Remembering the Death and Resurrection of Jesus

March 2-3, 2018
Billings, MT

In the modern world, memory is related to accuracy. A good memory means an accurate memory. In the ancient world, memory is related more freely to storytelling. A good memory was a good performance of a story. Herodotus, the Greek historian, was poor when it came to accuracy but great when it came to performing story. How well did the emerging Christian gospel writer's do? When it came to the death and resurrection of Jesus, what did remembering Jesus mean to them?

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Photo of Arthur Dewey

Arthur J. Dewey (Th.D., Harvard University) is Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Formerly a regular on PBS’s Saturday Morning Edition (WVXU, 91.7 in Cincinnati), he is the author or editor of many works including Inventing the Passion(2017), Wisdom Notes (2016), The Gospel of Jesus (2d ed., 2014) and The Complete Gospel Parallels (2012).

Photo of Celene Lillie

Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of the Tanho Center and on the pastoral staff at Boulder First United Methodist Church in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis(2017).

Program Details

Ancient and Modern Memory

Art Dewey

It is important to compare and contrast modern and ancient understandings of memory and history. Ancient writers were not as concerned about accuracy, and sometimes were not even at all concerned. Their point was to relay a story and a meaning. When we look at the gospel writers in this way, we have to learn how to ask the right questions about the death of Jesus.

Friday 7:00-8:30 pm

Plurality in the Passion

Celene Lillie

The canonical Gospel of Mark holds the most complete early narrative of the passion of Jesus, but Mark does not have a monopoly on the story or the meaning. The Gospel of Mary, found in the late 19th Century near Akhmim, Egypt, tells how Mary of Magdala understood the nature of suffering the keys ways to challenge illegitimate power. The Gospel offers an alternative way to remember the suffering of Jesus and the meaning of resurrection.

Saturday 9:30-10:30am

The Death that Would not Die

Arthur Dewey

To the writer of the Gospel of Mark, to remember the death of Jesus was not to recall a solitary hero. Mark held neither the imagination nor the theology Mel Gibson in The Passion of the Christ. To Mark, the death of Jesus was an innocent death, like all the deaths of those innocents who died in the war with Rome. The death of Jesus was a death in solidarity with others. Remembering Jesus was an act of solidarity not an affirmation of heroics.

Saturday 11:00am-noon

Ancient Resurrection and Modern Hope

Celene Lillie

Like the Gospel of Mary, the Letter of Peter to Philip, part of the Nag Hammadi Library, offers another way to relate to persecution and to find comfort in the suffering of Jesus. In this text, suffering is related to resistance. It is something Jesus had chosen, and something inevitable with those who chose to be followers of Jesus. This Gospel remembers Jesus as one who does not leave followers alone in suffering.

Saturday 1:30-2:30pm

Questions and Answers

with Art Dewey and Celene Lillie

Saturday 3:00-4:00pm


Billings First Congregational Church

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Billings First Congregational Church
310 N 27th Street
Billings, MT 59101

For local information, contact:



All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Feb 16) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.