Judaism: History, Belief and Practice (Paperback) book cover


History, Belief and Practice

By Dan Cohn-Sherbok

© 2003 – Routledge

608 pages | 94 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415236614
pub: 2003-05-08
Hardback: 9780415236607
pub: 2003-05-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203402511
pub: 2003-09-02
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About the Book

Written by an experienced university teacher, who is also a scholar and rabbi, this extensive textbook presents an unrivalled guide to the history, belief and practice of Judaism. Beginning with the ancient Near-Eastern background, it covers early Israelite history, the emergence of classical rabbinic literature and the rise of medieval Judaism in Islamic and Christian lands. It also explores the early modern period and the development of Jewry throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Extracts from primary sources are used to enliven the narrative and provide concrete examples of Jewish civilization. Judaism:

  • introduces texts and commentaries, including the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic texts, mystical literature, Jewish philosophy and Jewish theology
  • provides the skills necessary to understand these step-by-step
  • explains how to interpret the major events in nearly 4,000 years of Jewish history
  • supports study with discussion questions on the central historical and religious issues, includes key reading for each chapter and an extensive bibliography
  • illustrates the development of Judaism, its concepts and observances, with nearly 200 maps and photographs.

A companion website links each chapter to other online resources, and gives guidance on activities and support for teachers.


'Judaism: History, Belief and Practice … will amaze. It's encyclopaedic cover of the entirety of the learned output of 4,000 years of Jewish life is a feat in itself. It is certainly to be recommended … a truly fine book.' - Brian Fox, Jewish Telegraph

'There is no doubt that this is an excellent introductory text for undergraduates and A level students. The chapters provide useful chunks of bite-size information with suitable resources to explore key concepts … I have no reservations in making it the set text for my undergraduate introduction to Judaism.' - Dr Deidre Burke, British Journal of Religious Education

"Judaism by Dan Cohn-Sherbok is the most comprehensive introduction to Judaism available to American undergraduates. The concise chapters of this book provide excellent background information on Jewish history, culture, and religion. As a teacher, I can build upon this information when we pursue critical issues in specialized classes in Jewish Studies. My undergraduate students at this liberal arts college praise the encyclopedic character of the book as well as the maps and text samples. Many of my students keep this book as a future reference work." - Rivka Ulmer, The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Chair in Jewish Studies, Bucknell University

Table of Contents

Part 1: History 1 Ancient Mesopotamian Civilization; 2 The Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Civilization; 3 Israelite Monotheism and Law; 4 The Patriarchs; 5 Exodus; 6 Conquest and Settlement; 7 The Rise of Monarchy; 8 Solomon and the Divided Monarchy; 9 Kings of Israel and Judah; 10 Jeroboam II to the Fall of the Northern Kingdom; 11 Ahaz and Hezehiah; 12 From Manasseh to Babylonian Captivity; 13 After the Fall of Judah; 14 Return and Restoration; 15 The Rise of Hellenism; 16 Judaism under Hellenism; 17 The Kingship of Herod; 18 Rebellion Against Rome; 19 The Rise of Christianity; 20 Roman Jewish War and Aftermath; 21 Jews in the Roman Empire; 22 Jews in Babylonia; 23 Rabbinic Scriptural Interpretation; 24 Rabbinic Theology; 25 Jews under Islamic Rule; 26 Karaism; 27 Jews in Muslim Spain and Other Lands; 28 Jews in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages; 29 The Jews in Christian Spain; 30 Dispersion of the Marranos; 31 Early Medieval Thought; 32 The Philosophy of Maimonides; 33 Jewish Philosophy after Maimonides; 34 Rabbinic Mysticism; 35 The Hasidei Ashkenaz; 36 The Emergence of Kabbalah; 37 Jews in the Ottoman Empire; 38 The Sabbatean Movement; 39 Jewry in Eastern and Western Europe; 40 The Rise of the Hasidic Movement; 41 The Status of Jewry in Europe; 42 Jews in Eastern Europe; 43 The Emergence of Jewish Thought in the Enlightenment; 44 The Origins of Reform; 45 Jewish Thought in the Age of Reform; 46 The Rise of Anti-Semitism; 47 The Zionist Movement; 48 Jews in the United States, Palestine, Africa, Asia and Germany; 49 The Nazi Regime; 50 The Death Camps; 51 The State of Israel; 52 Jewry after The Holocaust; 53 The Contemporary Jewish World; 54 The Future of Judaism; Part 2: Belief and Practice: Belief 55 The Unity of God; 56 Transcendence and Imminence; 57 Eternity; 58 Omnipotence and Omniscience; 59 Creation; 60 Providence; 61 Divine Goodness; 62 Revelation; 63 Torah and Mitzvot; 64 Commandments; 65 Transgression and Repentence; 66 The Chosen People; 67 The Promised Land; 68 Prayer; 69 Love and Fear of God; 70 Messiah; 71 The Hereafter; Practice: 72 The Community; 73 Jewish Education; 74 The Jewish Calendar; 75 Sanctuary, Temple and Synagogue; 76 Worship; 77 Sabbath; 78 Special Sabbaths; 79 Pilgrim Festivals; 80 New Year and Day of Atonement; 81 Days of Joy; 82 Fast Days; 83 Life Cycle Events; 84 Marriage; 85 Divorce; 86 The Home; 87 Dietary Laws; 88 Death and Mourning; 89 Ethics; 90 Conversion; Glossary; Bibliography; Judaism and the Internet; Index

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Judaism / General
RELIGION / Judaism / History
RELIGION / Judaism / Theology