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Paradise Now

Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism

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)
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Seek to See Him

Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas

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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.
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April D. DeConick