ACABS 592 - Seminar in Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies
Section: 003 Gnosticism: The Context of the Nag Hammadi Collection
Term: FA 2009
Subject: Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies (ACABS)
Department: LSA Near Eastern Studies
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

In 1945, a collection of texts from late antiquity was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. These books, fifty-two in all, have fascinated students of early Christianity for half a century, because until their discovery, their authors were mostly known only by the harsh reports about them given by other Christians who disapproved of them. The books in this collection are very strange, even esoteric, but they use a mixture of the myths of the Hebrew Bible, Plato’s work the Timaeus, and the revelations of Christianity to address questions at the center of religious exploration in general: What are good and evil? What is the purpose of the world? Why do humans exist? Do humans have a chance at a better life? What or who is the divine?

This seminar is a historical and critical exploration of the Nag Hammadi collection and the ways that contemporary scholars have made sense of it. We will treat several smaller traditions under the wider (and contested) label of “Gnostic,” including Sethian, Valentinian, and Thomas traditions. For context, we will read the Timaeus and several pieces of middle Platonic literature, some early Jewish biblical interpretation, and sections of Plotinus’s Enneads.

Students will be evaluated on their active and informed participation in discussion, their writing of several short response papers, and their design and writing of a longer research paper. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates with an interest in Christian history, biblical studies, ancient texts, or the relationship between myth and religion are encouraged to take the course.

ACABS 592 - Seminar in Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
Th 5:00PM - 8:00PM
003 (SEM)
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

All of the books listed below have multiple editions available. You do not need to purchase the edition listed; earlier editions will do, although you will have to figure out differences in page numbers and the like.
ISBN: 0385478437
The Gnostic scriptures : a new translation with annotations and introductions, Author: by Bentley Layton., Publisher: Doubleday 1995
ISBN: 9780140442618
Timaeus; [and], Critias, Author: Plato ; translated [from the Greek] with an introduction and an appendix on Atlantis by H.D.P. Lee., Publisher: Penguin Rev. 1971
ISBN: 0691005427
Rethinking "Gnosticism : an argument for dismantling a dubious category, Author: Michael A. Williams., Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press 1999
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

No Syllabi are on file for ACABS 592. Click the button below to search for a different syllabus (UM login required)

Search for Syllabus
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)