The Gospel According to the Jesus Seminar

Born in California, USA, September 17, 1934.
Married Karen Lee Heurlin (also born in California) 1956.
Children: Ingrid (b. 1958), David (1960), Kristin (1964), Daniel (1964, adopted 1965), Sven (1966), Anders (1986, adopted 1988).

Home address:
27345 E. Vine Ave., Escalon CA 95320. Tel. (209) 838-6381 or 8733.
e-mail: or

Current position:
Academic degrees:
Academic employment:
Main research activity, since 1968:
The Nag Hammadi Coptic Gnostic Codices: From 1968, member of the Coptic Gnostic Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont, California (James M. Robinson, Director). Participated in work sessions at the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo (in 1972, 1973, and 1974), placing papyrus fragments, helping to prepare the pages of Codices IX and X for publication in the Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices (Leiden, 1977). Contributed translations of the tractates in Codices IX and X to The Nag Hammadi Library in English (Leiden and San Francisco, 1977, 3rd ed. 1988). Critical edition of Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X, published 1981, and Nag Hammadi Codex VII, published 1995. (See publication data, attached.) Since 1981, Director of a research project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont, on "The Roots of Egyptian Christianity." This project involves collaborative research on the origins, background, and early history of Christianity in Egypt until the Arab Conquest.

Graduate and undergraduate courses in Christian origins and early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenistic religions, Gnosticism, Coptic language and literature, and history and theory of religion(s). Undergraduate courses in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Nordic religion.

Administrative experience, university service, special appointments:
Professional societies:
Editorial boards:
Service to the Society of Biblical Literature:
International congresses:
Other presentations, lectures, etc.:
Awards and fellowships (since 1969):


(partial list)

Books, monographs, etc.:

The Pneumatikos-Psychikos Terminology in 1 Corinthians: A Study in the Theology of the Corinthian Opponents of Paul and Its Relation to Gnosticism. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 12. Missoula: Society of Biblical Literature, 1973. Pp. x + 147. Reprinted: Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976.

Geo Widengren, The Gnostic Attitude. Translated from the Swedish and edited with introduction, Birger A. Pearson. Santa Barbara: Institute of Religious Studies, University of California, 1973. Pp. ix + 75.

Religious Syncretism in Antiquity. Essays in Conversation with Geo Widengren. Edited, with introduction, Birger A. Pearson. American Academy of Religion/Institute of Religious Studies, UCSB, Series on Formative Contemporary Thinkers. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975. Pp. xviii + 222.

The Life of Pachomius. Bollandist edition translated by A. Athanassakis. Edited, with introduction, Birger A. Pearson. Society of Biblical Literature Texts and Translations 7, Early Christian Literature Series 2. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975. Pp. xii + 201.

The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices: Codices IX and X. Edited by James M. Robinson. Leiden: E.J. Brill, for UNESCO and the Arab Republic of Egypt, 1977. Pp. xxv + 114 plates. (Assisted in placing fragments, finalizing pagination, and preparing the MSS for photocopy and publication.)

The Nag Hammadi Library in English. Edited by James M. Robinson. Leiden and San Francisco: E.J. Brill and Harper and Row, 1977, 1981. Pp. 399-426. (Contributed introductions to, and translations of, Melchizedek (IX, 1); The Thought of Norea (IX, 2); The Testimony of Truth (IX,3); and Marsanes (X,1)). 3rd revised edition, 1988. Pp. 438-471. (New introductions, revised translations.)

Philo and the Gnostics on Man and Salvation. Protocol of the Twenty-Ninth Colloquy, 17 April, 1977. Berkeley: The Center for Hermeneutical Studies in Hellenistic and Modern Culture (The Graduate Theological Union and the University of California), 1977. Pp. 60.

Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X. The Coptic Gnostic Library/Nag Hammadi Studies 15. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981. Pp. xxxii + 397.

Eudoxia and the Holy Sepulchre: A Constantinian Legend in Coptic. With Tito Orlandi and Harold Drake. Testi e documenti per lo studio dell' antichità 67. Milano: Cisalpino-Goliardica, 1980. Pp. 191 + 4 plates.

The Roots of Egyptian Christianity. Edited, with James E. Goehring. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity 1. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986. Pp. xxix + 319. Paperback edition, 1992.

"Earliest Christianity in Egypt: Some Observations." Occasional Papers of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity 7. Claremont, 1986. =The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, chapter 8.

Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity 5. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990. Pp. xix + 228.

The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester. Edited, with introduction and contributed chapter. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991. Pp. xx + 509.

