Founder Director, Woolf Institute
Dr Edward Kessler MBE is an authority on the relationship between religion and society. He is Founder Director of the Woolf Institute, a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge and a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. In 2007, Dr Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement as 'probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia' and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.
Much of his work has been examining Scripture and exploring the significance for Jewish-Christian relations of sharing a sacred text. He has identified a common exegetical tradition, especially in the formative centuries. More recently his writings have focussed on the encounter with Islam and contemporary relations between the three Abrahamic faiths. Kessler proposes approaches for managing difference, which he argues is vital in forming a positive identity as well as sustaining communities.
Kessler is also Vice-Chair of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss. The Commission, which reported in 2015, considered the place and role of religion in contemporary Britain. Dr Kessler sits on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Advisory group on Freedom of Religion and Belief and regularly teaches FCO staff on how and why religion can fundamentally affect policy.
He is a prolific author, having written or edited nine books and dozens of articles. Dr Kessler's most recent book is entitled Jews, Christians and Muslims (SCM, 2013) and a new book on Jesus is due to be published in 2016. Other publications include Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians and the Sacrifice of Isaac (Cambridge University Press, 2004) which was called a 'landmark in Jewish-Christian Relations' by the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2005) which Lord Williams, Master of Magdelene College and former Archbishop of Canterbury, has called 'an invaluable guide to Jewish-Christian Relations'. In 2006, What do Jews Believe? was published by Granta Publications and has been translated into 6 languages. In 2010, Cambridge University Press published An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations.