Starting off the New Year: Announcements

What is up this semester? I'm teaching two courses, my 100-level Introduction to New Testament Studies, and a graduate reading course in Coptic where we will finish up our work on the Gospel of Judas and the 1 Apocalypse of James from the Tchacos Codex.

Mark your calendars. Rice Religious Studies Department is hosting its Rockwell Symposium 2010, an international conference on April 15-18th in the Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library: Hidden God, Hidden Histories.

The symposium is designed to work on two distinct but related levels. On the first level, we intend the symposium as the inaugural event of the Department's new GEM Program, an area of graduate study at Rice that focuses on the traditional scholarly categories of Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism, but also seeks to revision, renew, and move beyond them in creative and positive ways.

On the second level, the symposium will serve as a platform to bring together a set of particular studies to be published under the title, Histories of the Hidden God. Papers will address the specific topic of the Hidden God and the relationship of that God to the universe and humanity. The “thesis” of this edited volume is the exploration of religious traditions that characterize an absolute being who is “beyond” the conventional gods and our cosmos, a being who may even be conceived of as existing outside the known universe. This absolute being may be portrayed in theistic or non-theistic terms. Its relationship with the cosmos and other beings may vary from a relationship that is utterly transcendent to one that is radically immanent.

By focusing on the manner in which these ideologies describe the relationship between this god-beyond-god(s), the cosmos, and humanity, one of the main goals of this volume is to attempt to view thinkers and groups, whose traditional labels (‘gnostic’, ‘dualist’ etc) have associated them with the history of heresy, within a broader world view that connects them with others who were conceiving God and the world in similar ways. Thus another goal of this project is the hope that our studies will engage academic language and discourse in such a way that will facilitate a better understanding of this type of ideology (transtheism?, metatheism? etc) as part of a continuum of forms of belief, rather than as something sharply distinct from more normative or mainstream theologies. If this can be accomplished, it would move us in the direction of opening up the study of gnosticism, esotericism and mysticism to non-judgmental, yet critical academic categories.

A schedule of speakers and events will be posted as soon as that becomes finalized over the next month.