Archaeology: Rewriting Early Christian History

The Spring 2014 national meeting took place March 19 – 22, 2014, at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, California. Although the event has passed, there are plenty of online resources available. Browse the list below, and check back throughout March and April for new additions.

Session Recaps

Related Resources (recommended by speakers, etc.)


Kathryn Gin Lum

Damned Nation

Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction

Belief in hell declined in Europe as a result of the Enlightenment. But not in the United States. Kathryn Gin Lum asks why? For answers, she turns to American social and political behavior in the first century of nationhood. Underlying the vaunted American optimism, she says, lurked a deep anxiety that the new nation, and its inhabitants, might be damned instead of redeemed, in danger of God’s wrath rather than God’s favor. This anxiety extended beyond the nation’s shifting borders as evangelists traveled to warn of hell’s terrors. It reached people in all walks of life. Gin Lum will explore American belief in Hell and the kinds of behavior encouraged and discouraged by the threat of damnation.

Kathryn Gin LumKathryn Gin Lum is assistant professor at Stanford University. She teaches in the Department of Religious Studies in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and holds a courtesy appointment in History. Named an Annenberg Faculty Fellow, awarded to outstanding junior faculty in the Humanities and Arts at Stanford University, for 2012–14, she is author of Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Wednesday, 9–10, 10:30–11:30 am, 1–2, 2:30–3:30 pm

Milton C. Moreland

What can Archaeology tell us about Christian Origins?

In the past thirty years archaeologists have helped to rewrite the history of the first Jesus movements and emerging Christianity in the Roman World. In Israel and Syria there are dozens of excavations that are teaching us about Roman culture in the eastern Mediterranean world. In the midst of media-hyped stories about finding tombs related to Jesus and his family, Milton Moreland will cut through the hoopla in order to draw attention to the most interesting discoveries related to the world in which Christianity began. He will explore the settings of Galilee, Judea and Syria before and after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, including information from the most recent excavations in Jerusalem, Sepphoris, Tiberias, Megiddo, and Capernaum.

Milton MorelandMilton Moreland is Chair of the Archaeology Program and Associate Professor of Religious Studies
at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Since 1993, he has served as a Senior Field Supervisor at the archaeological excavation in Sepphoris, Israel. Moreland has also excavated in Cyprus and currently he directs excavations at Native American and Antebellum sites in Tennessee. He is the editor of Between Text and Artifact: Integrating Archaeology in Biblical Studies Teaching (2004).

Thursday, 9–10, 10:30–11:30 am

L. Michael White

Re-Imagining Christian Origins

Methods, Models, Protocols, and Prospects

Most forms of contemporary Christianity assume one or another model for describing the development of the New Testament and its relationship to succeeding generations of the Jesus movement. The way we understand and apply these basic models is fundamental to our understanding not only of the nature and development of Christianity itself, but also to how we apply it as a norm today. Michael White will examine the historical underpinnings of his award-winning book, From Jesus to Christianity. He will explore basic questions for thinking about Christian origins, including how we should use and understand New Testament writings and other early Jewish and Christian sources, why there is a New Testament at all, and where it came from.

L. Michael WhiteL. Michael White is R.N. Smith Professor in Classics and Christian Origins and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin. He leads the UT Excavations of the Jewish Synagogue at Ostia, the port city for ancient Rome. His books include Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite (2010), From Jesus to Christianity (2004), and The Social Origins of Christian Architecture (1996–97).

Thursday, 2:30–3:30, 4–5 pm

Jodi Magness

New Discoveries at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee

Since 2011, Jodi Magness has been directing excavations in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee. In this slide-illustrated lecture, Professor Magness describes the exciting discoveries from the excavations, including a monumental late Roman (fifth century) synagogue paved with stunning and unique mosaics featuring the biblical hero Samson.

Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James

In 2002, an ossuary inscribed “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus” surfaced in the hands of a private collector. A few years later, a Discovery Channel documentary and related book claimed that the tomb of Jesus and his family has been found in Jerusalem. In this slide-illustrated lecture, we examine the validity of these sensational claims in light of archaeological and historical evidence for ancient Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem, including the burials of Jesus and his brother James.

Jodi MagnessJodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of several books including The Archaeology of the Holy Land from the Destruction of Solomon’s Temple to the Muslim Conquest (2012) and the award-winning The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002). Since 2011, she has directed the excavation at Huqoq in Galilee.

Friday, 9–10:30 am
Friday Keynote Lecture, 7:309 pm

Christianity Seminar

In the wake of the Acts Seminar’s conclusion that the model of apostolic succession used by Luke (and later Eusebius) to reconstruct Christian origins is largely a fiction, the Christianity Seminar will explore other dominant models beginning with Michael White’s four-generation model from his award-winning book From Jesus to Christianity (2004). It will also engage the question of what archaeology reveals about Christian origins.

