Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.-The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission, a groundbreaking scholarly examination of Jesus's brother that is scheduled for a November release by Westminster John Knox Press, is edited by two Bard College professors-Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner. The essays in the book reflect recent research of the "Consultation on James," a project of the Institute of Advanced Theology (IAT) at Bard.

"This is historical criticism as historical reconstruction," according to Professor Lewis R. Donelson of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. "These authors raise up in a creative and forceful way the voices of so-called 'Jewish Christianity,' especially as it was centered in the figure of James. This makes this volume a major contribution to any discussion of Christian origins."

In the time between Jesus's resurrection and James's death, James the Just was the most prominent and widely respected leader in Christendom. In The Brother of Jesus, eight renowned scholars address such issues as the Jewish context of the early Church, the person of James, his literary message and mission, James and Jesus, and James in relation to Peter and Paul.

"During the 1997 IAT conference, 'The Missing Jesus?Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament,' Institute scholars realized that James, the brother of Jesus, was virtually ignored in biblical scholarship?although he was revered among both Jews and Jesus's followers?so we began the 'Consultation on James,'" according to IAT director Chilton. The first publication to emerge from the Consultation, James the Just and Christian Origins (Brill, 1999), was edited by Chilton and Craig Evans.

Contributors to The Brother of Jesus include John Painter, professor of theology at St. Mark?s National Theological Centre, Charles Sturt University, Australia; Peter H. Davids, author of A Commentary on James and director of studies at the Schloss Mittersill Study Centre, Austria; Wiard Popkes, professor of New Testament at Hamburg University, Germany; Richard Bauckham, professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland; Craig Evans, director of the graduate program in biblical studies at Trinity Western University, Canada; and Robert Price, professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, New York.

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 Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Bard College.

Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion, chaplain of the College, and director of the Institute of Advanced Theology, is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism and the author of the first critical translation of the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987). He has written academic studies that put Jesus in his Jewish context (Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography, 2000; The Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; and Pure Kingdom, 1996). Chilton has taught in Europe at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and M√ľnster, and in the United States at Yale University (as the first Lillian Claus Professor for New Testament) and Bard College. 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, New York.

Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Theology and Judaism and senior fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. He received his Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary and his rabbinical degree at the Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition, he holds seven honorary doctorates and numerous academic medals and honors. He has published more than 800 books and countless articles. Neusner has taught at Bard since 1994, prior to accepting this full-time appointment. He has also taught at Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University of South Florida, among others. He is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, in England. Neusner was president of the American Academy of Religion, a member of the founding committee of the Association for Jewish Studies, and founder of the European Association of Jewish Studies. He served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities under President Carter and a member of the National Council on the Arts under President Reagan. The position Neusner holds as Research Professor of Religion and Theology at Bard College is supported, in part, by a grant from the Tisch Family Foundation of New York City.

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

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[Editor's Note: For review copies of The Brother of Jesus, call 845-758-7512 or e-mail]

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This event was last updated on 10-29-2001