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The Mummy, The Book, and the Tomb: Rereading Early Egyptian Christianity Through Its Artifacts

Nicola Denzey Lewis (Brown University)
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 7:00pm
Communications 226

This talk will also be given as the Redford Lecture in Archaelogy at the University of Puget Sound on Thursday, March 1, 2012, at 7:00pm in WY 109.

In 1945, the world of early Christian studies was changed forever by the discovery deep in the Egyptian desert of a cache of twelve ancient books containing writings that had literally been “lost” for 1,600 years. Those writings – including the only complete copy of the Gospel of Thomas purporting to report the “secret words” of Jesus – profoundly altered our understanding of early Christianity. But have their nature and purpose been widely misunderstood? This lecture offers a radical new way of interpreting how, and why, these ancient Egyptian books were buried and uncovers a tale of Christian mummies, magical books, and a tomb robbing that changed the world.

Nicola Denzey Lewis (Ph.D. 1998, Princeton University) is Senior Lecturer in Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University, where she also holds an affiliated faculty status with the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. The author of The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Ancient Christian Women (2007), Denzey Lewis also has two books forthcoming, both on Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism. She is an associate editor of the Cambridge Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religion and currently at work on a Cambridge Companion to Gnosticism.