Speakers Bureau

Dr. Burton L. Visotzky

Title: Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies
Department: Talmud and Rabbinics

Burton L. Visotzky is Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in rabbinic interpretation of scripture and rabbinic narrative, as well as Talmud. His articles and reviews have been published in America, Europe, and Israel. With Bill Moyers, Dr. Visotzky developed ten hours of television for PBS on the book of Genesis, serving as consultant and a featured on-screen participant. The series, Genesis: A Living Conversation, premiered in October 1996. Dr. Visotzky was also a consultant to Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks SKG for their 1998 film, Prince of Egypt.

Dr. Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar in residence throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel. Dr. Visotzky received his master's degree in education from Harvard University, and his MA, rabbinic ordination, PhD, and honorary DHL from The Jewish Theological Seminary.


1. Four Stories on Death: A Theodicy of Consolation (four lectures)

  1. Moses: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
  2. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Joshua: Survivor's Guilt
  3. Elisha ben Abuya: Reconciling a Difficult Life
  4. Meir's Sons: The Gift of Life

2. The Genesis of Ethics: Bible Study and Moral Development (four lectures)

  1. The Dysfunctional Family as Moral Exemplar
  2. Genesis Twelve: Moral Dilemma or National Leadership?
  3. Genesis 18:16-19:38: The Sins of Sodom Are Not What You Think
  4. Jacob Does Lunch: Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Isaac, Deception as a family value

3. Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text (four lectures)

  1. Scripture and Its Interpretation
  2. Word of God or Hand of Moses?
  3. Rabbis as Readers: the Continuing Revelation
  4. Isaac Unbound: Three Religions Read the Akedah

4. In Preparation For Passover (four lectures)

  1. Seder and Symposium: the Greco-Roman Background of the Haggadah
  2. Tidbits for Your Seder: Legends NOT in the Haggadah
  3. Haggadah Text Study: Why Is This Night Different?
  4. How to Have a Successful Seder

5. Sibling Rivalries: Judaism and Christianity in their Formative Years (four lectures)

  1. Name Calling and Mud Slinging in Late Antiquity
  2. Revelation and Interpretation in Church and Synagogue
  3. Conversions from Paganism among the good Ol' Boys
  4. Mortal Sins and Peccadilloes among Christians and Jews

6. The Road to Redemption: Ancient and Modern Readings of Exodus (four lectures)

  1. Moses On the Mountain Top: Reckoning a Life
  2. Stranger and Stranger in a Strange Land: Exile and Otherness in Jewish Identity
  3. You Will Return to This Mountain: From Kvetching to Covenantal Community: Group Text Study
  4. Exodus: The Conversation Continues: Group Study

7. Engaging the Other: Christianity and Islam in the 21st Century (four lectures)

  1. Cairo to Qatar: Recent Developments in Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue
  2. "And then I told the Pope . . . ." New Insights into Catholic-Jewish Relations (from my tenure as a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome)
  3. When Religions Teach Hate: Fundamentalism and Exclusivism among the Abrahamic Religions
  4. Isaac Unbound: Three Religions Read the Akedah

8. Miscellaneous Topics (four lectures)

  1. God's Body: How We Envision God
  2. Architecture of the Universe: Blueprints for Life
  3. Foundations of Rabbinic Literature: How the Mishnah Happened
  4. Midrash, the Mediterranean, and the Medieval World: the Setting to and Readings from Visotzky's novel, A Delightful Compendium of Consolation

Each of these series may be done as a three-lecture set. Certain lectures may be combined into one long (hour or more) lecture. Any individual lecture of the thirty-one listed above stands on its own.

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