April D. DeConick is the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University. She is a historian of early Jewish and Christian thought. What fascinates her is mapping the many ways that the Jesus tradition emerges across the literature, traditions that have left behind echoes of bitter controversies and competing memories. She has a deep love for exploring the various expressions of ante-Nicene mysticism, including the spirituality of classic Gnostic thinkers. Her work has been called "revisionist," challenging us to seek answers beyond the conventional. Her recent book The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says (London: Continuum, 2007) is the first to seriously challenge the interpretation and translation published by National Geographic (2006). She is currently completing her next popular book titled Sex and the Serpent: Why the Sexual Conflicts of the Early Church Still Matter, and is starting another on Gnostic spirituality entitled The Gnostics and Their Gospels: An Introduction to Gnostic Spirituality in Antiquity. Professor DeConick sits on the editorial board of the Nag Hammadi and Manichean studies series published by E.J. Brill. She is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature where she serves as co-Chair of the New Testament Mysticism Project. She also organized and chaired for many years the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism Group. She is affiliated with the North American Patristics Society, and the International Association for Coptic Studies as well.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
The Gnostic Care of the Soul
Go with Professor DeConick on a textual dig, as she brings to life Gnostic ritual practices from ancient sources. She considers whether ancient Gnostic initiation and its ritual therapies might characterize our earliest form of psychotherapy. The evidence suggests that, prior to Freud, Jung, the behaviorists, and the cognitive psychologists of our modern world, the Gnostics developed shamanic-like therapies to resolve anxiety and stabilize the human condition, although their therapies functioned within the context of religion, rather than science and the counselor’s office. The variety of Gnostic myths and accounts of their activities focus on the origin of the human soul or psyche, how it came to be damaged, and how healing can take place within the context of religious initiation. Here lies the beginning of religion as therapy for the damaged self.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
The Ancient New Age: How Gnostic Spirituality Revolutionized Religion in Antiquity
This lecture introduces the Gnostics as revolutionary religious thinkers within the ancient world and explores how this new form of spirituality changed the way that people thought about God, themselves, and their world.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
What happened to God the Mother in the Trinity?
In an examination of the textual and archaeological evidence for God the Mother in the earliest Jewish and Christian traditions, this presentation explores how—and why—the figure of God the Mother was erased from mainstream traditions. What was the nature of conflicts over sex and gender in the early church, and what effect did this have on the formation of the Christian institution?
Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
The Magical Judas: Iscariot’s Gospel and Gem
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 and discussed in relation to the newly restored Gospel of Judas.