For the fifteenth edition of the Chair, UCSIA and the Institute of Jewish Studies have invited Professor David Lloyd Dusenbury (Danube Institute Budapest / Eötvös Loránd University) to give a public evening lecture and a seminar.
David Lloyd Dusenbury is a philosopher and historian of ideas. His most recent book is I Judge No One: A Political Life of Jesus, published by Hurst and by Oxford University Press. He obtained his doctorate in philosophy from KU Leuven and subsequently held a research fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at Budapest’s Danube Institute and visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University. He has lectured widely in Europe, and he writes for The Times Literary Supplement, La Lettura, and others.
Monday 20 February 2023 at 20h
Public evening lecture in Hof van Liere, F. de Tassiszaal, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp, followed by a reception.
The Strangeness of Jesus: Benedict de Spinoza and the Gospels
Prof. Dr. David Lloyd Dusenbury, with a response by Dennis Baert (UAntwerpen)
Friedrich Nietzsche once called Jesus a “strange figure” (fremde Gestalt). In this lecture, we will reflect on one aspect of this strangeness: Jesus cannot be understood without reference to the rabbinic culture of his day – he is frequently called rabbi in the four canonical gospels – and yet, he is remembered in the gospels (and in certain other first- and second-century texts) as a critic of first-century rabbinic culture. Which is it? (1) Is the Jesus of history a “great rabbi” (rabboni)? Already in the seventeenth century, one learned Venetian rabbi, Leon Modena, assimilated Jesus to first-century Pharisaic culture; and this tendency has reasserted itself in recent decades (see C. Facchini, “Jesus the Pharisee: Leon Modena, the Historical Jesus, and Renaissance Venice”, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 17, 1–2 (2019), 81–101). Or (2) is Jesus a sort of “heretic”? In more than one circle, this is the conventional view. Dusenbury will suggest that one of Modena’s younger contemporaries, Spinoza, can help us to make sense of Jesus’ strangeness in the gospels. For, according to Spinoza, Jesus is not only a rabbi but a prophetic figure. As such, Jesus is – like the prophets – both a bearer and a critic of Israel’s religious culture. And as such, he is – like Spinoza and other philosophers – a “strange figure”.
Friday 24 February 2023 from 13h to 16h
Public seminar in room R.231, Rodestraat 14, 2000 Antwerp.
The Politics of Jesus' Death: Jewish-Christian Notes on the Gospels' Passion Narratives
Prof. Dr. David Lloyd Dusenbury
In this seminar, David Dusenbury will take participants through a series of textual elements and hermeneutical reflections - many, but not all of which, feature in his new book I Judge No One. A Political Life of Jesus. They confirm, for Dusenbury - though not for many Jewish and Christian commentators - that the canonical Passion narratives are not, in themselves and originally, Judaeophobic, though they manifestly became that in certain church-traditions of the second century CE (and after).
Questions we will ask: What are we to make of the "killing-of-the-prophets" as a motif in the gospels? Of Judas' betrayal-money, and Pilate's hand-washing? Which member of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin is said, in one of the gospels, to have voted against the conviction of Jesus? Of what crimes was Jesus nevertheless convicted? By whom was he questioned, tried, and ultimately crucified (according to the canonical gospels)? And how credible is the drama of his death, in the gospel-collection, in broad outline?
Not only Dusenbury’s Jesus book, but its predecessor - on the Roman trial of Jesus - was written with the spectre of Christian anti-Semitism very much in mind. In this seminar, David Dusenbury will share some of his findings, try to justify his conclusions – and, of course, welcome questions and objections.
Free entrance. Registration is required: click here.
David Lloyd Dusenbury is a philosopher and historian of ideas. His most recent book is I Judge No One: A Political Life of Jesus, published by Hurst and by Oxford University Press. He obtained his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Leuven and subsequently held a research fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at Budapest’s Danube Institute and visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University. He has lectured widely in Europe, and he writes for The Times Literary Supplement, La Lettura, and others.
Dennis Baert is an affiliated researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Jewish Studies of the University of Antwerp. His research expertise is on political theology in modern and contemporary Jewish philosophy, especially within the context of interwar Central-Europe. He focuses on the thought of Franz Rosenzweig and his place within a broader current of Jewish post-imperial political theory. Most recently he published a chapter on Rosenzweigian epistemology and politics in The Marrano Way (De Gruyter). He has Master's degrees in both Law and Philosophy and studied at the Catholic University of Leuven, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and St. Edmunds College, University of Cambridge.