Robert W. Funk

Robert W. Funk (July 18, 1926 – September 3, 2005), was an American biblical scholar, founder of the controversial Jesus Seminar and the nonprofit Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California. Funk, an academic, sought to promote research and education on what he called biblical literacy. His approach to hermeneutics was historical-critical, with a strongly skeptical view of orthodox Christian belief, particularly concerning historical Jesus.[1] He and his peers described Jesus' parables as containing shocking messages that contradicted established religious attitudes.[1]


Funk had a Bachelor of Divinity and Master's degree from Butler University and its affiliated Christian Theological Seminary in 1950 and 1951, a PhD in 1953 from Vanderbilt University and was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Senior Fulbright Scholar.

He taught at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem, was chairman of the graduate department of religion at Vanderbilt University and executive secretary of the Society of Biblical Literature. He was founder and first executive director of Scholars Press (1974–1980).



  1. 1 2 Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. "The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide". Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). p. 321

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