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Early Christian Texts: The Bible and Beyond
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Those who have immersed themselves in these texts have been strengthened, shocked, inspired, and healed by relating to them. They contain extraordinary gems of wisdom, but also challenge preconceived notions about what it meant and what it means to identify as a follower of Jesus.

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Healing Violence in the World: Letter of Peter to Philip

Healing Violence in the World: Letter of Peter to Philip, the second course in our Nag Hammadi series, explores some of the practical and enduring ideas the early Christ people had about facing violence.

Presenters Dr. Shirley Paulson and her co-instructor, Dr. Hal Taussig, guide you through some surprising new ideas about Jesus in this little-known text, the Letter of Peter to Philip. Now available on Udemy!

Learn more about the course here.

The Gospel of Thomas Goes Public

The Gospel of Thomas Goes Public is the first course in the Nag Hammadi series.

Presenters Dr. Shirley Paulson and her co-instructor, Dr. Hal Taussig, explain the complex but extremely important relationship between the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas and the Bible, and help learners gain confidence in their own ability to interpret and make use of the text.  Sign up and purchase on Udemy.

Learn more about the course here.

Ancient Christian Texts for Modern Healing

Ancient Christian Texts for Modern Healing is an introduction to early Christian writings and their challenges or promises for transforming the world.  This course is offered through the website, Udemy. There are plans to offer many more! Sign up and purchase on Udemy.

Taught by Shirley Paulson, PhD, the introduction course provides a good foundation for continued study.  Learn more about the course here.

Bible and Beyond Discussions
Monday Textual Studies

Once a month, at 8–9 pm Eastern Time on Monday nights (generally the fourth of the month), Dr. Hal Taussig presents an online discussion of one of the early Christ movement texts.  These discussions, hosted by Shirley Paulson, PhD, begin with a well-framed overview of the particular text, and then participants ask questions and share their own insights about the meanings and potential for these texts.

Conference Presentations and Similar Events

Panel Discussion on After Jesus Before Christianity

Friday, November 19, 2021

Time: 4:00-5:30 Central
Virtual session at AAR/SBL
Registration through AAR/SBL meetings

The Westar Institute is publishing a ground breaking book called After Jesus Before Christianity with HarperOne.  This panel discussion featuring Erin Vearncombe, Brandon Scott, Hal Taussig, Vincent Wimbush, and Elizabeth Theoharis will look at the many provocative conclusions of the book following the eight year study of the Christianity Seminar. Important discussion will include issues related to gender in antiquity , the troubling use of “Gnosticism” in the academy study of religion, and the lack of evidence for a unifying movement later known as Chrisianity.
After Jesus Before Christianity Events presented by the Westar Institute

The new book by Hal Taussig, Erin Vearncombe, and Brandon Scott is now available from Harper-Collins and Amazon.

For more information about each event and a registration link, please visit the  Early Christian Texts events page.

Lecture One: The Six Biggest Discoveries from After Jesus Before Christianity

October 27, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Erin Vearncombe, Brandon Scott, Hal Taussig
  • Price: $10

Lecture Two: The Violence of Rome, the Resistance and Creativity of Communities

November 3, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Art Dewey and Susan (Elli) Elliott
  • Price: $15

Lecture Three: Forming New Identities Through Gender

November 10, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Celene Lillie and Erin Vearncombe
  • Price: $15

Lecture Four: No Christians in the First Two Centuries

December 1, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Shirley Paulson and Brandon Scott
  • Price: $15

Lecture Five: The Centrality of Israel for the Jesus Movements of the First Two Centuries

December 8, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Perry Kea and Robert Miller
  • Price: $15

Lecture Six: Better than a New Testament or is it Before the New Testament?

December 15, 2021

  • Time: 7:30-9:00 pm ET
  • Scholars: Steve Patterson and Deborah Saxon
  • Price: $15

The Bible and Beyond Blog

The Bible and Beyond blog explores historical and spiritual questions about Jesus, women, salvation, healing, the meaning of life, and where Christianity came from. This blog opens the conversation that will help all writers and readers unlock some of the mysteries from extra-canonical books, forgotten scriptures, so-called “gnostic” gospels, and the Bible.  Read Shirley Paulson’s introductory post here.

The Bible and Beyond Articles

The Bible and Beyond articles take readers beyond the surface of some of their favorite ancient texts, to show what’s happening behind the scenes and why these writings can be so meaningful to us today. Some texts are obscure, and few people know about them. Others are well known, but their meaning remains a mystery.

The Bible and Beyond Podcast

The Bible and Beyond podcast is a series of interviews with scholars who are able to unlock mysteries from extra-canonical books, forgotten scriptures, so-called ‘gnostic’ gospels, as well as the Bible. Host Shirley Paulson, Ph.D., and her guests explore historical and spiritual questions about Jesus, gender, women, salvation, healing, and the meaning of life. The discoveries these scholars share don’t always fit with what we’ve been told, but time and again they lead us toward a deeper intimacy with Jesus.

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