Books Authored

Holy Misogyny

Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter

New York: Continuum 2011

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In Holy Misogyny, bible scholar April DeConick wants real answers to the questions that are rarely whispered from the pulpits of the contemporary Christian churches.  Why is God male?  Why are women associated with sin?  Why can’t women be priests? Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the early Christian literature, she seeks to understand the conflicts over sex and gender in the early church – what they were and what was at stake.  She explains how these ancient conflicts have shaped contemporary Christianity and its promotion of male exclusivity and superiority in terms of God, church leadership, and the bed.

DeConick’s detective work uncovers old aspects of Christianity before later doctrines and dogmas were imposed upon the churches, and the earlier teachings about the female were distorted.   Holy Misogyny shows how the female was systematically erased from the Christian tradition, and why. She concludes that the distortion and erasure of the female is the result of ancient misogyny made divine writ, a holy misogyny that remains with us today.

The Thirteenth Apostle

What the Gospel of Judas Really Says

London: Continuum, 2007

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In the Thirteenth Apostle, April DeConick offers a new translation of the Gospel of Judas which seriously challenges the National Geographic interpretation of a good Judas. DeConick argues that the Gospel of Judas is not about a "good" Judas, or even a "poor old" Judas. It is a gospel parody about a "demon" Judas written by a particular group of Gnostic Christians - the Sethians. While many other leading scholars have followed National Geographic's lead, Professor DeConick is the first leading scholar to challenge this "official" version. In doing so, she is sure to inspire the fresh debate around this most infamous of biblical figures.

Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas

A History of the Gospel and its Growth

London: T & T Clark; 2005; paperback 2006

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The Gospel of Thomas is an engimatic collection of 114 sayings of Jesus. Here, April DeConick explores tough questions that have occupied scholars since the discovery of this gospel in the sands of Egypt in the 1940s. Where did this gospel come from? When was it written? Who wrote it? Why was it composed? What is its meaning? Rather than taking the conventional approach to answering these questions, DeConick examines these issues anew by proposing that the gospel developed within a climate dominated by oral consciousness as a product of communal memory.

"In welding new theories of orality and community memory to traditional historical criticism, April DeConick has produced a ground-breaking study of the Gospel of Thomas that convincingly overturns much of current scholarship. Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas is the most important book on that gospel to appear in a very long time."
Birger A. Pearson, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Fresh, provocative, and well researched, April DeConick's book is...a revisionist presentation of the Gospel of Thomas that offers a serious challenge to current interpretations of Thomas and the sayings of Jesus in Thomas."
Marvin Meyer, Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies, Chapman University

Reviews
A "great book" that "sets the stage for a new chapter in this field of research."
Eric Noffke, RBL, June 23, 2006.

"This is, in my view, one of the most important books on Thomas ever published." 
Birger Pearson, Religious Studies Review 32:3 (2006) page 196.

Gilles Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae 60 (2006) pages 231-233.

 

The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation

With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel

London: T & T Clark, 2006; paperback, 2007

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This companion volume to Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas provides the first comprehensive analysis of the development of the Gospel of Thomas. DeConick's book contains a saying-by-saying commentary. She also includes a reconstruction, translation, and analysis of the "original" form of the gospel - the Kernel Gospel of Thomas. She offers a comprehensive analysis of the origin and meaning of the Gospel of Thomas as it developed in response to various pressures and communal crises. She traces this development from the earliest apocalyptic Kernel Gospel from Jerusalem (30-50 CE) to its final form as an early Christian mystical Gospel with Alexandrian affinities (120 CE).

"There is a wealth of information in this volume and the standard formatting makes it readily accessible.  This is a very helpful discussion which will undoubtedly generate much focused and fruitful investigation of this enigmatic text."
Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Review in Expository Times 118:8 (2007) page 470.

Reviews
Paul Foster, Expository Times 118:8 (2007) pages 469-470.

 

Voices of the Mystics

Early Christian Discourse in the Gospels of John and Thomas and Other Ancient Christian Literature

London: T & T Clark, 2001, paperback, 2004

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The Gospel of John has always been perceived as a more mystical gospel than the Synoptics. April DeConick explores in this book the mysticism of John, arguing that it is the result of an actual theological debate that engaged Christians in Syria, particularly those Christians responsible for writing the Gospel of John and those authoring the Gospel of Thomas. The subject of the debate was soteriology. Challenging the Christians who revered the Gospel of Thomas and taught salvation through ascent and vision mysticism, the Johannine Gospel argues for a mysticism based on the faith and sacramental experience. DeConick examines evidence from the Preachings of John, the Gospel of the Savior, the Apocryphon of James, the Ascension of Isaiah, and the Dialogue of the Savior to show that this soteriological controversy did not end with the composition of the Gospel of John but continued well into the second century.

"DeConick's book provides us with a thought-provoking reconstruction of trajectories of traditions that engage with a wide range of evidence, which has helpfully brought into relief the voices of the mystics."
Timothy Ling, Review in Journal for the Study of the New Testament 27:5 (2005) page 84.

