Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year Ahead

The year ahead looks like it is going to be busy, and hopefully, productive. In January, I will be attending the Talpiot conference in Jerusalem organized by Professor Charlesworth as a Princeton symposium. My role is to address traditions about Mary Magdalene in the early literature. I plan to focus on the Valentinian portrait of Mary Magdalene, contrasting that with the encratic. The result will be an attempt to see if we can say anything determinative about Mary as a historical figure from this literature. A full length paper will be published later in a conference volume that is planned. I still haven't received the final agenda for the meeting, with all participants. As soon as I do, I'll post it here.

Looking forward to spring, there will be the Codex Judas Congress, March 13-16. I am receiving abstracts from the participants now. I will get those posted mid-January. I am in the process of preparing my own contribution to the Congress on issues of authority in the Gospel of Judas, the First Apocalypse of James, and other early Christian literature. I am particularly interested on how appeals to the Twelve were being used by the Christian leaders of the second century. After the Congress, full length papers will be collected and edited into a conference volume. So keep your eyes out for that book.

Over the summer, I have several articles to prepare for various projects. One will be about sexual practices among Gnostics. This is for an edited volume that Paul Foster is putting together. I also am preparing a paper on angels in Valentinian traditions for a conference in Tours which will take place in September. I will likely focus on the Jesus Aeon-Angel as the microPleroma descending to earth and incarnating.

Also in September is the Coptic Association's meeting - this year in Cairo. I hope to be part of a session on (re)defining Gnosticism.

As for the Boston SBL in November, that is too far ahead for me to know exactly what I will be preparing for, although I know that the New Testament Mysticism Project will be continuing. So I will at least be preparing an entry for that.

I am also going to begin writing my second book for the general audience. I'm trying to decide - should it be a book on the Gospel of Thomas, making my scholarly work more accessible to a broader audience, or should I begin work on a book about how I think the early Christians (as Jews) began to worship Jesus?

In terms of teaching, this semester Coptic continues. We will finish the last five chapters of Layton's book and then move on to read the Tchacos Codex to prepare for the Congress in March. I also have a lecture class, Christian Controversies and Creeds, that covers the growth of Christian thought from the bible to Chalcedon.

So in the upcoming year, this blog will probably continue to feature the newest and latest on the Tchacos Codex, the Gospel of Judas, the Valentinian literature, and the controversies between various factions of Christians in the second and third centuries. I also want your suggestions as my readers. Is there anything that you would like to see me address in the coming year? Let me know via comments or e-mail.


David Creech said...

Dr. DeConick,
If you have a moment, could you tell me the advantage of Layton's Coptic grammar over Lambdin's? Thanks,

g. wesley said...

Professor DeConick,

I've really enjoyed your blog the past year and look forward to meeting you in person in March.

All your posts are interesting. It's been especially great to have continual updates on Codex Tchacos.

The topic of angels in Valentianism is something I've been wanting to read more about. I'm particularly interested in the passage in Theodotus on baptism for the dead, where we are the dead and the angels are baptized on our behalf.


April DeConick said...


The Layton grammar is superior to Lambdin because it provides instruction from the perspective of the Coptic language as a system. Lambdin teaches many details, but the book fails to give the bigger perspective in which all the details fit. Layton is particularly good on the verbal system and works through the PE sentence structures superbly. I won't go back to Lambdin for teaching.


I am trying to research the Valentinian angels in a systematic way. The entire theology and cosmology of Valentinians is dependent on the angels-Aeons. When an Aeon descends, it is the movement of an angel out of the Pleroma. Think about Marcus too, where all of the Aeons are the angels of the face. There is SO much material to cover.


Jordan Stratford+ said...

Re: MM

Dr. Bruce Chilton suggest that the Gospel of Mary predated Gospel of Thomas, and Dr. Pagels suggests that Thomas predates John.

How does this chronology fit with you?

April DeConick said...


Thomas formed in the mid- to late first century and came to completion in the early second century. Johannine author was aware of traditions developing in Gospel of Thomas (see my Voices of the Mystics, a book that predates Pagels'). Gospel of Mary is from mid-second century (around 150). It is a distinctively Valentinian text and so cannot be earlier than 130 CE.