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Ears to Hear

The Art of Recovering the Historical Jesus

October 21–22, 2016
Roanoke, Virginia

The traditional story of Christian origins maintains that early Christians formed a unified, loving community. But looking far back into the mists of emerging Christianity, we see conflict and controversy. Using the Gospel of Mark as a case study, Joanna Dewey and Brandon Scott will examine the plurality and diversity in early Christian belief, exploring these questions along the way:

  • Why did Christianity grow?
  • How did Christianity succeed in becoming the religion of the Roman Empire?
  • How did Christianity become unified?
Photo of Joanna Dewey

Joanna Dewey (Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union) is the Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr., Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of several books including The Oral Ethos of the Early Church (2013) and Mark as Story (3rd ed., 2012).

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).

Program Details

From Nazareth to Nicea

Who is the founder of Christianity: Jesus, Paul or the Roman Emperor Constantine? How did Jesus—a Galilean peasant, teller of parables, exorcist and healer, executed by the Romans— become the royal Son of God celebrated in the creed of Nicea? This session gives an overview of early Christianity’s shift from a focus on the teachings of Jesus to teachings about Jesus. (Brandon Scott)
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Media in First-Century Christianity

We tend to think of Christianity as depending on written scripture. Yet the evidence shows that Christianity began and long survived through oral performance and storytelling. Even though written texts came early, they were always in service of orality. What does that difference mean for understanding early Christianities? (Joanna Dewey)
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Jesus in the First Century

What do we know about the historical Jesus? This workshop will examine selected sayings of Jesus, showing why scholars consider them authentic and suggesting surprising ways they might have been understood. In the process, they will introduce participants to the methods of modern scholarship used to distinguish the words of the historical Jesus from those later attributed to him. (Brandon Scott)
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Women in Early Christianities

After exploring some of what we know about early Christian women, Artemisia of Ephesus, a late first-century woman, will visit Roanoke and perform “Women on the Way,”  her version of Mark’s story. (Joanna Dewey)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

What Can We Learn?

What does the diversity of early Christianity tell us about the possible configurations contemporary Christianity might take? How might we begin to learn from the diversity of the past? (Scott & Dewey)
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Westhampton Christian Church (DoC)

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Westhampton Christian Church (DoC)
2515 Grandin Rd SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

For local information, contact:

Gary M. Bowman
(540) 343-1173
[email protected]

Study Group

A discussion group, open to anyone who would like to join, will meet at Westhampton Christian Church at 7:00 p.m. each Thursday night from September 8 until October 13, 2016, to study and talk about how twenty-first century people can recover what Jesus actually taught about the nature of God, Jesus' purpose, and human ethics and salvation.


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Oct 7) $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.