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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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.

Amy-Jill Levine: Who Did They Say He Was? Jesus in Text and Context

Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University) delivered the lecture, “Who Did They Say He Was? Jesus in Text and Context” at Westminster Town Hall, Minneapolis, on March 31, 2015. Levine addresses the question of who Jesus was to the first-century Jews who heard him and sometimes followed him (and sometimes did not).

Jesus and Brian Conference: Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Biblical Scholarship

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The Jesus and Brian Conference explored “the historical Jesus and his times, via Monty Python’s Life of Brian“. The conference was held on Friday 20 June to Sunday 22 June 2014, at the Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, King’s College London. Videos from most of the talks are now available on YouTube (see below).

Monty Python’s Life of Brian provoked a furious response in some quarters when it first appeared in 1979, even leading to cries of ‘blasphemy’. However, many students and teachers of biblical literature were quietly, and often loudly, both amused and intrigued. Life of Brian in fact contains numerous references to what was then the cutting edge of biblical scholarship and Life of Jesus research, founded on the recognition of the historical Jesus as a Jew who needs to be understood within the context of his time. Implicitly, in setting ‘Brian’ within the tumultuous social and political background of his age, Life of Brian sets Jesus within it also. It assumes the audience has some knowledge of the gospel accounts, which directly inform the comedy.

Ever since Philip Davies first wrote on the film 15 years ago, other scholars too have turned their gaze to consider exactly what Life of Brian does in regard to Jesus scholarship, and have increasingly delved into its curious corners to reflect on what it says both about the tumultuous times of Jesus and also contemporary scholarly discussions. Biblical scholarship has moved on greatly in the past 25 years, and various aspects of Life of Brian correlate with themes now intensely explored. Every Bible scholar knows what ‘blessed are the cheese-makers’ means!

Session One

Professor Joan E. Taylor (King’s College London): Welcome Address and Introduction: ‘The Historical Brian

Professor Martin Goodman (University of Oxford): ‘The Life of Brianand the Politics of First-Century Judea’

Professor George Brooke (University of Manchester): ‘Brian as a Teacher of Righteousness’

Interview with John Cleese and Terry Jones, with Richard Bauckham

Session Two

Professor Bill Telford (Durham University): ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the Jesus Film

Professor Philip Davies and Prof. James Crossley (University of Sheffield): ‘Monty Python’s Life of Jesus

Session Three

Dr Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh): ‘You’ll Probably Get Away With Crucifixion’: Laughing at the Cross in Brian and the Ancient World

Dr Guy Stiebel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): ‘Romani Ite Domum: Identity and Expressions of Resistance in Judaea

Session Four

Professor Steve Mason (University of Aberdeen): ‘What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? Brian and Josephus on Anti-Roman Sentiment

Professor Paula Fredriksen (Boston University): ‘Are you a Virgin? Biblical Exegesis and the Invention of Tradition’

Session Five

Dr David Shepherd (Trinity College Dublin): ‘When Brian met Moses: The Life of Brian (1979) Wholly Moses (1980) and the ‘failure’ of biblical parody

Dr Aaron Rosen (King’s College London): ‘Laughing at Brian, Laughing at Christ: Some Reflections on Film and Modern Art

Session Six

Katie Turner (King’s College London): ‘”The Shoe is the Sign“:The Costuming of the Life of Brian and the Clothing of First-Century Judaeans’

Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University): ‘Beards for Sale: The Uncut Version of Brian, Gender and Sexuality

Session Seven

Professor Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill): ‘Brian and the Apocalyptic Jesus

Professor Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa): ‘Hook-nosed Heebies: Brian, Jesus, and Jewish Identity

Session Eight

Revd. Canon Professor Richard Burridge (King’s College London):‘The Church of England’s Life of Python–Or, What the Bishop Saw’

Dr David Tollerton (University of Exeter): ‘Blasphemy! On Free Speech Then and Now

(no video provided by Kings College)

Update (September 10, 2015): The book of the conference is now available:

jesus-and-brian-book

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.