32nd Annual Spiritual Life Institute at Saint Martin’s will explore the Jewish world of Jesus of Nazareth
May 27, 2014
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
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
For additional information:
Ian Werrett, Ph.D.
Associate professor of religious studies
Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager