Michael A. Williams
updated: February 15
Professor, Comparative Religion Program,
B.A. 1968 Abilene Christian University,
ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE:
1976-77 Acting Assistant Professor, Comparative Religion Program, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Professor of Comparative Religion, University of
Professor of Comparative Religion, University of
1995-98 Professor of Comparative Religion, University
1998- Professor of Comparative Religion and Near Eastern Languages & Civilization
Member of the International Studies Program,
Adjunct Professor, Department of Near East Languages
Adjunct Professor, Department of History, University
Chair, Comparative Religion Program,
Chair, Department of Near East Languages and
Civilization, University of
1. Books and Editions
Translator and assistant editor of: Martin Dibelius, A Commentary on the Epistle of James (11th German edition by Heinrich Greeven), ed. Helmut Koester, Hermeneia Series (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
and Sacred Biography, Journal of the
`The Immovable Race': A Gnostic Designation and the Theme of Stability in Late Antiquity, Nag Hammadi Studies 29 (Leiden, Brill: 1985).
Co-editor, with Collett Cox and Martin Jaffee, Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change, Religion and Society (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992)
Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Problematic Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996; paperback edition, 1999)
2. Articles and Chapters
"Realized Eschatology in the Gospel of Philip," Restoration Quarterly 14 (1971): 1-17.
"Stability as a Soteriological Theme in
Gnosticism," in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism, ed. Bentley
"The Life of
"Uses of Gender Imagery in Ancient Gnostic Texts," in Gender and Religion: on the Complexity of Symbols, ed. Caroline Bynum, Stevan Harrell, and Paula Richman (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), pp. 196-227.
"The Scribes of the Nag Hammadi Codices,"
preliminary report on research in
"Variety in Gnostic Perspectives on Gender," in Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism, ed. Karen L. King, Studies in Antiquity and Christianity 3 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), pp. 2-22.
"Divine Image -- Prison of Flesh: Perspectives on the Body in Ancient Gnosticism," in Fragments for a History of the Human Body, ed. Michel Feher, Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi, Zone 3/1 (1989): 129-47.
"Codex Brucianus," in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. D. N. Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992)
"Religious Innovation: An Introductory Essay," in Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change, ed. Michael A. Williams, Collett Cox and Martin S. Jaffee, Religion and Society (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992), 1-17.
"The Demonizing of the Demiurge: The Innovation of Gnostic Myth," in Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change, ed. Michael A. Williams, Collett Cox and Martin S. Jaffee, Religion and Society (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992), 73-107.
"The Scribes of the Nag Hammadi Codices IV, V, VI, VIII and IX," in Actes du IVe Congrès Copte, Louvain-la-Neuve, 5-10 Septembre, 1988, vol. 2: De la Linguistique au Gnosticisme, ed. Marguerite Rassart-Debergh and Luien Ries, Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain 41. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, 1992, 334-42.
"Interpreting the Nag Hammadi Library as ‘Collection(s)’ in the History of ’Gnosticism(s)’" in Les textes de Nag Hammadi et le problème de leur classification: Actes du colloque tenu à Québec du 15 Au-19 Septembre 1993, ed. Louis Painchaud and Anne Pasquier, Bibliothèque Copte de Nag Hammadi, Section "Études" (Québec, Louvain and Paris: Les presses de l’Université Laval and Éditions Peeters, 1995), pp. 3-50.
"The Harvest of Hellenism and the Category ‘Gnosticism,’" Syllecta Classica 6 (1995): 87-104.
"Gnosticism," in Dictionary of Ethics, Society and Theology,
ed. Andrew Linzey and Paul A.Clarke.
"Negative Theologies and Demiurgical Myths in Late Antiquity," 1997 SBL Seminar Papers. Scholars Press, pp. 20-46.
Response to papers by Karen King, Frederik Wisse, Michael Waldstein and Sergio La Porta, in The Nag Hammadi Library After Fifty Years: Proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration. Edited by John D. Turner and Anne McGuire. NHMS 44. (Leiden-New York-Koln: Brill, 1997), 208-222.
“Secrecy, Revelation, and Late Antique Demiurgical Myths,” in Rending the Veil: Concealment and Secrecy in the History of Religions. Edited by Elliot R. Wolfson. (Chappaqua, NY: Seven Bridges Press, 1998), pp. 31-58.
“Negative Theologies and Demiurgical Myths in Late
Antiquity," Pp. 277-302 in Gnosticism
& Later Platonism: Themes, Figures, and Texts. SBL
Symposium Series, 12. Ed. Ruth Majercik and John D. Turner.
