Fall 2018 National Meeting

November 16-20, 2018   ●   Denver, Colorado


The Fall 2018 Meeting has now concluded. Thank you to all who participated in person and online.  Please enjoy the following resources, including free reports on the seminars and lectures.

Program Overview

Westar’s Fall 2018 national meeting will take place in Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with the SBL Annual Meeting, co-hosted by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR). This is the largest event of the year in the fields of biblical studies and theology, with over 1,200 sessions and workshops and one of the world’s largest exhibits of books and digital resources for religious studies.

The SBL/AAR dates are November 17–20. Westar’s two academic seminars will meet concurrently on the day before, that is, on Friday, November 16th.

There will be no explicit Associate program at the Fall meeting. In its place, Westar, in cooperation with the SBL, will host several community events.

As usual, scholars and members of the public are welcome to attend Westar seminars.


This year audience members will not register directly with Westar. Instead, they must register with the AAR or the SBL. Advance registration ends August 24th.

If you have already registered or intend to register with AAR instead of SBL, that registration also works with Westar's program.

To register with SBL, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to: sbl-site.org/meetings/meetings_registrationAM.aspx
  2. Click “New Registration”
  3. Fill out the form and submit payment. Be sure to select “Westar” from the dropdown Affiliate list.

Westar Fellows and Invited Scholars only

If you are either a Westar Fellow or an invited scholar, and you plan to sit at the table and participate in either the God or Christianity Seminars, or both, on Friday, please also register with Westar.

This second registration is not needed for audience members.

To register with Westar for a seat at the table, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to: westarinstitute.org/national-meetings/fall-2018-seminar-registration/
  2. Fill out the form and submit payment.

Academic Seminars

Westar Institute conducts collaborative, cumulative research in the academic study of religion, addressing issues, questions, and controversies that are important both to the academic community and to the general public. Two seminars are currently in progress: the Christianity Seminar and the Seminar on God and the Human Future.

Westar events will be held at:

Grand Hyatt
Colorado Ballroom A & B
1750 Welton Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

Christianity Seminar

Begun in 2013, the Christianity Seminar aims to rewrite the history of early Christianity. The scholars of the seminar have broken through to new understandings of many disparate movements in the first four centuries of the Common Era. As the Seminar enters the second half of its first decade, these historians of religion are poised to write their first major book for the public on the first two centuries.

Gender in the First Two Centuries of Christ Movements

The third of three semi-annual meetings on this theme, these three seminar sessions mark the culmination of the Westar Christianity Seminar's re-thinking the role of gender in its larger project of rewriting a history of the first two centuries of Christ-related people. While acknowledging earlier seminal 20th century feminist studies, four quite different 21st century scholars summarize and re-imagine more recent trends in the various genderednesses of early Christ-related people.  Distancing themselves from the notion of Christian origins, these sessions focus on the second and sometime early third centuries, while also continuing the larger Seminar project’s doubts about the existence of an inherently "Christian" character in the second century. The four presenters include Seminar members Celene Lillie, Joanna Dewey, and David Wheeler-Reed as well as guest presenter Virginia Burrus. The paper written by each presenter will be available online (see link to Seminar Papers below) by November 1. Each presenter summarizes the paper in ten minutes and the Seminar discusses the paper with the presenter for another 55 minutes.

Christianity Seminar   ●   Friday, November 16
Grand Hyatt, Colorado Ballroom B
Session One
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

(Re)Reading Regulating Sex in the Roman Empire One Year Later

Presiders: Hal Taussig, Christine Shea
Presenters: David Wheeler-Reed, Celene Lillie
Session Two
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Gender in the First Two Centuries of the Christ Movements

Presiders: Deborah Niederer, Saxon, Soham Al Suadi
Presenters: Celene Lillie, Virginia Burrus
Session Three
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Gender in the First Two Centuries of the Christ Movements

Presiders: Shirley Paulson, Robert Miller
Presenters: Joanna Dewey, Virginia Burrus, Celene Lillie, David Wheeler-Reed

Seminar on God and the Human Future

The academic Seminar on God and the Human Future began its work in 2013. Inspired by the pioneering research and public notice of the Jesus Seminar, it has sought to attract a new generation of scholars to the mission and ongoing work of the Westar Institute. In a short time it has attracted over thirty participating Research Fellows who together are exploring new ways and new images for thinking about God in a post-theistic context.

Why Thinking About God Still Matters

This session showcases the developing work of the Westar Institute’s academic seminar on "God and the Human Future." It includes a special session on the legacy of Schubert Ogden, with a specific focus on his Notebook project, which is an online archive of his unpublished writings, letters and notes (available at http://bit.ly/OgdenNotebooks), a workshop on the first stage of the seminar’s book project on "The Varieties of Post-Theism," and a gathering of leading theologians and philosophers of religion to reflect on the question of "Why we should talk about God at all." All are welcome to attend the session. Summaries of the papers will be read at the session leaving opportunity for discussion.

God Seminar   ●   Friday, November 16
Grand Hyatt, Colorado Ballroom A
Session One
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

The Notebook Project

The Theological Legacy of Schubert M. Ogden
Presider: Andrew D. Scrimgeour, Jeffrey Robbins
Presenter: Andrew D. Scrimgeour, Philip E. Devenish
Commentators: Brent Sockness, Kevin Schilbrack, Alexander Vishio
Session Two
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Why Should We Talk About God At All?

