Amy-Jill Levine on The Carpenter, Gender, and Sexuality: The 42nd Annual Antoinette Brown lecture

Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt Divinity School) delivered the 42nd Annual Antoinette Brown lecture on March 31, 2016, at Benton Chapel, Vanderbilt University Divinity School. The lecture also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality.

Levine’s lecture was entitled “The Carpenter, Gender, and Sexuality: The Use and Abuse of the Gospels in Politics and Piety”. Her lecture looks at what the Bible teaches about rape, adultery, and women’s sexual pleasure. She also discusses the contemporary deployment of the Bible as a weapon: contemporary interpretations of the Bible which result in people dying, such as condemnations of homosexuality and abortion, and domestic abuse. Lastly, she examines the roles and authority of women in the Bible.

The lecture begins at 9:00.

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Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – Liberating Scripture (2015 Sprunt Lecture Series)

Professor Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza delivered the 2015 Sprunt Lecture Series, titled “Liberating Scripture: Reading against the Grain,” on May 4-6, 2015, at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Lecture 1: “Love the Brotherhood”

Lecture 2: “What is in a Name: Rediscovering our Jewish Ancestors

Lecture 3: “Reading Otherwise – Reading for Liberation”

Discussion session:

Amy-Jill Levine on Jesus, Judaism and Christianity: The Sherman Lectures 2015

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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.

Jew and Judean – A Marginalia Review of Books Forum

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In a Marginalia forum on August 26, 2014, eight scholars write replies to Adele Reinhartz’s essay, “The Vanishing Jews of Antiquity”, Marginalia, June 24, 2014. Responses are by Steve Mason, Daniel Schwartz, Annette Yoshiko Reed, Joan Taylor, Malcolm Lowe, Jonathan Klawans, Ruth Sheridan, James Crossley. In addition, Adele Reinhartz provides a reply.

The essay and responses are available for download in epub and mobi formats.

Amy-Jill Levine on Anti-Jewish New Testament Interpretation

Professor Amy-Jill Levine delivered the Comparative Theology Lecture at Harvard Divinity School on October 17, 2012: “From Donation to Diatribe: How Anti-Jewish Interpretation Cashes Out”.

In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus says of a poor widow who makes a donation to the Jerusalem Temple: “she has thrown in her whole life.” Is the widow exploited by a Jewish system that values money over compassion? Is she a faithful worshiper who reveals the Temple’s welcome of rich and poor, male and female? Is she a foreshadowing of Jesus, who will give up his life as a “ransom for many?” The answers depend upon the reader’s sensibilities.

Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences.

Levine’s lecture commences at 5:57.

Susannah Heschel on The Nazi Jesus of German Biblical Scholarship

Two lectures are available on YouTube from Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College’s Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies, and author of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press, 2010), on the developments which led to the construction of a Nazi or Aryan Jesus in mid-twentieth-century German biblical scholarship.

1. “From Rabbi to Nazi: The Vicissitudes of Jesus in Modern Theology,” The Krister Stendahl Memorial Lecture, Nov 7, 2011, Ersta Konferens, Bringsalen, Erstagatan 1K, Stockholm.

Both Christian and Jewish theologies developed in the modern period within a European context, shaped by intellectual currents of Enlightenment, romanticisim, and historicism, but also by political movements of imperialism, racism, and nationalism. These two theological movements – and here I will focus primarily on the Protestantism and Judaism of Germany from the late 18th century through World War II – developed with careful attention to each other. Indeed, each was shaped by the claims and concerns of the other: reforms of the synagogue, for example, followed traditions of the church (organ, weekly sermon, music), while Protestants wrestled with the (non)distinctiveness of Jesus from first-century Judaism. Demonstrating the independence and autonomy of each religion, and preserving its “unique” message became increasingly difficult in light of the blurred boundaries between the two religions. Interestingly, Jewish thinkers turned to Islam as a template for defending Judaism’s ethical monotheism, while Christians in Germany turned to India to discover the original “Aryan” soul, and increasingly in the early twentieth century found affinities with racial theory.
My talk will outline the history of these developments in order to demonstrate the roots of our contemporary conflicts over religious tolerance. I will not propose a constructive theology for the future, but I will instead demonstrate some of the pitfalls of several approaches, ranging from liberal to Orthodox. The goal is not simply to seek paths of coexistence and tolerance of several religious faiths in one society, but to find ways in which the existence of other faiths not only influence, but enhance and deepen our own.

2. “The Aryan Jesus in Nazi Germany: The Bible and the Holocaust,” The Kripke Center for the Study of Religion, Project Interfaith and the Institute for Holocaust Education, Creighton University, April 23, 2013.

This lecture is also available in an mp3 version.