Jewish Political Thought

  • Faculty: Andrew Rehfeld
  • Schedule: Tuesdays/Thursdays 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Course Number: L57 RelPol 240

This course uses the concepts of political theory to explore the diverse Jewish political tradition. While this tradition includes writing from and about the three historical periods of Jewish self-rule (including the modern state of Israel), most of the Jewish political tradition comes from the understand of politics as viewed from outsiders to mainstream communities. Additionally, Jewish political thought can be found through a Jewish community’s self-understanding based on its interpretation of Jewish text and law by which it bound itself. Because we span over 2,000 years of recorded history, we will not attempt to discern a single “Jewish political thought” but rather look at JPT through the lens of familiar concepts of political theory. The fundamental questions we will explore are the relationship of the Jewish tradition to concepts such as authority, law, consent, sovereignty, and justice. We will ask how the Jewish tradition views government and the relationship between the authority of God and the authority of temporal powers. We will explore these questions through a range of materials that include both primary and secondary literature.