Reading the Bible

January 21, 2016 (Thursday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Kislak Center, Van Pelt Library (6th floor), 3420 Walnut St.

Reading the Bible

Jewish and Christian Interpretations of the First Verse of Genesis

David Ruderman

Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History
University of Pennsylvania

Peter Stallybrass

Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English
University of Pennsylvania

Two experts on the history of the bible discuss some of the startlingly different ways in which the opening chapter of Genesis has been understood, as well as the sometimes contradictory uses to which its verses have been put by ancients vs. moderns, Jews vs. Christians, and historians vs. literary scholars.

David B. Ruderman is Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Pennsylvania and was for 20 years until 2014 the Ella Darivoff Director of Penn's Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. He was educated at the City College of New York, the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Columbia University. He received his rabbinical degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and his Ph.D. in Jewish History from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Before joining Penn's faculty, he taught at Yale University and the University of Maryland.

A prolific author, Professor Ruderman's works include Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe (first published in 1995, revised in 2001, and published in Russian translation in 2013). His book Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought in 2001 won the Koret Book Award and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in History. Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History won the National Jewish Book Award in History in 2010, and has since been published in Turkish.

Professor Ruderman is president of the American Academy for Jewish Research and is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Peter Stallybrass is Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English and of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been Director of the History of Material Texts since 1993. He is also a member of the American Philosophical Society and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary College, University of London. Before joining Penn in 1988, Peter taught in England at the University of Sussex. He has also taught at the University of London, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and the Collège de France. Among his awards are the Andrew Lang Gold Medal from the University of St. Andrew's, the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Languages Association, and four teaching awards from Penn. He has been the Samuel Wannamaker Fellow at London's Globe Theatre and the Moses Aaron Dropsie Fellow at Philadelphia's Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

His books include The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (1986) with Allon White, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory (2000) with Ann Rosalind Jones, and Benjamin Franklin, Writer and Printer (2006) with Jim Green. He has also collaborated with Jim Green in curating exhibitions on "Material Texts" and on Benjamin Franklin at the Library Company of Philadelphia as well as the Grolier Club in New York, and with Heather Wolfe on "Technologies of Writing in the Renaissance" at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Peter's A. S. W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography on Printing for Manuscript will be published next year by the University of Pennsylvania Press. He is also currently working with Roger Chartier on a history of the book from wax tablets to e-books.