Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism Sessions at SBL 2009

Please try to make these sessions. All of them should be terrific. Our sessions are usually very productive and informative. I am posting here the information from the program book which includes the room numbers.

The first session includes a book review of Christopher Rowland's and Christopher Murray-Jones' long-awaited book on New Testament Mysticism.
Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Napoleon D3 - SH
Reviews of Christopher Rowland and Christopher Morray-Jones’ book, The Mystery of God: Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament (Brill, 2009), and responses by the authors.Silviu Bunta, University of Dayton, Presiding
Alan Segal, Columbia University, Panelist (10 min)
Kevin Sullivan, Illinois Wesleyan University, Panelist (10 min)
Charles A. Gieschen, Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne, Panelist (10 min)
James R. Davila, University of St. Andrews, Panelist (10 min)
Christopher Morray-Jones, California, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Break (15 min)
Elizabeth Morton, McGill University
The Role of Ecstasy in the Formation of Abraham, the Sage (25 min)
Dragos-Andrei Giulea, Marquette University
The Noetic Turn in Jewish-Christian Mysticism: Revisiting Esoterism, Mysticism, and Internalization with Philo, Clement, and Origen (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
The second is on second-century mysticism in Christian sources. I'm going to be talking about my next project which is mapping the initiatory rites of the Gnostics (lots of astrology here). Grant Adamson and Franklin Trammell are my graduate students. Adamson will be presenting an important paper on the Gospel of Judas and horoscopes. Trammell will be talking about Hermas' view of the church as the androgynous body of God. Jonathan Draper will be discussing the Ascension of Isaiah.
Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Balcony J - MR

Theme: Second-Century Christian Mysticism and Gnosticism

Kevin Sullivan, Illinois Wesleyan University, Presiding
April D. Deconick, Rice University
Star Gates and Heavenly Places: What Were the Gnostics Doing? (25 min)
Grant Adamson, Rice University
Fate Indelible: The Gospel of Judas as Horoscope (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Break (15 min)
Franklin Trammell, Rice University
The Tower as Divine Body: Visions and Theurgy in the Shepherd of Hermas (25 min)
Jonathan Knight, Katie Wheeler Research Trust/York St John University, UK
The use of Jewish and other Mystical Traditions in the Ascension of Isaiah (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)
The third session is on mysticism in early Judaism. I am not as familiar with the presenters and papers, except my colleague and friend Rebecca Lesses, and anything she is discussing is well worth hearing!
Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Southdown Room - SH

Theme: Mysticism in Early Judaism

Silviu N. Bunta, University of Dayton, Presiding
Matthew J. Grey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Joseph and Aseneth, Hekhalot Mysticism, and the “Parting of the Ways” between Christianity and Judaism in Late Antiquity (25 min)
Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College
Female Jewish mystics in late antiquity: real women or literary construction? (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Break (15 min)
R. Jackson Painter, Simpson University
Mystical Identification with Christ in the Odes of Solomon (25 min)
David Larsen, Marquette University
And He Departed from the Throne: The Enthronement of Moses in Place of the Noble Man in Exagoge of Ezekiel the Tragedian (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)


James F. McGrath said...

Why oh why did they have to put your presentation up against a session with multiple papers on the Mandaeans?!?!

Rebecca said...

Thank you for the plug!

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I had a chance to hear Matt Grey's paper here in Durham. It's very good.

Emmanuel J. Karavousanos said...


There has been much written about consciousness and it remains the single most difficult problem in the realm of science.

It has often been said that we overlook the obvious. There is a litany of quotes that provide a basis for analyzing things that are already obvious and known to us. Alfred North Whitehead wrote in his book, Science and the Modern World, "Familiar things happen and mankind does not bother about them. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." And it was Hegel who gave us these words: "Because it's familiar, a thing remains unknown."

As young children we learn many things which we simply take for granted and subsequently ignore. One of these is the fact that we think. We become aware of it, but only on the surface -- superficially.

Benjamin Franklin looked at lightning. Everyone knew of lighting, but it was Franklin who, unlike others, analyzed something he knew from childhood. He realized there was something there that can be harnessed. In time electricity was born. Madame Curie discovered radium and as a result of serendipitous happenings, applications for this discovery has resulted in the healing of disease and medical equipment to help in this fight.

In the realm of consciousness, Jesus, upon gaining the holy spirit -- what we today know to be the mystical experience, the onset to the mystical state which he called the kingdom of heaven -- realized his thoughts were "temptations". He was tempted by hunger, by the thought of suicide (he wanted to throw himself from a high place) and the thought of wanting to own all the kingdoms of the world. Well, it was the gift of insight that made him see all his thoughts for what thoughts are. He called them temptations. Buddha saw them as attachments. Hindu mystics see thoughts as cravings. In today's world we can see thoughts as neuroses or hangups. The only way -- let this be stressed -- the only way we can gain a knowledge of the higher consciousness that is within us is through analysis of our thoughts. We now have the evidence and the logic so one can have the incentive to reach for and come to know the mystical state and thus individual consciousness.

Because the study of consciousness is so, so important, let it be stressed once again and in no uncertain terms why it is that the mystical experience occurs: it takes place when one analyzes things that were generally learned in a most cursory and hasty way -- just as lighting always was -- taken for granted and ignored. Realizing this alone could be the inchoate step for each of us to finally have a reason to reach for and attain the higher state of mind.

By analyzing familiar, obvious and known things, insight is triggered and the FULL realization of what we already know, is gained where before it was known only on the surface.

They mystical state is where we come to know the self, the universe and as a result,the meaning of oneness and God. God becomes that attainable state of mind where one becomes one with the universe. Philo of Alexandria some 2100 years ago said that God is ultimate reality.

We know we have thoughts. We know we think. We know our mind. Yet, we know these only on the surface and not in the intuitive way that we should. We should recognize that the answer to the consciousness question is not an intellectual one. It is one of insight. It is one of realization. It is one of a sudden discernment.

Emmanuel J. Karavousanos

David Larsen said...

Matt Grey was at Durham? Was that for a conference, or did he study there?

David Larsen said...

Nevermind...he is at UNC. I was thinking Durham, UK.