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Press Release


Emily M. Darrow
“[Chilton’s] inviting prose, ability to recreate the cultural contexts of Paul’s life and deep affection for the Apostle bring new life to a tale that has been told many times before.”—Publishers Weekly ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion and executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard, will speak about his most recent book, Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography, on Thursday, October 7, at Bard College. The program, presented by the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College, is free and open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Weis Cinema of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. A book signing, presented by Merritt Books, will follow the lecture. “Without Paul, there would be no Christianity. His letters to various churches scattered throughout the Roman Empire articulated, for the first time, the beliefs that make up the heart of Christian practice and faith,” explains Chilton. In Rabbi Paul, Chilton describes the changing images of Paul, from the early church period—where he was regarded as the premier apostle who separated Christianity from Judaism—to more recent liberal evaluations, which paint him as an antifeminist, homophobic figure more dedicated to doctrine than spiritual freedom. By illuminating Paul’s thoughts and contributions within the context of his time, Chilton restores him to his place as the founding architect of the church and one of the most important figures in Western history. Rabbi Paul is at once a compelling, highly readable biography and a window on how Jesus’s message was transformed into a religion embraced by millions around the world. Drawing on Paul’s own writings as well as historical and scholarly documents about his life and times, Chilton portrays an all-too-human saint who helped to create both the most beautiful and the most troublesome aspects of the church. He shows that Paul sought to specify the correct approach to such central concerns as sexuality, obedience, faith, conscience, and spirit, to define religion as an institution, and to clarify the nature of the religious personality—issues that Christians still struggle with today. Bruce Chilton, chaplain of the College, 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). His most recent book is Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography, 2004. 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 Institute of Advanced Theology was established to foster critical understanding based on scholarship, which aims to 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 from members of the Institute, the Crohn Family Trust, and Tisch Family Foundation, as well as grants from The Levy Economics Institute and Bard College. For further information about the IAT, its programs, or membership, call 845-758-7279, e-mail, or visit the website # # # (9/14/04)

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This event was last updated on 10-12-2004