Rice University Department of Religion

April D. DeConick

By way of introduction

April DeConick

I first became interested in marginalized and disenfranchised religious expressions when I came across the Gospel of Thomas as an undergraduate.  I remember reading the sayings of Jesus there and being struck by a spirituality that seemed at once ancient and modern.  I wondered why an early Christian book with such a beautiful form of spirituality never made it into the New Testament.  This question compelled me to take up Biblical Studies as my major, and inspired me to write my PhD thesis on the subject of mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas.

Over the years, I have continued to strive to flesh out mystical and esoteric currents within early Christianity.  I have tried to give the hidden and concealed a physical form, so that we might come to know more concretely what is at the invisible margins of a religion we think we know so well.  So I have studied what some call "alternative" expressions of Christianity, expressions that were not the historical survivors.  I have also studied the marginalized people within early Christianity, particularly women who suffer greatly because of holy misogyny, sexism that has been legitimized through divine writ. 

It wasn't until I became involved with the Gospel of Judas, however, that I realized the importance that transgression plays in so many of these movements on the margins.  So important is transgression that I think it is the heart of all things Gnostic.

Unlike many scholars who also study Gnosticism in antiquity, I argue that it actually existed and continues to exist today.  It is not a religion, although it fostered many religious movements.  Nor it is a rhetorical construct of the apostolic-catholic church leaders that we have reified.   Rather it is a real form of spirituality that emerged in the early first century CE and revolutionized religion.  We are still feeling the effects of this revolution today.  This forms the thesis of the book that I am writing currently: The Ancient New Age: How Gnostic Spirituality Revolutionized Religion.


Recent publications on mysticism, esotericism and Gnosticism


Crafting Gnosis: Gnostic Spirituality in the Ancient New Age.  Pages 285-308 in Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Antique World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner.  Edited by Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus.  Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 82.  Leiden: Brill.

Who is hiding in the Gospel of John?  Reconceptualizing Johannine theology and the roots of Gnosticism.  Pages 13-29 in Histories of the Hidden God: Concealment and Revelation in Western Gnostic, Esoteric, and Mystical Traditions.  Edited by April DeConick and Grant Adamson.  Gnostica Series.  Durham: Acumen.

The Road for the Souls is through the Planets: The Mysteries of the Ophians Mapped."  Pages 37-74 in Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient LiteratureEssays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson.  Edited by April D. DeConick, Gregory Shaw and John D. Turner.  Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 85. Leiden: Brill.

Edited with Grant Adamson.  Histories of the Hidden God: Concealment and Revelation in Western Gnostic, Esoteric, and Mystical Traditions.  Gnostica Series.  Durham: Acumen.

Edited with Gregory Shaw and John D. Turner.  Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient LiteratureEssays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson.  Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 85. Leiden: Brill.


From the Bowels of Hell to Draco: The Mysteries of the Peratics.  Pages 3-38 in Mystery and Secrecy in the Nag Hammadi Collection and Other Ancient Literature: Ideas and Practices.  Studies for Einar Thomassen at Sixty.  Edited by Christian H. Bull, Liv Ingeborg Lied, and John D. Turner.  Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 76.  Leiden: Brill


Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter.  New York: Continuum.  2013, New York: Bloomsbury.

Mysticism Before Mysticism: Teaching Christian Mysticism as Historian of Religion.   Pages 26-45 in Teaching Mysticism.  Edited by William B. Parsons.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

After the Gospel of Judas: Reassessing What We Have Known to Be True about Cain and Judas.  Pages 627-662 in "In Search of Truth":  Augustine, Manichaeism and other Gnosticism. Edited by J.A. van den Berg, et al.  NHMS 74.  Leiden: Brill.


Jesus Revealed: The Dynamics of Early Christian Mysticism. Pages 299-324 in With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic, and Mysticism.  Edited by D.V. Arbel and A.A. Orlov. Ekstasis 2.  Berlin: DeGruyter.


The Codex Judas Papers: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Tchacos Codex, Rice University, Houston, Texas, March 13-16, 2008, NHMS 71. Leiden: Brill.

Apostles as Archons: The Fight for Authority and the Emergence of Gnosticism in the Tchacos Codex and Other Early Christian Literature.  Pages 243-288 in DeConick, The Codex Judas Papers 2009.

Transgressive Gnosis: Radical Thinking about the Gospel of Judas. Pages 555-570 in Gnosis and Revelation:  Ten Studies on Codex Tchacos.  Edited by M. Scopello.  Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa 44:3.


The Mystery of Betrayal:  What Does the Gospel of Judas Really Say?  Pages 239-266 in The Gospel of Judas in Context. Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Gospel of Judas.  Edited by M. Scopello. NHMS 62.  Leiden: Brill.

Conceiving Spirits. The Mystery of Valentinian Sex. Pages 23-48 in Hidden Intercourse:  Eros and Sexuality in Western Esotericism. Edited by W. Hanegraaff & J. Kripal. Leiden: Brill.


The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says.  London: Continuum. 2009, paper edition expanded and revised.  Translations published in Dutch and French, 2008.


The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation, with a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel, Library of New Testament Studies 287. London: T & T Clark.

Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.


Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth, Library of New Testament Studies 286. London: T & T Clark.


The Great Mystery of Marriage: Sex and Conception in Ancient Valentinian Traditions. Pages 307-342 in Vigiliae Christianae 57.


The True Mysteries: Sacramentalism in the Gospel of Philip. Pages 225-261 in Vigiliae Christianae 55.

Voices of the Mystics: Early Christian Discourse in the Gospels of John and Thomas and Other Ancient Christian Literature, Supplements to the Journal of the Study of the New Testament 157.  Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press and London: T&T Clark.


Seek to See Him: Ascent and Vision  Mysticism  in  the  Gospel  of Thomas, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 33.  Leiden: Brill.