Secret Religion is released!

I have been working with two other editors, Jeff Kripal and Tony Pinn, on a 10-volume series on Religion for Macmillan.  These volumes are a hybrid between a textbook and a reference book.  There are only two volumes left to be published.  We started this project when we were contacted in August 2014.  So it is very exciting to have these volumes already published.  Only two years.  Really unbelievable!

My pet project was a volume called Secret Religion, and it just came out in hardcover and e-book. 

I want to thank all the scholars who took out time from their schedules to write for this volume.  It wouldn't be the great book it is without all of you!  You were WONDERFUL to work with!

In order of their contributions:  Michael Williams, Matthew Dillon, Grant Adamson, Tuomas Rasimus, Madeleine Scopello, Bas van Os, John Turner, Kevin Corrigan, Marco Pasi, Wouter Hanegraaff, Kocku von Struckrad, Claire Fanger, Hugh Urban, Dylan Burns, Erin Prophet, Henrik Bogdan, Chad Pevateaux, Jared Calaway, Jeff Kripal, Brian Ogren, Kevin Sullivan, Christopher Rowland, Kelley Coblentz-Bautch, James Davila.

It can be purchased via Macmillan or Amazon: Secret Religion.

Description: Religion: Secret Religion is part of the Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks series dedicated to the study of religion. Composed of twenty-four thematic chapters, this volume looks at the margins of religion or religious texts and traditions that are not considered authoritative by orthodox communities. The volume is broken down into three sections that correspond with different classifications of religion in the margins: gnosticism, with its focuses on knowledge of a transcendent God who is the source of life and the human spirit; esotericism, with its focus on private religion kept from the public and critical of orthodoxy; and mysticism, with its focus on immediate contact with the ultimate reality. Each classification will be explored historically and comparatively to give the reader a more rounded understanding. The volume also includes bibliographies, filmographies, images, a glossary, and a comprehensive index, all of which aid the reader in exploring this rich, rewarding, and relevant field.

 

Finally, the Cambridge Handbook on Western Mysticism and Esotericism is published

No kidding, I wrote a piece on early Christian mysticism for this volume eight years ago.  I don't even remember what I said!  But now we will know because it has been published.  It looks like a wonderful volume, worth having in your library.

Description of the handbook

Mysticism and esotericism are two intimately related strands of the Western tradition. Despite their close connections, however, scholars tend to treat them separately. Whereas the study of Western mysticism enjoys a long and established history, Western esotericism is a young field. The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism examines both of these traditions together. The volume demonstrates that the roots of esotericism almost always lead back to mystical traditions, while the work of mystics was bound up with esoteric or occult preoccupations. It also shows why mysticism and esotericism must be examined together if either is to be understood fully. Including contributions by leading scholars, this volume features essays on such topics as alchemy, astrology, magic, Neoplatonism, Kabbalism, Renaissance Hermetism, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, numerology, Christian theosophy, spiritualism, and much more. This handbook serves as both a capstone of contemporary scholarship and a cornerstone of future research.

Contents and Contributors

Part I. Antiquity:
1. Ancient mysteries Charles Stein
2. Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism Joscelyn Godwin
3. Parmenides and Empedocles Jessica Elbert Decker and Matthew Mayock
4. Plato, Plotinus, and Neoplatonism Gwenaëlle Aubry
5. Hermetism and Gnosticism Roelof van den Broek
6. Early Jewish mysticism Daphna Arbel
7. Early Christian mysticism April D. Deconick
Part II. The Middle Ages:
8. Sufism William C. Chittick
9. Kabbalah Brian Ogren
10. Medieval Christian mysticism Bruce Milem
11. Hildegard of Bingen and women's mysticism Anne L. Clark
Part III. The Renaissance and Early Modernity:
12. Renaissance Hermetism Antoine Faivre
13. Christian Kabbalah Peter J. Forshaw
14. Paracelsianism Bruce T. Moran
15. Rosicrucianism Hereward Tilton
16. Jacob Boehme and Christian theosophy Glenn Alexander Magee
17. Freemasonry Jan A. M. Snoek
18. Swedenborg and Swedenborgianism Jane Williams-Hogan
19. Mesmer and animal magnetism Adam Crabtree
Part IV. The Nineteenth Century and Beyond:
20. Spiritualism Cathy Gutierrez
21. H. P. Blavatsky and theosophy Michael Gomes
22. Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy Robert McDermott
23. The Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. Egil Asprem
24. G. I. Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way Glenn Alexander Magee
25. C. G. Jung and Jungianism Gerhard Wehr
26. René Guénon and traditionalism Mark Sedgwick
27. Via Negativa in the twentieth century Arthur Versluis
28. Contemporary Paganism Chas S. Clifton
29. The new age Olav Hammer
Part V. Common Threads:
30. Alchemy Lawrence M. Principe
31. Astrology Kocku von Stuckrad
32. Gnosis Wouter J. Hanegraaff
33. Magic Wouter J. Hanegraaff
34. Mathematical esotericism Jean-Pierre Brach
35. Panpsychism Lee Irwin
36. Sexuality Hugh B. Urban

