Articles Authored (for pdf click title of article)
“What the Gospel of Judas Really Says”
Abstract: DeConick covers several grammatical points of difference between the National Geographic translation and her own. She then makes an examination of the narrative of the Gospel of Judas, and concludes what we do know from the manuscript is that Judas was separated from the everlasting generation and his soul was connected with the archons and the fate of his star. Judas’ tragedy is used by the Sethian author to criticize and mock his mainstream brothers and sisters who do not themselves realize that the demonic disciple they curse is in fact the one who made possible their atonement.
Forthcoming in Madeleine Scopello (ed.), Gospel of Judas Conference Volume (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies; Leiden: Brill).
“The Mystical Christianity in the Gospel of Thomas and the Beginnings of Eastern Orthodoxy”
Abstract: This article summarizes DeConick's position on the esotericism in the Gospel of Thomas as representative of an early form of Christian mysticism growing in Syrian soil. It was a mysticism of a "paradise now," an internalization of the apocalypse that recreated Eden within the parameters of the Church, including the transformation of the faithful into Adam and Eve as they were before the Fall. This situation was opportune to develop a mysticism of vision and heavenly journey, a mysticism that represents a precursor to later Eastern Orthodoxy.
Forthcoming in The Gospel of Thomas in the Context of the Literature and the History of the Religion of Early Christianity and Late Antiquity, Colloquium Proceedings (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena).
Abstract: This article explores further Valentinian views about sex and procreation. Why were the Valentinians so concerned about conceiving souls implanted with a superior spirit like the Lord’s, one that might be “elect” or, at least, inclined to live morally? Because this would increase the number of souls that had the opportunity to convert to Christianity and be redeemed. DeConick argues further that the Valentinians may not have been against eros. Based on a passage from one of the Valentinian texts, she says that the Valentinian lovers appear to have made a distinction between eros and epithumia, between sexual pleasure and lust, between lovemaking and hedonism. They were against carnality for certain, but perhaps not sexual pleasure between married partners. We do not hear in the Valentinian texts anything approaching Augustine’s reproach of eros, that ideal sex should be nothing more than a handshake. For the Valentinians, sex seems to be understood as a delightful and sacred experience all at once, when the souls of the parents mingled with the heavenly powers and resulted in the conception of a spiritually superior child, one who would be morally-inclined and redeemable, if not elect.
In W. Hanegraaff and J. Kripal (eds.), Hidden Intercourse. Eros and Sexuality in Western Esotericism.
Abstract: This article views the Gospel of Thomas as the product of an early Eastern form of Christianity, most probably originating in a Syrian context. The text should not be seen as representing some Gnostic or marginal sapiential form of Christianity, rather it reflects a trajectory in ‘orthodox’ Christianity that valued mystical or esoteric teaching. Such traditions have been found in mainstream Christianity throughout its history. The text of the Gospel of Thomas is understood to be a rolling corpus, or aggregate of sayings that represent different moments in the life and history of the early Thomasine community.
In Expository Times 118:10, pages 469-479.
Abstract: This is a programmatic essay, engaging and mapping the field of early Jewish and Christian mysticism. DeConick discusses definitions of mysticism in terms of emic and etic differences. She then covers the tradition in terms of a dynamic bilateral tradition in which the boundaries between what is Jewish and what is Christian are blurred. She moves on to point out the importance of examining the intersection of hermeneutics and religious experience, rather than excluding one of these facets. Communal identities are taken up. She emphasizes that no single social group was responsible for the practices and preservation of this tradition, but rather that various groups familiar with the mystical tradition employed it with different emphases and applications. Next, she turns to describing the "priestly" cosmology that is assumed by the mystical literature. She includes a section on the importance of the internalization of the apocalypse in terms of the development of the mystical tradition. She ends the article with a description of various communal practices within the literature.
In April D. DeConick (ed.), Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism (Symposium Series 11; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature) pages 1-26.
