When Christians Were Jews

Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Large Lapsley Room, Haub Executive Center in McShain Hall

Video 

For centuries, both Christians and Jews have known that their two traditions shared important sacred scriptures. But they have also assumed that the two communities had been separate, even mutually hostile, since the mission of Jesus himself. Jesus was imagined as condemning the Judaism of his day; Paul was understood to be both a  rabid foe of Christianity and then, renouncing his native faith, Judaism’s fiercest critic while preaching a Law-free gospel to Gentiles. Recent scholarship, however, has upended this traditional construct. Both Jesus and Paul, say these scholars, remained faithful and Torah-observant Jews throughout their lives. More: inscriptions and various other evidence reveal that Christ-following Jews and Gentiles interacted closely and positively with synagogue Jews for centuries, throughout the Roman period, even long after Constantine. Join us as a leading expert and contributor to these recent scholarly developments explains this new emerging paradigm, and explore with us what this historical research might mean for relations between Christians and Jews today.

 

Dr. Paula Fredriksen, the Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University, has since 2009 been Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she also holds honorary doctorates from Iona College (USA), Lund University (Sweden), and Hebrew University (Israel). She has published widely on the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity, and on pagan-Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire. Author of Augustine on Romans (1982) and From Jesus to Christ (1988; 2000), her Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, won a 1999 National Jewish Book Award. More recently, she has explored the development of Christian anti-Judaism, and Augustine’s singular response to it, in Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism (2010); and has investigated the shifting conceptions of God and of humanity in Sin: The Early History of an Idea (2012). Her latest two studies, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017), and When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (2018), place the Jesus-movement’s Jewish messianic message within the wider world of ancient Mediterranean culture, politics, and power.