Friday, 1112:30, 23:30, 4–5
Saturday, 910:30, 1112:30, 2–3:30


Printable Schedule (PDF)

Wednesday, March 19

9–10, 10:30–11:30 am, 1–2, 2:30–3:30 pm
Kathryn Gin Lum

Authors & books

Thursday, March 20

9–10, 10:30–11:30 am
Milton Moreland

2:30–3:30, 4–5
L. Michael White

8–10 pm

Friday, March 21

9–10:30 am
Jodi Magness on Huqoq

11–12:30, 2–3:30, 4–5 pm
Christianity Seminar

7:30–9 pm
Keynote Lecture by Jodi Magness

Saturday, March 22

9–10:30, 11–12:30, 2–3:30 pm
Christianity Seminar

7–10 pm


Wednesday – Saturday (entire event)
Includes reception, banquet & electronic seminar papers*

Registration Options Members Non-members
Become a Member $45
Registration (after Feb 17, members save $50) $340 $370


Wednesday – Friday first session
Includes reception

Registration Options Members Non-members
Registration (after Feb 17, members save $20) $175 $185


Thursday evening – Saturday
Includes reception, banquet & electronic seminar papers*

Registration Options Members Non-members
Registration (after Feb 17, members save $35) $225 $245


Single Sessions and Other Options

Members Non-members
Wednesday session with Kathryn Gin Lum $65 $70
Thursday sessions with M. Moreland & L. M. White $65 $70
     Thursday morning with M. Moreland only $35 $40
     Thursday afternoon – L. M. White only $35 $40
Friday Christianity Seminar – All daytime sessions $65 $70
     Friday morning – Jodi Magness only $25 $30
     Friday Christianity Seminar 11-5 only $35 $40
     Friday evening lecture with Jodi Magness $20 $20
Saturday Christianity Seminar $65 $70
Extra reception ticket $40
Extra banquet ticket $55
Hardcopy of seminar papers* $25
Electronic seminar papers* (w/o registration) $15


Discounts are available for qualified students. » Learn more

CEUs are available on request. » Learn more

Refunds are available if requested in writing by February 28, minus a $40 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.

Accommodations & Travel

All events will take place at:

The Flamingo Resort Hotel
2777 Fourth Street
Santa Rosa, California 95405

All events will take place at the Flamingo Resort Hotel in Santa Rosa, California. The convention room rate at the Flamingo is $119 single or double occupancy, plus tax. For reservations, call 800-848-8300/707-545-8530 or visit the Flamingo website. Reservations will be on a space available basis at the group rate. People still looking for rooms can also check with the Hillside Inn, which is in walking distance. Both hotels are at or near capacity, so please make reservations soon and let us know if you have any trouble.

By air
Alaska Airlines provides nonstop service to the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa (STS) from Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Santa Rosa is also served by San Francisco (SFO) and Oakland (OAK) airports.

The Airport Express provides service from SFO and OAK to Santa Rosa. Travel time is about two hours. The fare is currently $34 one-way with a $2 discount for seniors (62+), military, and students. The new Santa Rosa drop-off point is located 1.8 miles from the Flamingo at the Veterans Memorial building. From there you must get a cab.

Currently buses depart San Francisco airport every hour, on the half-hour, from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Airport buses pick up on the Lower Level (outside Baggage Claim area) in the center island at the pillars marked “Airporters.” Buses depart Oakland airport every two hours, on the half hour, from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Buses pick up outside the Baggage Claim area, at the Ground Transportation Center platform marked “4D Scheduled Buses.”

Airport bus schedules change frequently. To be sure of up-to-date schedules and fares, for maps, and to get online discounts, visit Airport Express or call toll free at 800-327-2024.

By car
The Flamingo Hotel is located at the corner of 4th Street and Farmers Lane in Santa Rosa, approximately 55 miles north of San Francisco.

  • Take Hwy 101 North to Santa Rosa
  • Exit Hwy 12 (East toward Sonoma)
  • Stay on Hwy 12 (which joins Farmers Lane) to 4th Street

*Seminar Papers
The Seminar Papers are the basis for the discussions in Saturday’s sessions. 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 included in the Wed/Thurs - Sat registration prices. We have received and distributed all electronic copies (as of 3/13/2014), so please let us know if you are missing any papers. Hard copies of the papers will be available at a cost of $25 each and can be picked up at the meeting. If you order hard copies and are not planning to attend the meeting, we will mail your copy to you after the meeting concludes.

Students Discounts
Qualified full-time students—undergraduates enrolled in a degree program and graduate students in Religious Studies or a related discipline—are entitled to a 50% discount on their registration fees. The discount will be taken on member or nonmember rates, depending on the Westar membership status of the student. Interested students should call 503-375-5323 to register at the discounted rate. Students should bring their Student ID cards to registration.

Continuing Education Units
Attendance at Westar events qualifies for CEUs for clergy and other educators. Full attendance at Westar’s Spring or Fall semiannual meetings earns 2 CEUs (.5 per day). Participation in a full Jesus Seminar-on-the-Road program earns .5 CEUs. Please notify us of your interest in advance of meetings using the CEU request form. During the event, applicants will be asked to check in at the registration desk each day on arrival and departure. A certificate will be sent immediately following the event. Please call 503-375-5323 with any questions.