Call for papers in mysticism, esotericism and gnosticism in antiquity

Just a reminder that the SBL group Mysticism, Esotericism and Gnosticism in Antiquity (MEGA) invites SBL and AAR members to submit proposals for the San Antonio meeting. 

This group is looking for papers on any theme or text related to direct knowledge of the divine or God for its open session.

Papers on the subject of amulets and inscribed religious objects are especially welcome for a special session on this topic that we are jointly holding with the Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds group.

An invited book review session is also planned with the following books featured: April D. DeConick. 2016. The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion From Antiquity to Today (Columbia University Press); Frances L. Flannery. 2015. Understanding Apocalyptic Terrorism: Countering the Radical Mindset (Routledge); Andrei Orlov. 2015. Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism (SUNY).

Submit proposals via the SBL website.

Mysticism, Esotericism and Gnosticism in Antiquity Group

The Annual Convention for the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion is almost here.  We have great sessions lined up for the MEGA Group.  I am particularly excited about the Cognitive Difference session, to be able to showcase and discuss how cognitive studies are making a difference to historians working in the area of early Christianity.  We have another great session on shamanism, hermetism, and then a wonderful open session of papers.  So much going on!

S21-115Cognitive Linguistics in Biblical Interpretation; Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity
Joint Session With: Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity, Cognitive Linguistics in Biblical Interpretation
11/21/2015
9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: 207 (Level 2) - Hilton

Theme: The Cognitive Difference

Athanasios Despotis, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Presiding
April D. DeConick, Rice University
Up, Down, In, Out and Back Again: Sensory Motor Schema and the Ascent of the Soul (25 min)
Roger Beck, University of Toronto
The Mithraeum as a Mechanism for Getting Down from Heaven and Back Up Again (25 min)
Colleen Shantz, Toronto School of Theology
"I Do Not Understand My Actions": Some Cognitive Bases for Natural Dualisms (25 min)
Vernon K. Robbins, Emory University
The Visible and Invisible in Early Christian Literature: Imagistic Story-Lines that Run Cognitive Progressions (25 min)
Robert von Thaden, Jr., Mercyhurst College
Families, Children, and Askesis: Framing Christ-Believing Bodies (25 min)
Grant Adamson, Rice University
Christology and Cognitive Science (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)

S21-336Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity; Religious Experience in Antiquity
Joint Session With: Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity, Religious Experience in Antiquity
11/21/2015
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 404 (Level 4) - Hilton

Theme: Revisiting Shamanism
This session is dedicated to Daniel Merkur, PhD whose scholarship on mysticism and friendship has inspired and continues to inspire us.

