I would argue that any search for an origin is inherently
theological, & thus that any search for the very words or an
authentic (or legitimate) text is theological. I do not deny
that this search may also be historical, but I would reject the
possibility that one could begin with a theologically-neutral
historical or textual criticism -- that one could read without
preunderstanding. I realize that historically-oriented scholars
might disagree with this. That's fine. (I also think our
disagreement on this point would be a theological one!) I think
it is extremely important that we be also critical of our own
reading agendas, precisely because they are theological, & open
discussion is one good way to achieve that.
As a former Westar member, I agree with Larry Hurtado's
characterization of Westar -- that's part of the reason I left.
However, at least in southeast Michigan, the threat of (rather
militant) fundamentalism is still quite real. Westar's
publicity, though tacky, does force public discussion in a way
that SBL never has.