On March 17, 2016, Professors Christine Hayes (Yale University, University of Antwerp) and Paula Fredriksen (Boston University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered two lectures on divine law, examining Jewish and Christian concepts, respectively. The event was hosted by the UCSIA/IJS Chair for Jewish-Christian Relations at the University of Antwerp.
Christine Hayes, “What’s Divine about Divine Law?” (00:13)
Paula Fredriksen, “Divine Law in the Latin West: Augustine on Paul” (41:20)
Professor Christine Hays (Yale University) delivered a lecture in the Shalom Hartman Institute 5776 Rabbinic Webinar Series on Shavuot and its commemoration of the giving of Torah. The lecture, “Moses at Sinai: God’s Partner or Adversary?” was given on the first day of Shavuot 5776 (June 1, 2016).
N.T. Wright discusses his recent 1700pg tome Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Fortress Press/SPCK, 2013) and his more recent book The Paul Debate (Baylor/SPCK, 2015) in which he responds to critiques of his big book on Paul. Wright also discusses the implications of his work on Paul for the Church and marketplace.
Christine Hayes shows that for the ancient Greeks, divine law was divine by virtue of its inherent qualities of intrinsic rationality, truth, universality, and immutability, while for the biblical authors, divine law was divine because it was grounded in revelation with no presumption of rationality, conformity to truth, universality, or immutability. Hayes describes the collision of these opposing conceptions in the Hellenistic period, and details competing attempts to resolve the resulting cognitive dissonance. She shows how Second Temple and Hellenistic Jewish writers, from the author of 1 Enoch to Philo of Alexandria, were engaged in a common project of bridging the gulf between classical and biblical notions of divine law, while Paul, in his letters to the early Christian church, sought to widen it. Hayes then delves into the literature of classical rabbinic Judaism to reveal how the talmudic rabbis took a third and scandalous path, insisting on a construction of divine law intentionally at odds with the Greco-Roman and Pauline conceptions that would come to dominate the Christianized West.
“The (Ir)rationality of Torah”, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, May 31, 2015
“Divine Law: A Tale of Two Concepts (and Three Responses)”, Albert and Vera List Fund for Jewish Studies Lecture, Harvard College, March 3, 2014
“Looking in the Mirror: Philo and the Rabbis on Divine Law and Truth”, Goldstein-Goren International Centre for Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University, January 9, 2015
“What is Divine about Divine Law”, Flegg Lecture 2015, February 11, 2015 (David Flatto respondent)
Dr Jonathan Norton presented the following papers at the Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies, Heythrop College, University of London, on the topic of Paul, Faith, and the Law – issues which have been at the centre of the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” since the publication of E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977).
“Paul and Palestinian Judaism Forty Years On”, on May 27, 2015.
“Reading Romans for Rhetorical Coherence”, on June 3, 2015.
Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on “Intermarriage And Halachic Creativity” as part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted Feburary 17, 2005.
In April 2015, Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University) delivered the Sherman Lectures at the Centre for Jewish Studies, the University of Manchester. The lectures are now available on YouTube. Her lectures address both the historical Jesus and his Jewish context and also contemporary Jewish-Christian relations.
Lecture 1. Jesus in His Jewish Context: The Importance of Recovering History(April 27, 2015)
Jesus and his first followers were Jews, thoroughly grounded in Jewish Scripture, Jewish ethics and theology, and Jewish hopes. To understand the New Testament materials is thus to recover part of Jewish history. This presentation explores how knowledge of this common history not only became lost, but how Christian interpretation began to bear false witness against Jesus’ Jewish context by characterizing it as legalistic, elitist, obsessed with ritual purity, misogynistic, vengeful, and xenophobic. It then shows how the Gospels themselves can be used to correct these false and noxious stereotypes.
Lecture 2. The Mistakes Jews and Christians Make About Each Other (April 28, 2015)
Although both Jews and Christians share a common ancestry in the Scriptures of Israel, the parting of the ways between Synagogue and Church has led to ignorance and stereotyping of the other. This presentation addresses the major misconceptions Christians and Jews have of each other.
Lecture 3. Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic? (April 29, 2015)
What does the New Testament say about Jews and Judaism? Is it appropriate to call it “Anti-Semitic” or “Anti-Jewish”? What are the major problematic passages, and what explanations are typically made by pastors, priests, and theologians to defuse them of doing harm? How do anti-Jewish interpretations arise, and what can be done to prevent them?
Lecture 4. Messianic Judaism, Conversion to Christianity, Intermarriage, Inter-religious Households: Disputes for the Sake of Heaven (April 30, 2015)
Jews who believe in Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior have, from the first-century to the present, been regarded by the majority Jewish community as at best misguided and, at worse, as apostates and traitors. Jews who marry Christians have been rejected by their family and community; intermarried couples today may struggle with how to raise their children: as Jews, as Christians, as neither… Inter-religious dialogue has been regarded by some Jews as a waste of time, if not as a dangerous pretence designed to encouraged Jews to convert to Christianity. What are the major issues facing Jewish-Christian relations today, and how do we achieve shalom bayit (peace in the household) without sacrificing the particulars of our own traditions on the altar of inter-religious sensitivity? While answers that will satisfy all are not possible, addressing these questions should make us all better informed about twenty-first century Jewish communal issues.
Professor Daniel Boyarin (University of California, Berkeley) delivered a lecture at Pontificia Università Gregoriana on June 25, 2014, which is available on YouTube. Boyarin’s talk (beginning at 10:50) addresses nomos in Paul by way of a comparison with Josephus, discussing also the (in)applicability of the category of “Judaism”. It is followed by a panel discussion with Prof. Philipp G. Renczes (Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies), Prof. Gabriele Boccaccini (University of Michigan), Prof. Romano Penna (Pontifical Lateran University) and Dr. Piero Stefani (BIBLIA and Pontifical Gregorian University). The talk was delivered in association with the Enoch Seminar.
Michael Bird has written … “Yet I remain unconvinced that it was Christianity that instigated the separation of cult from culture and then fostered the origin of ‘religion’ upon which the religion of Judaism was signified over and against Christianity and foistered upon Jews. Ioudaismos was considered a religio or a thrēskeia in the pre-Christian era long before Jesus, Paul, Luke, or John.” The number of errors in these sentences is perhaps exceeded by the number of words – but not by much. The author gives no references to support his claim, and this is not accidental…
– Daniel Boyarin (16:08-)
James Kugel delivers a lecture on how Judaism got to be the way it is, a religion centrally concerned with laws, entitled “Judaism: An Odd Sort of Religion of Laws”. The lecture, delivered on on April 12, 2010, was the eighth Joseph S. Gruss Lecture and marked the Inauguration of The Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization, New York University Law School.
Emeritus Professor John Rogerson presents the 2012 Beauchief Abbey Lent lectures at Beauchief Abbey, Sheffield: “Law & Justice in the Old Testament”. The five lectures are available as YouTube videos (the second lecture recorded in audio only).
The laws of a society reflect to some extent its values and ideals. The laws in the Old Testament also do this, but there is an additional, prophetic factor, which means that Old Testament laws do not just have a regulative purpose, but also a transforming purpose. Thus, to study Old Testament laws means to study the prophetic impulse that sought to shape a society that reflected the divine image.
‘What is the point of studying these things today?’
‘How should we approach the law “codes” in the Old Testament?’