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Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas
Author: April DeConick
This monograph represents a critical juncture in Thomas studies since it dispels the belief that the Gospel of Thomas originates from gnostic traditions. Rather, Jewish mystical and Hermetic origins are proposed and examined.
Following this analysis, the anthropogony and soteriology of Thomas are discussed. The Thomasites taught that they were the elect children of the Father, originating from the Light. The human, however, became unworthy of these luminous beginnings and was separated from the divine when Adam sinned. Now he must purify himself by leading an encratite lifestyle. He is to ascend into heaven, seeking a visio dei which will transform him into his original immortal state and grant him citizenship in the Kingdom.
Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
Author: April DeConick
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.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)
In: Vigiliae Christianae
Proceedings of the International Congress on the Tchacos Codex Held at Rice University, Houston Texas, March 13-16, 2008
This book contains the proceedings from the Codex Judas Congress, the first international conference held to discuss the newly-restored Tchacos Codex. Given that the Tchacos Codex is a newly-conserved ancient book of Christian manuscripts which had yet to be discussed collaboratively by a body of scholars, the research conducted and published within this book by the members of the Codex Judas Congress is nothing less than a landmark in Gnostic studies. 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 in conflict with other Christians who belonged to the apostolic or conventional church.

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

Because the gnostic heresy is a social construction imposed by the early Catholics on religious people they identified as transgressors of Christianity, scholars are entertaining the idea that ancient gnostics were actually alternative Christians. While gnostics may have been made into heretics by the early Catholics, this does not erase the fact that gnostics were operating in the margins of the conventional religions with a countercultural perspective that upset and overturned everything from traditional theology, cosmogony, cosmology, anthropology, hermeneutics, scripture, religious practices, and lifestyle choices. Making the gnostic into a Christian only imposes another grand narrative on the early Christians, one which domesticates gnostic movements. Granted, the textual evidence for the interface of the gnostic and the Christian is present, but so is the interface of the gnostic and the Greek, the gnostic and the Jew, the gnostic and the Persian, and the gnostic and the Egyptian. And the interface looks to have all the signs of transgression, not conformity. Understanding the gnostic as a spiritual orientation toward a transcendent God beyond the biblical God helps us handle this kind of diversity and transgression. As such, it survives in the artifacts that gnostics and their opponents have left behind, artifacts that help orient religious seekers to make sense of their own moments of ecstasy and revelation.

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies

Narratives of soul flights are common in ancient Mediterranean literature, sharing many similarities such as the movement of the soul along a vertical path that is associated with life and death. But they also display significant differences such as peculiar accounts of cosmic realms, idiosyncratic reasons for soul flights, and wild diversity of associated rituals. Historical critical studies of soul flights have been unable to address successfully this problem of comparison, which remains unable to explain structures that are engineered consistently in cultural productions. Cognitive explanations are more helpful in this regard. Yet current cognitive explanations struggle to account for the differences. How can both the similarities and the differences be accounted for within the same parameters of the operations of human cognition? This paper presents a model called cognitive ratcheting to address this problem. It is a theoretical formulation of the natural mental process through which concepts take shape and are innovated when they are mentally mapped onto spatial orientations, then ratcheted up with intuitive cognition, and finally elaborated into many cultural variations by reflective thought. This process acknowledges that, at the same time a concept is diversified through reflective elaboration and ratcheted up within different cultural contexts, it retains deep structures, especially with regard to spatial orientations, intuitive processes, and reflective recursion.

In: Aries
In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: The Gospel of Judas in Context