Woolf Institute people
Dr Edward Kessler MBE
Founder Director, Woolf Institute
Fellow, St Edmund's College
Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge
+44 (0) 1223 741 834
Dr Edward Kessler MBE is an authority on the relationship between religion and society. He is Founder Director of the Woolf Institute, a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge and a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. In 2007, Dr Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement as 'probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia' and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.
Much of his work has been examining Scripture and exploring the significance for Jewish-Christian relations of sharing a sacred text. He has identified a common exegetical tradition, especially in the formative centuries. More recently his writings have focussed on the encounter with Islam and contemporary relations between the three Abrahamic faiths. Kessler proposes approaches for managing difference, which he argues is vital in forming a positive identity as well as sustaining communities.
Kessler is also Vice-Chair of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss. The Commission, which will issue its report in the summer 2015, considers the place and role of religion in contemporary Britain. Dr Kessler sits on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Advisory group on Freedom of Religion and Belief and regularly teaches FCO staff on how and why religion can fundamentally affect policy.
He is a prolific author, having written or edited nine books and dozens of articles. Dr Kessler's most recent book is entitled Jews, Christians and Muslims (SCM, 2013) and a new book on Jesus is due to be published in 2016. Other publications include Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians and the Sacrifice of Isaac (Cambridge University Press, 2004) which was called a 'landmark in Jewish-Christian Relations' by the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2005) which Lord Williams, Master of Magdelene College and former Archbishop of Canterbury, has called 'an invaluable guide to Jewish-Christian Relations'. In 2006, What do Jews Believe? was published by Granta Publications and has been translated into 6 languages. In 2010, Cambridge University Press published An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations.
Books and Edited Volumes
2016 Jesus, Stroud: The History Press (under preparation)
2013 Jews, Christians and Muslims, London: SCM
2010 Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2006 Challenges in Jewish-Christian Relations, eds., J. Aitken & E. Kessler, New York: Paulist Press
2006 What do Jews Believe? London and New York: Granta Publications
2005 A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, eds., E. Kessler & N. Wenborn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2004 A Reader of Liberal Judaism: Israel Abrahams, Claude Montefiore, Israel Mattuck and Lily Montagu, London: Vallentine Mitchell
2004 Aspects of Liberal Judaism: Essays in Honour of John D Rayner on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday, eds., E. Kessler and D.J. Goldberg, London: Vallentine Mitchell
2004 Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians and the Sacrifice of Isaac, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2004 Themes in Jewish-Christian Relations, eds., E. Kessler & M.J. Wright, Cambridge: Orchard Academic
2002 Jews and Christians in Conversation: Crossing Cultures and Generations, eds., E. Kessler, J.T. Pawlikowski & J. Banki, Cambridge: Orchard Academic
1989 An English Jew: The Life and Writings of Claude Montefiore, London: Vallentine Mitchell (2nd Edition, 2002)
Selection of recent articles
2016 "A Muslim and Jewish Perspective on Dialogue between Islam and Judaism" (with Akbar Ahmed), Handbook of Muslim-Jewish Relations, Routledge, Edited by J Meri (forthcoming)
2016, "And Finally…" The Expository Times,127: 312
2015 "Reading the Bible after Auschwitz", Crucible: The Journal of Christian Social Ethics [Special edition: The Holocaust 70 Years On: Jewish and Christian Reflections], pp 34-45.
2013 "Judaism and the Religious Other", Understanding Interreligious Relations, eds., David Cheetham, Douglas Pratt, and David Thomas, OUP, pp 64-87
2013 "'I am Joseph your brother': A Jewish Perspective on Christian-Jewish Relations since Nostra Aetate No. 4'' Theological Studies 74, No 1, pp 48-72. [Reprinted: 2015 50 Years On: Probing the Riches of Vatican II, ed., David G. Schultenover, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, pp 207-233.]
2013 "Muslims and Jews in the West Today: Minority Transformations" Welcome to the Cavalcade: A Festschrift in Honour of Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, pp 276-285.
