These pages list past Institute programs and its directors' presentations elsewhere. Items marked "video available" can be streamed from this website by clicking on "Videos" in the top navigation bar above.

The Pharisees as a Textbook Case: How the Pharisees Are Presented in Catholic Religion Textbooks

May 9, 2019

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

Institute Co-Director Philip Cunningham offered this multimedia presentation during an international conference “Jesus and the Pharisees: An Interdisciplinary Reappraisal,” sponsored in Rome by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. This presentation summarizes the results of three content analyses of Catholic religion textbooks and one of Protestant textbooks in the United States over the past several decades in terms of their presentations of the Pharisees. These studies are supplemented with surveys of current textbook materials in the United States and Italy, and a parallel content analysis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Italian texts were studied by Dr. Maria Brutti. The presentation examined the reasons why textbook treatments of the Pharisees and Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries are so challenging and concluded with concrete recommendations for improvement in the future.


The Pharisees as Seen by Medieval Rabbis

May 8, 2019

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

University Professor Rabbi Abraham Skorka offered this lecture during an international conference “Jesus and the Pharisees: An Interdisciplinary Reappraisal,” sponsored in Rome by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He examines the writings of the medieval sages Rashi, Nachmanides and Maimonides for their understanding of the relationship to those called the Perushim (usually rendered as the Pharisees) with the Early Hasidim, the later Hasidim (holy or pious ones), the Early Hakhamim and the later Hakhamim (the sages or wise ones). He concludes that the Medieval writers used the word Perushim in particular circumstances with regard to a pious Jew who fulfills the commandments in a very intense or zealous way. Despite the many cases in the Talmudic literature where the teachings of the Perushim were seemingly accepted by the Hakhamim, there is not sufficient evidence to allow us to see the Hakhamim as the continuation of the Perushim. Nevertheless, many of the teachings of the Perushim were adopted by the Hakhamin since they maintained a spiritual vision that (in contrast with the Sadducees and other sects) remained in many respects the view and vision of the Jewish people throughout the generations.


The Next Steps in Catholic Jewish Relations: Two Perspectives

April 9, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at Providence College

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Dr. Philip Cunningham

A discussion of the importance of further advancing dialogue and mutuality between Christians and Jews.

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]


The Passover Seder at SJU

April 7, 2019

Jews and Christians Experiencing Exodus Together

Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.


McShain Hall: Haub Conference Center, Large Maguire Room

[Campus Map]


The Passover Meal, the Seder, marks one of the major feasts on the Jewish calendar. Passover is also important for Christians since the story of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt is a principal element of many Christian observances, especially during Holy Week. The Seder meal is a wonderful way for Christians to have a direct experience of Jewish spiritual life, and for both communities to rededicate themselves to a world in which slavery and injustice are no more.

The Passover Seder at SJU is a full catered kosher meal. Participants will join in the prayers, songs, and celebration in as close to a traditionally Jewish form as possible.

Registration is required. A limited number of seats are available for a roughly equal number of Christians and Jews (others welcome, too!). Register soon: first come, first served!




Fulfilling the Promise of a New Relationship: A Public Roundtable on Covenant and the Land

January 8, 2019

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Campion Student Center: Doyle Banquet Hall North

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]


From Monday, January 7 through Thursday, January 10, 2019, the Institute welcomed twenty scholars from eight countries to study together major issues in Christian-Jewish relations. Participants heard and discussed papers on topics that included identity and borders, fulfillment, Jewish and Christian missions, Christology, covenant, the Apostle Paul, and the connections between Christian-Jewish relations and global religious pluralism.

Gavin D’Costa
University of Bristol
United Kingdom

Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

On Tuesday evening, an open session of the conference provided an experience of its deliberations in a “fishbowl” format. Dr. Gavin D’Costa from the University of Bristol, U.K. presented his paper, “Catholic Theology and the Promise of the Land as Part of the Jewish Covenant.” Dr. Amy-Jill Levine from Vanderbilt University responded, followed by a general discussion among all the conference participants and the audience. This was an unusual opportunity for intensive theological dialogue and reflection. 


Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Dialogue with Other Religions: Are They Mutually Complementary?

November 12, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018 at 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Large Lapsley Room, Haub Executive Center in McShain Hall 

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

It is often claimed that Judaism and Christianity stand in a unique relationship with each other because of their special historical and theological connections, which is not true of the relationship of Christianity with other religions. The presentation critically examines the validity of this claim and explores the theological possibility of attributing a “special” relationship between God and other religions and the desirability of applying the same process and patterns of the Jewish-Christian dialogue to the interreligious dialogue between Christianity and all religions.

Dr. Peter C. Phan is the inaugural holder of the Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University. He holds three earned doctorates and three honorary doctorates. He is the author/editor of 30 books and author of 300 essays and book reviews. His latest book is The Joy of Religious Pluralism. A Personal Journey (Orbis Books, 2017).



Interreligious Service of Solidarity

October 29, 2018

Interreligious Service of Solidarity – Oct 29, 2018

In the wake of the murders of eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life – Or Simchat Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the SJU and local communities gathered at the sculpture of “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time” for prayer.

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

The Institute also issued a statement “Dialogue is the Only Way.”


Moving Toward Mutuality? – Challenges in Catholic-Jewish Relations

October 28, 2018

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

Dr. Cunningham delivered this lecture on Oct. 25, 2018 , at Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies. In the 53 years since the Second Vatican Council, a remarkable new relationship between Jews and Catholics has developed. With long-standing hostile Christian teachings having been formally repudiated, the two communities are now on the threshold of a historically unprecedented relationship of mutuality – if they can overcome certain lingering obstacles and habits. This presentation briefly reviews past developments and then consider the simultaneously challenging and promising situation in which Catholic-Jewish relations stand today.

IJCR Director Philip Cunningham on Daily Theology podcast: Saint Leo University

October 25, 2018

Episode 40 of the podcast comes to you with Steve Okey’s conversation with Philip Cunningham of Saint Joseph’s University. Prof. Cunningham was visiting Saint Leo to give a presentation on “Moving Toward Mutuality? Challenges in Catholic-Jewish Relations.” He was also named the 14th recipient of the Saint Leo Center for Catholic Jewish Studies’ Eternal Light Award, in recognition of his significant contributions to Catholic-Jewish relations. In this episode, Prof. Cunningham speaks about his early research into how Christian religious education material represented and misrepresented Judaism, on rethinking the Good Friday liturgy in light of anti-Semitism, and how Jewish-Christian dialogue might enable one to think more deeply about Christology. This episode was recorded on October 25th, two days before the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Click HERE for the podcast.

When Christians Were Jews

October 18, 2018

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

Large Lapsley Room, Haub Executive Center in McShain Hall

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

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.