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Early Christian Texts Discussions
Presented by the Tanho Center

Tanho Monday Textual Study

Once a month, at 8:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday nights (generally the fourth of the month), the Tanho Center sponsors a presentation and discussion of one of the early Christian texts.  Each Monday session is led by a trained scholar of these texts.  Discussion leaders will share a well-framed overview of the particular text, and give time for all participants to ask questions or share their own insights about the meanings and potential for these texts.

There is no charge, but people are invited to give donations to the Tanho Center.  One does not have to attend every session, and anyone is welcome any time.  We look forward to your joining these textual studies.

Folks who need a brief introduction to these rather surprising and deeply moving texts are invited to check out the several short films on the Tanho website home page. People who would like a larger introduction will 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.  

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The Tanho Center is dedicated to the study and interpretation of the large range of early Christ movement texts discovered in the last 150 years. By incorporating recently discovered texts into contemporary practices, we hope to signify exactly what tanho means in Coptic: “to make or be alive.”

Click to donate to the Tanho Center to support the Monday Discussions

Click the button above to donate to the Tanho Center to support the Monday Discussions.

Upcoming Discussions

(Please note:  The Zoom meeting links are only active approximately 10 minutes before and during the meetings.)

Parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas

Monday, January 27, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/499027361
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

The Gospel of Thomas (GThomas) in its only full form was found along with the approximately 50 other Christ or Jesus related documents in a jar in the desert near the village of Nag Hammadi in central Egypt.  Other existing ancient documents had referred to the Gospel of Thomas, but no document had been found.  The document contains 114 short paragraphs each with a teaching from Jesus.  Like many other canonical and extra-canonical documents from the first and second centuries, GThomas contains a number of parables.  GThomas has more or less three kinds of parables: those with almost exact parallels with Matthew, Mark, or Luke; those with similar story-lines to canonical gospels but with strikingly different meanings; and those that have little or no similarities to canonical gospels.

This Tanho Monday Textual study examines the GThomas parables from several different angles:

  1. what does each individual parable mean in its ancient context?
  2. how likely is it that some or all of these parables come directly from Jesus?
  3. how do GThomas parables expand understanding of parables in early Jesus traditions?

Parables or parable-like sayings from GThomas include sayings 8,9,20,21,57,63,64,65,76,96,97.98,107,109,113.  If you have time to read the whole Gospel of Thomas, please do so, since the parables are integral to the whole gospel.  It is widely available online.

Good examples are available on the gospels.net website, and Early Christian Writings.

Past Discussions

First Revelation of James

Monday, December 30, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

The First Revelation of James (also called the First Apocalypse of James) comes from the very important discovery in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, where two Egyptian farmers found a large jar in the desert with 52 (mostly Jesus-related) documents, many of which had not been know before.  This is a story and teaching between Jesus and James, which focuses on what to do with the violent attacks on people by the Roman Empire.  James and the Lord talk at some length about the reputation that the Jesus movement welcomes women. Indeed in this document Jesus seems to be known for his association with four women leaders. Find the text for the First Revelation of James (or, The First Apocalypse of James) on the Early Christian Writings website here.

The  Gospel of Mark

Monday, November 25, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

The Gospel of Mark rarely gets studied for itself. But it deserves to be taken seriously for the creative and very different picture it draws of the person of Jesus and for its thorough-going challenge to Roman imperial hegemony.  These dimensions of Mark have much to offer 21st century spiritual and social strategies, especially in its inventive options to Christian orthodoxy. One of the recent interests in Mark are its resistance and responses to (especially) violence through its comical, flexible, and complicated identity constructions. The verses discussed:  1:1–15; 2:1–12; 4:1–14, 26–32; 5:1–43; 6:1–16; 7:14–15; 8:22–38; 9:1–8; 10:13–27; 11:1–25; 12:38–44; 13:1–13; 14:1–9, 53–65; 15:1–47; 16:1–8

The Wisdom of Solomon: A First Century Divine Female

Monday, October 28, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Hal Taussig

One of the earliest lists of important books in the Christ movements (the Muratorian fragment) lists “The Wisdom of Solomon” along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, thirteen letters of Paul, and two letters of John.  The most fascinating dimension of The Wisdom of Solomon on such a list of well-known early writings about Jesus is that the word ‘Jesus’ does not occur in The Wisdom of Solomon. The Wisdom of Solomon is now considered to have been an important writing for the hundreds of thousands people of Israel in first century Egypt. Find the text in The New Jerusalem Bible and The Oxford Annotated, or find it here on the web.  Specific verses discussed: 6:12–17; 7:7–17; 7:22–30; 8:1–18; 9:9–11; 10:1–21; and 11:1–26.

The Thunder, Perfect Mind II
Vulnerable Divinity: An Innovative Approach to God in the 21st Century from an Early Christ Movement

Monday, September 23, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Hal Taussig

The recently discovered “The Thunder: Perfect Mind” from the second or third century introduces a full-blown picture of a vulnerable God that for may help make sense of Divinity for 21st century people seeking a new way of thinking about God.  Here is a key sentence from this recently discovered document: “I am she who exists in all fear and in trembling boldness.”

Read the text here,

The Acts of Paul and Thecla

Monday, August 26, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

The text is available here, here, and here.  This discussion concentrates on Thecla’s freedom and leadership, especially the ways her gender and sexuality is far more than what has often been considered “virginity” and/or “celibacy.”

The Thunder: Perfect Mind

Monday, July 22, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Hal Taussig

Click here for the text we’ll be using in this discussion. University of Pennsylvania professor Andrew Lamas calls The Thunder: Perfect Mind “one of the ten most important documents in history.”  Replay the discussion on YouTube (right).  Audio starts after the introductory text.

No Such Thing as ‘Gnosticism’?

Monday, June 24, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter:  Deb Saxon

Read discussion information and texts here. Deb Saxon tackled this complex topic and engaged us in a discussion about why it is important to avoid this label.

“The Letter of Peter to Philip”

Monday, May 20, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter:  Hal Taussig

“The Letter of Peter to Philip” is a text that was first discovered in the famous Nag Hammadi jar found in Egypt in 1945.  Click here for the text that was used in this discussion.

“The Sentences of Sextus”

Monday, April 29, 2019
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Facebook Event Page
Presenter:  Hal Taussig

Learn and discuss one of the intriguing Nag Hammadi text, “The Sentences of Sextus.”