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CRS Faculty Seminar: György Geréby (CEU) on The Protogospel of James: a new reading

6th century nativity encaustic icon at St Catherine monastary Sinai
Thursday, February 3, 2022, 12:40 pm – 2:00 pm

CRS is pleased to announce the launch of the CRS Faculty Seminar Series, an informal, internal lecture and presentation series for our Religious Studies community at CEU taking place the first Thursday of every month from 12:40-14:00. 

Our third lecture will be on 3 February when György Geréby, Professor at the CEU Medieval Studies Department and Head of the CEU Source Language Teaching Group, presents his findings on The Protogospel of James: a new reading. 

Abstract: Why was Christ born in a cave? Representations of the Nativity in the Eastern part of the Empire present us with this iconography which is based on the account of the so-called Protogospel of James. This Protogospel (or Protevangelium) is an intriguing early Christian proto-orthodox apocryphon dated to the mid-second century. The modern title is misleading since its original titles were either 'Birth of Mary' or just 'History' or 'Book of James.' In collections and handbooks, it is classified as a 'childhood gospel' - which it is not. While it relates the birth of the Virgin Mary and her upbringing in the Temple, and then it describes the Nativity in different terms than the canonical gospels, and finally the death of Zechariah, the text is far from being a naif story satisfying the needs of popular piety. In fact, it is a narrative theological writing in the context of inner-Christian and anti-Christian debates. The Protogospel presents a counter-narrative to gnosticizing tendencies of Early Christianity and juxtaposes an alternative account to the then-current Jewish anti-Christian polemic and the ridicule of the Hellenists (Celsus). In order to reconstruct the intellectual and theological context of the Protogospel in the period, I will call attention to the then-current intellectual concerns (like the role of the Jews, the problems of the female, childbirth, the nature of the Nativity, and their implications). In these complex debates, the language of philosophical symbolism played an important role hence I suggest a method of deciphering the hidden references characteristic of the second-third century intellectual context.   

Bio: György GerébyHistorian of philosophy. Associate professor at the Central European University in Vienna. Titulary professor at ELTE, Budapest. Studied geophysics, philosophy, literature and classics in Budapest (ELTE). Visiting graduate student at St Edmund Hall (Oxford) and at the University of Fribourg. CSc (PhD) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on Proclus' Elements of physics (1996). Taught at the University of Pecs (Hungary), ELTE (Budapest) and since 2007 at CEU. Guest lecturer at the University of Liverpool (two semesters). Fulbright teaching fellow at Rutgers University, 2003. Széchenyi Professorship Award 1998-2002. Habilitation at ELTE in 2010: God and empire. Keeley Research Fellow at Wadham College (Oxford), 2013-2014. Isaiah Berlin Visiting Professor at Corpus Christi College (Oxford), 2018. Primary interests: the history of Late Antique and medieval philosophy and theology and more recently political theology. Book: God and empire (in Hungarian). He currently works on the book about Protevangelium of James as narrative theology.

Join us on-line at the following Zoom event:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 956 4482 0517
Passcode: 095199


If you are not a member of the CEU community but wish to attend, please contact CRS at e-mail