Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Institute of Advanced Theology (IAT) at Bard College offers a selection of luncheon lectures this fall. Each begins at noon in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. Admission is charged and preregistration for the luncheons is necessary. On Wednesday, September 14, Bard’s Rabbi Lawrence Troster and Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton will discuss religion and the environment as well as future plans for the Institute. The fee is $12, or $10 for members of the Institute. “The Sacraments of Mary Magdalene” is the topic of the annual fall luncheon lecture series presented by the Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton weekly on Wednesdays, from October 5 through November 2. The fee is $12, or $10 for members of the Institute. Chilton notes, “Since the first century of the Common Era, hierarchical authorities have sought to silence Mary Magdalene. However successful they have been, however much fashion has dominated her presentation in century after century, unmistakable signs of her influence remain. Within the complicated legends of medieval hagiographers and the conspiracy theories of their modern revisionist counterparts, her signature sacraments of exorcism, anointing, and vision persist. Her three gifts of Spirit are the inheritance of Mary Magdalene: dissolving what is impure or evil, offering ointment for sickness and sin, and permitting her followers to perceive the spiritual truth of resurrection.” He continues, “The Magdalene inheritance is not for Christianity alone or for Judaism alone. Mary lived before those two religions had separated from one another, and her native Magdala was influenced by the trade of products and ideas that came from India, China, and Nabatea. The pantheon of divinity in the religions of the Indus, Buddhism’s meditation in the face of suffering, Arabian mercantilism of a type that Muhammad would later represent: all echoed in her mental world. Mary’s sacraments were for those who used them, following the centuries-old practice of women in Galilean Judaism. They did not require hierarchy or dogma, and therefore her sacraments have survived the imposition of silence that has been her fate in orthodox Christianity. They have made their way, whether in practice or in imagination, through the twists and turns of repression, ignorance, and self-interest in the tortured history of the West. That is why Mary’s life is a sacramental biography. For all the details that texts of the New Testament exclude—an exclusion that opens the doors to legend, revision, and uncertainty—her sacraments nonetheless focus the ritual power that Mary Magdalene unleashed during Jesus’ life and at his death. In the wordless struggle of exorcism, the silence of anointing, the rapt attention of vision, Mary conveyed the truth of Spirit to those who followed her discipline, whatever their backgrounds may have been, and she continues to find disciples.” Bruce Chilton’s biography of Mary Magdalene will be released by Doubleday in November. In celebration of this event, a luncheon and book signing is planned for Monday, November 7. Chilton will be joined by author and poet Rose Solari, whose most recent book is Orpheus in the Park. They will discuss giving voice to “silenced women.” A book signing follows the lecture. The fee is $15, or $12 for members of the Institute. For further information or to register for the luncheon lectures, call the Institute at 845-758-7279, e-mail, or visit the website # About the Presenters: Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion, executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology, and chaplain of the College, is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism, and 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). Mary Magdalene: A Biography, will be released by Doubleday in November 2005. Chilton’s 2004 book, Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography, was a selection of the Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, American Compass, and Reader’s Subscription. 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 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. Rose Solari is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Orpheus in the Park and Difficult Weather, and two chapbooks. Her writing awards include the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize (selected by Philip Levine), an Academy of American Poets' University Prize, grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Maryland States Arts Council, and the Columbia Book Award for poetry. She authored and performed in the multi-media play Looking for Guenevere, and is currently working on a historical novel. She is the visiting writer of the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland, and has been on the faculty of the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for nearly fifteen years. Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Jewish Chaplain at Bard College and Rabbinic Fellow of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), is the Rabbinic scholar in residence for GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental coalition in New Jersey. Troster serves on the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment of UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), the Social Action committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, and the faculty and Board of Directors of the Newark School of Theology. He is also member of the editorial board of Conservative Judaism. He has published numerous articles and has lectured widely on theology, environmentalism, liturgy and bioethics and cosmology. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. His most recent work, Environmental Ethics, a Chapter of Living a Jewish Life, Vol. II: Ethics is due for publication in May 2006. # # # (8/24/05)

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This event was last updated on 10-19-2005