Two Coptic Homilies Attributed to St. Peter of Alexandria. I: On Riches. II: On the Epiphany. With Tim Vivian. Roma: Corpus dei manoscritti copti letterari. Roma: C.I.M., 1993.

Nag Hammadi Codex VII. Edited. The Coptic Gnostic Library/Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 30. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996 [published 1995]. Pp. xxviii + 479.

"The Gospel According to the Jesus Seminar." Occasional Papers of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity 35. Claremont, 1996. =article in Religion, expanded, with an "Afterword" by James M. Robinson. Pp. 48.


"Did the Gnostics Curse Jesus?" Journal of Biblical Literature 86 (1967) 301-05.

"A Reminiscence of Classical Myth at II Peter 2.4." Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 10 (1969) 71-80.

"1 Thessalonians 2.13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation." Harvard Theological Review 64 (1971) 79-94.

"Jewish Haggadic Traditions in The Testimony of Truth from Nag Hammadi (CG IX,3)." In J. Bergman et. al., ed., Ex Orbe Religionum: Studia Geo Widengren oblata. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1972, 457-70.

"Friedländer Revisited: Alexandrian Judaism and Gnostic Origins." Studia Philonica 2 (1973) 23-39.

"The Thunder: Perfect Mind (CG VI,2): Some Observations." Protocol of the Fifth Colloquy of the Center for Hermeneutical Studies. Berkeley: Graduate Theological Union and University of California, 1973, 10-14.

"Nag Hammadi Codices." In 1974 Year Book of the Encyclopedia Judaica. Jerusalem, 1974, 245-47.

"Hellenistic Jewish Wisdom Speculation and Paul." In R. Wilken, ed., Aspects of Wisdom in Judaism and Early Christianity. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1975, 43-66.

"The Figure of Melchizedek in the First Tractate of the Unpublished Coptic-Gnostic Codex IX from Nag Hammadi." In C. Bleeker et. al., ed., Proceedings of the XIIth International Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975, 200-08.

"Anti-Heretical Warnings in Codex IX from Nag Hammadi." In M. Krause, ed., Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts in Honour of Pahor Labib. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975, 145-54.

"Biblical Exegesis in Gnostic Literature." In M. Stone, ed., Armenian and Biblical Studies. Jerusalem: St. James Press, 1976, 70-80.

"The Pierpont Morgan Fragments of a Coptic Enoch Apocryphon." In G.W.E. Nickelsburg, Jr., ed., Studies on the Testament of Abraham. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976, 227-83.

"The Figure of Norea in Gnostic Literature." In G. Widengren, ed., Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Gnosticism, Stockholm August 20-25, 1973. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1977, 143-52.

"Egyptian Seth and Gnostic Seth." Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977, 25-43.

"Ministry and Ordination in the Early Church." In M. Parvio, ed., Ecclesia-Leiturgia-Ministerium: Studia in Honorem Toivo Harjunpää. Helsinki: Loimaan Kirjapaino, 1977, 131-47.

"'She Became a Tree' --A Note to CG 11,4: 89,25-26." Harvard Theological Review 69 (1976) 413-15.

"The Tractate Marsanes (NHC X) and the Platonic Tradition." In B. Aland, ed., GNOSIS: Festschrift für Hans Jonas. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978, 373-84.

"Some Observations on Gnostic Hermeneutics." In W. Doniger O'Flaherty, ed., The Critical Study of Sacred Texts. Berkeley Religious Studies Series; Berkeley: Graduate Theological Union, 1979, 243-56.

"The International Conference on Gnosticism at Yale: A Report." Biblical Archeologist 42 (1979) 253-55.

"Jewish Elements in Gnosticism and the Development of Gnostic Self-Definition." In E.P. Sanders, ed., The Shaping of Christianity in the Second and Third Centuries. London: SCM /Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980, 151-60.

"Gnostic Interpretation of the Old Testament in the Testimony of Truth (NHC IX,3)." Harvard Theological Review 73 (1980) 311-19.

"The Figure of Seth in Gnostic Literature." In B. Layton, ed., The Rediscovery of Gnosticism, vol. 2. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981, 472-504.

"Jewish Elements in Corpus Hermeticum I (Poimandres)." In R. van den Broek, ed., Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions presented to Gilles Quispel. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981, 336-48.

"Nag Hammadi Codices." In Encyclopaedia Judaica: Decennial Book
Jerusalem, 1982, 483-84. (Revised version of 1974 article in EJ.)

"De nyfunna gnostiska texterna och Nya testamentet." Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift 58 (1982) 131-38.

