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The Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College Presents Three-Day Conference: "Judaic and Christian Visions of the Social Order"

“Describing, Analyzing, and Comparing Systems of the Formative Age”

Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College presents a three-day conference, Judaic and Christian Visions of the Social Order: Describing, Analyzing and Comparing Systems of the Formative Age,” from Tuesday, April 27, through Thursday, April 29. All events take place on the Bard College campus. Admission is free, but reservations are advised. To make a reservation write to Theresa Desmond, Institute of Advanced Theology, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N. Y. 12504-5000, or send an e-mail to

 Part of a seminar for undergraduates at Bard College called “Visions of the Social Order,” the conference is organized by Bruce Chilton, executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College and Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion, and Jacob Neusner, Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism. The conference will explore writings of formative Judaism in the time of the Mishnah and the Talmud, and formative Christianity in the New Testament and Patristic periods. Scholars from other colleges and universities will participate, and a published volume will present the final version of conference papers.

The conference “analyzes where Judaism and Christianity during the first six centuries of the Common Era intersected in their understandings of how human societies are to be framed,” says Chilton. “We seek to identify, not just random points of agreement, but fundamental structural congruence. Because our conference focuses on how human communities organize, order, and govern themselves in the light of faith, our conclusions promise insight into social and moral issues that are very much with us today.”

Presenters include Baruch A. Levine, New York University; William Scott Green and John T. Fitzgerald, University of Miami; James C. VanderKam, University of Notre Dame; George W. E. Nickelsburg, the University of Iowa; Bezalel Bar Kochva, Tel Aviv University; Alan J. Avery-Peck, College of the Holy Cross; Jacob Neusner, Bard College; Tzvee Zahavy, Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Frederick W. Weidmann, Auburn Theological Seminary; Bruce Chilton, Bard College; Petra Heldt, Hebrew University; and J. A. McGuckin, Columbia University.

Bruce Chilton (Ph.D., Cambridge University) is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism. He wrote the first critical commentary on the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987), as well as academic studies that analyze Jesus in his Judaic context (A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; Pure Kingdom, 1996). He has taught in Europe at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Münster, and in the United States at Yale University (as the first Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament) and Bard College. Currently Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Bard, he also directs the College’s Institute of Advanced Theology. Throughout his career, he has been active in the pastoral ministry of the Anglican Church, and is rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York. His most recent books are Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000), Redeeming Time: The Wisdom of Ancient Jewish and Christian Festal Calendars (2002), Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography (2004), Mary Magdalene: A Biography (2005), and, as general editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (2007).


Jacob Neusner is Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism at Bard College, a senior scholar at the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College, and a Bard Center Fellow. He has written or edited hundreds of books, including Theology of the Oral Torah (1998) and Theology of the Halakhah (2001). Awards include nine honorary degrees, 14 academic medals and prizes, and fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and American Council of Learned Societies. He is a member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1990– ); life member, Clare Hall, Cambridge University.


The Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College was established to foster critical understanding, based in scholarship, that will make true religious pluralism possible. The Institute’s mission is to illuminate crucial points of intersection among the world’s religious traditions in order to promote a deeper understanding of both their commonality and diversity. The Institute’s special interest is the first hundred years of the Common Era, in which the seeds of mistrust and intolerance that have plagued Jewish-Christian relations through the centuries were planted. The Institute’s aims are to bring factual evidence and critical analysis to the fore, resulting in a better understanding of New Testament and biblical history; to foster a new spirit of tolerance and cooperation; to improve the quality of religious scholarship and practice through a historically based interdisciplinary program of research, education, and public outreach; to achieve a deeper understanding of the origins of Christianity from its roots in Judaism; and to develop the potential for collaborative scholarship, bringing together religious leaders, believers, and those who are simply curious, in a shared enterprise of enlightened learning. Since its inception in 1996, the Institute’s work has focused on how religions influence history, society, one another, and are in turn influenced by them. Institute scholars refine the newest critical research methods to pursue a comparative approach to the study of religion. The faculty and resident fellows of the Institute are continuing these research comparisons with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. For more information about the Institute of Advanced Theology, and a complete schedule of events for the conference go to


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This event was last updated on 03-17-2010