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The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts
Volume Editors: Jan Roskovec and Vít Hušek
The concept of intertextuality was originally coined as an instrument in answering the question of how meaning is communicated through texts. The Interactions in Interpretation discusses various aspects of how the world of the Bible (seen as a world of a certain language: a complex of ideas, notions, images, idioms, stories, that are shared and referred to) communicates with other worlds in both directions. The collection of studies follows three types of interactions with marked bearing on understanding: (1) interactions with a particular motif of dream, (2) interactions with a particular text of Isa 6:9–10, (3) intertextuality in changing contexts.
Editor: Douglas Estes
The tree of life is an iconic visual symbol at the edge of religious thought over the last several millennia. As a show of its significance, the tree bookends the Christian canon; yet scholarship has paid it minimal attention in the modern era. In The Tree of Life a team of scholars explore the origin, development, meaning, reception, and theology of this consequential yet obscure symbol. The fourteen essays trek from the origins of the tree in the texts and material culture of the ancient Near East, to its notable roles in biblical literature, to its expansion by early church fathers and Gnostics, to its rebirth in medieval art and culture, and to its place in modern theological thought.
An international team of twenty scholars under Edmondo F. Lupieri’s direction produced Mary Magdalene from the New Testament to the New Age and Beyond. While the historical figure of the Magdalene may be lost forever, the construction of her literary images and their transformations and adaptations over the centuries are a lively testimony to human creativity and faith. Different pictures of Mary travelled through time and space, from history to legend and mythology, crossed religious boundaries, going beyond the various Christianities, to become a “sign of contradiction” for many. This book describes a special case of biblical reception history, that of the New Testament figure of a woman whose presence at the side of Jesus has been disturbing for some, but proves to be inspiring for others.
In the 2016 Radboud Prestige Lectures, published in this volume, Jörg Frey develops a new perspective on 2 Peter by arguing that the letter is dependent on the Apocalypse of Peter. Frey argues that reading 2 Peter against the backdrop of the Apocalypse of Peter sheds new light on many longstanding interpretative questions and offers fresh insights into the history of second-century Christianity. Frey’s lectures are followed by responses from leading scholars in the field, who discuss Frey’s proposal in ways both critical and constructive. Contributors include: Richard Bauckham, Jan Bremmer, Terrance Callan, Paul Foster, Jeremy Hultin, Tobias Nicklas, David Nienhuis and Martin Ruf.
A Study of Determinism and Early Christian Philosophy of Ethics
Author: Paul Linjamaa
In The Ethics of The Tripartite Tractate (NHC I, 5) Paul Linjamaa offers the first full length thematical monograph on the longest Valentinian text extant today. By investigating the ethics of The Tripartite Tractate, this study offers in-depth exploration of the text's ontology, epistemology, theory of will, and passions, as well as the anthropology and social setting of the text.
Valentinians have often been associated with determinism, which has been presented as “Gnostic” and then not taken seriously, or been disregarded as an invention of ancient intra-Christian polemics. Linjamaa challenges this conception and presents insights into how early Christian determinism actually worked, and how it effectively sustained viable and functioning ethics.
A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the “Fifth Gospel”
Now available in Open Access thanks to the support of the University of Helsinki. In The Gospel of Thomas and Plato, Ivan Miroshnikov contributes to the study of the earliest Christian engagements with philosophy by offering the first systematic discussion of the impact of Platonism on the Gospel of Thomas, one of the most intriguing and cryptic works among the Nag Hammadi writings. Miroshnikov demonstrates that a Platonist lens is indispensable to the understanding of a number of the Thomasine sayings that have, for decades, remained elusive as exegetical cruces. The Gospel of Thomas is thus an important witness to the early stages of the process that eventually led to the Platonist formulation of certain Christian dogmata.
Author: Herbert Schmid
In Christen und Sethianer. Ein Beitrag zur Diskussion um den religionsgeschichtlichen und den kirchengeschichtlichen Begriff der Gnosis versucht Herbert Schmid zu zeigen, dass es vermutlich keine Vorform der Gnosis an den Rändern des antiken Judentums gegeben hat. Sowohl Schenkes Sethianismus, als auch der Valentinianismus und andere frühe Ausprägungen der Gnosis sind vermutlich als frühe Versuche christlicher Theologie zu begreifen. In diesem Zusammenhang erweist sich der Begriff Gnosis als eine durchaus brauchbare Kategorie, um antike Religionsgeschichte zu beschreiben.

In Christen und Sethianer. Ein Beitrag zur Diskussion um den religionsgeschichtlichen und den kirchengeschichtlichen Begriff der Gnosis, Herbert Schmid argues that there are no hints for a more primitive and independent form of Gnosticism which developed on the fringes of ancient Judaism. Not only the Valentinian school, but also Hans-Martin Schenkes Sethianism and other early manifestations of Gnosis are probably best understood as early attempts to phrase Christian theology. In this context, the term Gnosticism is a useful category to describe ancient religious history.
Now available in Open Access thanks to the support of the University of Helsinki. Women and knowledge are interconnected in several ways in late ancient and early Christian discourses, not least because wisdom (Sophia) and spiritual knowledge (Gnosis) were frequently personified as female entities. Ancient texts deal with idealized women and use feminine imagery to describe the divine but they also debate women’s access to and capacity of gaining knowledge. Combining rhetorical analysis with social historical approaches, the contributions in this book cover a wide array of source materials, drawing special attention to the so-called Gnostic texts. The fourteen essays, written by prominent experts of ancient Christianity, are dedicated to Professor Antti Marjanen (University of Helsinki).
In The Church as Paradise and the Way Therein: Early Christian Appropriation of Genesis 3:22–24, Christopher A. Graham demonstrates that early Christian authors employed the words “paradise” and “way” as allusions to the expulsion narrative (Genesis 3:22–24) to signify that the benefits available in protological Paradise were once again accessible in and through Jesus and the Church.

The centrality of the expulsion narrative in their literary milieus gave these authors confidence that readers would discern these allusions. After considering the reception of the expulsion in texts circulating within the early Christian milieu, Graham turns to the texts of Luke and Irenaeus of Lyons. Both authors drew from an interpretive tradition in which a return to Paradise was desirable. Both celebrated Jesus's reversal of Adam's expulsion and the constitution of Jesus's followers as the location and means by which humanity could continue to access divine truth and life. For both authors, the Church is Paradise and the way therein.