Visiting Scholar Lecture Series

First Presbyterian Church invites scholars from local Universities and Seminaries to speak on a broad range of topics and issues typically in their specific areas of research or expertise. The series is designed to enhance the intellectual life and academic curiosity of attendees while providing a unique opportunity for the community to experience thought-provoking speakers and subjects.

If you are looking for information on past events, please scroll down.  

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Past Events


    Discover the truth about the most myth-understood woman of the New Testament. Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? An adulteress? The wife of Jesus? An ancient goddess?

    On Sunday April 15, Renowned artist and art historian Janet Brignola-Tava and Reverend Pam Pater-Ennis took us back through history using medieval art and stories to show us where Mary Magdalene’s story went terribly wrong.


    On April 23 at 12 p.m. the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford presented “Mary Magdalene: The Apostle to the Apostles,” a timely subject for the Easter Season. In our visiting lecturers series Dr. Marylin Kravatz-Toolan of Felician University, explored who Mary Magdalene was and her presence during Jesus' life and death and the possibilities of what this means for us today. Mary played a starring role in one of the most powerful and important scenes in the Gospels. When Jesus is crucified by the Romans all Gospel accounts tell us Mary Magdalene was there supporting him in his dying moment. She also discovers the empty tomb, and she's a witness to the resurrection.


    We welcomed Dr. Gary A. Rendsburg of Rutgers University for a fascinating afternoon lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Dr. Rendsburg is the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology. His secondary interests include post-biblical Judaism, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages.  Prof Rendsburg is the author of six books and about 170 articles; his most popular book is The Bible and the Ancient Near East, co-authored with the late Cyrus Gordon. In addition, he has produced two courses for the ‘Teaching Company – Great Courses’ program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. 

    Prof Rendsburg has visited all the major archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan; plus he has excavated at Tel Dor and Caesarea. He previously taught at Cornell University and Canisius College; and he has served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Colgate University, UCLA, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, and the Hebrew University. His current book project is entitled How the Bible Is Written, with particular attention to the use of language to create literature to be published by CDL Press in 2016.

    More information on Dr. Rendsburg is available here.

  • Women in Christianity Through the Ages

    We welcomed Fordham University Professor Jeannine Hill Fletcher for a lecture on Women in Christianity Through the Ages.

    Professor Hill Fletcher discussed how through every age of the Christian tradition women have experienced constraints placed upon them by Church and society. She further highlighted that, within these constraints, women have demonstrated a creativity that invites us to see the unique contributions they have made. The lecture was designed to uncover the creativity under constraint that characterizes women in the Christian tradition by reading together texts from the first Christians, medieval mystics and contemporary feminist theologians and activists.

    Professor Hill Fletcher attended Harvard Divinity School where she earned both her Master of Theological Studies (MTS) and her Doctor of Theology (ThD). She joined the Fordham faculty in 2001 and currently teaches courses that focus on Systematic Theology and issues of diversity. She also serves as the Faculty Director of the Service-Learning Program for undergraduates of Fordham College Rose Hill and Lincoln Center.

  • John and Archaeology

    We welcomed Dr. Carl Savage, Director of the Drew University Doctor of Ministry program, to speak on John and Archaeology: What digging at Bethsaida tells about the Gospel of John.  Dr. Savage is a registered professional archaeologist and serves as the Assistant Director of Excavations for the Bethsaida Excavations Project. His excavation experience also includes work at the Cave of Letters, Qumran, Nazareth and Yavne.  He has written numerous articles in the field of archaeology, has appeared in the Nova special Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land (2004) and in the Biblical Archaeological Society’s " Lecture Series Volume I: Just Dug Up: The Latest Finds from Biblical Israel and the Deep.

    Before the nineteenth century, the Gospel of John was considered an accurate description of Galilee and Jerusalem.  However, during the last 200 years or so, many scholars consider the Gospel’s geography a creation by an author who was ignorant of the first century Holy Land. Recent archaeological excavations now indicate that the Gospel of John is sometimes strikingly accurate. For example, the gospel writer knew the importance of stone vessels, describes large pools that have been unearthed, and perceives the importance of mikvaot near the Temple. This presentation examined some of the most recent evidence for the Gospel of John’s accuracy, particularly from the lecturer’s work at Bethsaida, in its portrayal of the time of Jesus.