Rewriting the Exodus: Susan Docherty’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture

On May 23, 2016, Professor Susan Docherty (Newman University, Birmingham) delivered her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, “Rewriting The Exodus”.

The biblical account of the Exodus has always been significant for Jews in constructing their history, identity and theology. The story of how God acted through Moses to free the Israelite slaves from their suffering in Egypt is, not surprisingly, retold in numerous Jewish writings throughout the centuries.

In Graeco-Roman times, the large number of Jews living outside of Palestine in cities and towns throughout the Empire particularly enjoyed celebrating Moses as a Hebrew hero who triumphed over hostile foreign powers. One of the most interesting of these retellings, known as the Exagoge, takes the form of a Greek Tragedy. I will discuss the interpretation given to the Exodus in this play, and how this compares to that found in other early Jewish sources and the New Testament.

This text raises questions which are still relevant today, including how far religion can be assimilated to different cultures, and how free theologians should feel to adapt authoritative sacred texts to respond to new circumstances.

The lecture is available for viewing on Panopto:

 

Steve Moyise on ‘Reimagining the Jewish Jesus’

From the Dead Letters and Living Words conference at Newman University:

Prof. Steve Moyise encouraged us to re-examine the Jewish Jesus in the paper ‘Reimagining the Jewish Jesus‘ which he presented at the Dead Letters & Living Words conference at Newman on 6th June 2015…

It is difficult to overstate the impact of Geza Vermes’ Jesus the Jew (1973) and E.P. Sanders’ Jesus and Judaism (1985) on New Testament and Historical Jesus studies. Although an awareness of Jesus’ Jewish background had long been a part of our consciousness, it was their work that drove it to our attention. Jesus could no longer be seen as being distinct from his Jewish background. In order to be fully understood, his life, work and teaching needed to be studied within the context of late Second Temple period Judaism.

In a typically entertaining and accessible paper, Moyise took three elements of Jesus’ teaching that are traditionally seen as being distinctively Christian in character and a discontinuity from the Judaism of his time:

  • The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath
  • Jesus and the Food Laws
  • Jesus and the Second Coming

Moyise explored each in the light of their Jewish rather than Christian context, throwing light on how they would probably have been understood by the contemporaries of Jesus and, in doing so, challenging our assumptions and traditional understanding of them.

PowerPoint slides are available here.