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2020 Winter Shapiro Lecture

The Holy Family? The Theology of Family Life in Medieval Judaism and Christianity

The family that prays together, the famous adage goes, stays together. But for medieval Jewish and Christian theologians, it was far from obvious that family was a religiously meaningful category. Religious leaders in each community fiercely debated whether bonds between husbands and wives, or even parents and children, were strictly human constructs, conventional means of structuring the social order, or whether they were reflections of underlying, preexisting, enduring spiritual realities. This lecture explores the overlapping ways in which medieval Christians and Jews grappled with these questions, and traces the lasting effects that these abstract theological debates had upon concrete, lived religious experience.