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Flora Tells a Story

The Apocalypse of Paul and Its Contexts

By Michael Kaler
Subjects Religion, History, Jewish Studies
Series Studies in Christianity and Judaism Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781554580446, 276 pages, November 2008
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554582822, 276 pages, November 2008

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Flora Tells a Story: The Apocalypse of Paul and its Contexts edited by Michael Kaler
The Text
English Translation of the Apocalypse of Paul (NHC V,2)
Flora Tells a Story: A Fictional Account of the Creation of the Apocalypse of Paul
The Story
Section One: “The Apocalypse of Paul is a text...”
Presentation of the Manuscript, Editio Princeps, and Translations/Editions
History of Research
Section Two: “written in the late 2nd or early 3rd century by a gnostic (possibly Valentinian) author...”
Patristic References to the Apocalypse of Paul
Similarities between Adv. Haer. II, 30.7 and the Apocalypse of Paul
Ramifications of This Conclusion
Is It Gnostic? Is It Valentinian?
Section Three: “showing the apostle Paul...”
Towards an Expanded Definition of Paulinism
Koschorke, and the Importance of Supplementing Koschorke
The Figure of Paul in the Apocalypse of Paul
The Apocalyptic Paul
Conclusion to This Section
Section Four: “as an apocalyptic hero...”
Apocalypse/ Apocalyptic/ Apocalypticism
The Apocalypses
Characteristics of the Apocalyptic Genre
The Apocalypse of Adam
The Apocalypse of Paul
Other Examples
Francis Cairns
Alistair Fowler
Rhetorical Strategy/Authority
A Transposition of Heavens?
The Place of the Apocalypse of Paul in the Apocalyptic Literary Tradition
Section Five: “ order to authoritatively present a gnostic understanding of the cosmos and the Pauline writings.”
The Story
The Author’s Use of Her Sources
Christian Initiation
General Conclusion
Works Consulted
People (Ancient or Mythical) and Ancient Groups
People: Modern
Ancient Books: Hebrew Bible/New Testament
Other Ancient Writings
Ancient Places


In early Christianity, many people were inspired to write gospels, treatises, letters, and stories celebrating the new faith, but not all of these writings are found in the New Testament. One such story from an unknown author is the Coptic, gnostic Apocalypse of Paul, a tale of the apostle Paul’s ascent to the heavens that was lost for millennia and rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. In Flora Tells a Story, Michael Kaler discusses the Apocalypse of Paul and how it was shaped by its literary environment.
The book takes a behind the scenes look at early Christian literary production, analyzing the ways in which various literary traditions—such as apocalyptic writings, gnostic thought, and understandings of Paul—influenced the author of the Apocalypse of Paul and helped to shape the text. It also includes a new annotated English translation of the Apocalypse of Paul and a fictional account of how it might have come to be written.
This work is the most in-depth study of the Apocalypse of Paul to date and the only full-length discussion of it in English. It provides a detailed but accessible account of the literary environment in which its author worked and integrates this little-known work into the broader stream of early Christian writings. This book will be of interest to specialists in Nag Hammadi and gnostic studies and early Christian literature, but will also appeal to the general reader interested in Christianity, mysticism, and gnosticism.


This fine monograph offers a clear and helpful introduction to the Apocalypse of Paul, a short tale of heavenly ascent which has been preserved as part of Nat Hammadi Codec V,2.... This is an exemplary work. Kaler is master both of his primary text and of a great deal of secondary literature, and he writes with clarity and wit, taking care not to ask the fragmentary ancient evidence to bear more than it reasonably can, and drawing clear but cautious and nuanced conclusions. I found the story that he included both engrossing and intriguing (as he hoped that his readers would), and I would recommend enthusiastically both it and the rest of this book to anyone wanting a sympathetic and accessible account that helps modern readers to understand the appreal of ancient Christian Gnosticism. This book offers a great deal both to students and to specialists in early Christian studies.

- Andrew Gregory, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 32: 5, 2010, 2010 October