2nd Edition

History, Belief and Practice

ISBN 9781138912212
Published March 27, 2017 by Routledge
630 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

This newly revised all-encompassing textbook is a guide to the history, beliefs 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 includes the early modern period and the development of Jewry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Extracts from primary sources are used throughout to enliven the narrative and provide concrete examples of the rich variety of Jewish civilization.

Specially designed to assist learning, 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 with the help of a companion website

Explains how to interpret the major events in nearly four thousand years of Jewish history

Supports study with discussion questions on the central historical and religious issues, and includes key reading for each chapter, an extensive glossary and index

Illustrates the development of Judaism, its concepts, observances and culture, with maps, photos, paintings and engravings

Links each chapter to a free companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/cohnsherbok which provides things to think about, things to do and tips for teachers as well as other online resources

Table of Contents


List of maps

List of figures


Tips for students



Part I: 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 Hezekiah

12 From Manasseh to Babylonian Captivity 68

13 Aftermath of 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 Judaism under Islamic Rule

26 Karaism

27 Jews in Muslim Spain and other Islamic Lands

28 Jewry 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 Shabbatean 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 The Rise of Anti-Semitism

46 The Zionist Movement

47 Jews in the United States, Palestine, Africa and Asia

48 The Nazi Regime

49 The Death Camps

50 Jewry after the Holocaust

51 The State of Israel

52 The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

53 The Ongoing Struggle

54 Women in Modern Judaism

55 Jews and Culture

56 Jews in Medicine and Science

57 The Future of Judaism

Part II: Belief and Practice


58 The Unity of God

59 Divine Transcendence and Immanence

60 Eternity

61 Omnipotence and Omniscience

62 Creation

63 Providence

64 Divine Goodness

65 Revelation

66 Torah and Mitzvot

67 Commandments

68 Sin and Repentance

69 The Chosen People

70 The Promised Land

71 Prayer

72 Love and Fear of God

73 Messiah

74 The Afterlife


75 Community Life

76 Jewish Education

77 The Jewish Calendar

78 Places of Worship

79 Worship

80 The Sabbath

81 Special Sabbaths

82 Pilgrim Festivals

83 New Year and Day of Atonement

84 The Days of Joy

85 Fasts

86 Life Cycle Events

87 Marriage

88 Divorce

89 The Home

90 Dietary Laws

91 Death and Mourning

92 Jewish Ethics

93 Conversion


Reference Bibliography

Judaism on the Internet


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Dan Cohn-Sherbok is an American-born rabbi and Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales, Honorary Professor at Aberystwth University, and Visiting Professor at St Mary's University, London and York St John's University, UK.


Already an indispensable resource, this second edition of Judaism: History, Belief and Practice, with its outstanding clarity and comprehensive range, has a yet stronger claim to the status of core text for any student or general reader new to the serious study of Judaism. Melissa Raphael, University of Gloucestershire and Leo Baeck College, London.



This Second and revised edition of Judaism: History, Belief and Practice is to be welcomed not only by those of us who teach survey courses in Judaism where this is the text for our students, but colleagues who now have at hand a ready and complete encyclopedic reference in one volume. Steve Jacobs, The University of Alabama, USA