Augustine and the Jews Revisited

New book seeks to set record straight

Augustine of Hippo has long been considered a prinicipal cause of the abymsal relations between Christians and Jews. His ideas that Jews should live only to suffer for the rejection and death of Jesus Christ helped shape the pogroms of the past and the hostility that exists to the current day.

Now Paula Fredriksen of Boston University is offering another reading of Augustine's evaluation of the Jews in a new book entitled: Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism, which is now available. A brief introduction to the thesis of the book and an interview with Paula Fredriksen is featured in the online issue of Time Magazine.

Augustine has been considered extensively in Vision. See Augustine's Legacy, a collection of articles noting his lingering influence on modern theological thought.

H/T to Jim Davila, of Paleojudacia

Tags: Augustine, Jewish Christian relations, Paula Fredriksen

Paula Fredriksen's Lectures On-line

Video feed available of current Spencer Trask lectures

Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture at Boston University, is the presenter of this years Spencer Trask Lecture Series, provided by Princeton University Press. This years presentation in the annual lecture series, established by a gift from Spencer Trask in 1891, is entitled Sin: The Early History of an Idea. Videos of these lectures, from which we have already provided some excerpts (see here and here), are available on-line in various formats at:

Good work Paula!

Tags: Paula Fredriksen, Sin,, Princeton University, Spencer Trask, video

Paul in Context

Paula Fredriksen locates the point of decontextualising Paul

"But when he is talking about the gentile sanctification, he is not speaking as it can sound in English – oh it’s nice . . . they’ve been made holy. It means something special. It means something ritual.  It means that they are fit to come into proximity with the zone of holiness that is represented first of all by the temple. When Paul uses temple language – as he does continuously to his gentile audiences -- he says you are a temple; you are God’s temple -- God’s spirit dwells in you.  

"Way back in the 20th century when I was at university, we were told that meant that Paul didn’t like this temple in Jerusalem and that this was a substitute temple and that the community was a new temple. If you train yourself to remember that if Paul is writing before the year 70, he doesn’t know that there’s going to be no temple.  What he is doing is in fact bringing these nations under the umbrella so that they are turning to the God of Israel just like people like Isaiah, Hosea and Micah had said they would before God’s last ‘put out the light’ is spoken.

"What happens after the temple is destroyed is that this vocabulary remains in Paul’s letters but the typography that interprets the vocabulary begins to switch from temple and ritual space to the idea of the Greco-Roman universe.  And it’s that transposition, the way that Paul’s letters and the way that the early Christian message will be translated in the period after the destruction of the temple and where sin will be imagined with different nuances and with different points of exit and entry that I will get to tomorrow night." 1:04:26

Paula Fredriksen, "Sin: The Early History of the Idea: Lecture 1: God, Blood, and theTemple" October 9, 2007 -- Spencer Trask Lecture, cosponsored by Princeton University Press.

Tags: jerusalem, Temple, Paul, Paula Fredriksen, early Christians, Spencer Trask Lectures, typography,

The Context of Jesus Christ and His Followers

Dramatic Change in Perspective

"One of the biggest changes that’s happened in the scholarly world since I was introduced to it back in the 1970’s is the way that Judaism . . . is seen as the context of Christianity rather than as its contrast.”  44:18 

Paula Fredriksen, "Sin: The Early History of the Idea: Lecture 1: God, Blood, and theTemple" October 9, 2007 -- Spencer Trask Lecture, cosponsored by Princeton University Press.

Tags: Judaism, Paula Fredriksen, early christianity, Sin, Spencer Trask Lecture

Was Paul a monotheist?

To question the unquestionable.

Mark Goodacre raises this question over at New Testament Gateway Mark has been reading Paula Fredriksen’s articles that are now posted on line and has noted her handling of the subject.  One article of Paula’s that I can’t find listed on line is one from the 1992 Bible Review in which she first posed the question.  The articles to which Mark refers address this same question.

“… something of a puzzle to explain how a group of Jews, known best of all in antiquity for their absolute insistence on the oneness of God and their refusal to grant worship to any other, should come in the middle of the first century to worship the man Jesus of Nazareth, whom they call the Messiah. The question becomes even more puzzling when you consider that those Jews who believed in Jesus gave him titles apparently ascribing to him qualities and actions previously reserved for God alone” (Paula Fredriksen, Bible Review, December 1992, 14-15).


On a similar note, I’m presently going through Alan Segal’s book entitled “Two Powers In Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism”.  This was a redo of his doctoral dissertation at Yale, first published in 1977, but recently republished by Brill in 2002. 

See Vision article:  Monotheism

Tags: Mark Goodacre, Paul, Paula Fredriksen, Monotheism

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