Ancient Christian Texts Inspiring New Spiritual Practices
October 6–7, 2017 Irvine, California
In 1945, a collection of early Christian texts was discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. Many were written at the same time as the more familiar texts of the New Testament, but ultimately were excluded from it. As scholarship makes these ancient texts increasingly accessible to the public, they are inspiring new art, music, spiritual practices and more. In this Jesus Seminar on the Road, Celene Lillie and Natalie Renee Perkins will introduce the Gospel of Mary and Thunder: Perfect Mind both in their ancient context and creative, modern expressions.
Celene Lillie (Ph.D. Union Theological Seminar) is the Director of the Tanho Center and on the pastoral staff at Boulder First United Methodist Church in Colorado. She is the author of The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis (2017).
Natalie Renee Perkins (M.Div., Union Theological Seminary) is a writer, lecturer, preacher, chaplain and composer who intertwines early Christian material with contemporary society through a social justice lens. She has performed professionally with cruise lines, national tours, symphony orchestras, and the USO.
Social and Spiritual Practices, Yesterday and Today
What do we know about the spiritual practices of the ancient world? How do we engage in spiritual practices today? We’ll explore these questions and also talk about the exciting possibilities for thinking about spiritual practice that have emerged with the ongoing scholarship and imagination inspired by the Nag Hammadi Codices found in Egypt in 1945. (Lillie & Perkins) Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm
Ascent of the Soul in the Gospel of Mary
The fragmentary Gospel of Mary portrays Mary as a comforter and stabilizing force for Jesus’ followers in the wake of his crucifixion and resurrection. It also presents teachings of Jesus that were given privately—teachings that cause the disciples to question Mary’s authority. This session introduces Mary’s “ascent of the soul” and how it might be used as a practice today. (Lillie) Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am
The Power of Thunder’s “I am”
Thunder: Perfect Mind is an ancient text that speaks in the voice of a predominantly female deity. Thunder mixes paradoxes of weakness and strength, male and female, honor and shame in one voice. It challenges readers to deconstruct and reconstruct divine images and human identities through the lenses of both the ancient and contemporary worlds. We will also explore our own creative “I am” statements together. Saturday, 11 am – noon
Singing the Odes of Solomon
This session introduces six texts from The Odes of Solomon written around the same time as the rest of the traditional New Testament but, for whatever reason, did not make it into the contemporary canon. The melodies for this early Christian worship material was lost ages ago, but following a brief study of this book, we will take the unique opportunity to breathe new life into these pieces. Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm
Questions and Answers
Lillie and Perkins will share some concluding thoughts, followed by questions and discussion. Saturday, 3–4 pm
Irvine United Congregational Church
Local Contact and Information
All events at:
Irvine United Congregational Church 4915 Alton Parkway Irvine, CA 92604 (949) 733-0220 www.iucc.org