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To Love the God Who Loves: Recovering the Biblical Commandment from Emotionalism and Eroticism

Dr. Jon D. Levenson
2020 Kistemaker Academic Lecture Series
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

On February 11 and 12, Dr. Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School, will deliver the 2020 Kistemaker Academic Lecture Series (KALS) at RTS Orlando.

One of the best known but least understood commandments in the Hebrew Bible is the commandment to love God. This set of four lectures will seek to place the commandment in its ancient Near Eastern context and to illuminate its complications and ramifications in the Hebrew Bible, with the aid of instructive examples from rabbinic tradition and human relations more generally. The goal will be to recover a concept that relates humankind’s love of God to God’s own love and that moves beyond simplistic dichotomies such as love versus law, affection versus action, and universalism versus particularism.

2020 Schedule

Tuesday, February 11

  • 11:00 am – Lecture 1: The Covenantal Love of God: What It Is and What It Isn’t
  • 1:00 pm – Lecture 2: Why Did God Fall in Love with the People Israel?

Wednesday, February 12

  • 11:00 am – Lecture 3: Self-Interest and Self-Sacrifice: Can’t We Just Replace the Fear of God with the Love of God?
  • Noon – 12:50 pm: Community Lunch in the Fellowship Hall
  • 1:00 pm – Lecture 4: The Marriage of God and Israel: Love beyond Eros

About the Lecturer:

Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, began teaching at Harvard in 1988, having previously taught at the University of Chicago and at Wellesley College.
His work concentrates on the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, including its reinterpretations in the “rewritten Bible” of Second Temple Judaism and rabbinic midrash. In addition, one of his courses deals with the use of medieval Jewish commentaries for purposes of modern biblical exegesis, and another focuses on central works of Jewish theology in the twentieth century.

Professor Levenson has a strong interest in the philosophical and theological issues involved in biblical studies, especially the relationship of premodern modes of interpretation to modern historical criticism. Much of his work centers on the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, both in antiquity and in modernity, and he has long been active in Jewish-Christian dialogue.

His book Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (Yale University Press, 2006) won a National Jewish Book Award and the Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award in the category of Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible published in 2005 or 2006. Choice, a publication of the American Library Association, listed Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Princeton University Press, 2012) as one of the Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013. His new book is The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism (Princeton University Press, 2015).

In all his work, Professor Levenson’s emphasis falls on the close reading of texts for purposes of literary and theological understanding.


Established in 2003 and named in memory of the Rev. Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker, longtime professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, these annual lectures offer scholarly insights on contemporary issues in biblical studies, systematic theology, and practical theology.


February 11, 2020
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
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Christina Mansfield


RTS Orlando – Classroom 1
1231 Reformation Dr
Oviedo, FL 32765 United States
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