"Philo, Gnosis, and the New Testament." In A.H.B. Logan and A.J.M. Wedderburn, eds., The New Testament and Gnosis: Essays in Honour of Robert McL. Wilson. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1983, 73-89.

"Philo and Gnosticism." In W. Haase, ed., Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II: Principat, Bd. 21.1: Religion (Hellenistisches Judentum in römischen Zeit: Philon und Josephus). Berlin: de Gruyter, 1984, 295-342.

"The Jewish Community of First-Century Alexandria and Christian Origins in Egypt." Coptologia 5 (1984) 23-34.

"Jewish Sources in Gnostic Literature." In Michael Stone, ed., The Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple. Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, Section II, vol. 2. Assen: Van Gorcum / Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984, 443-81. Reprinted in Society of Biblical Literature 1986 Seminar Papers. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986, 422-54.

"Two Coptic Homilies Attributed to St. Peter of Alexandria." In Coptologia 6 (1985: Festschrift for Aziz Atiya) 77-83.

"Earliest Christianity in Egypt: Some Observations." In Pearson and Goehring, eds., The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, 132-59.

"De koptisk-gnostiska handskrifterna från Nag Hammadi." Svensk Religionshistorisk Årsskrift 1 (1985) 64-73.

"Gnosticism as Platonism: With Special Reference to Marsanes (NHC 10,1)." Harvard Theological Review 77 (1984 [appeared 1986]) 55-72.

"Christians and Jews in First-Century Alexandria." In G.W.E. Nickelsburg and G. MacRae, eds., Christians Among Jews and Gentiles: Essays in Honor of Krister Stendahl on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986, 206-16. = Harvard Theological Review 79 (1984 [1986]) 206-16.

"The Problem of 'Jewish Gnostic' Literature." In C. W. Hedrick and R. Hodgson, eds., Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, and Early Christianity. Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 1986, 15-35.

"HYPOSTASIS." The Encyclopedia of Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1987, vol. 6, 542-46.

"Early Christianity and Gnosticism: A Review Essay." Religious Studies Review 13 (1987) 1-8.

"The Figure of Seth in Manichaean Literature." In P. Bryder, ed., Manichaean Studies: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Manichaeism. Lund Studies in African and Asian Religions 1. Lund: Plus Ultra, 1988, 147-55.

"On Treating Christianity as a Religion." Soundings 71 (1988) 355-63.

"Revisiting Norea." In Karen King, ed., Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity 4. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988, 265-75.

"Use, Authority and Exegesis of Mikra in Gnostic Literature." In M. J. Mulder, ed., Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, Section II, vol. 1. Assen: Van Gorcum / Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988, 635-52.

"James, 1-2 Peter, Jude." In E.J. Epp and G.W. MacRae, eds., The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters. Society of Biblical Literature Centennial Publications: The Bible and Its Modern Interpreters 3. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989, 371-406.

"Gnosticism." In Florence Friedman, ed., Beyond the Pharaohs: Egypt and the Copts in the 2nd to 7th Centuries A.D. Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1989, 48-50.

"Everyday Life in Roman-Byzantine Egypt." (With L.S.B. MacCoull.) In Friedman, Beyond the Pharaohs, 28-36.

"Greek and Coptic Manuscripts." (With L.S.B. MacCoull.) In Friedman, Beyond the Pharaohs, 77-80.

Catalog entries: magical texts, Old Testament apocryphon, Life of Shenoute, Coptic codex of biblical and other texts, ostrakon with Psalm verses, Biblical text: Psalms, book-bindings. In Friedman, Beyond the Pharaohs, 197-200, 219, 235-36, 238-41.

"The Apocalypse of Peter and Canonical 2 Peter." In J.E. Goehring, C.W. Hedrick, and J.T. Sanders, eds., Gnosticism & the Early Christian World: in honor of James M. Robinson (Robinson Festchrift, vol. 2). Sonoma: Polebridge, 1990, 67-74.

"Two Homilies Attributed to St. Peter of Alexandria." In W. Godlewski, ed., Coptic Studies: Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies Warsaw, 20-25 August, 1984. Warszawa: Panstwowe Wydawnicstwo Naukowe, 1990, 309-13.

"Eudoxia"; "Testimony of Truth." The Coptic Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan, 1991, vol. 4, 1067; vol. 7, 2209-10

"The California Coyote and Other Creative Creatures." In L. Bäckman, U. Drobin, and P.-A. Berglie, eds., Studier i religionshistoria tillägnade Åke Hultkrantz. Löberöd: Plus Ultra, 1991, 257-63.

