Healing Violence in the World: Letter of Peter to Philip
What you'll learn
- Find thought-provoking insights regarding violence from antiquity that are meaningful today
- A new understanding of a relationship between Jesus and his followers in any age
- How the Letter of Peter to Philip supports our understanding of early Christ people
- The value of one of the important texts within the Nag Hammadi Library
- Taking the opportunity to ponder our own experiences with violence in relation to the Letter of Peter to Philip
- No knowledge of the Bible or of Christian history is necessary
- No prior knowledge of Nag Hammadi texts is necessary, but the earlier Udemy course in the Nag Hammadi series on the Gospel of Thomas (by Early Christian Texts) could be helpful.
- Students with some familiarity with the four gospels of the New Testament be able to compare it with the Letter of Peter to Philip, but it is not necessary.
In this course, you will follow an ancient writing that offers a dramatic set of ways to rescue our world from violence. The Letter of Peter to Philip, found in the Nag Hammadi texts in 1945, has striking new approaches to violence from the voice of post-resurrection Jesus, combining ancient wisdom for early Christ people and practical guidance for dealing with serious threats of violence today.
Take Up Jesus’s Instructions as His First- and Second-Century Followers Did When They Faced Brutality from the Roman Empire
· Ponder some practical guidance for facing up to violence in your community and the world
· Consider how Jesus’s disciples found encouragement and inspiration
· Learn the latest cutting-edge scholarship on a Nag Hammadi book
· Get a bigger view of the context of the Bible
The Letter of Peter to Philip, written by a Christ follower in the second century, is both an ancient and modern guide to dealing with violence.
Over a hundred years after Jesus’s crucifixion, the people of Israel were still in real danger of being killed by the Romans. This Letter of Peter to Philip was written shortly after other texts of the New Testament, and the author understands Jesus to be offering a practical guide for Jesus’s followers who fear for their lives.
Until now, this text has only been studied by a handful of scholars, and you will explore the ideas in it that have been lost to history for almost two millennia. Dr. Hal Taussig and I (Dr. Shirley Paulson) think this ancient book is exceedingly valuable for a practical guide in dealing with violence around and beyond us.
What it means today
Serious violence rose over 100% in my city during the past year. Even though I have lived most of my life in safe communities, I’m aware of the sharp rise in potentially dangerous situations around me. In the Letter of Peter to Philip, the followers of Jesus had good reason to fear for their lives. Jesus appears in this little-known ancient writing to offer practical guidance, and I find this kind of guidance to be ageless and especially relevant today.
Contents and Overview
The course includes an explanation of where the ancient book came from, what’s in it, and what it’s about. The focus is on Jesus’s instructions to his frightened or, rather terrified, disciples. Jesus appears to give his guidance in the form of a voice or light because the story takes place a while after Jesus’s resurrection.
You will learn all six steps in these instructions, and you will be given the opportunity to give specific thought to their relevance in your own experience with violence. As you develop a greater awareness of how the disciples are putting these instructions into practice, you will be given specific ways to think—and possibly pray—about how you could put these instructions to use.
Parts of the text will surprise you, especially if you are a Bible reader. Some of the ideas are quite new; some might be familiar. You may find yourself relating to the disciples who turn from fear to leadership and even become healers.
This course also offers you the advantage of having two experienced Early Christian scholars partnering to teach it. Although we both love this book, we approach it from different points of view. As you listen to the different ways of thinking about it, you will probably learn something about yourself. Hearing different views will help you make up your own mind when you’re ready to interpret the text yourself.
What you need to know and what you will learn
You do not need any prior knowledge of the Bible to enjoy this course. But if you are familiar with it, you will especially appreciate the section that makes some comparisons with a few of the books of the New Testament.
Besides the video lectures, there are two ways you’ll be able to test your own understanding of the course:
two quizzes will serve as a review and refresher for the material you will have learned;
there are several places throughout the course where we’ll give you the opportunity to pause and ponder the meaning of these things in your own life.
By the end of the course, you will have gained a greater insight into the world of the first centuries after Jesus. You’ll feel and appreciate the danger his disciples faced and how Jesus’s instructions could turn them from being afraid to being joyful. You’ll probably continue to think more deeply about your own capacity to heal and help others. Above all, our hope is that, because of your experience with the Letter of Peter to Philip, you will feel strengthened and supported in your own efforts to confront violence in our world today.
Who this course is for:
- People who want to do something constructive about violence in the world today
- Anyone who may be interested in deeper answers to big religious questions.
- Spiritual seekers
- Historians who especially enjoy the Christian element of antiquity
- Enthusiastic but untrained Bible readers
- People who are curious about the development of early Christianity
My PhD, from the University of Birmingham, UK, is in religion and theology. I studied forgotten ancient Christian texts and their healing messages in conjunction with what they mean to the modern world. My personal experience with healing helps me recognize and understand the relevance of the ancient texts. And through my academic work in Practical Theology, I strive to learn from my students how their own experiences enlighten the texts as well.
Hal Taussig is a retired professor and United Methodist pastor. Some of the most recent of his 14 published books is Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst Loss and Trauma and A New New Testament: A 21st Century Bible Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. His mediography includes The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Daily Show, People Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, National Public Radio, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the Bob Edwards Show on Sirius Radio, The History Channel, and the Washington Post. He was Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the Union Theological Seminary in New York for 17 years and the Chestnut Hill Collegage Graduate Program in Spirituality for 11 years.