The Changing Story of the Historical Jesus and Early Christianity

February 24–25, 2017
Salt Lake City, Utah

Historical Jesus research attempts to understand Jesus apart from traditional Christian beliefs. But why was such research taken up in the first place? What methods were used to find the historical Jesus? Moving from Jesus studies to new scholarship in the broader field of early Christianity, Livesey and Dewey will tease out the implications of this new research not just for understanding Christianity but for understanding religion more generally.

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Nina Livesey

Nina E. Livesey (Ph.D., Southern Methodist University) is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She is the author of Galatians and the Rhetoric of Crisis (2016) and Circumcision as a Malleable Symbol (2010).

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 Wisdom Notes (2016), The Gospel of Jesus (2d ed., 2014) and The Complete Gospel Parallels (2012).


Map for Salt Lake City JSOR

Program Details

Introducing the Historical Jesus

Why did the Jesus Seminar embark on a ten-year collaborative research project to identify the authentic words and deeds of the historical Jesus? Considering the different gospels and the many sayings attributed to Jesus in and outside the Bible, how does one distinguish what Jesus did and did not say? Nina Livesey will introduce the Jesus Seminar and ask whether its findings are still valid today, and, if so, how.
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

The Results of the Jesus Seminar

Jesus Seminar scholars famously concluded that Jesus was primarily a composer of aphorisms and parables. Other scholars, however, hold that the Jesus of the Jesus Seminar is the “wrong” Jesus. Why did the Seminar ultimately reject an apocalyptic Jesus? Arthur Dewey will explore the implications of finding a wisdom Jesus instead.
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

From Jesus to Early Christianity: Part 1

The Acts Seminar, a ten-year investigation into the book of Acts that questioned uncritical reliance on Acts to understand Christian origins, came close on the heels of the Jesus Seminar. Nina Livesey will review the methods of the Acts Seminar and provide examples of some important findings and their implications for understanding early Christianity.
Saturday, 11 am – noon

From Jesus to Early Christianity: Part 2

Relying upon modern research methods, recent textual discoveries and archeological evidence, the currently active Christianity Seminar aims to fill the void left by the loss of Acts as reliable history. Dewey’s overview of the Seminar’s findings to date explores how the formation of the New Testament led to false impressions of early Christianity and why “martyrdom” may not have been as central to Christianity as is commonly assumed.
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Questions and Answers (Nina Livesey and Art Dewey)

Livesey & Dewey hold an open session of discussion, questions, answers, and more questions.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Utahns for Progressive Religious Scholarship
Westminster College Office of Spiritual Life

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Gore Auditorium
Westminster College
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

For local information, contact:

Charles Robinson


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Feb 10th) $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.