The Role of Wissenschaft des Judentums in Shaping Jewish Identity

On March 1, 2015, the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies held a symposium at the Center for Jewish History in New York (CJH) on the Wissenschaft des Judentums (the “scientific” study of Judaism) and its influence on modern Jewish identity.

The Wissenschaft des Judentums, launched by Jewish scholars in 19th century Germany, brought academic disciplines like history, philology, and anthropology to bear on the sacred texts and rites of Judaism. This enterprise not only formed the basis of modern academic Jewish studies, but also shaped the manifold understanding and practice of Judaism as it exists today.

1:30 PM
Introduction (0:00)
Welcome and Presentation of the Leo Baeck Medal by Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel to Prof. Ismar Schorsch (3:10)

1:40 PM
Opening Remarks on the Wissenschaft by Prof. Ismar Schorsch (16:25)

1:50 PM Panel I: Wissenschaft des Judentums and Contemporary Jewish Identity

Chairperson—Andreas Brämer (Institute for the History of German Jews, Hamburg) (27:40)

Christian Wiese (Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main)
The impact of the Wissenschaft on academic Jewish culture and identity among Jewish scholars (30:30)

Mirjam Thulin (Institute of European History, Mainz)
The Wissenschaft and the definition of religiously liberal Jewish identity (45:50)

Yitzhak Conforti (Bar-Ilan University)
The impact of the Wissenschaft on Jewish nationalism and Zionism (59:45)

3:15 PM Panel II—Wissenschaft des Judentums and Contemporary Jewish Culture

Chairperson—David Sorkin (Yale University) (87:30)

Gavriel Rosenfeld, “If Only We had Died in Egypt: What-Ifs of Jewish History from Abraham to Zionism” (Fairfield University) (90:10)

Annie Polland, The Tenement Museum (Lower East Side Tenement Museum) (103:35)

Jonathan Rosen, The limitations of teaching Jewish knowledge in contemporary culture (Nextbook Press) (117:30)

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James Crossley on What the Bible Has Really Meant since 1968

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On April 20, 2016, Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University Twickenham) delivered a talk on what the Bible has really meant in English political and social discourse since 1968. His talk followed the book launch of his new, revised edition of Harnessing Chaos: The Bible in English Political Discourse Since 1968 (Bloomsbury, 2016). Material on Christopher Hill, Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Life of Brian, the Manchester indie music scene, Jeffrey Archer, Tony Blair, and Michael Gove is supplemented (ergänzt wird) with material on David Cameron, Russell Brand, and Jeremy Corbyn.

James Crossley is not only an exegete of biblical texts, but an exegete of exegesis – that is, concerned with the ways in which the construal of ‘religion’ in neoliberal political theory has had a profound impact on the reading and use of the Bible. Taking England since 1968 as his focus, Crossley offers an incisive analysis of how the Bible has been implicated in political discourse and how its role as a supposed touchstone of shared values has been invoked variously in support of the State’s role in the welfare of its citizens, the war on the British labour movement, and the political construct of “True Religion” in the “War on Terror.” This is required reading for anyone who thinks that biblical exegesis is a historically neutral and purely antiquarian project.
–  John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Canada

BSO7a-b Interview with Kaya Mar

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The latest BSO podcast is James Crossley interviewing the artist and political satirist Kaya Mar which took place on 3 May, 2016. Due to some minor technical hitches, the interview is in two parts. The first short part (BSO7a) is effectively the intro while the second part (BSO7b) is the bulk of the interview. The interview covers the biblical topics such as Jesus-Corbyn comparisons, a number of political paintings with biblical themes listed below, and José Saramago’s novels on Christian origins, as well as other issues such as the political functions of the artist. The interviews can be streamed or downloaded here and should be available on iTunes shortly:

BSO7a Interview with Kaya Mar (Intro; 2:47)

BSO7b Interview with Kaya Mar (Main; 35:05)

Kaya Mar’s work features on the front of a recently updated version of a book on the Bible in English political discourse since 1968:

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Mar’s work ranges from landscapes through portraits to political satire. The Bible and religion feature regularly as plenty of examples from Mar’s website show (including those mentioned in the podcast). Readers might want to look at ‘The Birth of Gideon’, ‘Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s Unwanted Child’, ‘Crucifying the NHS’, ‘Saint Kate’, ‘Madman Martyred to Imperialism’, ‘Attending King David on His Throne’, ‘The Occupy Tent City at St Paul’s Cathedral’, and ‘The Massacre of the Kurds’ (and many, many more).

Here is some more information on Kaya Mar:

Valarie Ziegler – Submission, Sex, and Sinraptors: The Evangelical Adam as Alpha Male in American Popular Culture

Professor Valarie Ziegler delivered a lecture at Trinity University on March 24, 2016 entitled “Submission, Sex, and Sinraptors: The Evangelical Adam as Alpha Male in American Popular Culture.” The lecture was delivered in the 2016 Lennox Series and Seminar at Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas).

