Thursday, January 28, 2010

PhD opportunities at University of Groningen

Professor von Stuckrad sent me a link to what looks like wonderful opportunities in Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. There are four openings for competitive PhD positions. The link is HERE.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Augsburg exhibition and Tchacos material

Christian Askeland contacted me about the Pauline codex from the El-Minya horde. He has a post with additional information HERE. For those interested in Coptic NT matters, Askeland is preparing a dissertation on the Coptic John and has put up a resource page of links to information about Coptic on his website HERE. He comments on his website that "for early Christianity scholars, Coptic is the new Greek." So I'm impressed and am delighted that someone is working on sorting out the Coptic NT manuscripts. A BIG job indeed. Best of luck with your work Christian.

Some of the El-Minya materials are being displayed at Augsburg in an exhibition this year. Information about the exhibition was posted by Martin Heide HERE. Direct link to exhibition information is HERE. I also learned more about the exhibition from Professor Bethge who kindly forwarded me more detailed information about the exhibit.

The exhibition opened on the 13th and will run until April 30th, 2010. The exhibition includes biblical and apocryphal papyri from the 4th c. to late Middle Ages. Three pages from the Tchacos Codex are on display (pp. 28, 33, and 46) Page 28 is from the 1 Apocalypse of James, and pages 33 and 46 are from the Gospel of Judas. There is also displayed two leaves from the unpublished Coptic papyrus codex of Paul's letters.

There is a catalogue being sold for 10 euros. If you plan to go to the exhibit and are willing to pick up a brochure for me, please let me know. I would love to have one.

PHOTO: from the exhibition web site HERE. From a quick reading of the top of the page, this is a page from Hebrews 11:30 ff. It is from the unpublished Pauline Codex from the El-Minya horde. It is the first time in thousands of years that this page from the Coptic letters of Paul has been viewed!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aeon Byte interview

I meant to post this a few days ago, but I got overrun (what else is new? does life ever slow down?).

I had the pleasure of interviewing with Miguel Connor for his radio show and podcasts: Aeon Byte. The subject was more revelations about the Gospel of Judas and we talked quite a bit about gnosticism. If you want to check it out, go to this link to AEON BYTE homepage and scroll down until you see my pic and link to the interview. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Update on EBAY sales of Ferrini's horde

I communicated with Robert Kraft yesterday and found out that Mr. Ernest Muro was the main person who was keeping track of the "Geneva wares" that Ferrini was offering for sale on EBAY. He thought that he had identified a piece of Philippians from the Coptic Paul codex and possibly other pages. So he purchased several of the Coptic pieces.

PHOTO: Piece identified by Muro as Coptic Philippians. Photo from Robert Kraft's article.

Unexpectedly Muro died and someone disposed his collections, including the papyri. Kraft has worked to put up all the images from the EBAY sales. These can be accessed via the article link he wrote, "Pursuing Papyri" and posted.

I am thinking that it would be a good idea to get all the information about the distribution of the El-Minya horde up on a web page(all four books: Tchacos Codex; Paul's Coptic Codex; Exodus' Greek Codex; and the Mathematical Treatise). So I'm going to start working on that project.

I'll share information as I get it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I missed a couple of things last year about the Judas fragments

Now that the Ohio Fragments are starting to surface and I am working on them, it has come to my attention via Roger Pearse's website (that tracks information on the Gospel of Judas) that Robert Kraft followed and documented the sale of a large number of Bruce Ferrini's EBAY sales (and his bank's) of manuscript materials from Ferrini's collection from autumn 2005 onwards. Kraft has posted information about this HERE. Unfortunately I can't view the EBAY photos, so I can't tell what belongs to the Tchacos Codex and what doesn't. But given that 140 Coptic items were sold, I imagine that some of the Gospel of Judas is at large in (a) private collection(s). This is so depressing that I don't even know where to begin. I will try to get in touch with Bob Kraft to get a better sense of the situation.

In addition, the lost book of Paul's letters in Coptic, discovered along with the Greek book of Exodus, the mathematical treatise, and the Tchacos Codex has now been located according to Christian Askeland who posted about this last April HERE. Well at least 13 pages of it has, mainly Galatians and Colossians. The report there says that either Gregor Wurst and/or Hans-Gebhard Bethge is/are working on them. I have not confirmed this yet, but will contact Wurst and Bethge shortly to see what they know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Codex Judas Papers

What to my wondering eyes should appear but The Codex Judas Papers! It arrived this morning in my mailbox, all 650 pages of it, and remarkably published in the year after the Codex Judas Congress had convened here at Rice University (March 13-16, 2008).

April DeConick (ed.). 2009. The Codex Judas Papers: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Tchacos Codex held at Rice University, Houston, Texas, March 13-16, 2008. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 71. Leiden: Brill.

It is an expensive volume so you might need to check it out of your library. See my earlier post about the book for ordering information.

The papers in it are of the highest quality, and the volume represents a landmark in Gnostic studies and our understanding of the Gospel of Judas. Scholars address issues of identity and community, portraits of Judas, astrological lore, salvation and praxis, text and intertext, and manuscript matters. Although the contributions show a variety of interpretations of the Tchacos texts, several points of agreement emerge, including the assessment that the Codex belonged to early Christians affiliated with classic Gnostic or Sethian traditions who were in conflict with other Christians belonging to the apostolic or conventional church.

