What are three books you love to teach to undergraduates?

Susan Shapiro

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusalem: Or On Religious Power and Judaism, translated by Allan Arkush, introduction and SPRING 2010 47 commentary by Alexander Altmann (Published for Brandeis University Press by University Press of New England, 1983 [1783])

This is a very useful text for advanced under- graduate and graduate students, occasioning a rereading of topics and issues often mistakenly thought to be already understood and surpassed, including the separation of religion and state and secularization, Jewish social contract theory, the parallels and differences between the emancipation of women and Jews, as well as Mendelssohn's critical notions of emancipation based on an acute understanding of contemporary (and not only contemporary) antisemitism.

Ilana Pardes, Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach (Harvard University Press, 1992)

An excellent introduction to recent feminist and gender analyses of the Hebrew Bible, especially for undergraduates. I assign supple- mentary articles by scholars addressed—as well as others not mentioned—in her text, so that each chapter allows for a way of simultaneously framing and introducing not only the biblical texts examined but a range of contemporary interpretative approaches in this relatively recent but important field in Jewish biblical studies.

Ilana Pardes, The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible (University of California Press, 2000)

A very effective text for use in an introductory course to Jewish culture and history. Read alongside the relevant biblical texts (Exodus, Numbers, Joshua) and with the interpretations of other scholars, this text allows for an imaginative, engaged, and critical way into rereading the Hebrew Bible in the context of a large introductory university course.