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.
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.
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).
grid is lit by five starbursts symbolic of the five primary gospel
sources (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John & Thomas).
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.
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.
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).
eagle head on the publications page is the trademark of
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
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)].
scholarly web sites with links to the Jesus Seminar Forum
for the Life of Jesus (Robert A. Kraft, Berg Professor of
Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania).
Jesus of History (Paul Couture, Prof. Emeritus of
Religious Studies, St. Michael's College, Vermont)
(Gene R. Thursby, Associate Professor of
Religion, University of Florida).
/ Early Christianity
(Carl W. Conrad, Professor
Emeritus of Classics, Washington University in St. Louis).
Info: Biblical Studies
(Mike Madin, Gallagher Law Library,
University of Washington).
Pages for Biblical Studies
(Torrey Seland, Associate Professor
of Biblical Studies, Volda University, Norway).
Mediator Figures in the Biblical World
(James R. Davila,
Lecturer in early Jewish Studies, U of St. Andrews UK).
for Studying Historical Jesus/ Christology
(Jenee Woodard, The
Text this Week).
Seminar and the Quest of Jesus
(Gregory C. Jenks, Faith
Jesus Archive: Research Resources - Websites
(James Baker, ed.).
Whole Bible (Geoff Trowbridge).
Jesus to Christ: Searching for Jesus
The Jesus Seminar
Consultants on Religious Tolerance).
Resource/Links: Encountering Jesus in the New Testament
(Ave Maria Press).
Homepages for Term Paper Research
(Dennis C. Duling, Prof. of
Religious Studies, Canisius College, NY).
Resources for New Testament Theology
(Brian K. Peterson, Assoc.
Prof. of NT, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary).
(Victor Daniels, Prof. of Psychology,
Sonoma State U, CA).
in History (study guide of Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library,
U of St. Thomas, MN).
Sources of Jesus (Rosemary K. Horton, Teacher Librarian, Trinity
College Western Australia).
(Marcus Heydecke, U of Wittenberg, Germany - Theologie-Links).
(Mark D. Given, Associate Prof. of Religious Studies, Southwest
Missouri State U).
(Catholica: Forum for Spirituality, Australia).
- This page was revised
21 November 2020 -