Staff Report

The public is invited to explore with two distinguished theologians the question “Was Jesus a Christian?” on the weekend of Feb. 22 at Bethania Lutheran Church in Solvang.

The church’s 34th annual Farstrup-Mortensen Lecture Series will feature three days of activities that include discussion, dialogue, meals, fellowship and engagement.  The series is known for presenting world-class scholars and educators with a mission of educating mind and spirit through reasoned scholarship. 

 The speakers will be Pamela Eisenbaum, Ph.D., Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and Art J. Dewey, Th.D., Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Ohio. 

Activities on Friday, Feb. 22, include an “early-bird outdoor activity” with naturalist Fred Emerson of Solvang, a wine reception, lectures and singing. The program on Saturday, Feb. 23, includes morning and afternoon lectures followed by a dinner banquet.  The series concludes with a panel discussion on Sunday morning, Feb. 24.

Tickets are available for individual lectures, full-day programming, meals, or “The Works,” which includes all series programming, meals and entertainment. 

Lectures with Eisenbaum and Dewey will place the theme question in the context in which the word “Christian” was originally used: Who were the first Christians — Jesus, Paul, the disciples, or perhaps the popes? Are there any Christians alive today in the original sense? Would the world be better or worse off without Christianity? And what does it mean to be a Christian today? 

Eisenbaum is one of just four Jewish New Testament scholars teaching in Christian theological schools. He is the author of “The Jewish Heroes of Christian History: Hebrews 11 in Literary Context,” “Invitation to Romans,” and “Paul Was Not a Christian.” She is a contributor to the highly regarded “Jewish Annotated New Testament” and has published many essays on the Bible, ancient Judaism and the origins of Christianity.

Two of her passions are the apostle Paul and ancient manuscripts. Her current research involves the role of technology (ancient and modern) in the codification, preservation and transmission of the Bible. In addition to her appointment at Iliff, she is an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver.

Dewey is the author of “Inventing the Passion: How the Death of Jesus was Remembered” (2017), and co-author of “The Complete Gospel Parallels” (with Robert J. Miller, 2011) and “The Authentic Letters of Paul” (with Roy W. Hoover, Lane C. McGaughy and Daryl D. Schmidt, 2010).

A distinguished teacher, writer, translator and commentator, he is also noted for his poetic perspective that has aired on the “Saturday Morning Edition” on Cincinnati’s Public Radio Station WVXU (91.7) for more than a dozen years. 

 The annual Farstrup-Mortensen lectures, organized by a volunteer team, are dedicated to the memory of A. Ejnar Farstrup (1909-1984) and Enok Mortensen (1902-1984) whose vision and energy strongly influenced Danish-American church life. As pastors and educators, they exemplified the Grundtvigian ideal of developing one’s humanity —including the intellect — to its fullest and best extent.

Bethania Lutheran Church is at 603 Atterdag Road in Solvang. For registration information, visit