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The Bible and Beyond Discussions

Monthly Monday Textual Study

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.

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    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.)

    Upcoming Discussion

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

    Norea and Sophia: Female Helpers and Saviors

    Monday, December 5, 2022 (rescheduled from November 28)
    8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
    Click here for the Zoom meeting link
    Facebook Event Page
    Presenter: Dr. Shirley Paulson

    Norea was virtually unknown until the Nag Hammadi collection turned up a few fascinating references to her in. 1945. One is a small book or poem titled “The Thought of Norea,” which probably raises as many questions as it answers about this little known, but rather important figure from antiquity. Sophia/Wisdom is far better known during this period as a kind of helping savior figure than Norea. In fact, Sophia appears in both canonical and extracanonical works, whereas Norea is only mentioned in a few other books not included in the Bible. Sophia and Norea are never mentioned together in the texts we have access to today, but they seem strangely related. Most interestingly, they both seem to be closely connected to the divine and serve as helpers or saviors. This divine appointment is usually intended for male figures. Are we ready to welcome a female savior with the authority, wisdom, and strength we expect from a savior? Or do we still think a savior should properly be male? We will consider what it means to imagine two female saviors  – Sophia and Norea –  in the context of the ancient world that we know had already welcomed multiple male saviors.

    Text used for this discussion:

    The Thought of Norea

    Available in Meyer, Marvin, ed. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

    Or here, on the Early Christian Writings website.