32nd Annual Spiritual Life Institute at Saint Martin’s will explore the Jewish world of Jesus of Nazareth

May 27, 2014

Image alt text

LACEY, Wash. – Participants in the Saint Martin’s University 32nd annual Spiritual Life Institute, “Jesus and Judaism,” will time-travel back to the turn of the first millennium for an intensive study of the world of ancient Judaism and Jesus of Nazareth’s place in it.

The institute will be operating from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., June 23-27, at Harned Hall on the University’s Lacey campus. Registration for the session is open to the public and individuals can register for the entire week or for daily classes.

For Saint Martin’s students, the institute fulfills the University’s general education requirement for religious studies. Since its founding, the Spiritual Life Institute has explored a wide range of topics designed to cultivate religious literacy, challenge preconceived notions and shed light upon the spiritual journey.

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Ian Werrett, Ph.D., who is director and lead instructor of the Institute, says the goal this year will be to use a wide range of literary and archaeological evidence to place Jesus in his appropriate historical context by focusing on his ethnic and religious status as a Jew.

“Few people have had as much of an influence on human civilization as Jesus Christ but the truth of the matter is, we know very little about the historical figure at the center of the Christian faith. Beyond the witness of the New Testament, there is precious little written about Jesus and the scant material that we do have tends to be overlaid with one theological agenda or another,” Werrett says.

Through the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 and other archeological discoveries in Israel, scholars have learned much more about that era, according to Werrett.

“By approaching the founder of the Christian faith through the lens of Ancient Judaism, we hope to provide participants with a more nuanced portrait of Jesus and the world he inhabited,” he says.

Werrett will be joined by two guest instructors:

  • Agnes Choi, Ph.D., assistant professor of New Testament, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma
  • Thomas Hatina, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies, Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C.

Several other internationally known scholars and writers will be joining the Institute discussions via Skype. These are:

  • Reza Aslan, Ph.D., author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” and a faculty member at University of California-Riverside
  • Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D., author of “The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus,” and a faculty member at Vanderbilt University
  • Richard Bauckham, Ph.D., author of “Christ Crucified: Monotheism & Christology in the New Testament,” and a professor emeritus at the University of St Andrews

The institute will end with a free public program from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Friday, June 27.

For more information or to register for this year’s Institute, please visit http://www.stmartin.edu/spiritual_life/.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Ian Werrett, Ph.D.
Associate professor of religious studies
360-438-4290; iwerrett@stmartin.edu

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager
360-412-6126; MDwyer@stmartin.edu