Contributors include (in order of their appearance): Alastair Logan, Karen King, Johannes van Oort, Marvin Meyer, Gesine Schenke Robinson, John Turner, Birger Pearson, Fernando Bermejo Rubio, Kevin Sullivan, Ismo Dunderberg, Pierluigi Piovanelli, April DeConick, Nicola Denzey Lewis, Grant Adamson, Niclas Förster, Franklin Trammell, Elaine Pagels, Bas van Os, Johanna Brankaer, Tage Petersen, Louis Painchaud, Serge Cazelais, Matteo Grosso, Lance Jenott, Simon Gathercole, Gregor Wurst, Wolf-Peter Funk, Antti Marjanen, James Robinson.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Astrology in Bristol

If you are going to be in or near Bristol this spring, you might want to consider attending this fantastic-looking conference "Imagining Astrology" convened by Dr. Darrelyn Gunzberg, April 24-25, 2010.

ABSTRACT: Astrology as a way of understanding the world has woven its thread into cultures since Mesopotamian times. Along with its technical descriptions of calculation and interpretation, whether written on clay tablets or vellum, using stylus, quill or printing press, it has also taken form in sculpture, mosaics and painting, as well as inhabiting such esoteric bodies of knowledge as Kabbalah, alchemy and magic. Modern scholarship, viewing astrology from the outside, pays little attention to the language incorporated in such esoteric lore and has assigned it solely a cultural meaning, assuming astrology to be a form of divination, shaped by Aristotlean cosmology and Neo-Platonic philosophy. In so doing the Academy has failed to understand that astrology forms a lingua franca stitching together multiple paradigms of thinking. These fall beyond cultures, and bind, underpin and flow through them, reflective of and inherently part of human experience.


  • Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, The University of Bristol, The Strange History of Astro-Archaeology
  • Elliot Wolfson, Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New YorkUniversity, Theosis, Vision, and the Astral Body in Medieval German Pietism and the Spanish Kabbalah
  • Kocku von Stuckrad, University of Groningen, Jewish Astrological Imagery in Late Antiquity
  • Roger Beck, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Imagery and narrative in an ancient horoscope: P. Lond. 130 (Greek Horoscopes no. 81)
  • Peter Forshaw, Assistant Professor in Western Esotericism, University of Amsterdam, Astronomia Inferior et Superior:Some Medieval and Renaissance Instances of the Conjunction of Alchemy and Astrology
  • Geoffrey Shamos, Postgraduate research student, University of Pennsylvania, Astrology as Sociology: Depictions of the “Children of the Planets,” 1400-1600
  • Liz Greene, Postgraduate research student, University of Bristol, The magical astrology of the British occult revival, 1885-1939
  • Bernadette Brady, Postgraduate research student, Bath Spa University, The visual cartography of the sky since Mesopotamian times
  • Darrelyn Gunzburg, Postgraduate research student, University of Bristol, Medieval frescoes and sculptures as astrological documents

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blogger and Wordpress question

I have not been satisfied with Blogger's inability to support webpages. I would like to be able to have one integrated website-blog that is EASY to manage. I like Blogger because it is so easy to use. And I really dislike my website because it is so cumbersome to alter, which is why nothing is ever updated.

So I tried to alter Blogger to give me some static pages last summer. But this is a temporary fix. I need to find another platform and integrate website and blog.

My biggest concerns are threefold.

1. Is there a way to automatically move my subscribers to a new URL? Or not?

2. Is there a way to automatically move my past three years of blogging history/archives to a new platform?

3. Finally, is Wordpress what I should be looking at? Or are there other recommendations? I like to control the look of my pages, so I am concerned about Wordpress if it is the case (which I don't know) that I can't access the html code.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The tragedy in Haiti

I was horrified this morning when I read in the newspaper that as many as 500,000 people may have been killed in the earthquake on Haiti. I can't even get my head around this. The survivors are going to need so much help and immediately. I am remembering IKE and KATRINA and the devastation wrecked here in the south and the length of time it has taken a wealthy nation with many resources to rebuild and take care of its misplaced, its injured, and its dead.

Want to help? Here is a LINK to some national organizations and some suggestions for local aid in the Houston area. Check your local newspaper for your own city's local help centers. Survivors are going to need clothing (consider an early spring cleaning of your closet), food, medicines, and water immediately.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ohio Fragments of the Gospel of Judas

I have been intending to write about this subject since New Orleans, but I got sick and had so many family obligations over break that I haven't had a clear moment to do so.

The Ohio Fragments of the Gospel of Judas are coming to light. In New Orleans, Professor Meyer distributed initial transcriptions of the fragments which were made by he and Professor Wurst last year from photographs they have access to. My understanding is that very soon the fragments will be moved to Europe and rephotographed, and those photographs will be distributed to scholars working on the Gospel of Judas.

Professor Meyer has kindly uploaded his SBL talk, transcriptions and translations of the fragments to his official website HERE.

I don't want to say too much about the fragments, because I do not yet have access to the photographs which I will need to make my own transcription and translation. I have put together a seminar here at Rice to begin this work with my graduate students, and hope that the photos will be available very soon.

From the transcription done by Meyer and Wurst, it appears that Jesus is the one who ascends in the cloud at the end of the gospel and Judas is left behind on the ground looking at him, only to betray him a few lines later, fulfilling the fate of his ignorant star.

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.