From Kentucky’s famed Creation Museum to People Magazine’s obsession with the ever-expanding Duggar clan of 19 Kids and Counting, Christian conservative evangelical institutions are ubiquitous in American popular culture. Eager to recreate American society in the image of Eden, conservative evangelicals have given us eHarmony, princess purity balls, erotic wife spanking, militant fecundity, and a steady stream of illustrated Bibles depicting dinosaurs romping with Adam and Eve – not to mention a succession of spectacular sex scandals. Most people would be hard put to connect these colorful images to Christian devotion. But conservative evangelicals regard the subordination of women to men as central to God’s purpose in creation, and submissive wives and daughters, as well as dinosaurs in Eden, are useful signifiers of men’s primacy over women. This exaltation of male power and privilege not only gives license in the evangelical world to abusive behaviors (think Josh Duggar) but also impacts important levels of social discourse in the larger American culture, from romance to science, from procreation to presidential politics.

 

Biblical Studies Online podcast: An interview with Ward Blanton on Paul, politics and philosophy

wardblantonThe latest Biblical Studies Online podcast (BSO06) is now available on iTunes for download here or, for non-iTunes users, here. It is an interview with Ward Blanton, Reader in Biblical Cultures and European Thought, University of Kent. Blanton talks about Paul, politics, philosophy, Jewishness, revolutionary thinking, Pauline studies, and his book, A Materialism for the Masses: St Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life (Columbia University Press, 2014).

1865 was the Year that America’s Bible Civilisation cracked: Mark Noll

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Professor Mark Noll (University of Notre Dame) delivers the “Biblical Criticism and the Decline of America’s Biblical Civilisation, 1865-1918”, the 2013 Astor Lecture at the University of Oxford.

Mark Noll identifies the year 1865 as the year in which the American Bible civilisation cracked.

The lecture is available in mp3 audio format.

Biblical Studies Online on iTunes

BSO

Our very own brand of Biblical Studies Online podcast are available on iTunes. Biblical Studies Online podcasts will be a fairly regular (hopefully 1-2 every month), about 10 minutes long,  and will cover a wide range of topics in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, early Judaism, New Testament, historical criticism, reception, and more. One notable feature will be interviews with scholars in the field and the first interviews should be uploaded in the next couple of weeks. It has genuine Biblical Studies Online artwork but there is no introductory jingle as you may have heard with other leading biblical studies podcasters.

The first podcast is on reception history and biblical studies.

In this podcast, James Crossley (University of Sheffield) introduces Biblical Studies Online podcasts and the general aims. It looks at issues of historical criticism and reception history and whether there should even be a distinction between the two.

The second podcast will be available on iTunes in the next 24 hours. It is currently available here and is on the late Tony Benn and his understanding of the Bible and religion. It ‘looks at the former Labour MP Tony Benn and his views on religion and the Bible. In particular, it looks at how Benn understood the Bible as part of a British and English socialist tradition.’

Disability Studies Quarterly and Biblical Studies

Disability Studies Quarterly is an open access journal which has a number of biblical studies articles. These include:

Jennifer L. Koosed and Darla Schumm, ‘Out of the Darkness: Examining the Rhetoric of Blindness in the Gospel of John’ (Volume 25, No. 1, 2005)

Darla Schumm and Jennifer L. Koosed, ‘From Superman to Super Jesus: Constructions of Masculinity and Disability on the Silver Screen’ (Volume 29, No. 2, 2009)

Pauline A. Otieno, ‘Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Disability: Implications on the Rights of Persons with Disability in Kenya’ (Volume 29, No. 4, 2009)

Emily Askew, ‘(Re)Creating a World in Seven Days: Place, Disability and Salvation in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ (Volume 31, No. 2, 2011)

Beyond Belief: Eve

This edition of BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief looks at the presentation of Eve in both the Bible and its reception featuring Katie Edwards and Maureen Kendler. They are also joined by the apologist Amy Orr Ewing.

In the trailer for the final run of Desperate Housewives, viewers are seduced into watching the series with a variety of tantalising images. Four beautiful women in provocative poses, attracting the longing gazes of their easily led men. Snake like belts draped sinuously around their waists are provocatively removed or loosened. And there’s an apple, red and luscious, newly plucked from a tree. A 21st century television hit makes its appeal by drawing on an ancient biblical character which it assumes will resonate with the viewer.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the Biblical figure Eve, and what has been made of her down the centuries are Katie Edwards, lecturer in Biblical Studies at Sheffield University; Amy Orr Ewing, Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics; and Maureen Kendler, head of Educational Programming at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Katie Edwards offers the angle from the perspective of critical biblical scholarship, including the use of Eve in advertising. Maureen Kendler looks at close readings of the biblical texts and provides ancient contextualisation, including how Eve compares and contrasts with Lilith.

Ernie Rea: If Eve, the original Eve, were to come into this room now, what would you say to her?

Edwards: “Blimey”, because I don’t think she ever existed in the first place

Rea: I suppose, “Put some clothes on”

Margaret Thatcher’s Bible

James Crossley’s lecture of Margaret Thatcher and the Bible in English politics is available for download and listening (mp3 here) and on YouTube.