Presider: Karen Bray
Presenters: Brandy Daniels, Marion Grau, Tamsin Jones, Mayra Rivera, Marika Rose, Ted Smith, Dan Peterson
Commentators: Forthcoming
Session Three
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Varieties of Post-Theism

Book Worskshop
Presider: Clayton Crockett
Presenters: John D. Caputo, Susan "Elli" Elliott, Robin Meyers
Commentators: David Galston, Jeffrey W. Robbin

Participation in Academic Seminars

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.

All others, scholars and non-scholars alike, are welcome to audit the seminars.

Seminar Papers

The Seminar Papers are the basis for the discussions in the Academic Seminar. They will not be presented orally at the event. Persons wishing to follow the discussions should read the papers in advance.

Electronic copies of the Seminar Papers are available to the public and will be posted when they come available, usually 2 to 3 weeks prior to the event. Hard copies of the papers will be available at a cost of $25 each.

Christianity Seminar:

Contents Westar Fall 2018 Seminar Papers

F2018 Burrus Gender of Martyrdom by Virginia Burrus

F2018 Dewey Loss of Womens Agency by Joanna Dewey

F2018 Wheeler-Reed Rereading by David Wheeler-Reed

F2018 Thinking through Gender by Celene Lillie

God Seminar:

F2018 Devenish Schubert Ogden by Philip E. Devenish

F2018 Elliott Notes for Discussion by Susan M. (Elli) Elliott

F2018 Elliott Varieties of Post-Theism by The God Seminar

Order hard copies of seminar papers

AAR/SBL Program Highlights

SBL-Westar Institute Jesus Scholar Lecture

The Society of Biblical Literature and Westar Institute are pleased to continue the joint sponsorship of a free public lecture series featuring major scholars addressing important cultural issues that relate to the study of religion.

This free public lecture will be held at:

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
2015 Glenarm Place
Denver, CO 80205

Bernard Brandon Scott

In the Beginning is the End

A Comparison of the Jesus Seminar and John Meier’s Marginal Jew

In this lecture, Bernard Brandon Scott will ask how it is possible to end up with two very different views of the historical Jesus. He will compare Meier’s methods and starting point to those of the Jesus Seminar and offer insights into the outcomes.

John Meier conducted his own version of the Jesus Seminar. Scott notes that Meier started with Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet and ended with the parables, which he then had largely to dismiss. In Meier’s view, only a small number of parables turned out to be authentic. In contrast, the Jesus Seminar started with the parables—a distinctive difference in methodology—and found most of them to be authentic. The Seminar ended with a non-apocalyptic Jesus. Investigating these differences reveals the influence of methodology, the testing of assumptions, and the judgements of critical historical study.

Photo of Bernard Brandon Scott

Bernard Brandon Scott (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is the Darbeth Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A charter member of the Jesus Seminar, he is the author of several books including The Real Paul (2015) and The Trouble with Resurrection (2010).

Jesus Scholar Lecture   ●   Monday, November 19
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
2015 Glenarm Place, Denver, CO 80205
7:00 PM

In the Beginning is the End

A Comparison of the Jesus Seminar and John Meier’s Marginal Jew
Bernard Brandon Scott

On the Issues with Westar

Westar is working with local congregations to sponsor educational talks delivered by Westar scholars at local Sunday morning services. These community events, dubbed “On the Issues with Westar” will be free and open to all who choose to attend. In an effort to promote religious literacy and to ensure the voice of Westar is heard and valued at the grassroots level, we will send scholars out to as many as five different, local churches or study groups. There they will share insights about important issues of moment addressed by Westar. Watch for more information coming soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sixth Church of Christ, Scientist

2701 S University Blvd Denver, Colorado 80210


"Healing in a Fractured Time: Wholeness for the Early Followers of Jesus”

Presented by Shirley Paulson

Broadmoor Congregational Church

315 Lake Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906


Topic and speaker TBD

Additional Westar-affiliated sessions

Westar Institute
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Colorado Ballroom (Second Level)
Envisioning God in the Humanities: Studies in Honor of Melissa Harl Sellew
This is a special session of the Westar Institute honoring the scholarship of Melissa Harl Sellew.

Westar Institute
Meals in the Greco-Roman World
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
502 (Street Level)
The Archeology of Ancient Meals - in Honour of Dennis E. Smith

Westar Institute
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Cripple Creek Ballroom 2 (Second Level)
Mimesis Criticism: The Gospels and Greek Literature
Dennis MacDonald is a contributing scholar to the work of the Westar Institute and has developed a unique approach to the gospels with his method of mimesis criticism. This Westar session seeks to engage MacDonald's theories and to evaluate the merits of this approach.

Polebridge Authors & Books

Visit the Scholar's Choice display table at booth 730, where select titles from Westar scholars will be available.

Dates & Deadlines At-a-Glance

Nov 16Westar Academic Seminars
Nov 18Religious Literacy Sundays
Nov 19SBL-Westar Institute Jesus Scholar Lecture
Nov 17-20SBL/AAR Annual Meeting