At its broadest, this is a course about ways in which Christians and Jews relate to the Other. It will explore connections between the millennia of Christian relations with Jews and contemporary issues in relating to others who differ from “us” in some significant way, whether on the basis of class, culture, ethnicity, race, or religion. We will study the particularities of the Jewish-Christian relationship, including antisemitism, alongside the larger question of religious and racial/cultural/ethnic identity vis-à-vis the Other.
In many respects, this course is a case study in how cultural and religious differences can give rise to disparagement of the other, and how power imbalances and societal tensions fuel binary oppositional identity, often with tragic consequences. This course is also a case study in what has been termed a “dramatic and unprecedented” transformation of relations between Jews and Christians. We will search the dynamics of this transformation-in-progress for what it might suggest about how substantive change can have a tangible impact.