Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Tuesday, November 19, the Institute of Advanced Theology (IAT) at Bard College will present a talk by two noted scholars of the 1st century c.e., professor John Painter and the Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton. They will discuss the recent discovery and identification of the "ossuary of James"—described in the November issue of Biblical Archaeology Review—which may provide the first archeological evidence corroborating the existence of Jesus. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Cinema of the Bertelsmann Campus Center, and is open to the public without charge.

"The French epigraphist André Lemaire has recently announced his identification of what he says is the container that held the bones of James, Jesus' brother," says Chilton, executive director of the IAT. "The ossuary indeed reads, 'Jacob, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.' James is the Anglicized version of Jacob, and the Jesus of the inscription might refer to Jesus of Nazareth."

"James has been a particular interest within the Institute of Advanced Theology for several years, and we have already concluded that James and Jesus were indeed biological brothers," Chilton continues. "But is this inscription relevant to the whole question? Controversy surrounds both the circumstances in which the artifact surfaced and the claim that the Jacob, Joseph, and Jesus of the inscription refer to the figures in the New Testament."

John Painter, the leading biographer of the Biblical James, is professor of theology in the School of Theology of Charles Sturt University, Canberra Campus, in Australia. He is a graduate of the Universities of London and Durham (UK), and received his Ph.D. in New Testament from the latter. Painter, a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and is the author of 80 scholarly articles and seven books, including Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition; Mark: Worlds in Conflict (a commentary); The Quest for the Messiah: The History, Literature, and Theology of the Johannine Community; and Theology as Hermeneutics: Rudolf Bultmann’s Interpretation of the History of Jesus.

Bruce Chilton, executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard, 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; Pure Kingdom, 1996; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; and The Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984). Chilton 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 at Bard College. Throughout his career he has been active in the pastoral ministry of the Anglican Church; he is currently rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York.

The program is part of the annual consultation presented by the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. These consultations have sought to demonstrate the importance of James as a representative of Jewish Christianity and of Judaism through academic seminars and publications including James the Just (Brill, 1999) and The Brother of Jesus (Westminster John Knox Press, 2001). The Institute 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 members of the Institute, the Crohn Family Trust, and the Tisch Family Foundation, as well as grants from The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Bard College.

For further information, call 845-758-7279 or e-mail

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This event was last updated on 11-04-2002