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Paula Fredriksen - Critical Thinkers in Religion, Law and Social Theory

Thu, October 24, 2013

University of Ottawa, Simard Hall, Room 125

Time: 4pm-5:30pm

Title: Paul, Practical Pluralism, and the Invention of Religious Persecution in Roman Antiquity

Abstract: In antiquity, gods and their humans formed family groups. What we think of as “religion” – relations between heaven and earth, between humans and the divine – thus corresponded closely to ethnicity: Romans worshiped Roman gods, Egyptians worshiped Egyptian gods, Hellenes worshiped Greek gods, Jews worshiped the Jewish god.  People (Jews included) generally found ways to show respect to other gods while maintaining primary allegiance to their own god. The Empire, in brief, accommodated and indeed embraced great religious (thus ethnic) diversity. Why, then, were the early Christians persecuted?

Bio: Paula Fredriksen is the Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She has published widely on the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity, and on pagan-Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire.  Among her books are Augustine on Romans (1982); From Jesus to Christ (1988; 2000); Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (1999); and Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism (2010). Her most recent work investigates the way that ideas of God and of humanity shift in the period between Jesus and Augustine in Sin: The Early History of an Idea (2012). Paul, the Gentiles, and Israel, her current project, will appear next year from Yale University Press.

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