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Paula F. Fredriksen (born January 6, 1951, Kingston, Rhode Island) is an American historian and a scholar of religious studies. She held the position of William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University through 2010 and is now the William Goodwin Aurelio Chair Emerita of the Appreciation of Scripture. She served as historical consultant for the BBC production The Lives of Jesus (1996) and for U.S. News and World Report 's "The Life and Times of Jesus" and was featured speaker in the Frontline documentary From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians (1998).
Fredriksen is a scholar of the historical Jesus. While some historians interpret the historical Jesus as a nonapocalyptic ethical teacher, she sides with those who portray him as an apocalyptic preacher in the tradition of prophets before him and apostles after him.
In addition to the historical Jesus, Fredriksen is also interested in the social history of Christianity from its beginnings to the Fall of the Roman Empire. She has published two books on St. Augustine, both focused on his attitudes towards Jews and Judaism. In contrast to other historians of Christian anti-Semitism, she regards Augustine as having a more enlightened, indeed revolutionary, attitude towards Jews and Judaism than many of his other Christian contemporaries, notwithstanding Augustine's general reputation as a pillar of Catholic orthodoxy and his rhetoric against Jewish beliefs.
One of the editors of her book, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus was the noted Jesus scholar E.P. Sanders. Along with Geza Vermes, she is often regarded as among the most influential historical Jesus scholars in terms of placing him firmly within a Jewish context.
She has held that much of the scholarship regarding Jesus from the 19th and 20th centuries has blatant or subtle anti-Judaic (and/or anti-Semitic) bias, a theme explored in her book Jesus, Judaism, and Christian anti-Judaism: reading the New Testament after the Holocaust. From Jesus to Christ received the Governors' Award from Yale Press in 1988. For Emergence of Christianity (Knopf 1999), she won a National Jewish Book Award.
In 2013 Paula Fredriksen was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS).
Fredriksen is married to Alfred I. Tauber, professor of philosophy and Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University. Her ex-husband, Richard Landes, is professor of medieval history at Boston University. She is a convert from Roman Catholicism to Judaism and has three daughters.