Paradise Now

Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism


A substantial introduction to the study of early Jewish and Christian mysticism, this volume examines major aspects of the mystical tradition within early Judaism and Christianity. This tradition was centered on the belief that a person directly, immediately, and before death can experience the divine, either as a rapture experience or one solicited by a particular praxis. The essays define and analyze the nature and practices of mysticism as it emerges within early Judaism and Christianity, recognizing this emergence within a variety of communal environments. Larger questions about the relationship between hermeneutics and experience, as well as the relationship between mysticism and apocalypticism are also discussed, and a substantial bibliography of the field is provided. The book is the result of ten years of work of the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism unit of the Society of Biblical Literature.

The contributors are Cameron C. Afzal, Daphna Arbel, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Ra‘anan S. Boustan, James R. Davila, April D. DeConick, Celia Deutsch, Rachel Elior, Frances Flannery-Dailey, Charles A. Gieschen, Rebecca Lesses, Andrea Lieber, Christopher R. A. Morray-Jones, Andrei A. Orlov, Christopher Rowland, Seth L. Sanders, Alan F. Segal, and Kevin Sullivan.

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April D. DeConick, Ph.D. (1994) in Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, is Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University in Houston. She is the author of Voices of the Mystics: Early Christian Discourse in the Gospels of John, Thomas and Other Ancient Christian Literature; Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth; and The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation: With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel (all from T&T Clark). She is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature where she was one of the founders of the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism Group and currently serves as co-Chair of the New Testament Mysticism Project.
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