UCSIA/IJS Chair 2017-2018: Jews and Jesuits: Contacts Across the Ages

10th Anniversary Conference

February 1-2, 2018
University of Antwerp, Hof van Liere, Prentenkabinet
Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp

This conference, organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies of the University of Antwerp and the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp, is being held to mark the tenth anniversary of the Chair for Jewish-Christian Relations. The conference will focus on the interactions and mutual influences between the Society of Jesus and Jewish communities throughout history, including today.

The Chair for Jewish-Christian Relations was born of a concern that we owe it to each other to study each other’s traditions, especially so as to understand the contributions of Jewish-Christian exchanges to contemporary European culture. The chair aims to explore common themes in order to reinterpret events from a current perspective and understand them through a historical lens.

The Catholic Reformation, triggered to a large extent by the Jesuits, had significant impact on Jews and Judaism, especially in early modern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. The Jesuit university, particularly its commitment to humanistic learning, natural philosophy and science, served as a model for some Jews; so too did the spiritual discipline the Jesuits sought to impose on the laity. Jesuits also left their mark on the conversos and their search for religious meaning between Judaism and Christianity. Another realm of contact was the publication of books, specifically Christian Hebraica, and the role of censorship in early modern Europe.

What is the place of Judaism and Jews within Jesuit theology, and how did Jesuit thinking impact Jewish thought and society? How did the early Jesuits conceive of the Bible and post-biblical literature in their understanding of Christianity? Jesuits were deeply involved in the Christian mission to the non-Christian world. To what extent were Jews a focus (or, perhaps, a non-focus) of their missionizing, and why? Other questions concern Jesuits and the fight against anti-Semitism, their role in protecting Jews during the Holocaust, and their role in shaping Catholic attitudes towards Jews and others.

The conference invites scholars to reflect on this diverse and complex relationship in novel ways.

UCSIA/IJS Conference brochure


Thursday February 1, 2018

  • 14.00-14.15  Introduction by David Ruderman (Department of History, University of Pennsylvania)
  • 14.15-16.00  1. Intellectual Encounters between Jesuits and Jews
    Chair: Vivian Liska (Institute of Jewish Studies)

  • 14.15-15.00  Two Early Modern Flemish Jesuits and Their Encounters with Jews Past and Present
    Theodor Dunkelgrün (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge)
  • 15.00-15.45  Robert Bellarmine: A Critical Advocate of the Rabbinic Bible
    Piet van Boxel (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford)
  • 15.45-16.00  Q&A
  • 16.00-16.15 Coffee break
  • 16.15-18.00  2. Mutual Influences in the Formation of Identity and Authority
    Chair: Vivian Liska (Institute of Jewish Studies)

  • 16.15-17.00  In Search of (Epistemic) Authority: The Amsterdam New Jews and the Jesuit Heritage
    Irene Zwiep (Institute of Culture and History, University of Amsterdam)
  • 17.00-17.45  Jesuits and the Formation of Jewish Identity in Early Modern Italy
    David Ruderman (Department of History, University of Pennsylvania)
  • 17.45-18.00  Q&A
  • 20.00-22.00  3. The History of the Exchange between Jesuits and Jews

  • 20.00-20.15  Welcome words by Luc Braeckmans (UCSIA) and Vivian Liska (Institute of Jewish Studies)
  • 20.15-20.30  Is There a Judeo-Christian Tradition? A European Perspective
    Book Presentation by editor Emmanuel Nathan (Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University)
  • 20.30-21.15  Jesuits and Jews: A Tragic Couple
    Keynote lecture by Robert A. Maryks (Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Boston College)
  • 21.15-21.30  Discussion
  • 21.30-22.00  Reception

Friday February 2, 2018

  • 09.30-11.15  4. Conversos and Jesuits
    Chair: Dominiek Lootens (UCSIA)

  • 09.30-10.15  Father António Vieira S.J. on Conversion and Judeo-Gentile Interactions
    Claude (Dov) B. Stuczynski (Department of General History, Bar-Ilan University)
  • 10.15-11.00  The Real Turning Point: Antonio Possevino (1533-1611), New Christians and Jews
    Emanuele Colombo (Catholic Studies Faculty, DePaul University, Chicago)
  • 11.00-11.15  Q&A
  • 11.15-11.30  Coffee break
  • 11.30-13.00  5. Jewish-Jesuit Relations Today
    Chair: Luc Braeckmans (UCSIA)

  • 11.30-12.15  Dutch Jesuits with Jewish Roots in the 20th Century
    Paul Begheyn S.J. (Netherlands Institute of Jesuit Studies, Amsterdam)
  • 12.15-13.00  Q&A and closing discussion on Jewish-Jesuit relations today with Robert Maryks, Paul Begheyn S.J., Theodor Dunkelgrün, Dominiek Lootens and Vivian Liska


To register for this conference, click here.