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Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary

In AnneMarie LUIJENDIJK, Mohr Siebeck, Sarah Parkhouse on February 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

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2015.01.02 | AnneMarie Luijendijk. Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary (Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum 89). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014.

Reviewed by Sarah Parkhouse, Durham University.

Many thanks to Mohr Siebeck for providing a review copy.

Several years ago, AnneMarie Luijendijk was presented with a tiny, leather-bound codex, which read ‘The Gospel of the Lots of Mary’ (henceforth, GLM). The 2014-published paperback Forbidden Oracles is the first critical edition and translation of the text it contained. But Forbidden Oracles is so much more than that: it is a journey into magic and mystery, slaves and women, reviled practices, temples, travellers, codicology and bibliomancy, and even cites a classic Lennon & McCartney number ‘There will be an answer, let it be’ (p.13).

GLM is a fifth- or sixth-century Coptic book of oracular answers. A client would ask a diviner a question; the book would provide the answer. The full incipit reads ‘The Gospel of the lots of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, she to whom Gabriel the archangel brought the good news. He who will go forward (or: will seek) with his whole heart will obtain what he seeks. Only do not be of two minds’. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Under Pitiless Skies

In Brill, Nicola Denzey LEWIS, Sarah Parkhouse, Uncategorized on October 16, 2014 at 10:00 am

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2014.10.16 | Nicola Denzey Lewis. Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Under Pitiless Skies. (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 81). Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013.

Reviewed by Sarah Parkhouse, Durham University.

Many thanks to Brill for providing a review copy.

Nicola Denzey Lewis’ Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity reveals that in Gnostic and Graeco-Roman texts, the skies are not pitiless. The aims of the book are three-fold: firstly, a survey of how second-century authors understood astrological fate (heimarmene) as controlled by cosmic beings; secondly, the suggestion that these authors (almost) consistently offered their readers an escape from heimarmene; and, thirdly, further deconstruction of the orthodoxy-heresy dichotomy. The book demonstrates Denzey Lewis’ impressive knowledge of all things second century, explicitly shown by her ability to discuss fate in New Testament, Middle Platonic, Stoic, Gnostic, Manichean, Hermetic, pagan and proto-orthodox texts, despite stating that ‘language of “enslavement to Fate” in antiquity was rare’ (p.28). Read the rest of this entry »