Fall CJS Zoom lecture program: “Jesus the Jew in History and Memory”

The College of Jewish Studies fall 2021 Zoom lecture series will be devoted to the topic of “Jesus the Jew in History and Memory.” The lectures will explore how the image of Jesus’ Jewishness was understood historically by Jews and Christians from antiquity through today. “Three pioneering scholars will offer insights into different aspects of this complex and fraught phenomenon,” said organizers of the series.

The lectures will be held on Thursdays, October 7, 14 and 28, at 7:30 pm. Registration for one or all of the lectures is available through the CJS Facebook page, the homepage of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton and the Binghamton University Judaic Studies homepage. A Zoom link will be sent out a day ahead of each talk. Contact Jon Karp at jkarp@binghamton.edu with any questions or problems.

On October 7, Susannah Heschel, the Eli Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, will speak about “Jesus from Jew to Nazi: How Germany Shaped Modern Interfaith Dialogue.” Her talk will examine 19th-century efforts by European Jews to reclaim Jesus as a key figure in the global spread of Jewish monotheism via both Christianity and Islam. She will then discuss the emergence of theological racism by pro-Nazi German Christians who cast Jesus as a non-Jew and “Aryan.” Heschel notes, “Protestant theologians welcomed Hitler and created a synthesis of Christianity and Nazi antisemitism, purging the Christian Bible of the Old Testament and removing every positive statement about Judaism in the New Testament.” Finally, recent post-Shoah attempts at Jewish-Christian dialogue have brought Jesus’ definite Jewish identity back into focus. Heschel’s presentation will aim to untangle this historical web and show where Jewish, Christian and Muslim relations stand today in connection with the complex notion of Jesus the Jew. Heschel is the author, among other works, of “The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany” (Princeton University Press, 2010).

On October 14, Professor Amy-Jill Levine – Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford Seminary and university professor of New Testament and Jewish studies emerita at Vanderbilt University – will give a lecture titled “Jesus Within Judaism: Piety, Practice, Prayer, and Parable.” She notes, “Jesus of Nazareth is often seen as rejecting a Judaism incorrectly characterized as legalistic, elitist, obsessed with ritual purity, misogynist, vengeful and xenophobic. Understanding Jesus in his Jewish context corrects false stereotypes, brings new meaning to his parables, politics and piety, and it offers a new path for Jewish-Christian relations.” Levine is the co-editor of the “Jewish Annotated New Testament” (Oxford, 2017) and author of “Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi” (HarperOne, 2014), among numerous other books.

On October 28, Barbara U. Meyer, associate professor of religion at Tel Aviv University, will discuss “Jesus the Jew in Theology and Memory.” Meyer will ask what the Jewishness of Jesus can mean for Christian theologians today, who oppose the idea that Christianity is spiritually superior to or has “superseded” Judaism. “Jesus was an observant Jew, but Christianity developed as a religion that is not law-based. That means that even if Christians seek to model themselves on Jesus, they cannot emulate his own lifestyle. What opportunities does this otherness at the heart of Christianity provide?” she asked. Meyer will examine the implications of Jesus’ Jewishness for both Christian and Jewish thought today. She is the author of “Jesus the Jew in Christian Memory: Theological and Philosophical Explorations” (Cambridge, 2020). 

The College of Jewish Studies provides opportunities for adult Jewish education for the Broome County community by offering fall and spring programs. Drawing on local resources and inviting scholars and experts from a range of universities and cultural and religious institutions, CJS sponsors a wide array of programs dealing with Jewish history, culture, religion and politics.

The College of Jewish Studies, founded in 1986, is an informal coalition between the Judaic Studies Department of Binghamton University and several area Jewish sponsoring institutions: the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton, Beth David Synagogue, Temple Concord, and Temple Israel. Programming for CJS would not be possible without the additional financial support of a generous grant from The Community Foundation for South Central New York – David and Virginia Eisenberg Donor Advised Fund, the Jacob and Rose Olum Foundation, the B’nai B’rith Lectureship Fund, the Victor and Esther Rozen Foundation, an endowment fund from the former Temple Beth El of Endicott, a grant from the JoyVel Charitable Fund, and the donations of individual sponsors. 

“If you are not one already, please consider becoming an individual sponsor so that the CJS can continue bringing quality programs to the community,” said CJS organizers. “For more information on how to become an individual sponsor or to make a donation, please e-mail us at bingcjs@gmail.com.” The College of Jewish Studies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 
For more information on the College of Jewish Studies and its programs, visit their website and fakebook page.