Jesus Seminar

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The Jesus Seminar is a group of scholars and authors in theology, religion, Biblical studies and related fields who congregate under the banner of the Westar Institute. It was founded in 1985 by Robert Funk. Two of the most prominent members of the group are the scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan who present a 'naturalized' view of Jesus: as an itinerant Jewish prophet or sage who promulgated a tolerant social gospel through aphorism and parable. The process used by the Jesus Seminar is one where an in-depth analysis is performed by the group on each of the claimed words of Jesus, then voting to determine which ones the group believe to be accurate representations of what the Jesus of history taught. The group has published a number of works: The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus is a contemporary translation of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Thomas, with the remarks of Jesus annotated with the scholarly reliability placed on them by the Seminar votes. The votes of the Seminar conclude that only 18% of the sayings of Jesus are historically accurate.

One of the key points of difference between the Jesus presented by the Jesus Seminar and the "Christ of faith" include a strong skepticism over the apocalyptic eschatology of orthodox Christianity - seeing Jesus as inciting his followers to reform and heal the world around him rather than preparing for an oncoming end-of-the-world scenario.

Despite considerable criticism by conservative theologians like William Lane Craig, N.T. Wright and others, as well as the death of Robert Funk, the Westar Institute has continued working on both historical Jesus studies and other areas including studies of Paul and the Book of Acts.