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The Bible and Beyond Discussions

Bible and Beyond Discussions

Once a month, at 8:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday nights (generally the fourth of the month), Early Christian Texts hosts a presentation and discussion of one of the early Christian texts.  Dr. Shirley Paulson generally leads the sessions by first sharing a well-framed overview of the particular subject and after that providing time for all participants to ask questions or share their own insights.

There is no charge, but attendees are invited to donate or become a Bible and Beyond patron. You may attend any or all sessions — you are welcome any time.  We look forward to your participation.

Folks who need a brief introduction to these rather surprising and deeply moving texts are invited to watch the archival videos below, or, for those who would like a more in-depth introduction, we think you’ll enjoy the book, A New New Testament: A Bible for the Twenty-First Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Textsedited by Hal Taussig and published by Houghton, Mifflin, and Harcourt.  

Transitioning from Head to Heart

Following each one-hour discussion program, participants are invited to stay connected to the the Zoom meeting and participate in a 20-minute period of spiritual reflection. Rev. Karen Hagen will guide us through a practice based on the subject covered in that month’s discussion. We expect the Head to Heart portion of the discussions to lead to deeper understanding and to help participants move beyond simply taking in information to finding personal inspiration and transformation. This practice is based on the concept that the divine has given us our whole self — thoughts, feelings, memories, intuition, body, and intellect — to use in discerning the divine presence. The divine is always seeking to be in more relationship.

Upcoming Discussion

(Please note:  The Zoom meeting is online approximately 10 minutes before and during the meetings.)

Christian Treasures from the Trash Heap at Oxyrhynchus

Host: Dr. Shirley Paulson
Guest Scholar: Adeline Harrington

Monday, March 25, 2024
8:00 pm Eastern (7:00 pm Central, 6:00 pm Mountain, 5:00 pm Pacific)
Facebook Event Page

Zoom Link- Click Here
If the link above doesn’t work, copy and paste this one into your browser:

Much of what we know about ancient Christianity comes from New Testament and early Christian manuscripts. Most people are not aware, however, that most of our surviving early Christian manuscripts (including about 50% of our New Testament fragments) come from a single site—the ancient garbage mounds of Oxyrhynchus, Egypt! Historians of early Christianity have traditionally overlooked this mid-sized city, despite the wealth of manuscript evidence that it offers.

Our Bible and Beyond discussion will explore the value of examining Oxyrhynchus’s vast, yet underexplored, textual archive. We will discuss how these fragments reveal a multitude of voices and opinions across multiple periods of Oxyrhynchus’s Christian history. These include some of the earliest so-called Gnostic manuscripts ever discovered as well as a variety of extra-canonical and magical manuscripts that challenge traditional notions of orthodoxy and heresy. Understanding where our earliest Christian manuscripts were read, used, and often produced initiates a necessary first step in answering why these texts were copied and read in the first place.

This discussion underscores the crucial significance of Oxyrhynchus in reshaping our perception of early Christian practices, beliefs, and the dynamic interplay of diverse traditions. It calls for a reevaluation of traditional assumptions and offers a compelling glimpse into the multifaceted world of early Christianity beyond the New Testament.


Skim the following texts or read as much as interests you.

Gospel of Mary
The Sophia of Jesus Christ
The Gospel of Thomas
First Apocalypse of James

How about a reminder email?

We’ll be happy to send you an email reminder on Monday morning so you don’t miss the conversation.

    Click here to listen to past discussions.

    All past Bible and Beyond Discussions are archived on this website, and on our YouTube channel for easy reference.

    (You can subscribe to our Early Christian Texts YouTube channel to be notified when new recordings are posted to our Bible and Beyond Discussion playlist.)

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