Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY—The talk by Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton that was cancelled due to the storm, has been rescheduled for Monday, February 19. The presentation, sponsored by the Dean of Studies Office, Religion Program, and the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College, will be about Chilton\'s recent book Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (Doubleday, 2000). The program is free and open to the public and will be held in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Leonard Schwartz, poet-in-residence at Lacoste School of the Arts and Bard College, will offer an appreciation of the book from the point of view of the Kabbalah in Judaism. Chilton will then explain the significance for assessing the cause of Jesus\' death and the nature of his resurrection; he will illustrate his discussion with slides including those of the tomb of Caiaphas.

In Rabbi Jesus, a biography that sweeps readers into first-century Palestine and re-creates the world as Jesus knew it, Chilton puts together the puzzle pieces of our knowledge of the historical Jesus. He draws on recent archaeological findings to paint a vivid portrait of the social customs, political forces, and religious beliefs and practices of the period. Chilton examines new translations and interpretations of ancient texts, including Aramaic targums—traditional local oral renderings of scripture in Jesus\' time—and offers a revolutionary look at Jesus\' early life and the philosophical and psychological foundations of the ideas he promulgated as a young man. Evidence provided by these reexaminations contradicts long-held beliefs about Jesus and the movement he led. Chilton shows, for example, that Jesus was most likely born in the Bethlehem of Galilee, not the Bethlehem of Judea (as has been believed by Christians for centuries), and that the High Priest Caiaphas, not Pontius Pilate, played the central role in Jesus\' execution. It is Chilton\'s description of Jesus\' role as a rabbi or \"master\" of Jewish oral traditions, a teacher of the Kabbalah, and a practitioner of a Galilean form of Judaism emphasizing direct communication with God, however, that casts an entirely new light on the origins of Christianity. By placing Jesus within the context of his times, Chilton reveals a new Jesus for the new millennium.

Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism and is the author of the first critical translation of the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987) as well as academic studies that put Jesus in his Jewish context (The Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; and 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 for New Testament) and Bard College. Currently Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard, he also directs the Institute of Advanced Theology there. Throughout his career, he has been active in the pastoral ministry of the Anglican Church; he is presently Rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, NY.

Additional programs presented by the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard include the Lenten Lecture Series, \"Rabbi Jesus: Death and Resurrection,\" led by Chilton. The weekly lecture series will meet at Bard Hall on Tuesdays beginning March 20 through April 3. Lunch at 12:00 noon will precede the lecture and discussion led by members of the Red Hook Ministerium. Advance registration and a small donation is required.

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 further information, call the Institute of Advanced Theology at 845-758-7279 or e-mail:

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This event was last updated on 03-02-2001