Religion Scholars to Address Uses and Abuses of Scripture in Culture Wars

Jesus Seminar to meet concurrently with the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature

NOVEMBER 7, 2014 – Always simmering, sometimes exploding into public discourse, the Bible and Qur’an will receive much-needed historical scrutiny when the Westar Institute — home of the Jesus Seminar — presents its national meeting, “Scripture at the Crosshairs of Culture Wars,” November 21–23, 2014, at the San Diego Convention Center. The Westar national meeting will take place concurrently with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature.

Sunday lectures will feature Raheel Raza, the President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow as seen in the award-winning documentary Honor Diaries, and Hal Taussig, visiting Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York and editor of A New New Testament. Friday and Saturday, academic seminars bring together scholars in Westar’s innovative collaborative style. The Christianity Seminar will discuss and debate the viability of the category of Gnosticism for the study of early Christianity based on the groundbreaking work of Karen L. King, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School. The inaugural session of the Seminar on God and the Human Future will outline critical issues in current scholarship about the concept of God in a post-metaphysical, scientific world.

The decision to meet concurrently with the AAR/SBL closes the scholarly circle for Westar founder Robert W. Funk and other Westar Fellows. Before Funk established the Jesus Seminar in 1985, he played a major role in democratizing the SBL and founding the AAR. Bringing Westar together with these learned societies consolidates Funk’s legacy as a moving force in the effort to promote cutting-edge biblical scholarship on issues that matter in the larger culture.

Westar Institute is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of high scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that make a difference in society and culture. Westar is a non-profit, public-benefit research and educational organization that bridges the gap between scholarship about religion and the perception of religion in popular culture.

All Westar sessions will take place in Room 20BC (Upper Level) at the San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Drive. All events are open to the public. Academic seminars require registration in advance. To learn more and register, visit

Press passes can be picked up at the AAR/SBL registration booth, also located in the San Diego Convention Center. Event speakers are available for interviews.

Westar Institute
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 375-5323