Hellenistic Judaism: From Alexander the Great to the End of the Second Temple

Online Seminar

Course Title: 
Hellenistic Judaism: From Alexander the Great to the End of the Second Temple

Harold Attridge

Section 1 Dates:
Tuesdays at 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. eastern
October 13 - November 10, 2020


Section 2 Dates:
Wednesdays at 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. eastern
October 14 - November 11, 2020

Registration Fee:

To join the waitlist, please click on "register now" below.

Register Now


Course Description

This course will explore Jewish history from the time of the conquest of the near east by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE until the end of the first century CE. One important part of that history is the encounter between two different cultural traditions in which Jews adopted Greek cultural traditions to express their beliefs and frame practice. Jewish authors wrote novelistic histories of the life of Moses, tragic dramas about the prophets, histories of their political struggles, and philosophical reflections on their sacred scriptures. Greek cultural traditions were at work in all these literary forms.


Another element of that encounter is the Jewish resistance to the now dominant culture and its political embodiments. Visionary literature often gave voice to the resistance, but that voice also came to expression in the quintessentially Greek form dactylic hexameter poetry. The process of cultural adaptation and resistance led to the formation of different forms of Judaism, including the sectarians of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as a group of Egyptian ascetics, depicted as ideal philosophers. The complex history of assimilation and confrontation laid the foundation for the development of new religious traditions of the Roman period that have played significant roles in the history of western civilization.

Information Links

Harold Attridge Webinar Image
  • About The Professor

Harold Attridge

Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity and Dean of Yale Divinity School from 2002 to 2012, has made scholarly contributions to New Testament exegesis and to the study of Hellenistic Judaism and the history of the early Church. His publications include The Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius Josephus, Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex, Hebrews (Hermeneia), Essays on John and Hebrews, and The Acts of Thomas, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, Testamentum, and the Hermeneia commentary series.

Syllabus & Required Reading

Week 1:
General Introduction to Jews and Greeks from Alexander to the Flavians

Ezekiel the Tragedian
The Letter of Aristeas; 2 Maccabees

Week 2:
Apocalyptic Visions

1 Enoch 1-36
3rd Sibylline Oracle

Week 3:
The Emergence of "Sects"

Josephus, Jewish War 2.119-166; Antiquities of the Jews 13.171-73; 18.11-25.
Scroll of the Rule, Damascus Document
Philo, On the Contemplative Life

Week 4:
Greeks in Egypt

Philo, On the Creation of the World 1-104
Joseph and Aseneth

Week 5:
Josephus, Priest, Rebel, Apologist

Josephus, Life; Against Apion (selections)

Required Reading:
All readings are provided at no additional cost.

Related Academy Content

Terms & Conditions

Info Accordions

Yale Alumni Academy’s Virtual Seminars meet weekly on Zoom for five, 90-minute sessions. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants. This small group format thrives on a sense of intellectual collegiality, including sharing our backgrounds and the curiosities that we bring to this course. Online courses are primarily synchronous, with live sessions focused on discussion and interactive exchange amongst faculty and fellow participants. 

Outside readings and other multi-media course materials enhance the learning experience and can be accessed via the private course website hosted on Yale’s Canvas learning platform. Participants will receive a training on the online tools, and technical support will be available throughout the program. To join the course, you will need a computer or tablet with a video camera and a high-speed internet connection. 

Alumni and friends of Yale are welcome to register for this course on a space-available, first-come, first-served basis. Once all available course slots have been filled, new registrants will be notified by email of their status on the waiting list.

No-risk cancellation is available through Wednesday, September 16th after which time, there will be no refunds issued. If Yale Alumni Academy cancels any course prior to its start, you may sign up for another course or your fee will be fully refunded.

Please be sure to complete all pages of the informational form.  You MUST choose the registration fee at the bottom of the Registration Page to properly complete registration.  Then be sure to click the final "Click to Complete Registration" button. Your reservation has not been received by the YAA until you complete payment information on final screen.  Please double check that the name of your course is correct before confirming registration. You will receive a summary email immediately after you complete your registration.

Each registration covers one person. If your spouse or family member would like to join the course, please select "Add a Guest" at the bottom of the main registration page. Please ensure you check the course name for each guest as well. You will be billed for the additional registration. If you have any questions, please contact Sharon.small@yale.edu. 

By registering for, attending or participating in this event, I grant my permission to the Yale Alumni Association (YAA) and/or Yale University to photograph, videotape, and/or audio record my image and/or voice(and that of any minor guest attendees(s)) and the right to to use and reproduce such as images and/or recordings in all media, including digital media, for purpose of promoting Yale University and the YAA programs and events, other purposes in accordance with Yale's mission. I understand that I will have no approval rights with respect to use of these images.