When the Santa Barbara News-Press printed a story about a seminar on the historical Jesus at Westmont in June, it sounded so interesting, dozens of people called the college asking to attend.
But the session, led by retired New Testament Professor Robert Gundry, was designed for a specific audience: Christian scholars who don’t teach religious studies.
Russell Howell, a mathematics professor at Westmont, developed the seminar to help Christians at secular colleges and universities better understand trends in Jesus studies. As he told the News-Press, “Christians who function at a high intellectual level should have an understanding of their faith that is commensurate with that level. If Christianity is true, it is true no matter how deeply you probe it.”
Gundry reviewed studies of the historical Jesus, including work by the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars who argue that the Gospels contain few of Jesus’s actual words and deeds. An internationally acclaimed New Testament scholar, Gundry explained why he disagrees:
“How did it happen that within a few years of his death, Jesus became the object of worship and subject of proclamation by some who had rubbed shoulders with him and did so despite the fact they were Jewish monotheists and Jesus had died the ignominious death of crucifixion?”