Well, the talk went well. And won’t you know it, none of the previously mentioned potential visitors showed up. Implications? Not sure. Maybe a lot of smoke and mirrors. Thoughts?

I did have one women, probably in her 70’s, who asked a few questions about Jesus and the Jews in the NT, and they were framed in such a way as to kind of suggest that she assumes the NT is the only real authority for Judaism in the first century. Another fellow wanted to drive the conversation into source critical analyses of the Hebrew Bible (especially Genesis) and another tried to argue that rabbinic Judaism owes more to ancient gnosticism (!) than to any other factor. All of which were dealt with pretty quickly; the NT is one of the precious few literary sources we have for first century Judaism, but to rely on it for real info on Judaism (as opposed to what late first century writers thought about Judaism) would be like relying on the Talmud as the authoritative source for Christianity. Not the best idea. The second question was largely irrelevant to the topic at hand (it came up during a discussion of holidays!) and the third was a classic case of someone reading too much and not digesting enough and came to a wild conclusion.

Anyway. I applaud this kind of lecture series by public institutions. I do think that scholars in this field (any field, really) ought to be engaged in more public venues to broaden awareness of issues that are close to home. Few disciplines these days are as well-placed for this as religion. And to have the chance to do some public scholarship was great; in some ways, because of my background in churches, I’m more comfortable in public scholarly atmospheres than in those locked into the ivory tower.

Anyway, I look forward to doing more of these kinds of things in the future.