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"JEWISH ORIGINS OF THE EUCHARIST OR MASS" TOPIC OF TALKS BY REV. DR. BRUCE CHILTON Talks will be given in Middletown and Fishkill, New York

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY—Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, who is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion and chaplain of the college at Bard College, will give two talks on the subject \"The Jewish Origins of the Eucharist or Mass\" in October. These lectures, presented by the Mid-Hudson Regional Council of the Episcopal Church, will take place on Tuesday, October 17, at Grace Church in Middletown and Tuesday, October 24, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fishkill. Both talks will begin at 6:00 p.m., and a donation of $5 is suggested.

Chilton writes, \"Jesus joined with his followers in Galilee and Judea, both disciples and sympathizers, in meals that were designed to anticipate the coming of God’s Kingdom. This celebration was the root of the most distinctive ritual of Christianity: the Eucharist (as derived from its Greek name) or Mass (its Latin name). The willingness to provide for the meals, to join in the fellowship, to forgive and to be forgiven, was seen by Jesus as the sufficient condition for eating in his company and for entry into the Kingdom.\"

Chilton continues, \"At a basic level, Jesus followed the lead of many Jewish teachers of his time. Meals within Judaism were regular expressions of social solidarity and of common identity as Israel, the people of God. Many sorts of meals are attested to in the literature of early Judaism. From Qumran we learn of banquets at which the community convened in order of hierarchy; the Pharisees shared meals within fellowships at which like-minded households might welcome the coming of the Sabbath with a prayer of sanctification over a cup of wine, or might open a family occasion with a blessing over bread and wine.\"

\"Jesus’ meals were similar in some ways to several of these meals,\" concludes Chilton, \"but they were also distinctive. He had a characteristic understanding of what the meals meant and who should participate in them. For him, eating socially with others in Israel was a parable of the feast in the Kingdom that was to come. By understanding both Jesus’ Jewish environment and his own uniqueness, we can discover the origins of the Eucharist.\"

Chilton is also director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. He is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism, whose principal focus is understanding Jesus within his Jewish context. Chilton is the author and editor of fifty books, including The Temple of Jesus, Pure Kingdom: Jesus\' Vision of God, James the Just and Christian Origins, and the forthcoming Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography. Chilton, who graduated from Bard College in 1971, received a master of divinity degree from General Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Cambridge University. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Münster in Germany, and St. John\'s College of Cambridge University and the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

The Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College was established to foster critical understanding based on scholarship that will make true religious pluralism possible. Since its inception in 1996, the Institute’s work has focused on how religions influence history, society, and other religions and are in turn influenced by them. The Institute gratefully acknowledges support provided by the Crohn Family Trust and the Tisch Family Foundation and grants from The Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Bard College.

For registration information, call 845-338-1086.

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This event was last updated on 03-02-2001