Most conceptions of emergent Christian history have been based on a Western, Roman model. However, the Christian movement transcends the margins of the Roman world and diversifies as it spreads both within the Roman Empire and beyond its borders.
Westar is a member-supported nonprofit organization. We conduct public, collaborative research seminars with academic scholars in the field of religion. Westar investigates issues in the history of Christianity and beyond to inform public discourse on culture, society, and civic life.
As a public-facing organization, we are committed to sharing the results of scholarly research in accessible language through publications, events, and other resources. Westar works in dialogue with the public to foster critical thinking about religion.
What if the version of Christianity that emerged in the fourth or fifth centuries caused the death of a pluralistic Jesus movement? How would that change the way historians see and understand the first two hundred years? After Jesus Before Christianity: A Historical Exploration of the First Two Centuries of Jesus Movements is our latest title and represents the culmination of the Christianity Seminar, Phase I.
Westar began in 1985 when Robert W. Funk invited 30 New Testament scholars to join him in the Jesus Seminar, a collaborative inquiry about the historical Jesus. Since its founding, Westar has held a series of innovative seminars on the origins of Christianity. But Funk’s founding vision was larger than scholarship for its own sake. His aim was to make religious literacy as ubiquitous as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
What does the Bible say about same-sex relationships? Did women have authority in the early Jesus movements? How were gender, sexuality, and morality understood in early Jesus movements? These are critical questions precisely because misrepresentations of Christian texts have shaped and continue to intersect with cultural, social, and political life in the US and throughout the world. Westar exists to pursue an honest and rigorous inquiry into the origins of the Christian tradition.
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