February 5, 2009

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College’s Department of Religion and Willis D. Wood Fund will host and sponsor a lecture series titled “Paul, Judaism, and the Roman Empire” at 8 p.m. in Fayerweather Hall’s Pruyne Lecture Hall on the Tuesday evenings of Feb. 10, Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24. Receptions will follow each of the events, which are free and open to the public.

The speakers and their topics are as follows:

  • Feb. 10—Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture at Boston University, “Gods and Their Humans in Mediterranean Antiquity: The Sacred Surround of Paul’s Journey.” Fredriksen has published widely on the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity from the late Second Temple period to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. Besides translating two of Augustine’s early commentaries on Paul (Augustine on Romans), she has written From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus and Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity. She also co-edited and contributed to Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament After the Holocaust, as well as a collection of essays about Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ. In her most recent book, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism, she traces the origins and growth of Christian anti-Judaism while exploring Augustine’s singular response and challenge to it.
  • Feb. 24—Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus, DePaul University, “Paul and Roman Imperial Theology.” In the last 40 years, Crossan has written 23 books on the historical Jesus, earliest Christianity and the historical Paul. Five of them have been national religious bestsellers for a combined total of 24 months. The scholarly core of his work is the trilogy including The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus and In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, co-authored with the archaeologist Jonathan L. Reed. His latest book, God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now, was published by HarperSanFrancisco in March 2007. His work has been translated into 12 foreign languages, including Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
  • Mar. 10—Richard Ascough, associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Queen’s Theological College and Queen’s University Department of Religious Studies, Kingston, Ontario, “You Are What You Eat!  Paul and the Apostolic Decree in the Shadow of the Roman Empire.” Ascough is author of numerous articles and essays on the texts and contexts of the early Jesus-believers and has published six books, including What Are They Saying About the Formation of Pauline Churches?, Passionate Visionary: Leadership Lessons from the Apostle Paul and Lydia. He is currently writing a commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
  • Mar. 24—Karl Donfried, Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor Emeritus of Religion and Biblical Literature, Smith College, “Rome and the Death of Paul.” Donfried is a graduate of Columbia and Harvard and did his doctoral degree at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. His research interests include Paul, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the relationship between early Christianity and the Judaisms of the Second Temple Period. He taught at Smith from 1968 to 2005 and has also served as visiting professor at Amherst College, Brown, Yale and Hebrew University as well as universities in Berlin, Geneva and Hamburg.