Biblical Studies Online

Professor Daniel Boyarin (University of California at Berkeley) delivered the 2015 Bampton Lectures in America, at Columbia University. In these lectures, Boyarin examines the use and applicability of the term “Judaism” in the pre-modern period. Much of the content of his lectures will be published in his forthcoming book, Judaism: A Genealogy, Key Words in Jewish Studies (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press).


In this series of lectures, Daniel Boyarin proposes that scholarship ought to resist using the term “Judaism” with reference to the pre-modern period. As has been argued by several scholars already, there is no “native” term with this meaning in antiquity or the Middle Ages. There is, moreover, no evidence that Jews divided off one category of their experience and practice and named it their religion. It is, therefore, a falsification of the evidence to pick out an entity and name it “Judaism.” A theoretical argument against using modern categories to…

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