David Novak

The Gifford Lectures

2024 Lecture Series

February - March 2024

David Novak

In this series of six lectures entitled "Athens and Jerusalem: God, Humans, and Nature", Professor David Novak (University of Toronto) explores the dynamic interrelation of reason and revelation in the history of Jewish (primarily) and Christian (secondarily) theology and Western philosophy from antiquity. Contrary to the prevalent opinion that theology (designated as “Jerusalem”) is based upon revelation while philosophy (designated as “Athens”) is based upon reason, these lectures contend that both Hebraic theology and Hellenic philosophy alike arise from revelations. These revelations constitute comprehensive ways of life, and theologians and philosophers have reasoned upon and about them respectively.

The opening three lectures explore the complex of fundamental relations between God, humanity and nature that frame the dynamic encounter between philosophy and theology. The subsequent lectures then examine three specific, exemplary encounters: Philo’s engagement with Plato, Maimonides’ engagement with Aristotle, and contemporary Jewish engagement with Kant. In each case Novak allows us to see how Jewish theological reasoning takes up the challenge of philosophy in a way that is neither obsequious nor imperialist.

The lectures took place on April 25th and 27th, May 2nd, 4th, 9th and 11th, 2017. 

Recordings of the lectures are available to view here: