Hope College and Western Theological Seminary will host the one-day conference "Before the Divide: Jews and Christians in the Early Centuries" on Thursday, Oct. 31.

All sessions will be held on the Hope campus, beginning with on-site registration at 9:30 a.m. in the theatre lobby of the DeWitt Center.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Paula Fredriksen, professor of New Testament at Boston University, who will discuss "Augustine and the Jews" at 10:30 a.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre. Subsequent events include a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium; the presentation of papers in two parallel sessions at 3:30 p.m. in the Maas Center; and a second keynote address by Fredriksen, who will present "Funny, They Don't Look Jewish: Gentiles and Jews in the Ancient Synagogue" at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

There will also be a conference lunch in the Maas Center.

The public is invited. Admission is free to the keynote addresses, the panel discussion and the parallel sessions. The cost for the conference lunch is $10, with advance reservations requested.

According to Fredriksen, Augustine's vision of the Jews as a living witness to Christian truth was both original and, compared with his attitude toward pagans and non-Catholic Christians, uncharacteristically tolerant. Unlike the other two groups, contemporary Jews, Augustine argued, had a continuing positive role to play in the story of redemption.

Fredriksen is the author of numerous books and articles, including "From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus," awarded the Yale University Press Governors' Award for Best Book; and "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity," winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Her latest book, "Augustine and the Jews," is forthcoming.

She is a graduate of Wellesley College. She earned a Diploma in theology from Oxford University, and her doctorate from Princeton University. Prior to joining the Boston University faculty, she taught at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pittsburgh. She has also been a visiting professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In addition to Hope and Western Theological Seminary, the conference's co-sponsors are Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Valley State University and the West Shore Committee for Jewish/Christian Dialogue.

Additional information may be obtained, and reservations for the conference may be made, either at jewishchristiandialogue.org or through Dr. Barry Bandstra of the Hope religion faculty. He may be called at (616) 957- 6535; faxed at (616) 957-8551; e-mailed at: bandstra@hope.edu; and written at: Barry Bandstra, Religion Department, Hope College, 126 E. 10th St., Holland, MI 49423. Those registering for the lunch are asked to send him $10 along with their name, address, telephone and e- mail.