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What You Will Learn

This course aims at providing students with the necessary knowledge and skills to both discover for themselves what scholarship thinks of Gnostic literature, and to help them come to their own conclusions about where the evidence currently points.

  • Discover what apocryphal books were banned and buried in the sands of Egypt for over a thousand years, and how they have revealed the secrets of what various early Christianities existed in the second century.

  • Gain a solid understanding of the current scholarly knowledge about these works and the Gnostic groups who preserved them.

  • Undertake a close reading of these works, alongside fellow classmates, to learn how to both appreciate and critique the unique perspectives these ancient Christians brought to the developing Orthodox tradition.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    1. What Is Gnosticism?: The Hymn of the Pearl

    • Sunday Recording

    • Nicole Denzey Lewis - Chapters 1-4

    • David Brakke Lecture 1

    • David Brakke Lecture 2

    • David Brakke Lecture 17 (Invention of Heresy)

    • Layton translation of "Hymn of the Pearl"

  • 2

    2. Valentinian Gnosticism 1: Ptolemy's Myth and Epistle to Flora

    • Aug 23, 2020 Recording

    • The Gnostics by David Brakke

    • Lewis - Chapter 6

    • Letter to Flora Translation (Ehrman)

    • Layton Translation of Ptolemy's Myth and Letter to Flora

  • 3

    3. Valentinian Gnosticism 2: Summer Harvest and Fragments, Gospel of Truth

    • Aug 30, 2020 Recording

    • Lewis - Chapter 8 (Gospel of Truth)

    • David Brakke Lecture 11

    • Layton Translation of Valentinus Fragments and Gospel of Truth

  • 4

    4. Valentinian Gnosticism 3: The Gospel of Philip, Treatise on Resurrection, Prayer of Paul

    • Sept 6 Recording

    • Lewis - Chapter 7

    • Lewis - Chapter 8 (Gospel of Philip)

    • David Brakke Lecture 12

    • David Brakke Lecture 13

    • David Brakke Lecture 14

    • Layton Translation of Treatise, Philip, and Prayer

  • 5

    5. Interlude: The Apocryphon of James and the Gospel of Mary

    • Sept 13 Recording

    • Apocryphon of James Translation (Scholars Version)

    • David Brakke Lecture 16 (start at 22:06)

    • Theomachy and Christomachy (Korpman)

    • David Brakke Lecture 15

    • Finding Jesus: The Gospel of Mary (CNN Documentary)

  • 6

    6. Sethian Gnosticism 1: Apocryphon of John, the Reality of the Rulers, the Coptic Apocalypse of Adam

    • Sept 20, 2020 Recording

    • David Brakke Lecture 3 (Apocryphon of John)

    • David Brakke Lecture 4 (Apocryphon of John 2)

  • 7

    7. Sethian Gnosticism 2: Three Steles of Seth, Gospel of the Egyptians, Thunder Perfect Mind poem, and Second Treatise of the Great Seth

    • Placeholder

    • Sept 27, 2020 Recording

  • 8

    8. Sethian Gnosticism 3: The Gospel of Judas

    • David Brakke Lecture 5

    • Finding Jesus: Gospel of Judas (CNN Documentary)

    • Reading Judas - Karen King and Elaine Pagels

    • David Brakke - Article + Upcoming Draft of Yale Translation

    • Oct 4, 2020

  • 9

    9. Interlude 2: Is the Gospel of Thomas Gnostic or Not?

    • Placeholder

    • David Brakke Lecture 9

    • David Brakke Lecture 10

    • Dale Martin Yale Lecture

    • Oct 25, 2020 Recording

  • 10

    10. Petrine Gnosticism?: The Act of Peter, Coptic Apocalypse of Peter

    • David Brakke Lecture 16 (stop at 22:06)

  • 11

    9. Gospel of Judas Part 2

    • Oct 18 2020 Recording


Matthew Korpman

Matthew J. Korpman is a rising biblical scholar, itinerant preacher, and theological arsonist, and the author of the recent book "Saying No to God: A Radical Approach to Reading the Bible Faithfully." Currently pursuing his PhD in New Testament, he is a graduate of Yale Divinity School, and also also holds four bachelor degrees in Theology, Archaeology, Philosophy, and Screenwriting. He has traveled and excavated in Israel and Jordan, and is proud to call San Diego, California his home. He has been published in some of the top academic journals and has upcoming publications at publishers such as Oxford.


  • How Will Classes Be Conducted?

    Classes will be done via live Zoom meetings. These meetings will be recorded and uploaded to the website here for students so that they can either watch it because they missed the class, or review it because they wanted to remember something said during it.

  • Will There Be Quizzes or Exams?

    No. The course will be conducted as a research seminar and your primary objective will be to read, discuss, and understand the material.

  • How Long Will the Course Be?

    The course will be approximately three months long, or 10 or so weeks. This is about the length of an academic Quarter.

  • Will the Class Be Lecture Based?

    No. The class will be conducted as a research seminar which means we will try to make it fun, dynamic, and engaging.

  • When Will the Course Take Place?

    Class time will be voted on by those who are interested in the course, so that a time that is mutually agreeable to everyone can be the date at which we meet each week.


The overall cost of the course is $99, discounted from the regular price of $150. The course is three months long and each individual payment of $33.33 provides 30 days of access. This allows the $99 total price to be flexibly broken into three installments that can be paid over time.