History and Purpose

The Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University provides students a biblical perspective of the Jewish mission so they may make a biblical response to the Jewish people and the modern state of Israel.

History of the Center for Judaic Studies
The Need for the Center for Judaic Studies
The Biblical Perspective of the Center
The Plan for the Center
Cooperative Programs with the Friends of Israel
Center for Judaic Studies Research Library
The Speaker's Bureau Program
Liberty Biblical Museum


 

History of the Center for Judaic Studies

Center for Judaic StudiesLiberty University’s late founder and chancellor Dr. Jerry Falwell had a vision for a school that would promote the recognition that Israel and the Jewish people are part of God’s global will. As a Christian Zionist, Dr. Falwell was both lauded by the Jewish community for his unqualified support for the Jewish state and feared for his uncompromising evangelical commitment (which they rightly interpreted as calling for Jewish conversion to Christ).

In May 2008, President Jerry Falwell, Jr., made the decision to move forward in implementing his father’s vision. Dr. Randall Price became the Executive Director for the new Center for Judaic Studies and moved to Lynchburg to establish the Center that fall. The official dedication of the Center took place in November with President and Mrs. Jerry Falwell, Jr., Provost Dr. Boyd Rist, Liberty co-Founder Dr. Elmer Towns, Dr. Harold Willmington, Dr. Edward Hindson, Dr. Thomas Ice, and Dr. and Mrs. Randall Price.

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The Need for the Center for Judaic Studies

The need for the Center for Judaic Studies is both biblical and practical. Biblically, the divine program revealed in scripture is centered on Israel and the importance of the Jewish mission (the choice of one people to bless the rest of mankind). The proclamation of the Gospel to the Jewish people is bound up in the very nature of the gospel itself: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

Despite this ethnic priority, the Church historically has reinterpreted this program in light of the Gentile mission and generally ignored the distinctive role of the Jewish people. Moreover, most graduate programs in denominational colleges and seminaries have adopted a similar attitude.

Practically, it is imperative for the Christian to address the issues of the day from an informed biblical perspective. Such a perspective must necessarily embrace an understanding of the historical and religious issues relating to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel that lies at the center of the conflict.

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The Messiah Temple

 

The Biblical Perspective of the Center

The theological perspective of the Center for Judaic Studies conforms to and upholds the Liberty University statement of faith. It also upholds the biblical teaching that the Abrahamic Covenant with the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3) has continuing validity, while understanding that both Jew and Gentile share in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant made with Israel (Jeremiah 31:31) and inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah (Hebrews 9:15).

It further holds and promotes a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture that is both dispensational and premillennial. Its faculty will believe and teach that a personal relationship with God is possible only through faith in the atonement provided by Jesus the Messiah (Acts 4:12).

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The Plan for the Center

The Center for Judaic Studies will seek to accomplish its purpose through a three-fold plan. This plan involves:

  1. Developing an academic program that offers graduate degrees in Jewish Studies and Biblical Archaeology
  2. Maintaining an active program of seminal research leading to publication in the field of Judaic studies
  3. Establishing a speaker’s bureau to bring significant figures in the field to inform and educate Liberty faculty and students concerning issues of importance to understanding the Jewish people and supporting the State of Israel.

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Cooperative Programs with the Friends of Israel

Israel FlagIn December of 2009 Dr. Price met with two leaders of the Friends of Israel, Mr. Steve Herzig, (North American Director) and James Showers (Vice President) to discuss cooperation between the Center and their international organization. For two decades the Friends of Israel has maintained The Institute for Jewish Studies through the Philadelphia Biblical University (PBU) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 2009 the Institute for Jewish Studies separated from PBU and became an online distance learning degree program. Offering an undergraduate degree in Jewish studies, the Friends of Israel believe that the Center’s programs are ideal for their students interested in pursuing graduate study. The Friends of Israel also have a well-organized study abroad training program in Israel, called Origins, that may also serve our Center’s students in fulfilling our degree program’s core course of General Studies in Israel. This would be especially practical for our students who intend to apply their degree to work in Jewish missions.

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Center for Judaic Studies Research Library

Judaic Studies LibraryTo serve the specialized needs of students and researchers in the fields of Jewish studies and biblical archaeology a dedicated library of primary, secondary, and periodical sources is now located within the Center for Judaic Studies. Dr. Price transferred 20,000 volumes to Lynchburg, 10,000 of which are housed in the Center in three rooms: a reference room for Judaic studies, a research room for biblical archaeology, and a rare book room (volumes from the 19th century and earlier). These volumes are made available to students on an in-house, non-circulating basis. Included in this library is a digital collection of technical reference works in Hebrew and Greek, Old and New Testament background and commentary, Jewish literature, a digital library of periodicals in theology and archaeology, and a digitalized collection of archaeological photographs.

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The Speaker’s Bureau Program

In order to facilitate the necessary biblical instruction concerning Israel and the Jewish people and to allow the Christian community at Liberty to engage in interaction with Jewish viewpoints, the Center will host several lectureships each year. The design of these lectureships is to invite prominent Jewish and Christian leaders in all fields to address the faculty and student population. The intention is to particularly include governmental leaders from Israel as well as political leaders in the U.S. who can discuss foreign policy affecting the State of Israel as well as rabbis and Jewish-Christian scholars who can help Christians understand the theological differences that separate Jews and Christians and promote healthy dialogue between these viewpoints.

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Liberty Biblical Museum

Biblical MuseumIn concert with the archaeological program and the academic program of the Center for Judaic Studies, the establishment of the Liberty Biblical Museum will revitalize the interaction between the Bible and archaeology as well as provide an evidential context for the spiritual truths communicated during the respective educational programs. The purpose of the Liberty Biblical Museum will be to preserve the past containing the biblical heritage common to the Jewish people and Christianity. With the removal of the teaching of the Bible and even literary biblical references from public education, each generation that is a product of this institution has become increasingly biblically illiterate. This has resulted in the common culture being ignorant of the contributions and importance of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel to the foundations of western civilization. The permanent collection and display of antiquities with state-of-the art technology, as well as temporary exhibits on loan from other museums, will bring Liberty students, the local community and visitors from the general population into personal contact with the historical reality of the Bible and the biblical world with the purpose of positively influencing their views toward the Bible, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The museum will also serve to enhance the educational experience of various courses offered in the Center for Judaic Studies.

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