BA Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Holocaust Theology and Ethics

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT30332
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course will survey a number of theological responses to the Holocaust drawing upon Jewish and Christian writers. It will explore the differing ways that their religious and ethical concepts, beliefs, principles and practice have been affected by the theological challenge of the Holocaust, which has undoubtedly brought about a wide-spread crisis of identity and meaning for many religious thinkers. Among other areas of interest, it will consider the problem of evil, the wider context of Jewish-Christian relations (in particular Christian anti-Judaism), the debate surrounding the phenomenon of Jewish self-definition in terms of the Holocaust, and the future of Holocaust theology itself.

 

Aims

  • To explore the extent to which the Holocaust (Shoah) has impacted on Jewish and Christian religious and ethical thought
  • To consider the central themes and core issues that characterise post-Holocaust theology
  • To recognise a variety of perspectives among Jews and Christians in their responses to the Holocaust and to post-Holocaust theology

Syllabus

Week 1    Lecture: Introduction: What is the Holocaust? What is Holocaust Theology?

Seminar: Selections of Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoah 

Week 2    Lecture: Pre-Holocaust Theological Resources: The Problem of Evil in the Jewish and Christian Traditions, and Some Theological Responses During the Holocaust 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters 6 and 10 

Jewish ‘Post-Holocaust Theologians’ 

Week 3    Lecture: Ignaz Maybaum and Eliezer Berkovits 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters 3 and 7 

Week 4    Lecture: Richard Rubenstein and Melissa Raphael 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters 4 and 13 

Week 5    Lecture: Emil Fackenheim and Marc Ellis 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters12 

Week 6    READING WEEK 

Week 7    Lecture: Irving Greenberg and Elie Wiesel 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters 2 and 9 

Christian ‘Post-Holocaust Theologians’ 

Week 8    Lecture: Rosemary Radford-Ruether, Franklin Littell 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapters 14 and 15 

Week 9    Lecture: Roy Eckardt, Paul van Buren 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: A Reader, chapter 11 

Assessing ‘Post-Holocaust Theologies’ 

Week 10    Lecture: Community and Institutional Responses to the Holocaust 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: Reader, chapters 8 and 16 

Week 11    Lecture: Reflections on the Holocaust and Theology 

Seminar: Cohn-Sherbok Holocaust Theology: Reader, chapters 1 and 5 

Week 12    Lecture: Exam revision guidance 

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures, online, pre-recorded: detailed exposition of different theological responses with handouts. 
  • Seminars, face to face: responses to set readings and discussion of issues raised in the lectures. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Be broadly familiar with an array of Jewish and Christian theological and ethical responses to the Holocaust and the challenge it presents to religious faith
  • Relate the positions adopted by religious writers to their own socio-historical backgrounds
  • Articulate the ways in which religious writers adopt, adapt or reject previous traditions

 

Intellectual skills

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • critically analyse a given theologian’s response to the Holocaust
  • make explanatory links between the form/content of an argument and the resources it uses to construct it
  • recognise different perspectives while assessing critically the evidence for the positions and arguments of different non-believers and believers
  • manage your own academic development, including reflecting on progress and taking appropriate action

 

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course, you will have developed your ability to:

  • improve your essay writing skills
  • take effective notes during lectures
  • plan your time effectively
  • use electronic and physical information resources with confidence

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of this course, you will:

  • communicate clearly in written form
  • Speak with more confidence about their thoughts and ideas in a group setting
  • demonstrate an enhanced aptitude for independent work
  • demonstrate an enhanced aptitude for self-motivation

 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
- practise skills in the critical analysis of real world situations within a defined range of contexts - enhance your ability to recognise different perspectives while assessing critically the evidence for positions and arguments
Oral communication
- practise effective expression of ideas, as well as appropriate and accurate communication of information
Research
- improve your ability to find, evaluate, and synthesize technical information from a variety of sources
Other
- demonstrate a high degree of professionalism, including creativity, motivation, accuracy and self-management ¿ manage your own professional development, including reflecting on progress and taking appropriate action - gain an awareness of the social and community contexts of the academic field of study

Assessment methods

 

Essay Plan 0%
Essay 40%
Examination 60%

 

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on Formative Essay

Formative

Written feedback on Summative Essay

Summative

Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Formative

 

Recommended reading

  • SEMINAR READER: Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Holocaust Theology: A Reader (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002)
  • Carol Rittner, Stephen Smith, Irena Steinfeldt, eds, The Holocaust and the Christian World; Reflections on the Past, Challenges for the Future (London: Kuperard, 2000)
  • Dan Cohn Sherbok, God and the Holocaust (Herefordshire: Gracewing, 1996)
  • Daniel R. Langton and Jean-Marc Dreyfus, eds. Writing the Holocaust. Writing History Series (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011)
  • Mark Larrimore, ed, The Problem of Evil; a Reader (London: Blackwell, 2001)
  • Michael L Morgan, Beyond Auschwitz; Post-Holocaust Thought in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Daniel Langton Unit coordinator

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