Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Biblical scholars, experts highlight lecture series

By Stephanie Earls Published: June 23, 2013

"Passages: A Bible Experience" is hosting a free multiweek lecture series by world-renowned biblical scholars and experts.

Sponsored by The Green Collection and Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, the series runs for 21 Tuesday nights, July 2 through Jan. 14, at the former Hobby Lobby at 3979 Palmer Park Blvd.

"In ancient Greece, important thinkers from around the world spoke to crowds on the Acropolis. Now, today's leading biblical thinkers will speak on ancient texts to crowds in Colorado Springs," said Jerry Pattengale, a biblical scholar, historian and executive director of the research arm of The Green Collection, the world's largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts, a portion of which is traveling with the "Passages" living-history exhibit.

The overall theme of the lecture series is "Tough Questions about the Bible and its Rise to Prominence," but talks are geared for a lay audience, said Donald Fairbairn, the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. Fairbairn will give a lecture titled "Does the Bible really Say that Jesus is God? A Fourth-Century Perspective" at 7 p.m. July 2.

"You need to have a significant interest in historical Christianity, but you don't necessarily have to know the Bible well to understand the lectures," said Fairbairn, an author and expert in early Christianity who holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton, a master of divinity from Denver Seminary and a Ph.D. in patristics from the University of Cambridge.

"In the last 30-40 years . there have been a lot of attempts to rethink who Jesus is in light of changing scholarly perspectives and in light of new discoveries, like the Gnostic Gospels," said Fairbairn, referencing the collection of ancient spiritual texts written in the early centuries A.D. and uncovered in a series of finds in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"As a result, a lot of that new scholarship, which is very critical of the traditional Christian understanding about the Bible and Christ, has been in the news a lot lately. There is a lot of information out there that is questioning the traditional picture of Jesus as God incarnate."

Christian leaders debated a similar topic in the 4th century, he said.

"The central idea of Christianity is that God has become human, and that's such a radical idea that it's often misunderstood or not believed and people try to interpret it in different ways," Fairbairn said. "That was true in the ancient world and in the modern world."

Lectures, which run 7-8:30 p.m., are open to the public, but space is limited. For tickets, call 888-297-8011. A list of speakers and dates is at explorepassages.com.

With more than 450 items from the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox faith traditions, "Passages" chronicles the narrative story behind the Bible from ancient to modern times.

The nonsectarian exhibit includes a vast collection of illuminated manuscripts, the world's second largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls and an undocumented copy of Wycliffe's New Testament written in Middle English. The traveling exhibit is in Colorado Springs through January.

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Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

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