Preface to the Website Edition
As a former student of the late Dr. Lee A. Belford, I am privileged to include his Introduction to Judaism on this website. The National Council of Young Mens Christian Associations of the United States of America (formerly the National Board), which remains the copyright owner, has granted permission to load the book in its entirety.
Dr. Belford was born in Savannah, Georgia, on October 14, 1913, and died in Mississippi in 1988, shortly after the celebration of his 50th anniversary as a priest in the Episcopal Church. He was married to Cora Louise McGee in 1939, and they had two children. His hobbies were boating and carpentry.
Dr. Belford graduated from the University of the South with a B.A. degree (1935) and a B.D. (1938); in 1978 the University awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. He received an S.T.M. degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York (1947) and a Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University (1953). His doctoral dissertation advisors in the joint Union-Columbia program included Union Theological Seminary Professors David L. Roberts, John C. Bennett, and Cyril C. Richardson and Columbias Professors Horace L. Friess and Marguerite Block; James A. Pike, Dean of the nearby Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and a lawyer, was also a resource for this study of canon law.
From 1938 to 1943 Dr. Belford served parishes in Georgia and from 1943 to 1946 was a chaplain in the Navy; he saw overseas duty with the Fifth Marine Division. From 1949 to 1979 (when he retired) he was on the faculty of New York University and was also associated with the Church of the Epiphany, Manhattan, from 1948 to 1980. He was chairman of N.Y.U.s Department of Religious Education from 1954 to 1974, laying the groundwork for an evaluation of its doctoral program by external consultants as among the finest of (its) kind in the country. (reported in a New York University quarterly)
On the occasion of his retirement New York University, The Episcopal Diocese of New York and the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith honored Professor Belford with a conference The Future of Jewish-Christian Relations. During his years at N.Y.U. he had been active in causes related to social justice, including the civil rights movement and Jewish-Christian Relations chairing for many years the diocesan Committee on Jewish Relations. Also, he served as chairman of the family life section of the New York Protestant Council. His 1974 signature among those on A Plea for Beneficent Euthanasia (available on the Internet) indicates his broad social justice commitments.
The Christian and His Jewish Neighbor, a booklet by Dr. Belford, was published by the National Council of the Episcopal Church in 1960. Introduction to Judaism was published in 1961 with a British edition appearing four years later. Its German translation Einfuehrung In Das Judentum was published in 1967. He edited Religious Dimensions in Literature (1982) and contributed the essay Observations on History to Sidney Hooks Philosophy and History: A Symposium (1963) and the article Hinduism to The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Education (1963). His Interreligious Acceptance was included in the United Synagogue Review in 1972. Other articles and book reviews appeared in The Churchman, The Witness, American Judaism. The Review of Religion, and other periodicals. He was editor of The Church in Georgia from 1940 to 1943. In 1982 The Future of Jewish-Christian Relations (edited by Dr. Norma H. Thompson and Rabbi Bruce K. Cole) was dedicated to Dr. Belford. The Belford Lecture on topics in Christian-Jewish relations was established at The University of the South in 1988. The inaugural Belford lecture was delivered in 1991 by the late Dr. Paul M. van Buren (available at http://www.jcrelations.com/artic11/vburen3.htm).
Dr. Belford was always the Southern gentleman, utterly unpretentious, a true scholar-teacher-pastor-mentor. With gratitude to him I am more than pleased to provide his Introduction to Judaism as an Internet resource.
Richard T. Nolan
West Palm Beach
July, 2000 C.E.