The Wit and Wisdom of Robert W. Funk
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Edited with an Introduction by Andrew D. Scrimgeour Just Call Me Bob: The Wit and Wisdom of Robert W. Funk A natural problem solver and keen observer of life, Robert W. Funk delights and enlightens readers with his reflections on a wide variety of topics which, not surprisingly, include God, the Bible, Jesus, and academia. This rich collection of sayings and writings, is at times poignant, at times profound, even, at times, pugnacious. “The acquisition of information is no certain cure of ignorance,” Funk said on one occasion. “Readers of the gospels speak glibly about the religion of Jesus because his followers created a religion about Jesus. It is not at all clear that religion concerns Jesus,” he wrote on another. To those who would address him as Doctor, Funk would respond, “My name is Bob.” Just Call Me Bob keeps faith with that sentiment. In its pages one comes to know the man through his ideas. And that, as readers will intuit, is the way he would want it. Excerpt from the obituary of Robert W. Funk, In Memorium Robert Walter Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar and one of the most influential New Testament scholars of his generation, died on Saturday, September 3, at his home in Santa Rosa, California, following a brief illness. He was 79. A distinguished teacher, writer, translator and publisher in the field of religious studies, Robert Funk retired from the University of Montana in 1986 to found the Westar Institute, a non-profit research and educational institute dedicated to the advancement of religious literacy. Westar’s first project, the Jesus Seminar, renewed the quest for the historical Jesus begun by David Friedrich Strauss in the nineteenth century and later taken up by Albert Schweitzer at the beginning of the twentieth. At the opening session of the Jesus Seminar in 1985, Funk defined its mission as follows: “We are going to inquire simply, rigorously after the voice of Jesus, after what he really said.” The Jesus of Nazareth discovered by the Jesus Seminar was a wisdom teacher whose parables proclaimed the arrival of God’s kingdom. He was not, in the judgment of the Seminar, the messiah of the end-times. These and other findings of the Seminar drew widespread attention throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Funk further influenced the course of biblical scholarship by insisting that Fellows of the Jesus Seminar communicate the results of biblical scholarship directly to the literate public. Continue readingAndrew D. Scrimgeour is the past Chair of the Westar Board of Directors, the archivist of the Society of Biblical Literature, and the founding archivist of the American Academy of Religion. He earned a Ph.D. from Drexel University; his dissertation was titled “Mapping the Intellectual Geography of Biblical Studies: A Cocitation Study in the Humanities.” He also holds a M.Div. and M.Th. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a MLS from Rutgers University. He has published numerous articles in biblical studies, religious research methods, and bibliometrics.
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