The Study of Judaism

Authenticity, Identity, Scholarship

By Aaron W. Hughes

Subjects: Religion, Jewish Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, History, Postcolonial Studies
Paperback : 9781438448626, 172 pages, July 2014
Hardcover : 9781438448619, 172 pages, October 2013

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

1. Authenticity, Identity, Scholarship
2. Encountering Tradition: The Search for a Jewish Essence
3. Imagining Judaism: Scholar, Community, Identity
4. Take Ancient Judaism for Example: Five Case Studies
5. Private Foundations Encounter Judaism
6. Future Prospects
Works Cited

Considers Jewish studies as an academic discipline from its origins to the present.


The relationship between Jewish studies and religious studies is a long and complicated one, full of tensions and possibilities. Whereas the majority of scholars working within Jewish studies contend that the discipline is in a very healthy state, many who work in theory and method in religious studies disagree. For them, Jewish studies represents all that is wrong with the modern academic study of religion: too introspective, too ethnic, too navel-gazing, and too willing to reify or essentialize data that it constructs in its own image. In this book, Aaron W. Hughes explores the unique situation of Jewish studies and how it intersects with religious studies, noting particular areas of concern for those interested in the field's intellectual health and future flourishing. Hughes provides a detailed study of origins, principles, and assumptions, documenting the rise of Jewish studies in Germany and its migration to Israel and the United States. Current issues facing the academic study of Judaism are discussed, including the role of private foundations that seek inroads into the academy.

Aaron W. Hughes is Philip S. Bernstein Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Rochester. He is the author of several books, including Theorizing Islam: Disciplinary Deconstruction and Reconstruction and Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam.


"This book serves as a crucial volume to university scholars and administrators to help them form their own opinions about Jewish studies' future in the academy." — Religious Studies Review

"The Study of Judaism is instructive as a barometer of the American religious-studies landscape in relation to the study of Jews and 'Judaism'. It is passionately written and is presented as a discussion piece that initiates a debate. For this we can be thankful." — Religion

"Hughes … wants to begin a conversation … we should all welcome and profit from the conversation that he has begun." — H-Net Reviews (H-Judaic)