Public Lecture Series

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This is my On the Road Lecture Series about the lost Christian gospels, gospels that were excluded from the New Testament canon and forbidden by the Church. Many of these gospels have been recovered from the dry sands of Egypt, found in ancient tombs or buried for almost two thousand years in clay jars.  Why were they forbidden and lost? Can they tell us anything about Jesus and early Christianity? Or our own spirituality? Contact me directly (adeconick@rice.edu or 713-348-4995) to arrange a booking for one or more of the lectures in this exciting new series.

Apocryphal Christianity

What do the forbidden gospels have to say about Jesus and early Christianity? Are they fabrications having nothing to do with history as some scholars would have us believe? Or do they provide useful information that was lost in the canonical telling of the Jesus story? This lecture makes a strong argument that the apocryphal materials must be consulted by those interested in the history of Christianity, or we run the risk of creating an "apocryphal" Christianity based solely on the New Testament witnesses.

The Silenced Voices of Early Christianity

Christianity in the second century was only in its youth. It hadn't figured itself out yet. It was trying to determine its relationship with Judaism, its understanding of women, its sacred scripture, and its interpretation of scripture. For every one of these issues, there were Christians with several answers. And many of these Christians formed their own communities. They talked to each other. They argued with each other. They agreed and disagreed. It is within this complicated and confrontational environment that mainstream or apostolic Christianity emerged. Who were the apostolic Christians? What faith were they defending? What other forms of Christianity existed? What were the disputes all about? Why did apostolic Christianity emerge as victor?

What Can the Gospel of Thomas Tell Us about Jesus and the First Christians?

Professor DeConick has recovered from the Gospel of Thomas the earliest Christian gospel, the Kernel Gospel of Thomas. This lecture takes you through her scholarly journey, as the earliest speeches of Jesus emerged from her research. These speeches are remarkably similar to Q, and appear to have been used by the first Christians from Jerusalem as preaching handbooks preserving the oldest sayings of Jesus.

The Mystical Gospel of Thomas

This lecture examines the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas that speak about mystical theology and practices, sayings involving renunciation of the body, divine self-knowledge, and visions of God and his Son. Their orientation is not that of classic Gnosticism as scholars in the past have argued, but a Christian mysticism of the East that appears to be a precursor of Eastern Orthodoxy.

A Gnostic Catechism

Who were the Gnostics? Where did they come from? What did they believe and practice? This lecture is a Gnostic orientation, examining its development beginning in the first century in Alexandria, Egypt in the lodges of the Hermetics to classic Gnostic systems in the second century.

What does the Gospel of Judas Really Say?

Is the Gospel of Judas the “good news” about Judas as National Geographic has led us to believe? Or is something more sinister going on? This lecture will take you through Professor DeConick’s first readings of this Gospel in Coptic and correct the numerous translation problems found in the National Geographic publication, word choices that appear to her not only to be problematic, but problematic in a certain way. The (mis)translation of several phrases support National Geographic’s provocative and sensationalist interpretation, while the “corrected” translation does not. The corrected translation shows that Judas was as evil as ever – a demon, in fact – and certainly no Gnostic.

The Magical Judas

One morning, Professor DeConick's student, Grant Adamson, dropped by her office carrying under his arm a catalogue published in 1964 of the ancient gems housed in the National Library of France in Paris.  He had been working through gem catalogues for his own project on ancient Gnostic magic, and had come across a gem that he thought she should see.  He cracked open the book and flipped to a page in the center of the catalogue.  When her eyes fell on the gem, Professor DeConick nearly fell off her chair.  She was gazing upon a Gnostic secret about Judas Iscariot that had been safe-guarded and then forgotten for almost two-thousand years.  During this lecture, the secret will be revealed.

Where Were the Women? What the Gospel of Mary Magadalene Has to Tell Us

Who was Mary Magdalene really? A prostitute? A loyal disciple? Jesus’ wife? This lecture will explore these themes and more as it unpacks the theology of the Gospel of Mary, a Gnostic “midrash” gospel. Mary emerges from the text as an early Gnostic church leader administering the eucharist and presenting a homily on its benefits, which include a mystical transfiguration and ascent to God.

Sex and the Gnostic Mysteries

The Gospel of Philip says, “Great is the mystery of marriage!” This lecture addresses issues of sacred sex and the Bridal Chamber, a great communal wedding at the end of time. Why was sex so important to the Gnostics? Because the redemption of God depended on it.

Additional lectures will be added from time to time. Lectures on other gospels can be requested.

Sphinx, Cairo, Egypt, Photo by DeConick