Flora Tells a Story
The Apocalypse of Paul and Its Contexts
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$85.00 Hardcover, 276 pp.
In early Christianity, many people were inspired to write gospels, treatises, letters, and stories celebrating the new faith, but not all of these writings are found in the New Testament. One such story from an unknown author is the Coptic, gnostic Apocalypse of Paul, a tale of the apostle Paul’s ascent to the heavens that was lost for millennia and rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. In Flora Tells a Story, Michael Kaler discusses the Apocalypse of Paul and how it was shaped by its literary environment.
The book takes a behind the scenes look at early Christian literary production, analyzing the ways in which various literary traditions—such as apocalyptic writings, gnostic thought, and understandings of Paul—influenced the author of the Apocalypse of Paul and helped to shape the text. It also includes a new annotated English translation of the Apocalypse of Paul and a fictional account of how it might have come to be written.
This work is the most in-depth study of the Apocalypse of Paul to date and the only full-length discussion of it in English. It provides a detailed but accessible account of the literary environment in which its author worked and integrates this little-known work into the broader stream of early Christian writings. This book will be of interest to specialists in Nag Hammadi and gnostic studies and early Christian literature, but will also appeal to the general reader interested in Christianity, mysticism, and gnosticism.
About Michael Kaler
Michael Kaler is a specialist in the study of early Christianity and particularly gnosticism, a loose assortment of distinctive beliefs about the nature of God, reality, and humanity. He has worked and published with Université Laval’s prestigious Bibliothéque copte de Nag Hammadi project and has taught at the University of Toronto and McMaster University. His work on Paul, gnosticism, and early Christianity has been published in Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Early Christian Studies, and other journals.
“This fine monograph offers a clear and helpful introduction to the Apocalypse of Paul, a short tale of heavenly ascent which has been preserved as part of Nat Hammadi Codec V,2.... This is an exemplary work. Kaler is master both of his primary text and of a great deal of secondary literature, and he writes with clarity and wit, taking care not to ask the fragmentary ancient evidence to bear more than it reasonably can, and drawing clear but cautious and nuanced conclusions. I found the story that he included both engrossing and intriguing (as he hoped that his readers would), and I would recommend enthusiastically both it and the rest of this book to anyone wanting a sympathetic and accessible account that helps modern readers to understand the appreal of ancient Christian Gnosticism. This book offers a great deal both to students and to specialists in early Christian studies.”
— Andrew Gregory, Journal for the Study of the New Testament