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.