VIRTUAL: Hal Taussig, Dr. Erin Vearncombe and Sue Monk Kidd present AFTER JESUS BEFORE CHRISTIANITY


Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 6:00 pm (click here to register via Crowdcast)
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From the creative minds of the scholarly group behind the groundbreaking Jesus Seminar comes this provocative and eye-opening look at the roots of Christianity that offers a thoughtful reconsideration of the first two centuries of the Jesus movement, transforming our understanding of the religion and its early dissemination.

Christianity has endured for more than two millennia and is practiced by billions worldwide today. Yet that longevity has created difficulties for scholars tracing the religion’s roots, distorting much of the historical investigation into the first two centuries of the Jesus movement. But what if Christianity died in the fourth or fifth centuries after it began? How would that change how historians see and understand its first two hundred years?

Considering these questions, three Bible scholars from the Westar Institute summarize the work of the Christianity Seminar and its efforts to offer a new way of thinking about Christianity and its roots. Synthesizing the institute’s most recent scholarship—bringing together the many archaeological and textual discoveries over the last twenty years—they have found: 

  • There were multiple Jesus movements, not a singular one, before the fourth century
  • There was nothing called Christianity until the third century
  • There was much more flexibility and diversity within Jesus’s movement before it became centralized in Rome, not only regarding the Bible and religious doctrine, but also understandings of gender, sexuality and morality.

Exciting and revolutionary, After Jesus Before Christianity provides fresh insights into the real history behind how the Jesus movement became Christianity. 

After Jesus Before Christianity includes more than a dozen black-and-white images throughout.

Hal Taussig is a retired as professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York.  He edited the award-winning A New New Testament and has published fourteen books.  His mediography includes The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Daily Show, People Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, National Public Radio, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the Bob Edwards Show on Sirius Radio, The History Channel, and the Washington Post.

Bernard Brandon Scott is the author and editor of many books, including The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge and The Trouble with Resurrection. A charter member of the Jesus Seminar, he is chair of Westar’s newly established Christianity Seminar. He holds an A.B. from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, an M.A. from Miami University, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dr. Erin Vearncombe is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, appointed to the Office of the Dean. She received her Ph.D. in a collaborative program at the University of Toronto between the Department for the Study of Religion and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. A specialist in writing instruction, Erin worked for five years as a faculty member of the Princeton Writing Program at Princeton University and currently heads a program for the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto designed to ease the transition to university-level writing for incoming undergraduate students. Her research specialty is the social origins and histories of Jesus movements in the first centuries of the common era, with a particular focus on practices of dress and embodiment.

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of four New York Times bestselling novels, including The Book of Longings, The Invention of Wings, an Oprah Book Club pick, and The Secret Life of Bees, which was adapted into a major motion picture and an Off-Broadway musical. Her five books of non-fiction include Traveling with Pomegranates and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. 

Event date: 
Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
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