Annual Makin Lecture in Jewish Studies at Liverpool Hope
Liverpool Hope University hosted the second annual Makin Lecture on Thursday 22nd March. Professor Philip Alexander FBA from the University of Manchester presented a lecture entitled The Messianic Idea in Judaism Revisited, in which he compared Jewish and Christian Messianic Ideas from an historical perspective.
Professor Alexander argued that at the heart of the disagreement about the Messiah between Jews and Christians was the issue of the definition of Messianism. This definition, at its core, focuses on the idea of God bringing redemption and the transition from this time to another, better world.
He conceded that there are divergent notions of Messiah in both Christian and Jewish interpretations, but argued that there are many mutual influences and commonalities in both religions that offer a basis for dialogue between the two on the topic.
His discussion of the different scenarios of redemption and of the theological positions held by Jews and Christians in relation to the Messianic idea concluded with a critique of the classical account provided by Gershom Scholem. Prof Alexander believes that Scholem’s summary that the Jewish idea of the Messiah is physical (in this world) while the Christian idea is spiritual is problematic, since it fails to take into account the complex and varied ideas found in both Judaism and Christianity.
Speaking after the lecture, Bernard Jackson, Hope's Professor of Law and Jewish Studies, commented: "Prof Alexander’s magisterial lecture has provided us with a map, which we can use as an analytical tool to consider Messianic Ideas. This will allow us to engage with the topic in an informed and profound way that will be mutually enriching for both religions.”
Professor Alexander began his academic career as a Classicist at Oxford then switched to the study of Hebrew and Semitic languages. He completed his doctorate at Oxford in 1974 and was appointed Lecturer at Manchester University in 1972, rising to Professor in 1991.
He was President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies from 1992-95 before returning to Manchester in 1995 to Chair in Jewish Studies. He founded the Manchester University Centre for Jewish Studies and was Co-Director with Professor Bernard Jackson.
In collaboration with his wife Professor Loveday Alexander, he is currently working on a collection of essays entitled The School of Moses and the School of Christ, which investigates the extent to which early Judaism and Christianity can be classified as ‘scholastic religions’.
The Annual Makin Lecture in Jewish Studies is made possible thanks to the generosity of Professor E. Rex Makin.
Speaking at the event Professor Makin said: “Professor Alexander’s lecture was very erudite and enjoyable. I am glad to see this annual lecture series established and it is wonderful to be at Hope. I have been very impressed by the beauty and spaciousness of the new buildings at the University.”