Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture Emerita at Boston University and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, will give the biennial Shaffer Lectures at Yale Divinity School February 17-19.
A scholar of early Christianity and related subjects, Fredriksen will speak on “Christian Identity, Paul’s Letters, and ‘Thinking with Jews.’” All three lectures will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Niebuhr Hall, with a reception following the first of the three.
A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Fredriksen publishes on the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity and pagan-Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire. Among her publications are Augustine on Romans (1982); From Jesus to Christ (1988; 2000); Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (1999); Augustine and the Jews (2010); and Sin: The Early History of an Idea (2012). Her two latest books, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017) and When Christians Were Jews (2018), place the Jesus movement’s Jewish messianic message within the wider world of ancient Mediterranean culture, politics, and power.
In her Shaffer Lectures, Fredriksen will examine the ways that ideas of “Jews” and of “Judaism” figure in three particularly active areas of current scholarship on Paul’s letters and Christian origins. Lecture I, “Gods and the One God,” will consider ancient ideas of divinity. Lecture II, “Gods in the Blood,” will look at ancient people-groups and constructions of ethnicity. Lecture III, “God’s Kingdom,” will contemplate resurrection and eschatology, cosmos, and transformation. From this combination of ideas, Fredriksen says, she hopes to “distill both a coherent historical description of the first generation of the Jesus movement, and a compelling ethical lesson on the importance of history for contemporary theology.”
The Shaffer Lectureship was established in 1929 by a gift from John C. Shaffer of Chicago as a memorial to his son, Kent Shaffer 1907 Ph.D. to sponsor lectures on the life, character, and teachings of Jesus. This series is given every second year, alternating with the Nathaniel W. Taylor lecture series.