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In: Vigiliae Christianae
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)

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
In: Hidden Intercourse
In: In Search of Truth. Augustine, Manichaeism and other Gnosticism
In: Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity
In: Practicing Gnosis