Karen Leigh King

American academic studying early Christianity and Gnosticism

Karen Leigh King (born 1954, raised in Sheridan, Montana, United States) is an historian of religion working in the field of Early Christianity, who is currently the Hollis Professor of Divinity (Harvard University)

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  • An intriguing glimpse into a kind of Christianity lost for almost fifteen hundred years...[it] presents a radical interpretation of Jesus' teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge; it rejects His suffering and death as the path to eternal life; it exposes the erroneous view that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute for what it is—a piece of theological fiction; it presents the most straightforward and convincing argument in any early Christian writing for the legitimacy of women's leadership; it offers a sharp critique of illegitimate power and a utopian vision of spiritual perfection; it challenges our rather romantic views about the harmony and unanimity of the first Christians; and it asks us to rethink the basis for church authority.
    • About the Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the first woman apostle. 2003. , p. 3.
  • Modern scholars understood Gnosticism to be a particular kind of heresy. They have generally divided the earliest varieties of Christianity into three categories: Jewish Christianity, Gnosticism, and orthodoxy. The first appropriated too much Judaism and took too positive an attitude toward it; the second appropriated too little and took too negative an attitude. ... Orthodoxy was just right, sailing between this Scylla and Charybdis, appropriately safe from both dangers.

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