The German theologian Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932) first developed Formgechichte in an attempt to establish fixed literary patterns. These patterns then could go behind the present text to help establish the meaning and significance of the literary pattern in its original context. However, the meaning of form criticism has become fluid. The study of the biblical texts using form criticism has revealed a marvelous multiplicity of literary styles, forms, and methods used in the Bible.
The Jesus Seminar was a group of about 150 critical Biblical scholars founded in 1985 by Robert Funk (1926-2005). Although never formally disbanded, the seminar effectively ceased functioning in 2006. Their goal was to reconstruct the historical Jesus and find out what exactly Jesus said. The result was that they portrayed Jesus as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage, a faith-healer, who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice. However, they believed that Jesus did not hold an apocalyptic worldview, as indicated in the canonical writings. The methods and conclusions of the Jesus Seminar came under very harsh criticism by some biblical scholars, historians, and clergy. However, this Jesus Seminar produced a significant number of publications for over 20 years, especially articles about the Gospel of Thomas.