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Early Christian Texts Events

Interested in booking Shirley Paulson of Early Christian Texts to speak or present a series or workshop?  Click here to request booking information.

A variety of presentations on early Christian texts, including seminars, classes, workshops, and lectures

Some topics include:

  1. Relationships between the Bible and extracanonical texts
  2. Issues in the early formation of Christianity
  3. Exploration of divine and human vulnerability
  4. Spiritual practice emerging from study of extracanonical texts
  5. Healing ideas from the ancient texts
  6. Theological and spiritual concepts from the ancient texts

Presentations and events can be created to work perfectly with your event. If you have a specific topic related to the early Christian texts, be sure to send a message to ask about it.

Fragment from the Gospel of Mary

Fragment from the Gospel of Mary, unknown photographer, public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Healing Violence in the World: Letter of Peter to Philip

6 Online Discussion Sessions
Every other week on Thursday evening
March 7 through May 16
8:00 pm Eastern (5:00 Pacific, 6:00 Mountain, 7:00 Central)

After Jesus Before Christianity

6 Online Discussion Sessions
Every other Tuesday
March 19 through May 28
7 pm GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Special focus for Christian Scientists

Conference Presentations and Similar Events

“This was the best webinar yet. The information was clear and has implications to think about. Shirley Paulson gave the webinar a superb start with her visual easy-going start to invite us into the presentations. Her conversational style is easy to listen to.” — David

Westar Christianity II Seminar

Spring Session: “Healing and Health in Emergent Christianity”

Shirley will present her paper, “Spiritual Healing (Without Medicine) at the Heart of Christian Crossroads.”

Countering traditional understandings that early Christians were primarily concerned with spiritual salvation, this Conference will take us into an in-depth exploration of healing and health in emergent Christianity. Acknowledging that the healing arts toolkit included both medicine and magic, we will examine sources that afford access to traditions of bodily wholeness and those who used them. We will likewise query whether the combination of medicine and magic held true across Christian communities or if unique healing practices served to demarcate distinct forms of the religion. Four invited scholars with expertise in ancient healing, medicine, and magic will engage these and other themes related to the healing arts.

Presenters:  Andrew Crislip, Meghan Henning, Joseph Sanzo, and Shirley Paulson

Session Preview (registration required, free):
Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 7:00 pm Eastern
Preview of the actual seminar to follow. Zoom link provided after registration. Registration link for this free session coming soon.

Session Events (registration required, fee):
Registration required. Registration link coming soon.

Friday, March 22, 2024, 11:00 am and 1:30 pm Eastern
Paper summaries followed by discussions (Shirley presents during the 11:00 am session)

Saturday, March 23, 2024, 11:00 am Eastern
All Four presenters engage together in a panel discussion, followed by 20–30 mins. of Q&A

Bible and Beyond Discussions

The Bible and Beyond Discussions

Once a month, at 8–9 pm Eastern Time on Monday nights (generally the fourth of the month), Early Christian Texts presents an online discussion pertaining to the early Christ movement texts.  These discussions, hosted or presented 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.

Bible and Beyond Presentations

Introductory and In-Depth Online or In-Person Presentations by Shirley Paulson, PhD

The Bible and Beyond Presentation series offers courses and workshops designed for use by churches, conferences, and organizations. Providing a unique opportunity for participants to experience introductory or in-depth classes on various aspects of early Christian texts, the presentations can be offered in-person or online. The combination of Shirley Paulson’s experience with healing, scholarship, and research in Practical Theology evokes ever-new questions and conversations based on ancient texts. Shirley has nearly two decades of experience presenting lectures, classes, and workshops on early texts. Learn more about the variety of presentations offered.

Bible and Beyond Presentations


I was very interested in Dr Paulson’s talk on healing among early Jesus followers. I now know what it means to be an “early Jesus follower” and why that term is used. The context of life at the time, the overview of the Secret Revelation of John, the ideas shared on the beliefs and practices during Jesus’ day were fascinating. After this talk, I look forward to learning more!  — Bonnie Jean Schlaepfer, Denver, CO

One thing you can always count on when Shirley Paulson speaks:  her passion and conviction about her subject.  She takes complex material and breaks it down for a newcomer to the material to understand.  Her tremendous academic training has prepared her to share these early texts in new, fresh ways that bring the latest scholarship to bear.  Enjoy! — Madelon Maupin, Newport Beach, CA (Founder, Bible Roads)

