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Three Jewish Heretics: Elisha ben Abuyah, Spinoza, and Jacob Frank

A heretic is someone who chooses a path outside the norm. Rabbinic Judaism has been a norm for centuries, and yet for centuries there have been Jews who chose another path. In this single-session course, we will look at three Jewish thinkers who famously rebelled against traditional ideas: Elisha ben Abuyah from the first and second centuries, Spinoza (1632–1677), and Jacob Frank (1726–1791). The work of these three philosophers represents tendencies toward ancient Greek wisdom, modern philosophy, and quasi-Christian messianism. Despite their dissent from Jewish tradition, explore how these so-called heretics have remained very much a part of Jewish history and have come to represent some interesting byways within it. No prior knowledge of Jewish theology is necessary.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the role of three prominent heretics in Jewish tradition
  • Increased familiarity with the diversity of Jewish tradition

Ideal for

  • The curious and creative
  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in-between
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.