Conference at Calvin to Examine
Jewish/Christian Interpretation of Bible

Posted November 5, 2001

HOLLAND -- A conference at Calvin College in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 6, that will examine Jewish and Christian interpretation of the Bible is being sponsored by several area organizations, including Hope College.

The conference, "Jews and Christians Reading the Bible, 100-1500," will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Calvin's Meeter Center Lecture Hall, located at 3201 Burton Street in Grand Rapids. Admission is free, although there will be a $10 fee for lunch.

Following coffee and on-site registration beginning at 10 a.m., the conference will feature the keynote address "Can Jews and Christians Ever Agree on What the Bible Means?" at 10:30 a.m. by Professor James L. Kugel of Harvard University and Bar Ilan University in Israel.

Kugel is Starr Professor of Classical, Modern Jewish and Hebrew Literature at Harvard University, and professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of biblical interpretation, including a widely acclaimed study on the history of the interpretation of the Torah in Antiquity, "The Bible as It Was" (Harvard UP, 1997).

According to Kugel in "The Bible as It Was," "even before the Bible had attained its final form, its stories, songs, and prophecies had begun to be interpreted. It was this interpreted Bible that came to stand at the very center of Judaism and Christianity. Of course, Judaism and Christianity themselves differed on a great many questions. Nevertheless, both religions had begun with basically the same interpreted Bible."

Lunch will follow the keynote address. The conference will continue with a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. and parallel sessions beginning at 3:30 p.m.

In addition to participating in the conference, Kugel will deliver a public lecture, "Adam and Eve: Whose Fault Was It?," on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is hosted by Grand Valley State University and will take place at the university's Eberhard Center, located at 401 West Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids. Admission is free.

The December 6 activity is the first of a series of conferences and public lectures presented by a newly formed consortium of West Michigan organizations including Calvin College, Calvin Seminary, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Western Theological Seminary and the West Shore Committee for Jewish/Christian Dialogue. The objective is to provide programming for West Michigan academics, students and the general public that leads to greater interfaith understanding and mutual acceptance, an extension of the mission of the West Shore Committee for Jewish/Christian Dialogue.

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