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Professor Reaves Publishes Two Articles on Early Christianity

Colorado College Assistant Professor of Religion Pamela Mullins Reaves recently published two peer-reviewed articles related to her study of Nag Hammadi literature, a collection of ancient writings discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The first article, “Revelation Relocated: Reflections on Jerusalem in the Testimony of Truth (NHC IX,3) and the First Apocalypse of James (V,3),” appears in Vigiliae Christianae, a journal focused on early Christian literature. In the article, Reaves examines treatments of Jerusalem, including its temple and first-century destruction, in two Nag Hammadi texts. Reaves shows how both texts perceive Roman domination not as a crisis, but as a sign to seek revelation elsewhere. 

Reaves also published “John the Baptist and the Jordan River: The Arrival of the Son of Man in the Testimony of Truth (NHC IX,3) and Parallels in the Paraphrase of Shem (NHC VII,1)” in the Journal of Early Christian Studies, a journal centered on Christianity during its early, formative period (approximately 100-700 C.E.).

The article considers the Testimony of Truth’s distinctive portrayal of Christ; rather than treat his teachings or his death, the author emphasizes Christ’s arrival, both through descent upon the Jordan River and Mary, the virgin. Reaves argues that the pairing of these seemingly disparate modes of arrival corresponds with the author’s rejection of water baptism and sexual desire. A comparison with the Paraphrase of Shem, including its presentation of John the Baptist and its cosmology, further clarifies both texts. Specifically, their shared critique of baptism and interest in bearing proper witness illustrate their engagement in early Christian debates regarding communal rituals and identity.

Reaves is a historian of religion in the ancient Mediterranean world, specializing in New Testament and early Christian studies. Her research primarily focuses on second-century Christian traditions, particularly those that reflect diverse perspectives and related rifts among early Christians.