Celia Deutsch, Barnard College, Presiding
April D. DeConick, Rice University, Introduction (5 min)
April D. DeConick, Rice University
Shamanism and Gnostic Ritual (25 min)
James R. Davila, University of St. Andrews
Hekhalot Mysticism and Jewish Shamanism: Where Do We Stand Now? (25 min)
Jeffrey Pettis, Fordham University
Shamans in the Desert: Mark 1:12-13 Jesus and the Spirit World (25 min)
Pieter F. Craffert, University of South Africa
Shamanism as a Cross-Cultural Interpretive Tool: Jesus, Paul, and Early Christianity (25 min)
Michael Winkelman, Arizona State University, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (25 min)

S22-136Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity; Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism
Joint Session With: Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity, Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism
11/22/2015
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 204 (Level 2) - Hilton

Theme: Hermeticism

John Turner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Presiding
Jared C. Calaway, Illinois College
To See the Invisible One: Moses and Hermes in the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri (20 min)
Dylan M. Burns, Freie Universität Berlin
Alchemical Metaphor in the Paraphrase of Shem (NHC VII,1) (20 min)
Marla Segol, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Mystical Medicine: The Esoteric Genealogies of Hebrew Medical Texts (20 min)
Discussion (15 min)
M. David Litwa, University of Virginia
Self-knowledge in Monoimos and the Hermetic Corpus (20 min)
Christian H. Bull, University of Oslo
Poimandres, Kmeph, and the Laughing God: A Hermetic Scheme of Creation (20 min)
Christian Wildberg, Princeton University
The Stars of Hermes (20 min)
Discussion (15 min)

S23-233Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity
11/23/2015
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 406 (Level 4) - Hilton

Theme: General Open Session

Catherine Playoust, Catholic Theological College, Presiding
Kevin Sullivan, Illinois Wesleyan University
Angelic Bodies and the Body of Christ (25 min)
William Babcock, Duke University
'Loud Snap . . . Blackness Dumped on Thetan’: Scientology and the Western Esoteric Tradition as a Comparative Model for Enochic Literature (25 min)
Paul M. Pasquesi, Marquette University
Visual and Verbal Expressions of Transformation: Olmec Were-Jaguars and Angelification in Ascension of Isaiah Compared (25 min)
Eduard Iricinschi, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
“It is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly” (Eph 12:5): The Function of Secrecy in Epiphanius’ Depiction of the Nicolaitans and the Gnostics (25 min)
Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College
Esterah and Lilith: Mythical Women and Ascent (25 min)
Pieter G.R. de Villiers, University of the Free State
A Mystical Perspective on the Christophany in Revelation 1 (25 min)

Book Note: Divine Scapegoats by Andrei Orlov

Andrei sent me his most recent book on Jewish mysticism in the Apocalypse of Abraham.  The cover is gorgeous, a Blakean painting that is so apropos for the subject: the mirrored relationship between the heavenly and the demonic.  Think the two sides of the same coin.  The maintenance of demonic through the imitation of divinity.

Andrei A. Orlov, Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism (Albany: SUNY, 2015) 352 pages, ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5583-9
 
Divine Scapegoats is a wide-ranging exploration of the parallels between the heavenly and the demonic in early Jewish apocalyptical accounts. In these materials, antagonists often mirror features of angelic figures, and even those of the Deity himself, an inverse correspondence that implies a belief that the demonic realm is maintained by imitating divine reality. Andrei A. Orlov examines the sacerdotal, messianic, and creational aspects of this mimetic imagery, focusing primarily on two texts from the Slavonic pseudepigrapha: 2 Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham. These two works are part of a very special cluster of Jewish apocalyptic texts that exhibit features not only of the apocalyptic worldview but also of the symbolic universe of early Jewish mysticism. The Yom Kippur ritual in the Apocalypse of Abraham, the divine light and darkness of 2 Enoch, and the similarity of mimetic motifs to later developments in the Zohar are of particular importance in Orlov’s consideration.

Book Note: The Open Mind (edited by Jonathan Knight and Kevin Sullivan)

A new edited volume has come out in the Library of New Testament Studies from T&T Clark.  It is a Festschrift for Professor Christopher Rowland (Emertius, Oxford University) put together by his students and friends.  The book is appropriately titled The Open Mind

Chris' work was mind-opening for me years ago when I first read his fabulous book The Open Heaven and then his follow up Christian Origins.  His books were revelations to me, putting me inside of apocalypticism and mysticism in ways I had never thought about before. 