Codices and Related Texts,” Pp. 485-490 in
“Was there a Gnostic Religion? Strategies for a Clearer Analysis.” P. 5-29 in Was There a Gnostic Religion? Ed. Antti Marjanen. Helsinki: Finnish Exegetical Society; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005.
“Sethianism.” Pp. 32-63 in A
Companion to Second-Century Christian "Heretics." Ed. Antti Marjanen
and Petri Luomanen. Supplements
to Vigiliae Christianae
"Inside the Covers of Codex VI." Co-authored with my student Lance Jenott. Pp. 1025-1052 in Coptica, Gnostica, Manichaica: Mélanges offerts à Wolf-Peter Funk, edited by Louis Painchaud and Paul-Hubert Poirier. Québec/Louvain/Paris: Les presses de l'Université Laval/Éditions Peeters, 2006.
Articles on "Gnosticism"; "Nag Hammadi"; "John, Apocryphon of." In: Patte, Daniel, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Primary contributor to: “gnosticism,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/236343/Gnosticism> .
“Life and Happiness in the ‘Platonic Underworld,’” Pp. 497-523 in: Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner. Edited by Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus, in collaboration with Dylan M. Burns, Lance Jenott and Zeke Mazur. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 82. (Leiden: Brill, 2013.
“Did Plotinus’s ‘Friends’ Still Go to Church?: Communal Rituals and Ascent Apocalypses,” Pp. 495-522 in: Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy, and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Late Antique Literature: Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson. Edited by April DeConick, Gregory Shaw, John Turner, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies (Leiden: Brill, 2013).
“A Life Full of Meaning and Purpose: Demiurgical Myths and Social Implications,” Pp.. 19-59 in: Beyond the Gnostic Gospels: Studies Building on the Work of Elaine Pagels. Eduard Iricinschi, Lance Jenott, Nicola Denzey Lewis, and Philippa Townsend. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013)
3. Book Reviews
Review of: James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), in Journal of Biblical Literature 97 (1978): 610-12.
Review of: Divine Man or Magician; Celsus and Origen on Jesus, by Eugene V. Gallagher, Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (l984): 677f
Review of: The Letter of Peter to Philip: Text, Translation and Commentary, by Marvin W. Meyer, Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984): 675-77.
Review of: La soteriologia dei culti orientali nell' Impero Romano: Atti del Colloquio Internazionale su la Soteriologia dei Culti orientali nell' Impero Romano, Roma, 24-28 Septembre 1979, ed. Ugo Bianchi and Maarten J. Vermaseren, Etudes preliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'empire romain 92, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 54 (1986): 369f.
Review of: The
Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of
Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism, by Jarl
Review of: Female
Fault and Fulfillment in Gnosticism, by Jorunn
Jacobsen Buckley, Journal of the
Review of: The Economic and Social Origins of Gnosticism, by Henry Green, Second Century 7 (1989-90): 104-106.
Review of: Against the Protestant Gnostics, by Philip J. Lee, Christian Scholars Review 19,3 (1990): 317-18.
Review of: A Separate God: The Christian Origins of Gnosticism, by Simone Pétrement, Critical Review of Books in Religion 5 (1992): 300-303.
Review of: Nag Hammadi Codex VIII, ed. John H. Sieber, Nag Hammadi Studies 31, Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (1993): 546-49.
Review of: From Christianity to Gnosis and from Gnosis to Christianity, by Jean Magne, for IOUDAIOS 4.010 (May 1994).
Review of: The Teachings of Sylvanus, by Jan Zandee, for Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994): 356-58.
Review of: Savoir et salut: Traditions juives et tentations dualistes dans le christianisme ancien, by Gedaliahu Guy Stroumsa, for History of Religions 34 (1994): 97-99.
Review of: Gnosticism and the New Testament, by Pheme Perkins, for The Journal of Religion 75 (1995): 555-57.
Review of: The Woman Jesus Loved: Mary Magdalene in the Nag Hammadi Library & Related Documents, by Antti Marjanen, for the Review of Biblical Literature 1 (1998).
Review of: Jesus in the Nag Hammadi Writings, by Majella Franzmann, for The Journal of Religion 78,3 (1998): 431-32.
Review of: Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times, ed. Roelof van den Broek and Wouter J. Hanegraaff, for Church History 68,3 (1999): 675.
