Director Bruce Chilton has written extensively on Jewish-Christian
relations and on the Jewish foundations of Christian doctrine and
practice. By working within the diverse religious texts of antiquity,
he and his colleagues have shown that the nascent Jesus movement
was a sect within the many varieties of Judaism and that the first
followers of Jesus viewed themselves as Jews and adhered to Jewish
Neusner, senior fellow of the Institute, has worked together with
Chilton for many years. They have undertaken the comparison of
Judaism and Christianity, two religions with a deep experience
of mutual love and hatred, sympathetic study and heated apologetics.
Years of cooperative work have yielded a simple but radical insight:
the two religions have, in intellectual terms, been speaking different
languages for centuries. Words such as "messiah," "law,"
and "salvation" have fundamentally different meanings
from one system to another. Thus, people have been talking over
and around, not with, one another.
a remedy, Neusner and Chilton have experimented with a series
of lectures, public dialogues, conferences, and publications in
an attempt to discover a common language of comparison. That common
language can be found in those issues where each system, in all
its complexity, addresses a concern held in common with the other.
These nodes of interest link one religion to another, making comparative
discussion possible. With the examples of Judaism and Christianity,
two religions that have the greatest degree of historical contact,
the Institute has refined this new method of comparison, extensible
to other global religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.
lamp (First century), Found near Jerusalem.
Photo by Tania Barricklo