Chris showed me that mysticism is the vertical form of apocalypticism, while eschatology the horizonal.  One dealt with the revelation of God in the present, via direct immediate experience.  The other dealt with the revelation of God at death and the end of time.  This simple breakdown ended up forming the basic structure of my understanding of the ancient mind, and has remained in place for me for the last twenty-five years, informing almost everything I have ever written.

Contributors to the volume include myself, Vicente Dobroruka, Jonathan Draper, Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Paul Foster, Charles Gieschen, Andrew Gregory, Jonathan Knight, Philip Munoa, Tobias Nicklas, Andrei Orlov, J.W. Rogerson, and Kevin Sullivan.  Topics range from my own discussion of the cognitive basis for the "universal" structure of ascent narratives to antecedents for angelic incarnations to cosmic mysteries in the Didache

This book is a lovely tribute to the work of a giant in our field, and shows how deeply he has inspired us. 

Weekly Apocryphote: May 12-19

Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587   

Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587

 

Unless you become like the things that actually exist, it is impossible for you to see them. Yet this is not how it is in our world.  We see the sun without being a sun.  We see the heaven and the earth and everything else, but we are not them...But when we see things in the spiritual realm, we become those things. We see the Spirit, we become spirit...In our world, you see everything except yourself, but in the spiritual realm, you see yourself.  And what you see, you will become.

Gospel of Philip (translation is mine; with occasional adjustment of person and tense for aesthetics)

Book Note: Histories of the Hidden God (DeConick and Adamson)

Click to find book on Amazon

Very excited about this new edited volume in the Gnostica Series published by Acumen.  This volume came out of a very special conference that we held here at Rice in April 2010.  At Rice we have a wonderful program we call GEM (Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism) which is an approach to religious literature and practices that takes seriously the marginalized and forbidden, what I like to call the "edges of religion".  We think it is essential to understand and incorporate the edges of religion into our histories and analyses of religion, rather than focus only on what became over time the center of religious traditions and the authoritative literature.

So the book comes out of the first international GEM conference. 

Histories of the Hidden God: Concealment and Revelation in Western Gnostic, Esoteric, and Mystical Traditions

,

edited by myself and Grant Adamson.

The papers deal with the fact that even though Western religious traditions typically portray God as a humanlike creator, lawgiver, and king, both accessible and actively present in history, there is another concurrent tradition that God hides.  This has led to a tension in the traditions.  It is the Gnostic and the mystic who capitalize on the hidden and hiding God.  It is the sage and the artist who try to make accessible to humans the God who is secreted away.  This book explores the secret God from antiquity to the present day.  The book is organized around three themes: the concealment of the hidden God; the human quest for the hidden God; and revelations of the hidden God.

In this book I have published one of my papers on the Gospel of John and Gnostic origins: "Who is hiding in the Gospel of John?  Reconceptualizing Johannine theology and the roots of Gnosticism."

Book Note: Heavenly Priesthood in the Apocalypse of Adam

I have several new books that have come across my desk recently, but not enough time to get notices out to you about them.  I will try to catch up over the next week or so.

Let's get started with the beautiful new volume written by Andrei Orlov, Professor of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University.  The book is called

Heavenly Priesthood in the Apocalypse of Abraham

and it is published by Cambridge University Press

.

Professor Orlov continues his exploration of apocalypticism and mysticism in this book, arguing that soon after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the Apocalypse of Abraham was written in order to demonstrate that the true place of worship is heaven (not Jerusalem).  It depicts Abraham as the primary example of an initiate of the celestial priesthood.   Orlov focuses his analysis on the scapegoat ritual, which is the central rite of the story.  It is reinterpreted within an eschatological context.  Orlov thinks that this reinterpretation represents a transition from Jewish apocalyptic thought to the symbols of early Jewish mysticism.

Congratulations to Professor Orlov for the publication of another superb study of early Jewish and Christian mysticism, following up his other recent study,

Dark Mirrors

(2011).

Book Note: Dark Mirrors by Andrei A. Orlov

Andrei Orlov presents us with a new book on a wicked subject: the origins and development of the demons Azazel and Satanael in early Judaism and Christianity. 

