David Jeffrey – Interpreting the Bible in Art: Rembrandt’s Bathsheba

Professor David Jeffrey (Baylor University) discusses Rembrandt’s Bathsheba, in a lecture delivered at the Lanier Theological Library on October 7, 2017.

The tradition of biblical commentary in the West is venerable and rich. From the outset, theology was essentially commentary on the biblical text exclusively. What is less well recognized today is the extensive role both literary and visual artists played in shaping the way people understood and applied biblical texts. In this lecture, David Jeffrey looks at some of the ways both late medieval and Reformation commentary dealt with one of the most awkward passages in biblical history, the relationship between King David and Bathsheba. Because of David’s key role in the lineage and typology of the Messiah, the story in 2 Samuel 11 produced a range of fascinating responses from both verbal and visual commentators, but perhaps none more profound than that of Rembrandt in his 1654 Bathsheba.

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Larry Hurtado on Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World

On September 10, 2016, Professor Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh) delivered a lecture at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas: “A New and Mischievous Superstition: Early Christianity in the Roman World”.

The lecture covers material from his recent book, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco: Baylor University Press, September 2016).

In the Roman world in which Christianity first emerged it was viewed as different and dangerous. And Christianity was distinctive. Christian’s were called atheists and regarded as impious, because they refused to worship the traditional gods. Unlike other religious groups of the day, they had no shrines, altars, images or priests. Reading and disseminating texts were central activities. Early Christianity comprised a new kind of religious identity that wasn’t tied to ethnicity. Unlike traditional Roman-era religion, Christianity also made ethics central. But, ironically, all these things that made early Christianity distinctive, even odd, in the ancient Roman world, have become commonplace assumptions about “religion” for us. This lecture addresses our cultural amnesia, showing how early Christianity helped to challenge the ancient world and helped to shape our world.

Destroyer of the Gods was also the subject of a panel discussion at Lanier Theological Library, on September 9, 2016. The panel included Carey Newman (Baylor University Press), Rubel Shelly (Lipscomb University), and Christian Eberhart (University of Houston), with Mark Lanier as Moderator.

Further, Professor Hurtado is interviewed about Destroyer of the Gods by:

Professor Hurtado also notes his article in Catalyst, which draws on some of the material in Destroyer of the Gods: “The Distinctiveness of Early Christianity” (October 5, 2016).