Monday, April 29, 2013

Who was Paul really?

I have been making quite a bit of good progress on The Ancient New Age book.  I just finished chapter 4 on the Gospel of John and the letters of John called "The Dark Cosmos."  It was thrilling to write this chapter and finally get down my reading of the Fourth Gospel and its Gnostic predisposition.  Yes.  I really find in the fabric of that text Gnostic spirituality merging with Jewish scriptures and nascent Christianity. It is not just later Gnostic interpretation imposed on an orthodox gospel.  It is there in the soul of the Gospel.

My next chapter is on Paul, so I am now immersed in Pauline literature and just got the chance to read James Tabor's newest book on the subject, Paul and Jesus.  The Paul that Tabor speaks about (and his relationship to the Jerusalem church and other apostles) dovetails nicely with the ways that I have come to understand Paul over the years.

I remember as a young woman really disliking Paul.  What I didn't know then is that what I disliked was not Paul but Luther's Paul.  That is when I discovered Paul the mystic.  I read Albert Schweitzer's book and then Alan Segal's book, both on Paul the mystic.  Suddenly Paul made sense to me.  But he wasn't anyone that contemporary Christians could relate to.  What he was saying was way out there.  Undomesticated.  Wild.  He was a visionary who realized union with Christ whom he saw as the manifestation of God.  He developed rituals that helped democratize this experience so that all converts could similarly be united.

One of the features that I really like about Tabor's book is that he starts from the position that Paul was a mystic.  Tabor then breaks down Paul's message into five understandable chunks.  This makes Paul the mystic more accessible rather than wild.  Tabor's book is written around these chunks:
  • The resurrection body is a new spiritual body that believers attain.
  • Baptism gives the believer the Christ/Holy Spirit with unites with his/her own spirit and makes him/her a child of God, part of a new genus of Spirit-beings who will inherit God's Kingdom.
  • The believer achieves a mystical union with Christ due to this Spirit infusion, a gradual process that is transformative involving also the sacred meal where Christ is taken within as food.
  • The world is in the last throes of its existence, and life would soon be transformed. 
  • Paul turned his back on the Torah and abandoned Judaism, replacing it with the new Torah of Christ.
Of course as I am thinking about Paul the mystic, I am also wondering about Paul the Gnostic.  Have we worked so hard over the centuries to domesticate Paul that we have lost touch with his Gnostic aspects too, like with the Fourth Gospel?  Anyway, these are my thoughts right now as I am in the reading and thinking phases of writing this chapter.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Second question about New Athena font

Thank you for sending me a copy of the font to download.  I have done so.  But I don't seem to have a corresponding keyboard on this new operating system.  I don't know what I used on the old system that worked.  Any suggestions for a keyboard so I can get this font to work again?

Where did the New Athena Free Download Go?

I need to download the New Athena Unicode font on my new laptop.  But when I try to find it on the internet, I am not successful.  Does anyone know the webpage where the download is stored?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Daewoong Kim

Today Daewoong Kim successfully defended his PhD thesis on Daniel's use of Genesis and Ezekiel.  Congratulations.

Photo: Left to right: Dr. Matthias Henze (Advisor: Religious Studies), Daewoong Kim, Dr. Scott McGill (Committee: Classics), Dr. April DeConick (Committee: Religious Studies).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gospel of Judas dated to 280 CE

The Gospel of Judas is in the news again.  Apparently the ink has been studied in depth and it has been definitively dated to 280 CE.  Now that is early!

See the story HERE.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Smart Art Video on U-Tube: Easter in Memory of Her

Smart Art video in Houston recorded "Easter in Memory of Her" and has uploaded it to U-Tube.  We are very grateful to Art Smart for doing this for us.  So here it is if you missed the performance on Saturday. Art Smart does all kinds of personal productions, including weddings.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lecture by Larry Hurtado at Rice University

We at the Religious Studies Department at Rice University are very pleased to announce that Professor Larry Hurtado will deliver the Burkitt Lecture at Rice University on Wednesday, April 10th, 7-8 p.m. in the Kyle Morrow Room of Fondren Library on the Rice campus. The public is invited to attend.

The title of his exciting talk is "Revelatory Experience and Religious Innovation in Earliest Christianity".  He will talk about how powerful religious experiences came to be a major factor in producing significant religious innovations in earliest Christian circles, with special reference to the rapid emergence of the “dyadic” devotional pattern in which Jesus was reverenced along with God.

The Burkitt Foundation Lectures have been devoted to exploring issues in Catholic thought that are of interest to the university as well as to the Houston community. Founded in 1996, they have featured such distinguished speakers as Mary Carruthers, Jean-Luc Marion, Mark Jordan, David Tracy, and Kocku von Stuckrad.

Professor Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of New Testament at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and he now writes a blog on early Christianity called Larry Hurtado's Blog.  He has written a number of outstanding books on the devotional practices of the early Christians and their understandings of Jesus as God, all of which can be found on Amazon for reasonable prices.

Larry W. Hurtado, God in New Testament Theology. Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 2010.  ISBN 978-0-687-46545-3.

Larry W. Hurtado, How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2005.  xii + 234 pp.  ISBN 0-8028-2861-2.  

Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ:  Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. (xxii+746 pp.). ISBN 0-8028-6070-2. 

Larry W. Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship:  The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion.  The 1999 Didsbury Lectures.  Carlisle:  Paternoster Press, 1999, ISBN 0-85364-992-8.  US edition, Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2000, ISBN 0-8028-4749-8.  (xiii + 138 pp.).

Larry W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord:  Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism.  Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1988. (xiv + 178 pp.).  ISBN 0-8006-2076-3.  British edition by SCM Press.  Second edition, Edinburgh:  T. & T. Clark, 1998 (xxx + 178 pp.), reprint edition, London:  T&T Clark (Continuum), 2003.