Does it really matter who Jesus was? Does it make any difference whether he existed or not? Even if we think it might matter and might make a difference, is it possible after two thousand years to recover something, anything, of the authentic historical Jesus?
Who on earth was Jesus? Twenty five years ago a number of Scholars gathered in Berkeley, California at The Graduate Theological Union, responding to the invitation of Robert Funk to begin a new quest for the historical Jesus.
This was the founding of the Westar Institute, the home of The Jesus Seminar. The Seminar is dedicated to critical historical scholarship and religious literacy. Why is critical historical scholarship in regard to Jesus important? Is there anyone who has never heard a historical claim made for Jesus, or “Christ”? Is there anyone who has never heard someone use Jesus, “Christ” as an appeal to authority or truth in an argument or discussion? We make historical claims for our beliefs and hear historical claims being made every day for about almost anything. How do we evaluate these many claims? Once the voice-print of the historical Jesus is recovered, what happens if we take that Jesus to Church?
If these questions tweak your curiosity and stimulate in you more questions; if you are committed to religious literacy; if you find growth in open discussion about our religious traditions; if you enjoy interaction with others in a safe place where you can share where you are on your journey of faith, then you are welcome here.
The Jesus Seminar Study Group meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 1:15-3:15 pm in room 12-14 downstairs in the Church. Our protocol is to read and discuss the written material the scholars of Westar Institute are producing as well as to watch an occasional DVD of a major presentation that took place at a Westar Institute national meeting. At present Westar Institute has initiated a new seminar, The Christianity Seminar. How did a movement whose hero was crucified by an official of the Roman Empire end up as the official religion of that Empire? How did the historical Jesus become the second person of the Trinity? How did a movement birthed in Judaism come to be anti-Jewish? Is the Christ of Faith a dogmatic construction by the myth of the Acts of the Apostles, Irenaeus, the canon and Constantine? These and many more questions will be impacting our seminar discourse.
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