Monday, October 26, 2009

Secret Mark taken up in BAR

The November/December 2009 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review contains several articles discussing the Secret Gospel of Mark. Helmut Koester weighs in on its authenticity, writing a full length article about why. Charlie Hedrick gives an overview of the discovery. Hershel Shanks writes a piece in which he summarizes the position of a number of scholars who present the case as a forgery. It's a quick overview of where things stand about the question of the authenticity of the Secret Gospel of Mark. Read the articles first, and then weigh in yourself here in the comments. I'd like to see what arguments you think are most convincing, or not.

Are you a gnostic?

On Saturday, the Foundation for Contemporary Theology in Houston asked me to relate what I know about ancient gnosticism to the scene of spirituality today. Yikes! This is a hermeneutical task I usually avoid. But this was a great group of people and so we talked about ancient gnosticism and then we tried to understand what it might be like as a system not dependent on ancient cosmology - or at least as a system that, like Judaism or Christianity, had remained a religious system even when its cosmology had shifted and changed over the centuries or had been absorbed into new cultures. We discussed the nature of gnosis - that it is mystical, subversive, esoteric, and constructed knowledge that involved catechism and initiation ceremonies. Gnostic traditions began in relation to other religious traditions, and that the move toward defining themselves as a new religious movement separate from Judaism and Christianity was gradual and filled with tension.

After this discussion, I gave a quiz that I thought would be fun to share with you.



what is your theology? (choose all that apply to you and add up the points)

1=I view ‘God’ in transtheistic terms, as something ‘beyond’ or ‘other than’ the traditional God or gods

1=I view ‘God’ as neither OR both male and female

1=I think the divine is within me and/or it is my true/real/authentic self

1=I think ‘God’ is something to be experienced directly and immediately

1=I think that I am (partially) responsible for my redemption/enlightenment via my engagement in religious teachings and practices

0=traditional theology is fine for me OR none of these represents my theology

what is your self-identity? (chose one and add the points to your subtotal)

1=I am a gnostic Jew/gnostic Christian/gnostic Muslim/etc.

2=I am a Jewish Gnostic/Christian Gnostic/Muslim Gnostic/etc.

3=I am a Gnostic

0=I am a Jew/Christian/Muslim/etc. OR none of these apply to me

Consider your relationship to the traditional religions (chose one and add the points to your subtotal)

1=my traditional religion needs additional ‘spiritual’ OR esoteric teachings and practices

2=my traditional religion needs to be protested/reformed into a community that is more ‘spiritual’/esoteric

3=my traditional religion is beyond repair; we need to start over and form a more ‘spiritual’/esoteric community as the authentic expression of my traditional religion

4=I (want to) attend a Gnostic community that understands itself to be distinct from the traditional religions

0=my traditional religion is fine for me OR none of these describe my relationship to traditional religions

what do you think about traditional scriptures? (chose one and add the points to your subtotal)

1=scriptures need reinterpretation that involves (some) transgressive/subversive rereading

2=in addition to transgressive rereading, old scriptures need to be supplemented with new scriptures

3=we need to discard the old scriptures and replace them with new scriptures

0=traditional scriptures and traditional interpretation are fine for me OR none of these

Check out the comments for the answer key!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lectures for BAR Fest in New Orleans

I was just sent a link to the line up for the BAR festival in New Orleans. It looks like a great three days! BAR has created individual webpages for each speaker (here is the LINK to the webpage they created for me - I'm going to present my understanding of the Gospel of Judas and an antique magical gem housed in Paris), so you can find out more information about each lecturer as well as the lecture itself. Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Upcoming lecture on GEM: Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism

Four of us at from Rice Religious Studies department (me [ancient gnosticism]; Claire Fanger [medieval esotericism and magic]; Bill Parsons [psychology and mysticism]; Jeff Kripal [modern mysticism] are going to be holding a forum lecture-discussion for the Foundation for Contemporary Theology on Friday evening and Saturday October 23 and 24.

Location: St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Fondren Hall

5501 Main St., Houston, TX 77004

Times: Friday 7:30-9 pm, Saturday 9 am-2:30 pm

For registration or more information contact: The Foundation for Contemporary Theology 713-668-2345

For this weekend event, we will present synopses of our work and then engage one another and the audience on topics ranging from the historical origins of those traditions to their continued attractions, transformations and enthusiasms today. If you are in the area, I hope you will consider joining us for one or both of these days. It isn't often that you get four scholars to sit together for this many hours and talk to each other and an audience about their work and these topics! In fact, I have never heard of it done before. So this might be a first (and a last?!).

Friday, October 9, 2009

How I feel today and probably for the next few weeks

My friend just forwarded this comic to me via email. I have no idea where it is from, but it hit my target so well I had to post it. I remain buried in proofs, preparations for several talks this month, preparations for papers for SBL next month, and chapter five of Sex and the Serpent. It will be a miracle if I make the boat...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nag Hammadi "THE GNOSTICS" film clip

Mark Goodacre put up an old TV clip about the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices. It is a documentary called "The Gnostics" (GB Border TV for Channel 4, tx 7/11/1987 - 5/12/1987) according to the link that Mark provided to the BFI. It appears to be associated with the book published in 1987 by the British filmaker Tobias Churton also called The Gnostics. Here is an online interview with Churton about his interest in the ancient (and modern) Gnostics.

It was so wonderful to view this and see and hear again my mentor, Gilles Quispel. I would have just been starting my MA when this was filmed. It was also special to get a glimpse of Muhammad ali al Samman, the man who found the codices. Thank you Mark for sharing this clip.

I am uploading the YouTube video here for posterity's sake as I am sure that you all have had a chance to view it via Mark's blog already. I am sure that I will return to it time and again. I will also try to seek out the full video, perhaps without the Dutch subtitles. I am sure it must be available somewhere.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I haven't forgotten my blog

Really! The Codex Judas Papers has just arrived, and so I am buried in proofs and indexing...but the book (over 600 pages) will be out by year's end in Brill's Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies series.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Apocryphote of the Day: 10-2-09

"Labor while you are in this world so that you may live forever."

Liber Graduum 853.14