The Parkes Lecture

The Parkes 23rd Lecture – Tuesday 30th April 2013

Steve Mason

       (Professor and Kirby Laing Chair in New Testament, University of Aberdeen)

 ‘Did Ancient Jews and Christians think they belonged to ‘Religions’? Why it matters what they thought’

When we look back at the earliest stages of Jewish-Christian relations, we tend to think of Judaism and Christianity as two religions in the Roman world. It is commonly said, for example, that Judaism was a ‘legal religion’ (religio licita) whereas Christianity was not. In this lecture Steve proposes that this is misleading, and throws new light on ancient understandings of what we think of as religious activity, identity, and ‘conversion’ (to Judaism or Christianity). Most importantly, he contends, we cannot understand either the relations of Judaeans with Rome and Judaea’s neighbours or the fraught relations of Christians, Jews, and Roman authorities unless we are willing to think in ancient rather than post-Enlightenment modern categories. 

Steve Mason

Steve completed both a BA and MA in Judaism and early Christianity at McMaster University (Canada) before moving to Toronto’s St. Michael’s College for his PhD. His larger projects reflect the interplay between interpreting the evidence itself (texts but also coins, inscriptions, and archaeological sites) and reconstructing the world in which it once lived. He is currently lead for an international project that is producing the first historical-literary commentary to Josephus’ thirty volumes with a new translation (Brill), whilst completing a historical inquiry into the Judaean-Roman War of 66 to 73/74 CE (Cambridge UP).

Reception: North Corridor: 5:30pm

Avenue Campus

Lecture Theatre A: 6:00pm

NB: Booking for this event is limited

The Parkes Institute: Telephone: 023 80592261 Email:

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