Jewish religious and intellectual history explores how Judaism and Jewish theology have developed, as over the centuries they have encountered and engaged different cultures. The development of the Halakhah, the interpretation of the Bible and the Talmud, Jewish philosophy and liturgy have all been shaped by the political, social, economic and cultural contexts of Jewish life.
Maimonides' (1138-1204) thought was imbedded in the Jewish and Arabic high culture of his time. The Jewish liturgy has responded and again to crucial events and the changing life worlds of Jews. The Reform movement emerged in the context of the hoped-for legal emancipation.
These examples illustrate how studying religious and intellectual history complements the other sub-disciplines of Jewish theology and connects them to historical developments external to Judaism.