Westar Institute began in 1985 when Robert W. Funk invited 30 New Testament scholars to join him in a new, collaborative inquiry about Jesus as a figure of history. The focus was on identifying evidence about what, in all probability, Jesus actually said and did without privileging any traditional religious claims about him. The invitation included a commitment to make the results of the inquiry available to the general public as a contribution to religious literacy.
Bob Funk believed biblical scholars have an ethical responsibility to report their findings to the public, openly and clearly. And he argued that there is a large lay constituency eager to join scholars in that public discourse. The 25 years that followed proved him exactly right. Westar has had a profound effect on public awareness of religion scholarship and has helped inaugurate a new kind of academic discourse that is both collaborative and cumulative.
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Since its founding in 1986, Westar has conducted a series of innovative seminars on the historical Jesus, the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle Paul, and other topics. Currently, Westar scholars are conducting seminars on the origins of the Christian tradition and God and the human future. Westar is not affiliated with any religious institution or denomination and does not advocate a particular theological point of view.
Westar has developed a new model of scholarly discourse that is open, public, accessible, collegial, and rigorous. Its academic seminars engage leading scholars from accredited institutions worldwide, while also embracing the public and the media as observers and participants. Seminars typically meet twice a year at Westar’s spring and fall meetings.
Westar invites the general public into conversation with scholars of religion at weekend events that take teams of scholars into communities across North America and beyond.
Westar’s activities and research are documented in books, magazines, audio-visual recordings, and social media. All are accessible via Westar’s website, and many of Westar’s resources can be read or downloaded freely.
Read more about Westar founder Bob Funk