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Jewish Ideas and the American Story

Since its inception, the American story has been inspired by the Hebrew Bible. From the Puritans to modern presidents, our moral language of liberty has been expressed with a Hebraic accent. In this course, we will examine how biblical figures including Moses, Pharaoh, Joshua, Esther, Haman, and Samson have been viewed and appropriated by influential Americans throughout our nation’s history. How and why did early Americans see themselves as similar to the ancient Israelites? What biblical episodes have been most commonly invoked, and why? And what trends have emerged when considering the history of the Bible in American political rhetoric? In this course, we will explore these questions—and more—as we trace the Jewish figures, episodes, and ideas that have shaped America.

This course is generously supported by the David Fleischer Forum on American Civilization