I remember when, a few years ago, Professor Orlov was working on the temptation narratives in the gospels and presented a paper in the New Testament Mysticism Project on Satan.  He noted that the narrative of Satan was an upside down version of patterns of ascent of heroes in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  I recall how this insight was met with enthusiasm among the group, and it appears to have become the impetus for Professor Orlov to explore this symmetry more fully.  Now he gives us the results of that exploration in a wonderful book just published by SUNY.  It is called

Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology

The book takes up the correspondence of inverse symmetry, when the antagonist or protagonist of the story takes the place of his opponent by acquiring peculiar attributes and conditions of his counterpart. He notes that in the Book of the Watchers, the fallen angels and the hero Enoch mirror each other in the exchange of offices, roles, attributes, and even wardrobes (5).  Professor Orlov traces this pattern in two traditions, one involving Satan as the source of evil, the other Azazel.  His study plays close attention to the sacerdotal dimension of this demonology, showing that the peculiar transformations of the adversaries have cultic signficance within the liturgical settings of the Jewish tradition (7).

The book is written along these chapter lines:

1: "The Likeness of Heaven": Kavod of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham
2: Eschatological Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham: The Scapegoat Ritual
3: The Garment of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham
4: The Watchers of Satanael: The Fallen Angels Traditions in 2 Slavonic Enoch
5: Satan and the Visionary: Apocalyptic Roles of the Adversary in the Temptation Narrative of the Gospel of Matthew
6: The Flooded Arboretums: The Garden Traditions in the Slavonic Version of 3 Baruch and the Book of Giants

It is wonderful to see this book come into being from its glowing inception during our seminar to its book form.  And wow! SUNY finally made a gorgeous cover.

I leave you with a verse that opens his book, which leaves me to ponder the power of the deep and dark which the Gnostics I study also knew:

Come and see: There are chariots of the left in the mystery of the Other Side and chariots of the right in the mystery of the supernal Holiness, and they match one another...

(Zohar I.211b).

Planning for Society of Biblical Literature Meeting

I can't believe it, but the Society of Biblical Literature Meeting is fast approaching, and hurray! it is a joint meeting with the American Academy of Religion again.  I am a member of both organizations, and so I am so pleased that the two societies are together again. 

There have been some big changes for those of us who are involved in the

Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism Section

.  We came up for renewal this year, and we sent out a survey to our members.  Based on the results of that survey, we decided to change the name of the section to

Esotericism and Mysticism in Antiquity

, and to broaden our mission statement: "This unit critically investigates religious currents of secrecy/secrets (esotericism) and/or their revelation through praxis (mysticism) in the formative period of Judaism and Christianity (ca. 500 BCE-500 CE)."

We have two great sessions scheduled for November, one of them a joint session with The Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity group.  Please join us if you can.

S19-118

Esotericism and Mysticism in Antiquity

11/19/2011

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Room:

2011 - Convention CenterTheme:

Reconstructing Practice from Texts

The annual banquet dinner for this group will be held at a local restaurant on Saturday evening. Contact April DeConick (adeconick@rice.edu) for reservations and information.

Kelley Coblentz Bautch, University of St. Edwards, Presiding

Jeff Pettis, New Brunswick Theological Seminary

Raising the Serpent: Gods, Magicians, and the Mystical in John 3.14-15

(20 min)

April D. DeConick, Rice University

“The road for souls is through the planets”: The Mysteries of the Ophites Diagrammed

(20 min)

Cordula Bandt, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

The Tract "On the Mystery of Letters" in Context of Late Antique Jewish, Gnostic and Christian Letter Mysticism

(20 min)

Break (5 min)

Grant Adamson, Rice University

Descent of the Soul and the Interpretation of Genesis 1-3 among Jews, Christians, and Later Platonists

(20 min)

Ellen Muehlberger, University of Michigan

Evagrian Death Meditation and Amphilochius’s Homily on Lazarus

(20 min)

Brent Landau, University of Oklahoma

Mystical Practice and Experience in the Syriac Revelation of the Magi

(20 min)

Discussion (25 min)

S20-222

Esotericism and Mysticism in Antiquity

Joint Session With:

