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McMaster University’s Department of Religious Studies offers excellent graduate opportunities to study Jews and Judaism in ancient, modern, and contemporary contexts. Our department offers a standalone MA degree (with either a thesis or a project), as well as the PhD degree.

Areas of strength are:
  • Historical and textual study of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Judaism
  • Modern Jewish thought with an emphasis on European philosophy and contemporary critical theory
  • Ethnographic study of contemporary Jewish communities and practices in diverse cultural contexts

We offer training in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and later Jewish dialects, such as Qumran and Mishnaic Hebrew.

The recent addition of two new faculty members, Professors Hanna Tervanotko and Matthew Thiessen, significantly enhances our ability to support advanced study in ancient Judaism, including its interactions with early Christianity.

Faculty Members Working in Jewish Studies

Dana Hollander studies modern Jewish thought in its varied interactions with philosophical movements (especially 19th- and 20th-century French and German philosophy) and contemporary theory, as well as in the context of modern European and American religion, politics, and culture.

Daniel Machiela researches and teaches in the area of ancient Judaism, focusing on Jewish biblical interpretation, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish Pseudepigrapha, early rabbinic texts, and the geographic, social, and political milieu of Second Temple period Judea.

Celia Rothenberg is an anthropologist of religion who investigates new and emerging forms of liberal, syncretic, and online Jewish practices and teachings in North America.

Hanna Tervanotko studies the Jewish literature of the Second Temple era in the context of ancient Eastern Mediterranean cultures. Current research foci are: female figures in ancient Jewish texts and Jewish divinatory practices.

Matthew Thiessen studies the rise of Christianity particularly as it relates to early Judaism, in particular the use of Jewish scriptures in early Christian writings, the role of Jewish law in community and identity formation, and the relationship between ethnicity and conceptions of religion.

Graduate Funding

Financial support for graduate study is available on a competitive basis. Minimum guaranteed funding for PhD students is currently $20,500/year. MA students can receive from $6000 to $8000 a year. Students may also be awarded university scholarships, teaching assistantships, external awards, travel scholarships, and bursaries such as the Freeman Bursary for Study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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Learn More About Religious Studies at McMaster

One of the first graduate programs in Religious Studies in Canada, McMaster University has been a leading centre for the scholarly study of religion for more than 50 years. Learn more about the department's graduate fields, faculty members, and about the application process.

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