CSP Sunday Event
with Prof. Marc Michael Epstein, live from Poughkeepsie, NY
Honoring Peter Mesnik
Jesus in Jewish Art
The perpetual paradox of the fact that the founder of Christianity was himself a Jew never ceases to preoccupy both Jews and Christians - even Pope Francis, as we shall see! Given this fascination with the Jewishness of Jesus in the context of the Gospels, and the lived Jewish experience of first-century Roman occupied Palestine, it is no wonder that Jews, in creating art through the centuries, explored the relationship of this singularly important Jew with the rest of Jewish culture, religion and society. Images of Jesus in pre-modern art are rare, but when they occur, they are extremely interesting. Is Jesus portrayed as a Jew or as a Christian? As an enemy or a friend of Jews? Who are portrayed as his own enemies, given that traditionally, they were “the Jews”? Does he stand out or blend in? Is his singularity fetishized and emphasized or is he depicted as blending in with his surroundings? What theology is proposed or endorsed by depictions of a Jewish Jesus? Professor Marc Michael Epstein, Professor of Religion and Visual Culture on the Mattie M. Paschall (1899) & Norman Davis Chair and Director of Jewish Studies at Vassar College, will interpret rarely-glimpsed images of the Jewish Jesus against the backdrop of changes, developments and progress in Jewish-Christian relations from antiquity to the present.
Sponsor: Community Scholar Program (CSP)