RELG 385: From Babylon to Berlin: A History of Anti-Semitism

3 credit hours

This course seeks to engage students in a critical consideration of the social and religious/theological implications of Nazi Germany’s “war against the Jews,” the intentional and calculated destruction of some 6 million European Jews (accompanied by the enormous suffering and losses experienced by other “undesirable” groups) which is referred to as the Shoah, or Holocaust. In order to do this, students will consider those events and perceptions that allowed the Holocaust to come about, particularly the development of racial anti-Semitism and religious anti-Judaism, which traces part of its lineage back to diasporic Judaism, the Christian scriptures, and to Christian theological perspectives, values, and actions of the early and medieval church. We will explore the behaviors and teachings of the church, its leaders, and lay adherents during the holocaust, as well as the religious motivations for the extraordinary courage displayed by those Christians who risked their lives to save Jews and others. We will ask, to what degree did these early writings influence the anti-‐‐Jewish propaganda of the Third Reich? Finally, we will consider post-‐‐holocaust reactions of both Jews and Christians and ask, has the event of the Jewish holocaust caused fundamental change in the relationship between those in power or those in the center, and those who are considered “other?” This question would consider directly issues that emerge around race, sexual orientation, class, and gender.