Recently I was privileged to take a fascinating 2-week course from Dr. Shirley Paulson, based on her years of research on early Christian texts. To be able to study extracanonical texts, discovered in 1945, added greatly to my understanding of theological issues both then and now. — Lucy Harper, Atlanta, GA

Your message was incisive, powerful, and focused … Your broader theme assures us that, regardless of whatever outward turmoil seems to be present, by keeping our focus on the three gems, we can experience the harmony of God’s creation right here and now. — Dennis Page, Trabuco Canyon, CA, Attorney at Law

From anonymous evaluation forms:

Such amazing, eye-opening, helpful information. The fruits of your study research digging are so helpful…

Getting exposed/acquainted to the ancient extracanonical texts for the first time – now I need to go home and study them.

Interested in non-canonical healings; how early Christian churches organized; explanations about the Council of Nicea and its impact on history; closer historical context; great perspective: explanations through good metaphors.

There was so much here that I could take this again and continue to learn more — have more texts been found? Grateful for all. I think you were very thorough. I appreciate your bibliography and back-up for many of the ideas given.

I enjoyed all of it and got a lot out of it.

Selected Past Events

Conversation on a Healing Theology

Presented by: Dr. Shirley Paulson
Type: In-Person Presentation
Date: June 21, 2023 10:15 am BST
Where: University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK

What Else did Jesus and His Followers Do?

Presented by: Dr. Shirley Paulson
Type: In-Person Daily Lecture Series
Date: June 12 – 16, 2023
Where: Principia College

Title: Why is the Secret Revelation of John Important to Christian Scientists?

Presenter: Dr. Shirley Paulson
Type: In-Person Daily Lecture Series
Date: June 4-11, 2022, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm
Where: Elsah, Illinois (Principia College)

Ancient Christian Texts for Healing (A PCS Forum Event)
Presented by Dr. Shirley Paulson
Date: May 12, 2022 – 7:00 pm EDT
Printable Flyer is here.

Title: Extraordinary Gems of Wisdom: A Conversation with Shirley Paulson, PhD
Presenter: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Title: The Secret Revelation of John, a 2nd Century Healing Text: Was it Christian, Gnostic, or Something Else?
Presenter: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Date: July 22, 2021

Title: The Gospel of Thomas and the Bible: Why It Matters to Christian Scientists
Presenter: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Type: Presentation (via Zoom)
Date: June 17, 2021
Where: Principia Summer Session (Online)

Title: The Gospel of Thomas and the Bible: The “Marvelous Coincident” (of special interest to Christian Scientists)
Presenter: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Type: Presentation (via Zoom)
Date: June 8, 2021
Where: Principia Summer Session (Online)

Title: “Race, Ethnicity, and the Bible”
Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig
Type: Four 75-minute Presentations (via Zoom)
Date: September 30, October 7, 14, 21, 2020
Where: Online

Title: “How Do Early Followers of Jesus Speak to Us Today?”
Presenter: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Type: 45-minute Presentation (via Zoom)
Date: September 27, 2020
Where: Clearview Home Annual Meeting (Online)

Title: “If Not Christian, Then What”
Presenters: Hal Taussig with Brandon Scott and Erin Vearncombe
Type: Seminar discussion of paper presentation
Date: May 9, 2020
Where: Westar Institute Spring Meeting of Christianity Seminar (Online)

Title: “Enlightenment on Psychological Aspects of New Testament Healing from Nag Hammadi
Presenter: Shirley Paulson
Type: Scholarly Paper Presentation
Date: July 4, 2019 (during the SBL International Meeting)
Where: The Pontifical Biblical Institute

Title: “Healing and Gender in Bible Times
Presenter: Shirley Paulson
Type: One Week Course
Date: June 24–28, 2019
Where: Elsah, Illinois (Principia College)

Title: “Healing in a Fractured Time: Wholeness for the Early Followers of Jesus”
Presenter: Shirley Paulson
Type: Lecture
Date: November 18, 2018
Where: Denver, CO (Sixth Church of Christ, Scientist)

Title: “Healing Theologies and Practices in the Early Christian Church”
Presenter: Shirley Paulson
Type: Two-week course
Date:  June 11 – 22, 2018
Where: Elsah, IL (Principia College)