Review of: Richard Smith, A Concise Coptic-English Lexicon, Second edition. SBL Sources for Biblical
Review of: Riemer Roukema, Gnosis and Faith in Early Christianity, for Interpretation 55,1 (2001): 96-98.
Review of Thomas Zöckler, Jesu Lehren im Thomasevangelium, NHMS series, for Journal of Religion 81,3 (2001): 457-459.
Review of Silke Petersen, ‘Zerstört die Werke der Weiblichkeit!’: Maria Magdalena, Salome & andere Jüngerinnen Jesu in christlich-gnostischen Schriften, NHMS series, for Journal of Religion 81,3 (2001): 452-454.
Review of Christoph Markschies, Gnosis: An Introduction, trans.
Review of Einar Thomassen, The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the "Valentinians," Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 60 (Leiden/Boston: Brill 2006), for the journal NUMEN (to appear in 2006).
Review of Rodolphe Kasser, M. Meyer and G. Wurst, The Gospel of Judas (National Geographic Society, 2006), for the Journal of Early Christian Studies 15,1 (2007): 110-112.
of: Buell, Denise K. Why This New
Race? Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (
Review of: Logan, Alastair H. B. The Gnostics: Identifying an Early Christian Cult, Forward by the Archbishop Rowan Williams. London and New York: T & T Clark, 2006. For Theology 111 (2008): 122-123.
Review of Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John, for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76 (2008) 243-246.
Review of David Brakke, The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity (Harvard U. Press, 2010), for the Journal of Early Christian Studies19,3 (2011): 479-80..
Review of Nicola Denzey Lewis, Introduction to "Gnosticism": Ancient Voices, Christian Worlds. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. For the journal Church History and Religious Culture 94 (2014): 77-80.
"Stability as a Soteriological Theme in Gnosticism," International Conference on Gnosticism, Yale University, New Haven, Conn., March 28-3l, l978
"`Let Him who thinks he stands. . . '(l Cor ): A Technical term from Hellenistic-Jewish Wisdom?" Northwest regional meeting, American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, Portland, Oregon, April 20-22, l978.
"Asceticism in the Nag Hammadi Codices," Annual meeting, American Research Center in Egypt, San Francisco, California, April 13-l5, 198O.
"Gnostic Asceticism and the Early Church,". Northwest regional meeting,
"Critique of Martin Hengel,
Acts and the History of Early
Northwest regional meeting, AAR/SBL,
"Conversion to Chosen Races in Gnostic
Literature," paper for section on "Conversion in Greco-Roman
Antiquity," national meetings, AAR/SBL,
"The Immovable Race: Variations on a Gnostic Theologumenon,"
paper for Nag Hammadi section, AAR/SBL,
"Higher Providence, Lower Providences and Fate in Gnosticism and Middle Platonism," for the International Conference on Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, Sixth Annual Conference on the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, March 18-2l, 1984, University of Oklahoma.
"Variety in Gnostic Perspectives on Gender," for Research Conference on Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism, sponsored by Department of Religious Studies at Occidental College, the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate School, and the Society of Biblical Literature; Claremont and Anaheim, CA, November 19-26, 1985.
"Our Bodies, Our Cells and Our Selves: Gnostic
and Hellenistic-Roman Perceptions of the Body," Pacific Northwest AAR-SBL,
"The Scribes of Nag Hammadi
Codices IV, V, VI, VIII and IX," 4th International Congress of Coptic
"Gnostic Kinship Imagery and Social
Reality," Social History of Early Christianity Group, AAR/SBL,
"Religious Innovation and Gnostic Origins,"
Pacific Northwest AAR-SBL,
"Gnosticism as Religious Innovation," XVIth Congress of the International Association of the
History of Religions,
Gnostic Perceptions of Body and Soul," joint session of SBL Nag Hammadi
Section and AAR Platonism and Neoplatonism Group, National
meetings of AAR/SBL,
"Freedom by Abuse or Freedom by Non-use = Gnostic
Ethics?" Female and Male in Gnosticism Group, AAR/SBL,
"Interpreting the Nag Hammadi Library as ‘Collection(s)’ in the History of ’Gnosticism(s)’" Invited contribution for conference on "Les textes de Nag Hammadi et le problème de leur classification," Université Laval, Québec, September, 1993.