“Corrections to the Critical Reading of the Gospel of Thomas”
Abstract: This article offers suggestions for corrections to the critical reading of several passages in the Gospel of Thomas. The passages discussed are P.Oxy. 1.24; P.Oxy. 654.8-9; P.Oxy. 654.9; P.Oxy. 654.15; P.Oxy. 654.25; P.Oxy. 654.26-27; NHC II,2,39.34.
In Vigiliae Christianae 60, pages 201-208.
“On the Brink of the Apocalypse: A Preliminary Examination of the Earliest Speeches in the Gospel of Thomas”
Abstract: This paper is a preliminary look at the Kernel Gospel through the lens of rhetorical analysis. DeConick examines the five speeches of Jesus in the Kernel Gospel of Thomas, and concludes that Jesus' message at this early stage of interpretation had an apocalyptic character, featuring eschatological dimensions as well as mystical ones. These mystical ideas, however, took on a life of their own when, after the fall of the Jerusalem Temple, the Thomasine Christians felt the impact of the delayed Eschaton. With the collapse of their teleology came a reformation of their apocalyptic thought. This reformation resulted in a shift that served to isolate the mystical dimension from the temporal, making the mystical an end unto itself.
In J. Asgeirsson, A.D. DeConick, and R. Uro (eds.), Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity: The Social and Cultural World of the Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies; Leiden: E.J. Brill) pages 93-118.
Abstract: Reading the Gospel of Thomas as a repository of early Christian communal memory suggests that the Gospel contains traditions and references to hermeneutics that serve to reconfigure older traditions and hermeneutics no longer relevant to the experience of the community. In the case of the Gospel of Thomas, the community's original eschatological expectations were disconfirmed by its contemporary experience of the non-Event. When the Kingdom did not come, rather than discarding their Gospel and closing the door of their Church, the Thomasine Christians responded by reinterpreting Jesus' sayings, believing themselves to have previously misunderstood Jesus' intent - to have applied the wrong hermeneutic to his words. So they aligned their old traditions with their present experience, rationalizing the non-Event, shifting their theology to the encratic and mystical, and creating a new hermeneutic through which the old traditions could be viewed. This response is visible in the way in which they revised their Gospel, adding question-and-answer unites and dialogues that addressed the subject specifically, along with a series of new sayings that worked to instruct the believer in the new theology and guide him or her hermeneutically through the Gospel.
In A. Kirk and T. Thatcher (eds.), Memory, Tradition, and Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity (Semeia 52; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature) pages 207-220.
“The Great Mystery of Marriage: Sex and Conception in Ancient Valentinian Traditions”
Abstract: Using medical literature from antiquity, this article is able to answer the perennial question whether or not the Valentinians were abstinent or sexually active. The answer is that they were engaged in sexually active monogamous marriages. The sexual activity was understood to be sacramental, a mystery, because of its procreative power. The sexual act had strict prescriptions in order to safeguard this procreative power and its abuse. The dominant prescription was that sex within marriage had to be pure rather than carnal. This meant that during the sexual act, when a child was being conceived, the parents were required to lift their thoughts to God above and contemplate the higher mysteries. In so doing, they would conceive children with higher grade souls.
In Vigiliae Christianae 57, pages 307-342.
Abstract: This is the article that started it all, and ended with the publication of Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas. In this piece, DeConick begins to explore the possibility of the rolling corpus as a model for Thomas' compositional history. She starts to lay out her reasoning and her methodology, although this does not become fully developed for her until she writes Recovering, especially in terms of the importance of orality.
In Vigiliae Christianae 56, pages 167-199.
“The True Mysteries: Sacramentalism in the Gospel of Philip."
Abstract: DeConick writes about the sacraments in the Gospel of Philip, connecting them to esoteric Temple traditions. It appears that the Valentinians engaged in the same rituals as other Christians (baptism, chrism, eucharist), although they also believed marriage to be a sacramental state reflecting the sacred marriages of the Aeons in the Pleroma. The Bridal Chamber is not a physical ritual, but an event that will take place at the End of the World when the Pleroma opens up to the wedded spirits as a bridal chamber.
In Vigiliae Christianae 55, pages 225-261.
