11926Re: What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King
- Feb 9 1:42 PMOn Thu, 2006-02-09 at 19:40 +0000, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> Message: 4PMCV,
> Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006 04:23:51 -0000
> From: pmcvflag
> Subject: Re: What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King
> Hey Mike
> >>>>Karen King was one of my son's Professors at Occidental College.
> She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a
> lot out of her classes.<<<
> Hey, very impressive. Your son had a teacher that was a little better
> known on the common front than my own primary teacher in the subject
> (who specialized in Manichaism and NT translation, rather than
> Gnosticism specifically, though that was a secondary specialization)
> Don't know exactly what that means... but I certainly envy the
> education that I cannot continue at this point. Recently I keep
> thinking I will write her and try to get some kind of idea of where
> she will go next.... but her work has been VERY critical (in a good
> way) so far as I have seen.
> Off the point a little, she has been accused of the kind of feminist
> political preconceptions that Dr Pagels sometimes is accused of
> showing. Honestly, as I have become more familiar with her work, I
> have not seen it at all (though yes I HAVE seen it in Dr Pagels). On
> the contrary, her critical abilities have seemed more truly open (and
> critical... even CLASSICAL) than almost any other academic source I
> have read (and I am not unfamiliar with the genre).
> I am assuming this son was Thomas... whom I wish would stop in and
> talk with us more often. :) I would actually love to discuss the
> of academic vs personal communication with a person who has had
> both... like your son. I know my own communication could use some
> in joining the two ;) That could be a topic all to itself.
I'm basically a lurker here... email already consumes way too much of
my time as it is.
I really enjoyed my two years pursuing a "Religious Studies" degree at
Occidental - I had some really great professors; Burton Mack, of the
Claremont School of Theology, was a guest professor my first year there,
and we studied the Lost Gospel of Mark and early Christian history in a
lot of detail. Wonderful experience for a first year student.
I wound up in the Senior seminar in my second year; taught by Karen
King, just five or six students... unfortunately, that somewhat
coincided with my decision to leave school... and somewhat precipitated
it. In my view, to have an effective working knowledge of the field and
do original work, you need to know French, German and English (at a
minimum) for modern work, and Coptic, Latin, Greek, and Aramaic (at a
minimum) to be able to read and study materials in the original
language. Learning languages is not one of my strengths, so I realized
that an academic career in that direction wasn't a good idea.
Keeping in mind that Karen King was fifteen years less advanced in her
career track, she never struck me as having a "political" bias
("feminist" or otherwise)... it seemed very logical to me that she, as a
woman and an academic, would be interested in what quite honestly had
been a rather neglected area: women's roles, etc. ... not to mention
that the higher level of participation and authority and mythological
significance given women by certain Gnostic traditions (and most modern
ones, as well) relative to "orthodox" tradition, is a logical and
interesting thing for any academic to pursue (especially a female one).
At that point, her body of written work was relatively limited (she left
Oxy for Harvard Divinity school several years after I was there), but
she struck me as someone very deeply grounded in the original works and
their context, and not the type of academic to make wild extrapolations
or play down aspects of a work that didn't forward her positions.
I honestly didn't take anywhere near enough of the advantage I had, to
interact with her or the other professors (typical college
distractions). She and the other professors I took classes with were
quite intrigued by my perspective and history. I was already fairly well
read in many of the materials, my own readings, readings from my dad's
libraries, and of course weekly exposure to Stephan Hoeller's lectures,
which gave me quite an advantage.
On the other hand, I haven't had the time or money to keep up on the
explosion of literature over the last few years... I'm not sure if I've
even read much of Karen King's work.
I'd love to return to school again at some point in the future and
study this at my leisure, without economic pressure driving the decision
making process, and with the benefit of the experience I've gained since
then. Perhaps after I retire, whenever that happens.
This is an interesting and provacative discussion of Mack's work, which
I haven't seen mentioned much...
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