Galilee and Christian Origins (Preface, Forum 2,1)
To do this work we formed a new seminar (the Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins), and assembled a steering committee to set the ball rolling: Stephen J. Patterson, John S. Kloppenborg, Joanna Dewey, Dennis E. Smith, Arthur J. Dewey, and Bernard Brandon Scott. Together with other members of the original Jesus Seminar, we worked out a plan that we believed would shine a different light on an old question. We decided not to organize the work around texts, but around places. How did nascent Christianity emerge in distinct places around the Mediterranean basin? This would allow us to bring to the discussion the evidence, not just of texts, but of material culture as well.
The first place we chose to focus our efforts was the Galilee. The papers in this volume derive from three meetings devoted to the Jesus movement in Galilee: October of 2006 (essays by Marianne Sawicki and James M. Robinson), March of 2007 (William Arnal’s piece), and October of 2007 (Joanna Dewey’s essay). These represent a small portion of the work done in those sessions. Future volumes of Forum will feature more of this material as well as essays devoted to the emergence of nascent Christianity in other places. So far, in addition to the meetings on Galilee, the Seminar has held meetings devoted to Antioch and to Corinth.
[Update: The Christian Origins Seminar concluded in 2009, and a new, related project called the Christianity Seminar was launched in 2013 under the leadership of Nina Livesey and Bernard Brandon Scott.]
—Stephen J. Patterson