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 What is the Jesus Seminar?

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PostSubject: What is the Jesus Seminar?   November 29th 2010, 3:12 pm

The Jesus Seminar was founded in 1985 by the Westar Institute under Robert Funk. The purpose of the Jesus Seminar is to determine which of the saying and actions ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels actually occurred and which were largely legendary. The first seminar was conducted with 30 Biblical scholars in attendance and this number has since grown to more than 200 scholars.

Scholars from around the world voted one a series of statements and actions by Jesus in the NT. These statements and actions were placed in one of four categories:

Red - Jesus most probably did do or say this
Pink - Jesus could have done or said this but there is some doubt
Grey - Jesus probably did not do or say this
Black - Jesus definitely did not do or say this

They used specific criteria in order to arrive at their conclusions. This included dismissing any miraculous events from the red category as it's historically impossible to validate the miraculous, reviewing textual variations of our NT manuscripts, and considering what statements or actions by Jesus would have been out of context for a person like him in this region in the early 1st century.

By their own admission, the findings of the Jesus Seminar were never intended to be portrayed as the truth but instead as the culmination of the opinions of the world's leading Biblical scholars.

The Jesus Seminar have come under severe scrutiny by conservative Christian scholars and Christian fundamentalists who consider the Bible to be inspired. They also reject the Jesus Seminar's criteria for voting as they believe in the miraculous.

From an academic point of view the Jesus Seminar has played a vital role in opening up Biblical scholarship to those not studying Biblical Criticism at any mainstream university
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