“John Rivals Thomas: From Community Conflict to Gospel Narrative."
Abstract: This essay explores the connection between the gospels of John and Thomas on the community and tradition level rather than source level. Like other religious texts, these gospels address the particular needs of their respective communities and express special theological and soteriological positions. As community documents, each as its own geographical location, its own community history, and its own religious traditions. Like other religious texts, both were written with the express purposes of polemicizing, persuading, and propagating a particular belief system. In the case of the Gospel of John, one of the dialogues it is engaged in is whether or not visions and heavenly journeys can effect salvation.
In Tom Thatcher and Robert Fortna (eds.), Jesus in Johannine Tradition: New Directions (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press) pages 303-312.
“Heavenly Temple Traditions and Valentinian Worship: A Case For First-Century Christology in the Second Century"
Abstract: This paper represents DeConick's initial attempt to unravel Valentinian Christology in light of Jewish mystical traditions. She analyzes the Christology through the lens of Heavenly Temple cosmology. She covers descriptions of Jesus-Christ as the Only-Begotten Son, the Face of God, the Boundary of God, the Aeon Jesus (his body and the body of the ecclesia), the Perfect Man, and the High Priest.
In Carey Newman, Jim Davila and Gladys Lewis (eds.), The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism, Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (Supplements to Journal for the Study of Judaism 63; Leiden: Brill) pages 308-341.
"'Blessed are those who have not seen' (John 20:29): Johannine Dramatization of an Early Christian Discourse"
Abstract: This article represents the beginnings of DeConick's consideration of the relationship between the Gospels of John and Thomas, which resulted in her book Voices of the Mystics. The article focuses on John's articulation of a debate about soteriology, specifically over the validity of proleptic visionary flights to heaven. She concludes that the Johannine author is not painting an arbitrary picture of the apostle Thomas, the hero of Syrian Christianity, when he portrays him as a false hero whose mystical leanings are corrected by Jesus in chapter 20.
In John Turner and Anne McGuire (eds.), The Nag Hammadi Library After Fifty Years, Proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 44; Leiden: Brill) pages 381-398.
"The Dialogue of the Savior and the Mystical Sayings of Jesus"
Abstract: This article addresses the process of immortalization emphasized in the Dialogue of the Savior. Like the Gospel of Thomas, this text hermeneutically attempts to offer the reader the correct interpretation of Jesus' sayings, which it claims will immortalize the reader. The author of the Dialogue reassures his reader that he or she can anticipate a transformation associated with ascent, similar to that which is promised in the Gospel of Thomas. But the difference between the two is that the Dialogue continuously instills in the reader that the immortalization will not be pre-mortem. It will only be realized after the flesh is stripped off and destroyed at the time of death.
In Vigiliae Christianae 50, pages 178-199.
"Fasting from the World: Encratite Soteriology in the Gospel of Thomas"
Abstract: This article became one of the chapters of her later book, Seek to See Him. In this piece, she explains the encratism of the Gospel of Thomas as a pre-requisite for pre-mortem journeys into heaven, ascent, and vision of God.
In Ugo Bianchi (ed.), The Notion of "Religion" in Comparative Research. Selected Proceedings of the XVIth IAHR Congress, Rome , 3rd-8th September, 1990 (Rome: L'Erma) pages 425-440.
"Stripped Before God: A New Interpretation of Logion 37 in the Gospel of Thomas"
Abstract: This article challenges the long-held tradition started by Jonathan Z. Smith, that saying 37 is baptismal. Through comparative analysis, DeConick and Fossum suggest that the actual ritual alluded to may be unction.
Co Authored with Jarl Fossum. This paper began DeConick's examination of the Gospel of Thomas against the mirror of Jewish mystical traditions.
In Vigiliae Christianae 45, pages 123-150.
"The Yoke Saying in the Gospel of Thomas 90"
Abstract: This is a form-critical investigation of saying 90 and its Matthean parallel. DeConick concludes that the version preserved in the Gospel of Thomas is earlier than that preserved in Matthew.
In Vigiliae Christianae 44, pages 280-294.