"Should We Replace Gnosticism as a
Category?" second session of Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism Section, AAR/SBL,
"Breaking Off the Front End: Do Doctrines About
Demiurges Denote Dropouts?" Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism Section, AAR/SBL,
"Doing without `Gnosticism' as a Category"
New Testament and Hellenistic Religions Section, Pacific Northwest AAR-SBL,
"Secrecy, Revelation, and Late Antique
Demiurgical Myths.” Paper for conference
on "Rending the Veil: Concealment and Revelation of Secrets in the History
"Misreading Other Peoples' Myths: How Wrong Have We been About 'Gnosticism'?" Lecture at
"Negative Theologies and Demiurgical Myths in
Late Antiquity." Paper for
the Gnosticism and Later Platonism Seminar, AAR/SBL,
“Codices and the Canonizing Process: Two Case Studies from Ancient Christianity.” Lecture at the
“Stories and Secrets, Books and Canons in Ancient
Address, Pacific Northwest Regional meetings of the AAR/SBL,
“Was There a Gnostic Religion? Strategies for a
Clearer Analysis.” International Meeting of the Society of
“Pillars of Utopia:
“Design in Codex Composition: The Case of Bodmer P72.” Paper for Consultation on Papyrology
and Early Christian Studies, AAR/SBL,
“Living with Lesser Gods: Heterodox Cosmological Myths
and Social Implications in late Antiquity.”
Plenary address at
“Could Manichaeans Be Happy? Cosmology and the Appreciation of Daily Life in Manichaean Communities.” Invited lecture at Princeton University, October 15, 2009
“Gnosticism in Greco-Roman Egypt"; one of three featured lecturers in an intensive summer program presented by the Spiritual Life Institute (SLI), St. Martin’s University, Lacey, Washington, June 24-28, 2013.
OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY:
Editorial Board, Journal of Biblical Literature, 1990-1995.
Chair, Consultation on
"Charisma and Sacred Biography," National meetings of AAR/SBL,
Chair, New Testament Section,
Chair, Nag Hammadi Section, SBL (national), 1990-92.
Steering Committee, Social History of Formative Judaism and Christianity Section, SBL, 1983-91.
Steering Committee, Female and Male in Gnosticism Group, SBL, 1985-92.
Steering Committee, Nag Hammadi Section, SBL, 1986-1997.
Steering Committee, Seminar on Gnosticism and Later Platonism, SBL, 1993-.
Executive Committee and Nominating Committee,
Presiding, panel on "Life Story and
Anecdote: Uses of Narrative in Sacred
Biography," Comparative Studies in Religion section, national meetings of
Panel, Consultation on Sacred
Biography, annual meetings, AAR/SBL, Dallas,
Panel, Female and Male in Gnosticism Group (topic:
"Myth and Marriage in the Gospel of
Presiding and panel participant, Gnosticism and
Platonism, Nag Hammadi Section, National meetings of AAR/SBL,
Respondent, joint session of Nag Hammadi Section and Social History of Early Christianity Group, AAR/SBL, Atlanta, November 22-25, 1986.
Respondent, Nag Hammadi Section,
Respondent to papers in section on “Challenges to
Orthodoxy in the Patristic Age," American Catholic Historical Association,
Respondent to papers by Marvin Meyer, Nicole Denzey and Catherine Burris in the symposium Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient
& Late Antique World.
Respondent on panel for Early Jewish
and Christian Mysticism Group, AAR/SBL,
Respondent to five papers in session on “Gnosticism and Platonism,” at annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 21-25, 2008, Boston.
Presiding, Nag Hammadi Section, National meetings of
Presiding, joint session of SBL Nag Hammadi Section
and AAR Platonism and Neoplatonism Group, National
meetings of AAR/SBL,
Presiding, session of the Social History of Formative
Judaism and Christianity Section, National meetings of AAR/SBL,
Presiding, session of Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism
Presiding and respondent for panel of authors of books on the Gospel of Judas, AAR/SBL, November 17-20, 2007, San Diego.
GRANTS, AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS, HONORS:
1974-75 Arthur Darby Nock Teaching Fellowship, Harvard
research grant, Graduate School Research Fund,
grant to Coptic Conference,
travel grant to XVIth Congress of the International
Association of the History of Religions,
1990- Golden Key National Honor Society, honorary member
1991 Professeur-Chercheur Invité, Projet Nag Hammadi, l'Université Laval, Québec, (September-October, 1991)
Lecture in Religion,
research grant, Graduate School Research Fund,
2003-2005 Principal Investigator, Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Educational Partnerships Grant ($1 M) on “Cultural and Comparative Religious Studies”; University of Washington partnership with five institutions of higher education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
International Association of Coptic Studies
Society of Biblical Literature