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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.  Hal Taussig, who leads the sessions, shares a well-framed overview of the particular text, and gives 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.  and/or Early Christian Texts.  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.)

Gender Creativity and Problems in the Gospel of Thomas

Date: Monday, June 22, 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) is full of gender issues. This has mostly to do with the fascinating creativity of the Gospel of Thomas in general and also specifically its approaches to gender. One of the most challenging and promising parts of GThomas’ gendering is how fluid and flexible it is. For instance, but not at all the only example,  Jesus…said to his followers:

“When you make the two one, and when make the inside like the outside, and when make the outside like the inside, and the above like the below. And when you make the male and the female into a solitary one, so that the male is not the male and the female is not the female….the you will enter the realm.” (Gospel of Thomas 22)

Jesus himself in the Gospel of Thomas is not singly gendered, and is pictured more than once like the female divine Wisdom/Sophia. However in the last saying of Jesus in GThomas (114), both Jesus and Peter appear more than slightly dismissive of women. A close look at its whole teaches us much about the complexities of gender in the ancient Mediterranean world and our own.

Past Discussions

Creativity in and Rejection of Hebrews

Date: Monday, June 1, 2020
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

The creative metaphors for life in Jesus Christ in the Letter to the Hebrews are some of the most imaginative to come out of the first two centuries. But Hebrews has been mostly ignored by official Christendom. In a real way, it has been treated as if it were never really discovered, even though it was eventually included in the traditional New Testament. It extensively reworks Hebrew scriptures — often combining it with Greek philosophy — and introduces an entirely new concept of Jesus simultaneously as priest and sacrifice, and invents an entirely new lineage for Jesus. For its creativity alone, Hebrews deserves to share the limelight with those books that have only recently been discovered as parts of the larger family of early Christ people texts.

Norea: Key Dimension of God’s Fullness and/or Eve’s First Daughter

Date: Monday, April 27, 2020
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

On April 27 we investigated one of the most hidden and fascinating female divine characters of Christ texts in the second century.  This figure is Norea, who is found in a number of first through third century texts, but perhaps best known in two works of the famous Nag Hammadi jar of 52 early Christ texts found in the Egyptian desert in 1945.  We focused on this divine figure in the Nag Hammadi documents “The Thought of Norea” and “The Reality of the Rulers” (sometimes titled “The Hypostasis of the Archons”). Norea is a powerful female character in both texts, which complement what we know about her but do not give a completely matching picture.  Our study depended substantially on the scholarship of Professor Celene Lillie and Professor Birger Pearson.

Read more about the texts here.

Many Jesuses or Just One? (Part II)

Date: Monday, March 23, 2020
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

When we compare the Jesus in the Gospel of Mark with the Jesus in the Gospel of John, we notice many major differences. So many, in fact, that it raises the question of whether this is even the same Jesus! In our last discussion (February 2020) we also carefully considered the Jesus portrayed the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Gospel of Truth. The astonishing variety and diversity in these Jesus portraits was even more surprising and interesting. In this follow-up discussion we expand the conversation to include a number of other early Christ documents: four or five documents written by Paul of Tarsus; the Gospel of Mary; the Letter of Peter to Philip; the Secret Revelation of John; and the canonical Revelation to John.

Many Jesuses?

Monday, February 24, 2020
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

With more and more different documents about Jesus discovered, a certain kind of question is being asked more frequently. The question goes something like this, “Since Jesus seems quite different and quite attractive and meaningful in many texts, can we think about one Jesus? Or would it help to think of different Jesuses?”  How many Jesuses are there? How do we account for such different Jesuses between the likes of the Letter to the Ephesians, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Thomas? What advantages and disadvantages are there to one, several, or many Jesuses? Good examples of the texts used in this study are available on the gospels.net website, and Early Christian Writings.

Parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas

Monday, January 27, 2020
Facebook Event Page
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig

Like many other canonical and extra-canonical documents from the first and second centuries, the Gospel of Thomas contains a number of parables.  Gospel of Thomas 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 Gospel of Thomas parables from several different angles.

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

First Revelation of James

Monday, December 30, 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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.”