Fall 2008 courses

I'm in the process of putting together syllabi for my fall 08 courses. Here are my two course descriptions:

Reli 309/593: Reading Coptic Texts
This is the third semester of the Coptic language. It has three goals: to read Coptic texts; to become familiar with Coptic dialects; and to review immediate grammar, syntax and vocabulary. This seminar is meant to be as flexible as possible, recognizing that students will be at various levels of competency. Our goal is to bring everyone to reading fluency with some ability to deal with different dialects by the end of the semester. Each student will be responsible for at least one Coptic text, creating a complete chrestomathy of that text.
Reli 483/583: Mysticism Before Mysticism Seminar
What is mysticism? How does it differ from esotericism and Gnosticism? Is there no mysticism in the west before Pseudo-Dionysius? Is there no mysticism without Plato? This course will explore pre-Dionysian mysticism within Jewish and Christian traditions. Two questions will drive the seminar: (1) what mysticism looks like within Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity; (2) how mysticism emerges in different communal contexts in this period. The subject matter – mysticism in early Judaism and Christianity – has yet to be mapped, because traditionally it has been understood to have begun with Dionysius the Areopagite and envisioned as the product of (Neo-)Platonism. Any article or book on ancient mysticism will engage this period in terms of useful “background” to the “genuine” mysticism following Dionysius. The faults with this paradigm will be explored and a new paradigm put into place.