"Pre-Valentinian Gnosticism in Alexandria." In Pearson, ed., The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester, 455-66.

"Melchizedek: Ancient Sources." The Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan, 1992, vol. 2, 880-82.

"Alexandria." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992, vol. 1, 152-57.

"Christianity in Egypt." Anchor Bible Dictionary 1:954-60.

"Nag Hammadi Codices." Anchor Bible Dictionary 4:984-93.

"Marsanes (NHC X,1)," "Melchizedek (NHC IX,1)," "Norea, Thought of (NHC IX,2)," "Truth, Testimony of (NHC IX,3)." Anchor Bible Dictionary 4:572-73, 688, 1135; 6:668-69.

"Theurgic Tendencies in Gnosticism and Iamblichus's Conception of Theurgy." In R.T. Wallis and J. Bregman, eds., Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern 6. Albany: SUNY Press, 1992, 253-75.

"Eusebius and Gnosticism." In H.W. Attridge and G. Hata, eds., Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992, 291-310.

EUSEBIOSU TO GUNOUSHISU-KYO ("Eusebius and Gnosticism"). In G. Hata and H.W. Attridge, eds., KIRISUTOKYO NO SEITO TO IHAN: EUSEBIOSU KENKYU. Tokyo: Lithon, 1992, vol. 2, 7-38.

"On the Epiphany: A Coptic Homily Attributed to St. Peter 1 of Alexandria." (With Tim Vivian.) Coptic Church Review 13:4 (1992) 99-116.

"Apocryphon Johannis Revisited." In P. Bilde, H.K. Nielsen, J.P. Sørenson, eds., Apocryphon Severini, presented to Søren Giversen. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1993, 155-65.

"The New Alexandria Library: Promise or Threat?" Biblical Archaeologist 56:2 (1993) 106.

"The New Alexandria Library: An Update." Biblical Archaeologist 56:4 (1993) 221.

"A Coptic Homily On Riches attributed to St. Peter of Alexandria." In E. A. Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica XXVI. Papers presented at the Eleventh International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 1991. Leuven: Peeters, 1993, 296-307.

"Gnosticism 1988-1992." In T. Orlandi, ed., Acts of the Fifth International Congress of Coptic Studies, Washington, 12-15 August 1992. Vol. 1: Reports on Recent Research. Roma: C.I.M., 1993, 151-78.

"Is Gnosticism a Religion?" In U. Bianchi, ed., The Notion of "Religion" in Comparative Research: Selected Proceedings of the XVIth Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Rome, 3rd-8th September, 1990. Roma: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1994, 105-14.

"The Acts of Mark and the Topography of Ancient Alexandria." In N. Swelim, ed., Alexandrian Studies in Memoriam Daoud Abdu Daoud. Société Archéologique d'Alexandrie, Bulletin 45 (1993). Alexandria: Archeological Society of Alexandria, 1994, 239-46.

"1 Enoch in the Apocryphon of John." In D. Hellholm and T. Fornberg, eds., Texts and Contexts: Biblical Texts in Their Textual and Situational Contexts (in honor of Lars Hartman). Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 1995, 355-67.

"The Emergence of the Christian Religion." In H. Preissler and H. Seiwert, eds., Gnosisforschung und Religionsgeschichte: Festschrift für Kurt Rudolph zum 65. Geburtstag. Marburg: diagonal-Verlag, 1994 [published 1995], 217-24.

"Enhet och mångfald i den tidiga kyrkan som ett socialt fenomen." In S. Rubenson, ed., Patristica Nordica 4: Föreläsningar hållna vid det fjärde Nordiska patristikermötet i Lund 17-20 augusti 1993. Religio 44; Lund: Teologiska Institutionen, 1995, 93-104.

"The Gospel According to the Jesus Seminar." Religion (London) 25 (1995) 317-38.


Over 185 book reviews, from 1966 on, published in the following scholarly journals: Dialog, Interpretation, Una Sancta, Vigiliae Christianae, Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Classical World, The Lutheran World, Religious Studies Review, The Biblical Archeologist, Journal of the American Oriental Society, The Second Century, The Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Cristianesimo nella storia, Biblical Archaeology Review, Bible Review, The Journal of Religion, and Critical Review of Books in Religion.

Over 170 abstracts, published in New Testament Abstracts (Cambridge MA) from 1966 on, of Scandinavian-language (mainly Swedish) articles in foreign scholarly journals. Journals abstracted include Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift, Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok, Tidsskrift for Teologi og Kirke, Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift, Religion och Bibel, and others.