loss of the temple - re-establishment of Jewish life in Palestine Lecture (2 hr)  
Film: "Heritage, Civilization and the Jews: The Shaping of a Tradition" Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 The Bar Kochba Revolt: the revolt of 135 CE and its results for the Jewish community of Judea and the Diaspora. Lecture (2 hr)  
The Mishnah: Judah HaNasi and the compilation of the Mishnah Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 1. The patriarchy: The Jewish Diaspora 70-632 CE; the Tanaaim and Amoraim: the Babylonian schools; 2. The Palestinian Talmud: development of the Palestinian Talmud - key figures Lecture (2 hr)  
Styles of writing: Halacha - Aggadah and Midrash in the Jewish sources Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 1.The rise of Christianity: life of Jesus and the role of Paul in the spread of Christianity; 2. Early Christian antisemitism: beginnings of the persecution of Jews under Christianity; decline of Jewish life in Palestine; Film: "The Longest Hatred" (Wistrich) Lecture (2 hr)  
Early Christian antisemitism: beginnings of the persecution of Jews under Christianity; decline of Jewish life in Palestine; Film: "The Longest Hatred" (Wistrich) Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 1. Egyptian Jewry: overview of Jewish settlement in Egypt from the Greco-Roman period through to the Arab conquest; 2. The Cairo Geniza: development of our knowledge of Jewish mediterranean societies from the Cairo Geniza. Lecture (2 hr)  
Maimonides: his philosophical and literary heritage Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 1. Saadia Gaon: the contribution of Saadia Gaon; 2. The Karaites and Rabbanites: a study of some of the Karaitic texts Lecture (2 hr)  
Film: "The Karaites of Lithuania and Poland" Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 The Jewish community in Babylon: study of the move of the centre of Jewry from Palestine to Babylonia and the community life, which developed there, including background to the Babylonian Talmud Lecture (2 hr)  
The Babylonian Talmud: development of the Babylonian Talmud and comparison with the Palestinian Talmud Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 The Samaritans: an outline of the history and beliefs of the Samaritans Lecture (2 hr)  
Masoretes and their work: the standardisation of the Hebrew bible by the Masoretes in Tiberias, eight to tenth centuries Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 The settlement of Jews in China: description of Jewish life in Kaifeng, China, and the ready acceptance of Jews in Kaifeng. Brief overview of developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lecture (2 hr)  
Islam and the Jews Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Jews of India: the history of the Jews of India in the medieval period with a special focus on Cochin. Guest lecturer: Lecture (2 hr)  
Jews of India: the history of the Jews of India in the medieval period with a special focus on Bene Israel Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 The new diaspora: from Roman conquest to the advent of Islam - a group discussion Lecture (2 hr)  
Conclusion of unit and unit evaluation Tutorial (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on Canvas. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Detailed information for all reading requirments and readings for this unit can be found on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the impact of Roman rule on Judea including the reasons for and results of the two major Jewish rebellions against the Romans
  • LO2. apply concepts supporting the effect of the destruction of the Second Temple and the reasons for the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism
  • LO3. analyse the reasons for sectarianism in the Second Temple period and the subsequent development of Christianity
  • LO4. conceptualise the reasons for the emerging tensions between Judaism and Christianity
  • LO5. demonstrate a strong understanding of how Jewish beliefs and practices were influenced by the Rabbinic period and their historical evolution in Talmudic times
  • LO6. understand the evolution of the Jewish diaspora experience in Babylon, Egypt, India and China
  • LO7. compare and contrast the evolution of Judaism when interacting with the different religious milleus of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism
  • LO8. analyse issues of integration/assimilation and rejection of Jews within various host societies.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
Changes to this unit are made in each iteration of this unit, based on the USS, informal and formal feedback from students and colleagues and other pedagogic matters.


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