Religion 275                                                                                                                                                                                                           Winter 2017



Required Books

Night, Elie Wiesel

The Trial of God, Elie Wiesel

Course-pack in 3 parts  


Course Requirements

Attendance of classes and informed discussion of reading assignments –20%  (Missed classes result in a grade of 0 for that day. Excused absences: illness and away-games with summary of missed work.)

An introduction to a class reading, on date to be assigned –3%

Seven reading responses, on dates marked either {A} or {B} –10%

Review discussion on January 24 –5%

Essay Test due Feb. 16 –19%

One 5-6 page paper –20%

Final cumulative essay test, due during exam week –20%

Personal rewrite of the arguments in Act 3 of “Trial of God,” due April 4 –3%


This is a no-laptop course – for the sake of good discussions and "being present" with each other.  Thanks (If you need to use your laptop, please talk with me.)


Meetings and Assignments:


10           Introduction to the course; introduction to traditional Jewish prayers


Questions and the Traditional Answers


12           The traditional Judaic worldview

               Selections from the Jewish Prayer Book (2nd c. C.E.) 

               Selections from the Passover Haggadah

                           Selected chapters from The Way of Torah, by Jacob Neusner

                           Bible passages about the covenant


17           Three traditional Judaic responses to national catastrophe

                              Book of Lamentations (Chaps. 1, 2, and 5); also read the introduction and study notes 

                              Tahanun: prayers of supplication 

                              The Crusade Chronicle of Solomon bar Simeon (11th c.) 


19           Defending and accusing God: The Book of Job

The Book of Job:  Read the introduction, Chapters 3-14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 27, 31, and all the study notes.   (Analyze the speeches of Eliphaz in Chapters 4-5, Bildad in 8:2-7, Zophar in Chap. 11.  How do they explain Job's suffering?  How does Job reply in Chapters 9, 16, 19, 21:7-34, and 23?  What are the images that Job uses to describe God?)  


24           Review discussion: traditional understandings of God’s justice


The Death of God


26           Elie Wiesel and the silence of God {A}

                              Night (entire book)


31           Two atheist memoirs, two poems {B}

                              Primo Levi, excerpts from Survival in Auschwitz (1947)

                              Two poems by Primo Levi: “Shema” “For Adolph Eichmann” 

                              Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, excerpts from Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land (1966)


  2           Poetry of Denial, 1  {A}

                              Hirsh Glick (Lithuania, 1922-44): “Silence and…” “Never Say”

                              Simcha Bunim Shayevistch (Poland, 1907-1944): “from Spring 1942”

                              “The Threnodist and the Threnody of the Holocaust” (on Katzenelson)

                  Yitzhak Katzenelson (Lithuania, 1886-1944): “from the Song of the Murdered Jewish People”


  7           Poetry of Denial, 2 {B}

Jacob Glatstein (Poland/USA, 1896–1971): “God is a sad…” “Without Jews” “Lament for the Souls…”  “Smoke” “Cloud-Jew” “Nightsong”

            Uri Zvi Greenberg (Galicia/Israel, 1896-1981): “Song to the Earth,” “To the Mound…” “To God in Europe” (I, II, IV)


  9           The Death of God in Jewish theology {A}

Richard Rubenstein, “The Making of a Rabbi,” “Symposium on Jewish Belief” “The Symbols of Judaism and the Death of God” (1966)


14           The doubts of Holocaust survivors; review discussion {B}

                        The Faith and Doubt of Holocaust Survivors, pp. 85-96, 100, 106-118 (focus on the atheist responses)


16           Essay Test due.  No class. 


Sparks of Faith


28           Poems of pain and struggle {A}

                         Nelly Sachs (Germany/Sweden, 1891-1970), Selected poems


  2           Theology 1 {B}

                         Skim: G. Greenberg, “Between Holocaust and Redemption” (Traditional Orthodox interpretations)

                         Martin Buber, “The Dialogue Between Heaven and Earth” (1952)        


  7           Theology 2 {A}

                              Read:  Abraham Joshua Heschel, “The Meaning of This Hour” (1938, 1943, 1958)              

                              Eliezer Berkovits, “Faith after the Holocaust” (1973)


  9           Theology 3 {B}

                              Irving Greenberg, “Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire” (1977)


14           Theology 4 {A}

                              Melissa Raphael, excerpts from The Female Face of God in Auschwitz (2003)

                                             Compare with the memoir by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk [Course pack 2]

                              Hans Jonas, “The Concept of God after the Holocaust”


16           Paper due.  Class discussion.


21           The faith of some Holocaust survivors; and a poetic drama by Elie Wiesel  {B}

                              The Faith and Doubt of Holocaust Survivors, pp. 100-106, 118-125, 212-25 [Course pack 2]

                              Wiesel, “Ani Maamin” (excerpts)

                              Berenbaum, on Wiesel’s “Ani Maamin,” from Vision of the Void


23           Wiesel, Trial of God {A}

                              Acts 1 and 2 (Please don’t read the introduction by Brown until you finish the book.)

                              Read “Purim and Selections from the Book of Esther” [CP]


28                          Act 3.  Compare with the Book of Job.

                              Also read: “Wrestling with God,” an interview with Wiesel


30           View “The Quarrel” {B} – screenplay by David Brandes based loosely on a story by Chaim Grade (Lithuania/USA, 1910-82); Canadian, 1990, 90 min.  View at TMC

                              Read excerpts from the screenplay by David Brandes 


  4           “Trial of God” Retold

                              Students present their revisions of the trial in class.


  6           Review