2013 ''Social Media and the Movement of Ideas'' European Judaism 46, No 1, pp 25-36.
2012 "A Jewish response to Gavin D'Costa" Theological Studies: 73, No 3, pp 614-629.
2011 “Rethinking the Christian-Jewish Relationship: Some Reflections from a Jewish Theologian” Pastoral Review 7:4, pp 16-23.
2011 "Jewish-Muslim Dialogue in Light of Jewish-Christian Relations", Theology Vol 114, No 1, pp 23-31.
2011 "Mary the Jewish Mother", Irish Theological Quarterly Vol 76, pp 211-223. [Re-printed, Russian translation: 2014 in The Journal of St Andrew's Biblical Theological Institute 18:2, pp 235-249.]
2010 "Jewish Religious Tradition", A Guide to Religious Thought and Practices, ed., Santanu K. Patro, London: SPCK, pp 90-116.
2010 “Changing Landscapes: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations Today”, Melilah, Vol 3, pp 1-23.
2010 "Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations in light of the Saudi Initiative for Dialogue", Interfaith Dialogue: Cross-cultural Views ed., Mohammed Al Bashir, Riyadh: Ghainaa Publications, pp 74-85.
2008 "Jewish Diaspora and the Spreading of Christianity", Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, ed., A. Ehrlich, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC Clio, Vol 3, pp 126-131.
2006 "Judaism", Blackwell Companion to The Bible and Culture, ed., John F. A. Sawyer, Oxford: Blackwell, pp 119-134.
2005 "Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians and the Binding of Isaac", Two Faiths, One Covenant? Jewish and Christian Identity in the Presence of the Other, eds., E.B. Korn and J.T. Pawlikowski, Lanham, MD: Sheed and Ward, pp 11-28.
2004 "Jewish Scholarly Studies of Jesus", "Jesus from a Jewish Perspective", articles in Jesus in History, Culture and Thought: An Encyclopedia, ed., L. Houlden, Oxford: ABC-Clio, pp 479-87.
2004 "A Jewish Approach to Dialogue with Christians and Muslims", Priests and People, Vol 18:1, pp 13-18.
2004 "Perceptions of the Other – Lessons from Jewish-Christian Dialogue", Racism and Human Rights, ed., R. Walden, Leiden: Martinus Nijhof, pp 85-100.
2003 "Jews, Christians and the New Antisemitism", The New Antisemitism?, eds., P. Ignawski and B. Kosmin, London: Profile Books/Institute for Jewish Policy Research, pp 213-222.
2003 "The Jewish People and its Holy Scripture in the Christian Bible", Scripture Bulletin, Vol 33:1, pp 29-45.
2003 "Jewish Scholarly Studies of Jesus", "Jesus from a Jewish Perspective", articles in Jesus in History, Culture and Thought: An Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC Clio, ed., L. Holden.
Major Public Lectures
2015 650th anniversary lecture and 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate: A Jewish Response to Nostra Aetate 50 years on: Reflections of a European Jewish Theologian (University of Vienna)
2014 Religion and International Relations: Towards a Post-interfaith Society (Brookings Institute, Washington, D.C.)
2013 The Abrahamic Religions: The Prospects for Their Inter-relations (University of Edinburgh)
2012 Changing Landscapes: Jews, Christians and Muslims in the UK Today (University of Derby)
2011 The Bible and Other Faiths (Ely Cathedral Kings James Bible Lectures)
2010 Faith and the City Lecture (University of Bradford)
2008 The Kennedy Lecture (Charlotte, North Carolina)
2005 The Bishop Grossteste Lecture (Lincoln Cathedral)
2004 The Martin Buber Lecture (University of East Anglia, Norwich)
2003 The Shapiro Lecture (Chicago)
2000 30th Cardinal Bea Memorial Lecture (London)
1998 1st Hugo Gryn Memorial Lecture (London)