Welcome to the new religious studies PhD students at Rice! We started classes and advising last week, so I am getting back into the swing of things here on campus.
This semester I am teaching Coptic to a class of seven, including two undergraduates. I am looking forward to returning to teaching the language that opens Pandora's Box. I am returning to using Lambdin since I have found that there are two important elements to teaching this language: 1. lots of exercises; 2. breaking down the system into small details and delivering it in pieces. Lambdin does this very well. Lambdin doesn't present Coptic as a whole system very well though. For that Layton's 20 Lessons and Brankaer's Learning Grammar are much better. So I will supplement next semester by using Layton and Brankaer to show the students the bigger picture, once they have been through the details.
I am also pleased that our Mellon seminar, Mapping Death, was so successful last year, that we are continuing it this year as a Writing Workshop. We will be meeting regularly to assess and critique our individual work projects. I need to get my paper on the Ophians ready for publication, write a piece on the Naassenes, and get going on my next book called The Ancient New Age: Gnostic Spirituality and the Beginnings of Christianity.
Advanced copies were sent to readers and here is some of the feedback the book received:
The near-programmatic downgrading and degrading of women is one of the most shameful aspect of traditional Christianity. In this powerful book, DeConick rejects conventional theological and hermeneutical attempts to soften the absence of the divine and human female by challenging head-on the vilification of women and the othering of their bodies in early Christianity. This bold discussion makes for uncomfortable but essential reading - and rightly so. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible, University of Exeter, UK.
more advanced reviews of the book in my next post...