Reviews
Timothy Ling, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 27:5 (2005) pages 84-85.
Hans-Martin Schenke, Theologische Literaturzeitung 127:6 (2002) pages 641-642.
Jonathan Draper, Neotestamentica 35:1-2 (2001) pages 178-179.
Gilles Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae 55:4 (2001) pages 436-440.

 

Seek to See Him

Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas

Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 33; Leiden: Brill, 1996

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This monograph represents a critical juncture in Thomasine studies since it dispenses with the belief that the Gospel of Thomas originates from Gnostic traditions.  Rather, in order to explain the esotericism in this Gospel, Jewish mystical and Hermetic origins are proposed and examined.   April DeConick discussed these traditions in relationship to the anthropology and soteriology found in the Gospel of Thomas.  The Christians who wrote the Gospel of Thomas believed that they were the elect children from the Father, that they originally were made in God's Image as luminous beings.  Humans were separated from these glorious images as a result of Adam's sin.  Now human beings must purify themselves by leading an encratic life.  Once done, the separated human can ascend into heaven, where he or she will meet their lost images and see God.  This experience, the visio dei, will transform the person into the original Image and his or her citizenship in the Kingdom will be secured.

"DeConick's argument is impressive. Her distancing of Thomas from known written sources is carefully developed. Her inclusion of early Jewish mysticism into the mix of sources is enlightening, as is her exposition of the visio Dei motif."
D. Jeffrey Bingham, Dallas Theological Seminary, from Review in Journal of Early Christian Studies 5:4 (1997) 584

"The real value of Seek to See Him lies in the fact that DeConick introduces into the discussion of the Gospel of Thomas a set of texts and traditions that has been neglected but should be taken seriously in the interpretation of Thomas.  DeConick does not rehearse the familiar themes of Thomas and the historical Jesus, Thomas and Wisdom, Thomas and the Synoptics and John.  Nor does she allow herself to fall into an easy association of Thomas with Gnosticism…Rather, DeConick points students of the Gospel of Thomas to other texts, especially Jewish mystical texts, that should be considered in the scholarly discussion of Thomas."
Marvin Meyer, Chapman University, from Review in Journal of Biblical Literature 117:4 (1998) page 760

Reviews
Marvin Meyer, Journal of Biblical Literature 117:4 (1998) pages 758-760.
D. Jeffrey Bingham, Journal of Early Christian Studies 5:4 (1997) pages 583-584.

 

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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.

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Israel's God and Rebecca's Children is a collection of essays written as a tribute to the lasting scholarship and friendship of Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh) and Alan Segal (Barnard College), two scholars who have contributed significantly to the contemporary understanding of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity. Their colleagues and friends examine a wide range of topics that have been the focus of Hurtado and Segal's research, including Christology, community, Jewish-Christian relations, soteriology and the development of early Christianity. Together these essays reconceptualize Christology and community in Judaism and Christianity and provide valuable insights into the issues of community and identity.

Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity

The Social and Cultural World of the Gospel of Thomas

Edited by Jon Ma. Asgeirsson, April D. DeConick and Risto Uro

Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 59 (Leiden: Brill, 2006)

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This volume is a selection of papers presented to the Society of Biblical Literature Thomasine Traditions Group from 1996 to 2001. The papers focus on the early Christian writings attributed to the apostle Thomas with particular emphasis on the Gospel of Thomas. The collection offers an extensive discussion of the social and cultural world of the gospel, particularly examining its relationship to other contemporary Christian writings and Graeco-Roman literature. The essays give a helpful survey of recent developments and discussions in the field of Thomasine studies.

Among many topics dealt with in the volume are the issue of Thomas’ “community,” the gospel’s enigmatic exhortation to become “passers-by,” and Thomas’ relation to the Hebrew epic, Platonic philosophic traditions, Valentinus, as well as to early gospel harmonies. The volume also proposes a hypothesis of the earliest layer of the Thomasine traditions and presents analyses of Thomas’ argumentative rhetology and portrait of Jesus. One essay focuses on the role of the apostle Thomas in the Acts of Thomas. Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity will be a valuable tool for all those interested in Nag Hammadi Studies, Gnosticism, Early Christianity and the history of religion.

"This book is a good window into current scholarship on the Gospel of Thomas and Thomas Christianity."
Birger Pearson, University of California, from Review in Religious Studies Review 32:3 (2006) pages 195-196

Reviews
Birger Pearson, University of California, Religious Studies Review 32:3 (2006) pages 195-196.

Paradise Now

Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism

Symposium Series 11; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, paperback, 2006

Leiden: Brill, hardback, 2006

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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.  Contributors are Afzal, Arbel, Bautch, Boustan, Davila, DeConick, Deutsch, Elior, Flannery-Dailey, Gieschen, Lesses, Lieber, Morray-Jones, Orlov, Rowland, Sanders, Segal, and Sullivan.

"This volume will be of interest not just to specialists, but to biblical scholars in general.  It maps out a new paradigm for analysing mystical texts and in its several essays offers rich veins of research.  This is a highly significant volume."
Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, from Review in Expository Times 118:9 (2007) page 467

Reviews
Paul Foster, Expository Times 118:9 (2007) pages 466-467.