Matthew Goff: “The Book of 2 Esdras: Jewish, Christian, Both, Neither”

March 21, 2024 Boston Free
Taken in studio with Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, ISO 100, f11, 1/60sec, 100mm Macro lens, on tripod, 580EX Flash and studio daylight strobes
(Photo: LisaIson/iStock)

As part of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning’s Jewish-Christian Lecture Series, professor Matthew Goff will present his lecture, “The Book of 2 Esdras: Jewish, Christian, Both, Neither” in professor Yonder Gillihan’s course, “Early Christianity in Its Jewish Context.”

Relatively unknown to most readers of scripture, most of 2 Esdras (also called 4 Ezra) is a Jewish apocalyptic text written around 100 CE, roughly the same time as the composition of the book of Revelation. 4 Ezra confronts the destruction of the temple by the Romans. Two major teachings of the book in response to this cataclysmic event are that the messiah will appear soon to overthrow the Roman Empire and that Ezra restored the Torah of Moses for Israel, re-establishing the covenant. The first response resonates with Christianity and the second with rabbinic Judaism. But neither existed when 4 Ezra was written in the forms they do now. 4 Ezra offers a crucial window into how Jews in the late first century CE reinvented their traditions in the crucible of national trauma. The book teaches that the diversity and creativity of their responses to losing the temple become harder for us to appreciate if we think about them only through the lens of what later became Christianity and rabbinic Judaism.

Matthew Goff has been a professor in the Department of Religion of Florida State University since 2005. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2002. His main areas of research are the Dead Sea scrolls and ancient Jewish apocalyptic literature. His most recent book is the forthcoming “The Apocrypha: A Guide” (Oxford), an introduction to the Apocrypha for a popular audience.

This event is co-sponsored by the Boston College Theology Department and the Jewish Studies Program.

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Fact Sheet
Thursday, March 21, 2024, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Boston College- Yawkey Centre
Boston, MA 02467

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