Esotericism and Mysticism in Antiquity, Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity

11/20/2011

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Room:

2018 - Convention CenterTheme:

Praxis and Experience in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mysticism

This session is dedicated to the memory of Alan F. Segal

April Deconick, Rice University, Presiding (5 min)

James R. Davila, University of St. Andrews

Ritual Praxis in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mysticism

(25 min)

Istvan Czachesz, University of Heidelberg

Experience in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mysticism: Insights from Cognitive Neuroscience

(25 min)

Break (10 min)

Frances Flannery, James Madison University

Mysticism as an Epistemological Sub-Category of Religious Experience: The Case of the Testament of Abraham

(25 min)

Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College, Respondent (15 min)

Pieter Craffert, University of South Africa, Respondent (15 min)

Discussion (30 min)

Book Note: With Letters of Light (Arbel and Orlov, eds.)

There is a wonderful new collection of essays on early Jewish and Christian mysticism available now from De Gruyter. It is a festschrift honoring the career, contributions, and fellowship of Professor Rachel Elior, the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Mystical Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Elior has made tremendous contributions to the field, both in Hebrew and English. Her work is among the best in the world on the subject. Some of my favorites are her books

The Three Temples: On the Emergence of Jewish Mysticism

(2004),

The Mystical Origins of Hasidism

(2006) and

Dybbuks and Jewish Women in Social History, Mysticism, and Folklore

(2008).

In her festschrift,

With Letters of Light

, her students and colleagues have amassed a fascinating collection of essays on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic and Mysticism. I contributed an essay myself where I try to describe and explain early Christian mysticism in its earliest stages starting with the biblical materials and working into the second century: "Jesus Revealed: The Dynamics of Early Christian Mysticism" (299-324). I wrote this piece because I had enjoyed a conversation with Rachel a few years ago about the mysticism I saw emerging in the New Testament materials and how similar they were to her own discussions of mysticism at Qumran in

The Three Temples

. She asked me then if I would write something about it, since she didn't work in the Christian materials as much as she did the Jewish. So I took her up on the suggestion.

With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic, and Mysticism in Honor of Rachel Elior (Edited by Daphna Arbel and Andrei Orlov; Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, 2; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011; ISBN 978-3-11-022201-2; US$ 182.00).
You can view this volume in electronic copy HERE.
Contents of the volume:
Daphna Arbel and Andrei Orlov
Rachel Elior – An Appreciation from her Colleagues and
Students - 1-5
Frances Flannery
The Consideration of Religious Experience in the Work of
Rachel Elior - 6-10
I. Exegesis
Kelley Coblentz Bautch
Peter and the Patriarch: A Confluence of Traditions? - 13-27
Silviu N. Bunta
In Heaven or on Earth: A Misplaced Temple Question about
Ezekiel’s Visions - 28-44
James R. Davila
Scriptural Exegesis in the Treatise of the Vessels, a Legendary
Account of the Hiding of the Temple Treasures - 45-61
Dan Merkur
Cultivating Visions through Exegetical Meditations - 62-91
Sergey Minov
“Serpentine” Eve in Syriac Christian Literature of Late
Antiquity - 92-114
Annette Yoshiko Reed
>From “Pre-Emptive Exegesis” to “Pre-Emptive Speculation”?
Ma‘aseh Bereshit in Genesis Rabbah and Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer - 115-132
Mark Verman
Earthly and Heavenly Jerusalem in Philo and Paul:
A Tale of Two Cities - 133-156
II. Ritual
Crispin Fletcher-Louis
The Book of Watchers and the Cycle of New Year Festivals - 159-168
Yuval Harari
A Different Spirituality or ‘Other’ Agents?: On the Study of
Magic in Rabbinic Literature - 169-195
Rebecca Lesses
“They Revealed Secrets to Their Wives”: The Transmission of
Magical Knowledge in 1 Enoch - 196-222
Jodi Magness
The Impurity of Oil and Spit among the Qumran Sectarians 223-231
Andrei Orlov
“The Likeness of Heaven”: The Kavod of Azazel in the
Apocalypse of Abraham - 232-253
Pieter W. van der Horst
Mystical Motifs in a Greek Synagogal Prayer? - 254-264
III. Transformation
Daphna Arbel
“A Chariot of Light Borne by Four Bright Eagles”:
Eve’s Vision of the Chariot in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve - 267-284
Joseph Dan
“Messianic Movements in the Period of the Crusades” - 285-298
April D. DeConick
Jesus Revealed: The Dynamics of Early Christian Mysticism - 299-324
Celia Deutsch
Aseneth: Ascetical Practice, Vision, and Transformation - 325-348
Naomi Janowitz
“You Are Gods”: Multiple Divine Beings in Late Antique
Jewish Theology - 349-364
Alan F. Segal
Transcribing Experience - 365-382

