Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Starting off the New Year: Announcements

What is up this semester? I'm teaching two courses, my 100-level Introduction to New Testament Studies, and a graduate reading course in Coptic where we will finish up our work on the Gospel of Judas and the 1 Apocalypse of James from the Tchacos Codex.

Mark your calendars. Rice Religious Studies Department is hosting its Rockwell Symposium 2010, an international conference on April 15-18th in the Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library: Hidden God, Hidden Histories.

The symposium is designed to work on two distinct but related levels. On the first level, we intend the symposium as the inaugural event of the Department's new GEM Program, an area of graduate study at Rice that focuses on the traditional scholarly categories of Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism, but also seeks to revision, renew, and move beyond them in creative and positive ways.

On the second level, the symposium will serve as a platform to bring together a set of particular studies to be published under the title, Histories of the Hidden God. Papers will address the specific topic of the Hidden God and the relationship of that God to the universe and humanity. The “thesis” of this edited volume is the exploration of religious traditions that characterize an absolute being who is “beyond” the conventional gods and our cosmos, a being who may even be conceived of as existing outside the known universe. This absolute being may be portrayed in theistic or non-theistic terms. Its relationship with the cosmos and other beings may vary from a relationship that is utterly transcendent to one that is radically immanent.

By focusing on the manner in which these ideologies describe the relationship between this god-beyond-god(s), the cosmos, and humanity, one of the main goals of this volume is to attempt to view thinkers and groups, whose traditional labels (‘gnostic’, ‘dualist’ etc) have associated them with the history of heresy, within a broader world view that connects them with others who were conceiving God and the world in similar ways. Thus another goal of this project is the hope that our studies will engage academic language and discourse in such a way that will facilitate a better understanding of this type of ideology (transtheism?, metatheism? etc) as part of a continuum of forms of belief, rather than as something sharply distinct from more normative or mainstream theologies. If this can be accomplished, it would move us in the direction of opening up the study of gnosticism, esotericism and mysticism to non-judgmental, yet critical academic categories.

A schedule of speakers and events will be posted as soon as that becomes finalized over the next month.


Ed Jones said...

My concern that we do not let go the Real Jesus of history compels this comment.

From: Schubert Ogden: Mann's Quick Notes - Mark Mann, 1997. (My alternative for the term "Christian" and comments are set in parenthesis)

1. Theology must be appropriate to Christian faith (the apostolic tradition) and credible to human experience. It is the full reflective understanding of the Christian (apostolic) witness of faith as decisive for human experience.
2. Historical Jesus not recoverable. (The apostolic winess, its oldest layer, understood the significance of Jesus in terms of his sayings, deeds said no more than "he walked the talk". Thus minimal historical bio detail).
3. NT is tradition. (NT writings, with the exception of the Letter of James, is not apostolic - not a reliable source for historical Jesus reconstruction), the norm for all theology is the apostolic witness.)
4. Final court of apeal is human experience: Christianity's (Earliest layer of apostolic tradition's) claim to universal faith must be supported by universally accessible evidence.

God: He acts persuasively. (Humans know decisively of their God experience however quaint the form of their experience - be it Jesus' presence, Mary mother of God, The Holy Spirit, etc. - it is the experience of the power of the God revealed by Jesus).

Jesus as Special Revelation: the point of Christology (ways of expressing the significance of Jesus) has not to do with the person of Jesus, but with the God whom Jesus reveals, the key of Christology is the existential significance of Jesus prclamation in the apostolic witness.

Theory of Religion: there may be other true religions, but if there are, they will reveal the God that Jesus reveals: a God of universal love that is the origin of all that is or will be.

(This is an attempt to say that the primary norm for a teaching goal for the study of gnosticism, esotericism, and mysticism must be the God that Jesus reveals as proclaimed in the apostlic witness. Judgments by any other norm must be seen as biased - not historical.)

Ed Jones

Ed Jones said...

For more see Comments Dated April 12 - Apil 17 to Blog: My decision about the Jesus Project.

Ed Jones said...

Ed Jones said,

For a direct link to the Hoffmann letter click on:The Importance of the Historical Jesus, the 11 Comments contain the reconstruction with related comments.