Prof. Karen L. KingProfessor of Divinity

    Research Profile

    Prof. King’s academic work centers on the problematics and practices of how to write a critical-inclusive history of ancient Christianity.  She works primarily with practice theory approaches, emphasizing ethical-theological issues and feminist/gender studies.  Her prior work has analyzed the continued use of the ancient discourses of orthodoxy and heresy within modern historiographical practice, and offered attempts to analyze specific texts (Gospel of Mary, Secret Revelation of John, Letter of Peter to Philip) and specific issues (e.g., early Christian diversity, religion and violence, instrumental agency, women’s authority, textual criticism) outside the framework of that discourse.  She is currently working on two research projects:  Martyrdom and its Discontents in Ancient Christianity and Ambiguous Revolution:  Sex and Sexuality in Ancient Christianity.

    Teaching Profile

    Trained in comparative religions and historical studies, her teaching and research specialties in the history of Christianity lie in women’s studies, orthodoxy and heresy, and Nag Hammadi and other Coptic literature.  Her current masters-level courses include:  “Orthodoxy and Heresy in Ancient Christianity,” “Women, Sex, and Gender in Ancient Christianity,” and Sahidic Coptic.  She also teaches specialized doctoral courses on feminist and practice theory approaches to the study of ancient Christianity.

    Selected Publications

    The Secret Revelation of John. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

    The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2003.

    What is Gnosticism? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

    “Willing to Die for God: Individualization and Instrumental Agency in Ancient Christian Martyr Literature,” in: J. Rüpke (ed.): Religious Individualization in the Hellenistic and Roman Period. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

    “Toward a Discussion of the Category ‘Gnosis/Gnosticism’: The Case of the Epistle of Peter to Philip,” in: J. Frey/J. Schröter (ed.): Jesus in apokryphen Evangelienüberlieferungen. Beiträge zu außerkanonischen Jesusüberlieferungen aus verschiedenen Sprach- und Kulturtraditionen. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010, 445-465.

    “Comparison:  Categories, Methods, and Mischiefs—The Case of the Gospel of Judas,” in: W. Braun/R. T. McCutcheon (ed.s): Introducing Religion. Essays in Honor of Jonathan Z. Smith.  London: Equinox Press, 2008, 178-191.

    “Social and Theological Effects of Heresiological Discourse,” in: E. Iricinschi/H. M. Zellentin (ed.): Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008, 28-49

    “Which Early Christianity?” in: S. A. Harvey/D. Hunter (ed.s): The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies. Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2008, 66-84.

    “Why all the Controversy? Mary in the Gospel of Mary,” in: F. S. Jones (ed.): Which Mary? The Marys of Early Christian Tradition. SBL Symposium Series 20. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002, 53-74.

    “Prophetic Power and Women’s Authority: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” and “Afterword. Voices of the Spirit: Exercising Power, Embracing Responsibility,” in: B. M. Kienzle/P. J. Walker (ed.s): Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity. Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1998, 21-41; 335-43.



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