Religious luminaries attend talk by York CRC Steve Mason


Above: Steve Mason (standing), addressing audience at Cardinal Bea Center in Rome, and Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski (seated in front row on special throne)

Steve Mason, York Canada Research Chair in Cultural Identity & Interaction in the Greco-Roman World, who recently returned to the University after spending two years away on a Killam Research Fellowship, was in demand as a lecturer at meetings over the summer and into the fall. In fact, the topic of one of his talks attracted several religious luminaries.

Mason, York humanities professor, gave an evening public lecture in late September on “Judean-Roman War in the Context of its Roman Audience,” incorporating his research material about Flavius Josephus, priest, historian and Jerusalem aristocrat of the first century CE. The talk was in the Vatican-supported Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, and was sponsored by the university’s Cardinal Bea Center. The centre was set up to continue the work of Catholic-Jewish dialogue initiated by Vatican II in the 1960s.

It was this talk that drew such dignitaries as Professor Riccardo di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome; Oded ben-Hur, Israeli ambassador to the Holy See; Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Cardinal Bea’s successor in promoting Catholic-Christian dialogue; Joseph Sievers, director of the centre; Richard Mathes, rector of the German Pontifical Institute of S. Maria dell’ Anima in Rome; and Franco Imoda, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Left: Flavius Josephus

“Because Josephus was Jewish, but lived and wrote in Rome, and then was mainly read by Christians from the second century,” said Mason, “his account of the Judean-Roman war in the context of the book’s Roman audience – the topic of my talk – seemed a useful meeting point for modern Jews, Christians and Romans.”

In addition, Mason spoke in July about “Rediscovering Josephus” at the opening plenary lecture of the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, at Cambridge University, UK.

About Steve Mason

During the Killam Research Fellowship, Mason spent the bulk of the time in Oxford, UK, where he had a visiting fellowship at All Souls College from September 2002 to April 2003, and, before and after that, visiting scholar status at Wolfson College. His fellowship concluded with several months at Trinity College, Dublin, and a research trip in Greece and Italy.

Right, from left to right: Joseph Sievers, Richard Mathes, Obed ben-Hur, Franco Imoda, Riccardo di Segni, Steve Mason and Prof. Jonathan Price of Tel Aviv University

Mason has long been involved in research into the life of Flavius Josephus. For more than two decades, he has been immersed in 30 volumes of material written by Josephus, whose works he describes as the most important source for Judean history (after the Bible), for the origins of Christianity in the first century CE and for relations between Rome and its eastern provinces.

Mason is leading an international team in preparing the first full commentary on what this prolific author wrote, along with a new English translation from the Greek. For more information on Mason’s research project, visit the July 29, 2003 YFile.