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The Acts of Judas Thomas and the Hymn of the Soul


Early Eastern Christianity


Originally delivered as one of the St. Margaret’s Lectures for 1904, the contents of this booklet are focused on aspects of the Syriac-speaking Church. Extracted from Burkitt’s book Early Eastern Christianity, the sixth lecture examines the ancient Syriac novel, The Acts of Judas Thomas. Embedded within that story is a Gnostic Hymn of the Soul, to which Burkitt pays special regard.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-136-2
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Series: Analecta Gorgiana 159
Publication Date: Apr 7,2009
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 40
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-136-2
$39.00
$23.40

Originally delivered as one of the St. Margaret’s Lectures for 1904, the contents of this booklet are focused on aspects of the Syriac-speaking Church. Extracted from Burkitt’s book Early Eastern Christianity, the sixth lecture examines the ancient Syriac novel, The Acts of Judas Thomas and the poem embedded in that novel, The Hymn of the Soul. After a summary of the story Burkitt explores the idea of how Thomas fits the mythic heavenly twin archetype , and he demonstrates how the Thomas story is of Syriac origin. Burkitt then considers the originally independent Hymn of the Soul. Really a Gnostic allegory, this is more of a poetic tale than an actual hymn. The hymn is a sympathetic view of Gnosticism, which made it nearly unique in Burkitt’s day. An English translation of the hymn is presented in full, leading to some reflections on how the world of Late Antiquity varies widely from the world of Burkitt’s day.

Francis Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935) began his academic career as a student of mathematics. While at Cambridge University he moved to Divinity, becoming the Norrisian Professor. His interest in the text of the New Testament led him to study Syriac manuscripts and to publish widely in the field. He was a fellow of the British Academy.

Originally delivered as one of the St. Margaret’s Lectures for 1904, the contents of this booklet are focused on aspects of the Syriac-speaking Church. Extracted from Burkitt’s book Early Eastern Christianity, the sixth lecture examines the ancient Syriac novel, The Acts of Judas Thomas and the poem embedded in that novel, The Hymn of the Soul. After a summary of the story Burkitt explores the idea of how Thomas fits the mythic heavenly twin archetype , and he demonstrates how the Thomas story is of Syriac origin. Burkitt then considers the originally independent Hymn of the Soul. Really a Gnostic allegory, this is more of a poetic tale than an actual hymn. The hymn is a sympathetic view of Gnosticism, which made it nearly unique in Burkitt’s day. An English translation of the hymn is presented in full, leading to some reflections on how the world of Late Antiquity varies widely from the world of Burkitt’s day.

Francis Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935) began his academic career as a student of mathematics. While at Cambridge University he moved to Divinity, becoming the Norrisian Professor. His interest in the text of the New Testament led him to study Syriac manuscripts and to publish widely in the field. He was a fellow of the British Academy.

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F. Crawford Burkitt