William Adler, Distinguished University Professor of Religious Studies and currently a Fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, gave the prestigious Sternberg Lecture on the Study of Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on March 20.
Previous Sternberg lecturers have included the Swedish theologian Jesper Svartvik of Lund University and the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a towering intellectual figure in the Roman Catholic Church who was Archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2002 and a leading liberal candidate for the Papacy in the 2005 conclave.
The lecture series is supported by the Sternberg Fund, which was established through the generosity of Sir Sigmund and Lady Hazel Sternberg to encourage interreligious understanding through the promotion of a wide range of academic and social activities. The fund also supports the Sternberg Prizes for Interfaith Understanding, which are awarded on the occasion of the Sternberg Lecture.
Adler’s lecture, “Jesus’ Priesthood and the ‘Secret Codex’ in Tiberias,” was about a friendly exchange between a Jewish leader, Theodosius, and a Christian artisan, Philip, that is assumed to have taken place during the reign of the emperor Justinian I (527 to 565). In the course of the discussion, Theodosius reveals the existence of a secret codex that is stored in Tiberias and is said to prove conclusively Jesus’ divine sonship. In his lecture, Adler explored the origins and reception of the story and its importance for the study of early Christianity and Jewish-Christian relations in Byzantium.