Mellon Seminar Reflection 4: Was Jung a Mystic?

In seminar this week we discussed Religion and Psychology, the Psychology of Religion, and Psychology in Dialogue with Religion. And of course Jung was prominent. One of the readings was his book

Aion

, which is an unbelievable ride through Jung's mind and ancient Gnostic sources (quoted from the original Latin and Greek patristic sources). Unlike Freud, Jung thought that the human psyche is by nature religious and that the journey of the transformation of the self (a process he calls

individuation

) is at the "mystical heart of all religions." He felt that life has a spiritual purpose, a meaning beyond material gain and goals. He writes, "Our main task is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak."

This transformative process involves the integration of the person's consciousness with the unconscious in order to stave off unhealthy psychic tendencies such as repression, projection, etc. Jung talked about this process in terms of the union of opposites, including the ego-personality with its shadow. He was particularly fond of the Gnostic mythology which proved to him the accuracy of his theories, for erupting in their mythology was the religious equivalent of his psychological descriptions. For instance, the Gnostic myth of a Father without quality of being who is unknowable, is the unconsciousness. He quotes Epiphanius: "In the beginning the Autopater contained in himself everything that is, in a state of unconsciousness." This manifests or becomes conscious through the generation of the Christ who represents for Jung the perfect human self.

The book reads as a set of psychological sermons filled with esoteric references from ancient sources. Although Jung tries again and again to suggest that "psychology is not metaphysics", it is hard to believe him when faced with a volume this saturated with Christian ideas that are attempting to explain a three-year period when Jung believed he encountered the unconsciousness and lived to tell about it.

I am not sure that psychological models are going to assist me in my own historical work, except that Jung may be a very interesting figure to investigate as a mystic in his own right...as someone who took his personal experiences and the ancient Gnostic mythology and rewrote them as a modern psychological theory. Especially now that

The Red Book

is published.

Book Note: The Mystery of God (Rowland and Morray-Jones)

The long awaited much-anticipated book on early Christian mysticism has finally been published. I have read pieces of this in draft since I was in graduate school (fifteen years ago), so I am particularly excited to see this in print. It clunked into my mailbox this morning. It is a huge volume put out by Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum. It is co-authored by Christopher Rowland and Christopher Morray-Jones, two pioneers in the study of early Christian mysticism:

The Mystery of God: Early Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament

(Leiden: Brill, 2009).

The book is huge, almost 700 pages. There are several studies by Christopher Morray-Jones that have been revised and republished in this volume, including his important work on Paradise and Paul, and The Temple Within. There is much new here, too, including Rowland's work on New Testament mysticism as an expression of Second Temple apocalypticism, and Morray-Jones' research on the New Testament and the Kabbalah.

The book overview is as follows:

This book brings together the perspectives of apocalypticism and early Jewish mysticism to illuminate aspects of New Testament theology. The first part begins with a consideration of the mystical character of apocalypticism and then uses the Book of Revelation and the development of views about the heavenly mediator figure of Enoch to explore the importance of apocalypticism in the Gospels and Acts, the Pauline Letters and finally the key theological themes in the later books of the New Testament. The second and third parts explore the character of early Jewish mysticism by taking important themes in the early Jewish mystical texts such as the Temple and the Divine Body to demonstrate the relevance of this material to New Testament interpretation.

This book will be essential to anyone studying early Christian mysticism.