A Gateway to the Research of the Jesus Seminar

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The official icons of the Jesus Seminar on these pages are property of Polebridge Press & are used with permission. The images were created by Helen Melnis & adapted for electronic publication here by Mahlon H. Smith.

The banner logo is Jesus' real name Yeshu'a written in Aramaic (the native language of his Galilean homeland).  It reads from right to left.

The color red is used by the Jesus Seminar to represent authentic information about Jesus.

The name is superimposed on a grid indicating the Seminar's methodical sifting of information to distinguish authentic traces of Jesus from elements that obscure him (represented by the black background).

The grid is lit by five starbursts symbolic of the five primary gospel sources (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John & Thomas).

It shades from pink highlights to a predominant gray (illustrative of much of the results of the Seminar's voting).

The line drawing of the hand dropping a bead into an urn illustrates the ancient Greek practice of voting.

Greek culture was pervasive in the Mediterranean world at the time of Jesus. All of the gospels were originally written in koiné Greek, the preferred language of schools & marketplaces alike. Jesus probably used Greek as a second language for some public transactions.

For more than a century committees of scholars working on critical editions or translations of the Bible have voted on the wording of scriptural texts that in their educated judgment best reflected the original form of the passage.

The practice of voting with colored beads was revived by the Jesus Seminar to sort out the elements in the gospels that can reliably be credited to Jesus himself from material that probably originated elsewhere: elements traceable to a particular gospel writer or shared by other ancient authors (Christian, Jewish, Greek or Roman).

The eagle head on the publications page is the trademark of Polebridge Press.

The Press' name & icon were inspired by Polebridge Montana, a site where eagles nest.

The eagle is a recurrent theological symbol in Hebrew & Christian scripture. Some authors compared God to eagles: e.g., "I bore you on eagles' wings" (Exod. 19:4), "like an eagle that stirs up its nest" (Deut. 32:11). Others likened attendants of the divine presence to eagles (Ezek. 1:10 & Rev. 4:7). Christians adopted the eagle as symbol for the gospel of John.



This web site was created by Mahlon H. Smith, a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar & its program chair from 1991-1996. 

It was launched in February 1997 & totally redesigned in February 2000. Page layout was revised in October 2002 to make text content easier to read. Since Westar Institute launched its own official web site in 1999, these pages have served as an auxiliary gateway to information & debate about the work of the Jesus Seminar on the WWW.

The Jesus Seminar Forum has received widespread recognition from scholars, clergy & lay researchers. The following is a sample of reviews & notices that have come to the attention of its webmaster:*

* [Given the ephemeral nature of digital publishing many of the web pages from which the following blurbs were excerpted have vanished in cyberspace. Links are provided to those still on line.]

"If instead you want a scholarly approach [to Jesus], then you might try a site that's been very active, and reflects a coordinated effort to make sense of Jesus' life within the present day academic study of religion: the Jesus Seminar Forum.... You will need to buckle your seat belt if you are a die hard believer, but it's still an exhilarating trip." -- Bruce B. Lawrence, chair of Department of Religion, Duke University [The Complete Idiot's Guide to Religions Online (Indianapolis: Macmillan, 2000) p. 129].

"The web site for information on the famous 'Jesus Seminar'. This site is a useful resource and features links to material written by both the fellows of the Jesus Seminar and its critics." -- Mark Goodacre, Prof. of Religious Studies, Duke Univ [New Testament Gateway - Historical Jesus].

"Excellent collection of primary and secondary sources" -- Paul Halsall, Assistant Prof. of History, U of North Florida [Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins].

"Top site" - [Wabash Center Guide to Internet Resources to Teaching & Learning in Theology & Religion: New Testament  (Wabash College IN)].

 Other scholarly web sites with links to the Jesus Seminar Forum include:


- This page was revised 21 February 2023 -


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