Saint Stephen's Bones: A Chapter in the History of Jewish-Christian Relations in Late Antiquity


Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

Saint Stephen's Bones: A Chapter in the History of Jewish-Christian Relations in Late Antiquity

The story of Saint Stephen’s bones begins with a vision near Jerusalem and ends with sea voyages throughout the late Roman world. The proto-martyr of the early church, Stephen, through his recovered relics, instigated bouts of internal brawling between local bishops and spasms of external political struggles between Jewish dignitaries and the ascendant church. Journeying further west, fragments of Stephen’s body set off waves of anti-Jewish hostility. This lecture will explore some of the consequences of this hostility, from the forced conversion of Minorca’s Jews to Augustine’s insistence on Jewish freedom of practice in City of God.

Paula Fredriksen, Boston University; Oded Irshai, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Paula Fredriksen is Aurelio professor of Scripture at Boston University. She studies the origins and history of ancient Christianity, from late Second Temple Judaism to the fall of the western Roman Empire. She is the author of Augustine and the Jews (2008); From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus (1988); and Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, which won the National Jewish Book award in 1999. Her special interest in ancient Jewish-Gentile relations moved her into our own historical period with her critique of Mel Gibson’s controversial film on the death of Jesus. This spring she holds the Selma Ruben Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

Oded Irshai heads the Jewish History department at Hebrew University. He is a leading authority on Judaism in Late Antiquity, specializing in the unique relationship between Jews and the Christian church in the Roman and Byzantine Near East. He has published numerous articles in his field and has co-authored, along with Paula Fredriksen, a landmark study on Christian anti-Judaism in the Cambridge History of Judaism IV. He holds the Golub Family Fellowship and the Zifkin Teaching fellowship at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, where he works with Paula Fredriksen on a study of Jews, Christians, and the End of Mediterranean Antiquity: A Comparison of East and West.

Event Subtitle: 

Eleventh Annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture

Event Location: 

College Hall, Room 209 University of Pennsylvania

Event Date and Time: 
March 19, 2008 5:00pm
Open to the public
Kutchin Faculty Seminar Series of Jewish Studies
Department of History
Department of Religious Studies
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