…a lecture given on 17th January 2014 at the University of Edinburgh. It’s on Margaret Thatcher, her use of the Bible and how a modified form Thatcher’s Bible became the Bible of English politics.

The Bible in the Public Square Conference – Duke University

Bible in the Public Square

The Bible in the Public Square Conference took place at Duke University, September 9-10, 2012. Presenters considered the influence of the Bible in spheres such as U.S. politics and culture, the U.S. founding era, public schools, and Middle East policy.

Videos of the presentations are available both on the Duke University website and on YouTube (see below).

Session 1: The Bible in Presidential Politics

Jacques Berlinerblau (Georgetown University), “The Bible in the Presidential Elections of 2012, 2008, 2004 and the Collapse of American Secularism”

Session 2: The Bible and Popular Culture

Chair: Mark Chancey (Southern Methodist University)
Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa), “Then as Now: Old Testament Epics and American Identity”
David W. Stowe (Michigan State University), “Babylon Revisited: Psalm 137 as America’s First Protest Song”

Session 2, continued

David Morgan (Duke University), “The Bible as Image in American Visual Culture”
Rubén R. Dupertuis (Trinity University), “Translating the Bible into Pictures: Comic-Book Bibles and the Politics of Interpretation”

Session 3: The Bible and America’s Founding Era

Chair: Carol Meyers (Duke University)
John Fea (Messiah College), “Does America Have a Biblical Heritage?”
Shalom Goldman (Duke University), “God’s American Israel: Hebrew, the Bible and the American Imagination”

Session 4: The Bible and Middle East Policy

Chair: Eric Meyers (Duke University)
Yaakov Ariel (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), “Biblical Imagery and Political Action: the Roots of Christian Support for Zionism and Israel”
Mordecai Inbari (University of North Carolina, Pembroke), “Zionism, Bible, and the Messianic Crisis of the West Bank Settlements”

Session 5: The Bible and Public Schools

Chair: Shalom Goldman (Duke University)
Charles Haynes (First Amendment Center), “Battling over the Bible in Public Schools: Is Common Ground Possible?”
Melissa Rogers (Wake Forest Center for Religion & Public Affairs), “‘Rightly Dividing the First Amendment? An Evaluation of Recent Decisions regarding the Bible and Public Schools”
Mark Chancey (Southern Methodist University), “The Good Book as Textbook in Historical Perspective”

Christopher Rowland on William Blake, Shaffer Lectures 2008

Christopher Rowland’s Shaffer Lectures on William Blake (‘”From Impulse Not from Rules”:  the Life, Character and Teaching of Jesus in Light of the Prophecy, Poetry and Art of William Blake’) at Yale Divinity School are available on YouTube.

Lecture 1 (October 14, 2008): William Blake on the Life and Teaching of Jesus

Lecture 2 (October 15, 2008): Seeing the Christ: Imagining the Life and Teaching of Jesus in Images

Lecture 3 (October 16, 2008):  Antinomiansm and Forgiveness of Sins: Perspectives on Neglected Themes in the Gospels and the New Testament

Rob Marshall Interview with James Crossley on Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism

Rob Marshall interviews James Crossley about his book, Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism (2012). The interview is available on Crossley’s webpage at the University of Sheffield.

In Our Time: Online and Podcasts (BBC Radio 4)

In Our Time is a BBC Radio 4 programme on the history of ideas and is presented by Melvyn Bragg. Its range of episodes are classified under the headings ‘Religion’, ‘History’, ‘Culture’, ‘Philosophy’, and ‘Science’. The format consists of Bragg asking questions to, and leading a discussion with, a panel of academics. There are over 600 episodes – either for listening online and/or download – and the full archive is available here. There are numerous episodes covering topics in biblical studies and relevant areas:

Prophecy (13 June, 2013)

Gnosticism (2 May, 2013)

King Solomon (7 June, 2012)

Judas Maccabeus (24 November, 2011)

The Dawn of the Iron Age (24 March, 2011)

The City [Part 1] (25 March 2010)

The Augustan Age (11 June 2009)

St Paul (28 May, 2009)

Miracles (25 September, 2008)

The Greek Myths (13 March, 2008)

Hell (21 December, 2006)

Heaven (22 December, 2005)

Archaeology and Imperialism (14 April 2005)

Angels (24 March, 2005)

Zoroastrianism (11 November, 2004)

Babylon (3 June 2004)

The Fall (8 April, 2004)

The Alphabet (18 December, 2003)

The Devil (11 December, 2003)

The Apocalypse (17 July, 2003)

The Lindisfarne Gospels (20 February, 2003)

The Soul (6 June 2002)

In addition to the episodes listed above, there are episodes on a range of topics and individuals which will be directly relevant to certain areas of biblical studies research (e.g. Plato, Pliny, Roman satire, Wyclif, Erasmus, Milton, historiography, cultural memory).