Paula Fredriksen

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Paula F. Fredriksen (born January 6, 1951, Kingston, Rhode Island)[1] is an American historian and a scholar of religious studies. She held the position of William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University through 2010 and is now the William Goodwin Aurelio Chair Emerita of the Appreciation of Scripture.[2] She served as historical consultant for the BBC production The Lives of Jesus (1996) and for U.S. News and World Report 's "The Life and Times of Jesus" and was featured speaker in the Frontline documentary From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians (1998).



She earned a Ph.D in the history of religion from Princeton University and diploma in theology from Oxford University.


Fredriksen is a scholar of the historical Jesus. While some historians interpret the historical Jesus as a nonapocalyptic ethical teacher, she sides with those who portray him as an apocalyptic preacher in the tradition of prophets before him and apostles after him.[3]

In addition to the historical Jesus, Fredriksen is also interested in the social history of Christianity from its beginnings to the Fall of the Roman Empire. She has published two books on St. Augustine, both focused on his attitudes towards Jews and Judaism. In contrast to other historians of Christian anti-Semitism, she regards Augustine as having a more enlightened, indeed revolutionary, attitude towards Jews and Judaism than many of his other Christian contemporaries.[4]

One of the editors of her book From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus was the New Testament scholar E.P. Sanders. Along with Geza Vermes, she is often regarded as among the most influential scholars interested in replacing Jesus within a Jewish context.

She has held that much of the scholarship regarding Jesus from the 19th and 20th centuries has an anti-Judaic (and/or anti-Semitic) bias,[5] a theme explored in her book Jesus, Judaism, and Christian anti-Judaism: reading the New Testament after the Holocaust. Her book From Jesus to Christ, (Yale University Press, 1988) received its publisher's Governors' Award. Her book Emergence of Christianity (Knopf 1999) won a National Jewish Book Award.[6]

She was an outspoken critic of the film The Passion of the Christ, and edited a full-length book anthology of essays critiquing the film.[7][8]

In 2013 Paula Fredriksen was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS).[9]

Personal life[edit]

Fredriksen is married to Alfred I. Tauber, professor of philosophy and Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University. Her ex-husband, Richard Landes, is professor of medieval history at Boston University. She is a convert from Roman Catholicism to Judaism and has three daughters.[10]


  • Augustine on Romans, Chico: Scholars Press, 1982.
  • From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus (Yale Nota Bene), Yale University Press, 1988 (2nd edition, 2000).
  • Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity, Vintage Press, 2000.
  • Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament After the Holocaust, Adele Reinhartz, Westminster John Knox Press; 2002.
  • On The Passion of the Christ: Exploring the Issues Raised by the Controversial Movie, University of California Press, 2006.
  • Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism, Doubleday Religion, 2008.
  • Sin: The Early History of an Idea, Princeton University Press, 2012

External links[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Introduction to Fredriksen's book From Jesus to Christ.
  4. ^ Time Magazine coverage of Dr. Fredriksen
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Paula Fredrikson, Faculty biography
  7. ^ Fredrikson, Paula, "Controversial 'Passion' presents priceless opportunity for education - A toxic film delivers a dangerous, but teachable, moment", Chrtistian Science Monitor, Feb 2, 2004.
  8. ^ Paula Fredriksen, On ‘The Passion of the Christ’: Exploring the Issues Raised by the Controversial Movie, University of California Press, February 1, 2006.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Time Magazine, ibid.