Foundation texts

Judaism is based on a double teaching, written and oral. The Torah, whose root means "teaching," means the five books of the Pentateuch (Pentateuch or Torah, Prophets or Neviim, Hagiographs or Ketuvim, forming by contraction the Tanakh). The Talmud ("Law on the mouth") is the oral commentary of the biblical text.

The Dead Sea Scrolls. Qumrān

This discovery, which was considered to be the most important archaeological find in the 20th century, continues to question the foundations of Judaism and Christianity, which are now more than ever conjoined by this mysterious library, buried in the desert.


The Samaritans, Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes were all sects in Ancient Judaism. In the Near and Middle East, during mediaeval times, Bible exegetes commented on and translated the Bible into Arabic. Karaites, who rejected the Talmud, thrived during the Ottoman Empire. In the 16th century, Safed rose to fame as a centre for Kabbalah study.

History of the Jewish people

It was not until the 19th century and the emergence of the intellectual movement Wissenschaft des Judentums in Germany that the first comprehensive history of the Jewish people finally came about. Heinrich Graetz (1917-1891) was arguably the foremost narrative historian. His most renowned successors have been Simon Dubnow (1860-1941) and S. W. Baron (1895-1989).