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The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity

by Harvard University

This course material is only available in the iTunes U app on iPhone or iPad.

Course Description

In 70CE the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Second Temple Judaism, whose worship consisted of animal sacrifice permitted by biblical command only at the Temple, would have to reinvent itself as Rabbinic Judaism.  Contemporaneously, the authors of the New Testament Gospels were writing about the Jewish apocalyptic prophet whom they believed was the awaited messiah.  For both the rabbis and the gospel writers, for both ancient Jews and ancient Christians, the central authoritative text was the Torah and the other books we now call the Hebrew Scriptures.  This course surveys how the interpretation (and reinterpretation) of these books spawned two rival cultural systems, Judaism and Christianity.  The issues addressed are: 1) What are the truth claims of Judaism and Christianity?  2) In the first centuries of our era, how did Jewish biblical interpretation differ from Christian?  3) What differences resulted in "the parting of the ways" between Judaism and Christianity?  4) How does each culture deal with the biblical passages concerning: circumcision, the food laws, the Sabbath, Passover, the manifestations of the deity (e.g., Logos), the messiah, atonement/redemption, and the concept of Israel as the chosen of God?

Customer Reviews

A Course for the "Average Joe's."

Who knew? This is just what I needed, after raising my family, the Navy, & work I can continue the work on "My-Self." Thanks
Prof. Cohen

Wonderful opportunity

I can't believe I get to audit a Harvard course for free during lunch. I've been listening to the lectures during lunch and am delighted. The introduction lecture was straightforward about what to expect and the lectures I've heard so far are exactly as explained. This course is not only informative but thought provoking. It's been many years since I sat in a classroom but I wish the information in my classes back then had been so easily laid out for me. A student today would have to be a complete slacker idiot to fail a course like this. Thank you Dr Cohen, I appreciate your work.


This is an excellent course for Jews and Christians who want to learn more about their own faith and each other's. Probably not the best for those who wish to continue the "my god is bigger than your god" debate. Obviously the professor's outlook is based upon his own faith as a Jew but I found his teaching and letting others come to their own conclusions rather than a judgmental approach refreshing. Hope there's more after this series since I'm 3/4's of the way through already. Shalom

The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity
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Customer Ratings