The Department of Near Eastern Studies presented a Mendenhall Symposium at the University of Michigan - Law, Society, and Religion on October 6, 2016 at 7:00pm. Professor Bart Ehrman was the Keynote speaker, with the subject title: Jesus, the Law, and a "New" Covenant. The symposium took place at the Rackham Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Mendenhall Symposium and Keynote Lecture are made possible by the George E. Mendenhall Fund.
Jesus of Nazareth was a Torah-observant Jewish teacher whose followers, after his death, came to adopt a variety of attitudes toward the Law of Moses. Some of them insisted on strict observance; others argued that only parts of the Law needed to be observed; and yet others claimed that Law had never been part of God’s plan. These early Christian groups did, however, agree on one point: Jesus’ own words were to form the basis for his followers’ ethical and communal lives. This lecture will examine how the Christian faith moved from embracing the “old” covenant focused on Torah to adopting a “new” covenant centered on the life, death, and teachings of Jesus.