Sources of the Jesus Tradition: An Inquiry

Friday, December 5th 2008 at 6:00 pm
Sunday, December 7th 2008 at 11:30 am

The Jesus Project was launched in 2007 by the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. The first conference will answer the challenge laid down by CSER Fellow and Jesus Seminar cofounder John Dominic Crossan to decide what counts as “evidence” of the Jesus tradition. Register for the conference here.

Friday, December 5

6:00pm — Arrival

6:30pm — Dinner ($35) and introduction of speakers

7:30pm — Opening Remarks: Paul Kurtz, editor in chief of Free Inquiry and chairman of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational

Opening Panel: Jesus 'Projects' and the Historical Jesus: Receding Conclusions?

Saturday, December 6

Session 1: Evidence and Methods


Assessing the Evidence: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives
Ronald A. Lindsay, president and senior fellow, Center for Inquiry/Transnational; author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas.

Prolegomenon to a Science of Christian Origins
Frank Zindler, public scholar in Biblical Studies; author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources ; member of the Jesus Seminar, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Bayes Theorem for Beginners: Formal Logic and Its Relevance to Historical Method
Dr. Richard Carrier, Columbia University; author of The Guarded Tomb of Jesus and Daniel in the Lion’s Den: An Argument for the Plausibility of Theft, Journal of Higher Criticism (Fall 2001) and On the Historicity of Jesus (in progress).

Session 2: Paul, Mythologies, and the 'Evidence' of Earliest Christianity

11:40am — 1:00pm

Paul As a Witness to the Historical Jesus
Gerd Lüdemann, Jesus Project co-chair; professor of New Testament, Georg-August-University, Göttingen; author of The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry and Primitive Christianity: A Survey of Recent Studies and Some New Proposals.

Popular Mythology in the Early Empire and the Multiplicity of Jesus Traditions 
Justin Meggitt, senior lecturer in the Study of Religion and the Origins of Christianity, Institute of Continuing Education; fellow and director of Studies in Theology and Religious Studies, Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge; member of the Reykjavik Academy; CSER fellow.


1:00pm — 2:00pm

Session 3: The Sayings of Jesus

2:10pm — 4:00pm

Every Plant Which My Heavenly Father Has Not Planted Shall Be Uprooted: An Inquiry into the Sources of Certain Sayings of Jesus
Robert Eisenman, emeritus professor, California State University Long Beach; visiting senior member of Linacre College, Oxford University; former senior fellow at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies; NEH fellow at the Albright Institute in Jerusalem; author of James the Brother of Jesus, The New Testament Code, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians.

An Alternative View of Q
Dennis R. MacDonald, professor at Claremont School of Theology and CGU School of Religion; director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at Claremont; author of Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? 

Aramaic Jesus Traditions: Evidence and Reconstruction
Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College; director of the Institute for Advanced Theology; author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography and the first critical commentary on the Targum of Isaiah , The Isaiah Targum: Introduction, Translation, Apparatus, and Notes.

The Rapid Attribution of Fictive Sayings and Stories to a Mythic Jesus
Robert M. Price, Jesus Project co-chair; author of The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man ; Center for Inquiry senior research fellow.

Session 4: The Formation of Jesus Traditions

4:15pm — 6:00pm

Leaving the Bones Behind: A Resurrected Jesus Tradition with an Intact Tomb
James Tabor, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; author of Things Unutterable, A Noble Death (with A.J. Droge), and most recently, The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity .

The Authorized Version
David Trobisch, professor of New Testament at Bangor Theological Seminary; author of The First Edition of the New Testament, Paul’s Letter Collection.

Jesus and Ned Lud[d]: What’s in a Name?
A.J. Droge, professor of literature at University of Toronto at Scarborough; author (with James Tabor) of A Noble Death: Martyrdom and Suicide among Jews and Christians in Antiquity and Homer or Moses? Early Christian Interpretations of the History of Culture.

Dinner and round-table discussion

6:45pm — 9:00pm ($35)

Sunday, December 7

Session 5: Summary and Positions

Heretics and the Role of the Canon in Delimiting the Historical Jesus
R. Joseph Hoffmann, CSER chair; distinguished scholar in residence, Goddard College; author of Marcion on the Restitution of Christianity and other works on the social contexts of early Christianity.

Jesus and the ‘End’ of Biblical Studies
Hector Avalos, professor of religious studies, Iowa State University; author of This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies , co-edited with Sarah Melcher and Jeremy Schipper; The End of Biblical Studies; Strangers in Our Own Land: Religion in U.S. Latina/o Literature ; member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion.

Round-table (all speakers and audience)

Register Now