U Think considers Christian origins

Willamette University’s U Think series will feature Stephen Patterson, professor and historian who specializes in the origins of Christianity. He will present “The Historian’s Jesus: What scholars say about the sage from Galilee" on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Brown’s Towne Lounge.

“Long before Jesus became the Christian savior he was a Jewish sage who provoked the masses and drew a crowd,” says Patterson. “Beggars loved him, and Romans feared him. In the end, he was executed for sedition. Historians now think they know why.”

Patterson is the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. He is the director of the Westar Institute, where he chairs the Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins. Patterson’s many books and essays address various aspects of the historical Jesus and Gospel of Thomas, among other biblical scholarship.  

Before coming to Willamette, Patterson spent 22 years as a professor of theology at Eden Seminary in St. Louis. He has a master’s from Harvard University and another from Claremont Graduate University, where he completed his doctorate in New Testament studies.

Willamette U Think features professors in an informal environment. The free presentations are geared for the public, and no background knowledge is needed. A question and answer session will follow the talk.

At 189 Liberty St. NE, between Court and State Streets in downtown Salem, Brown's Towne Lounge is open to adults over 21. Tables fill quickly, so arrive early to enjoy food and drink specials before the discussion.