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Discuss The Status of Jesus in History

  • Jan 13, 2014 · 6:30 PM

During the Christmas season it is common to have Jesus-focused narratives, ideas, and images in the forefront of American public conversations. Given the contested nature of religious belief (including disbelief) in American culture, and the marked place of Jesus in those debates, we will focus on three ways that Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, and those interested in history can try to productively (and accurately) talk about the status of Jesus in history. What can we know, in historically defensible terms, about Jesus? How do we usefully acknowledge the importance of Christian traditions in Western (including American) history without automatically assenting to claims about Jesus’ alleged divinity? Finally, how do we self-critique and examine the ways that our cultural backgrounds can lead us to unconsciously buy into those sorts of claims?

The speaker will be:TJ (Tennyson Jacob) Wellman


·         Comparative religion, history & practice thereof
·         Method & theory in the study of religion
·         Ancient Greek religion (Orphika, mystery cults, relation to philosophy)
·         Late antique Mediterranean religions
·         Early Christianities & Judaisms

Education:  B.A., University of Delaware; M.A., Syracuse University; Ph.D., (in process) University of Pennsylvania

TJ Wellman's research areas include the comparative study of Abrahamic and Chinese religions, Native American religions in the contact & shatter zones, gender and ethnicity in the study of religion, orthodoxy and heresy as analytical and hermeneutical categories, diachronic variation in religious traditions, and religion as embodied practice.

TJ's courses have included: Ancient Greek Religions, Buddhist Traditions, Christian Traditions, Hindu Traditions, Introduction to Mysticism, Native American Religions, New Testament, Religion and the Spirit of Politics, and the Supernatural in American Popular Culture.

TJ is a member of these professional associations: American Academy of Religion, American Philological Association, North American Association for the Study of Religion, Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins, Society for Biblical Literature.

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  • Alan P.

    TJ Wellman was outstanding in presenting his thoughts on the historical Jesus. He outlined the fact that there is no historic information to allow a definitive answer to whether Jesus ever lived. But more importantly, he stressed that at this stage it is not important since the social and cultural reality is that there such a person and that the stories that have evolved around him have become very real and have had a major impact upon our lives. Wellman was also impressive in his ability to provide expansive answers to questions from the audience. There was agreement that he should be invited back.

    January 14, 2014

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