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Horace Mann Medalist Announced

May 10, 2013

Karen L. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, is the 2012-13 Horace Mann Medalist.

Given annually at Commencement, the Horace Mann Medal honors a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia.

Dr. King, who received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Brown University in 1984, is a highly respected scholar of early Christianity, known nationally and internationally.

She is a public intellectual, who has written books both for the Academy and for an educated general audience. Her books include The Secret Revelation of John; The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle; What Is Gnosticism?; Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (with Elaine Pagels); and Revelation of the Unknowable God.

An accomplished feminist scholar, Dr. King’s work focuses on understanding how manuscripts of previously unknown Christian works discovered in Egypt change the history of early Christianity.  She is particularly interested in images of the divine feminine, sexuality, the voices of marginalized “heretics,” and alternatives to the heroizing of violence and martyrdom.  She has served as an advisor to the Ford Foundation and is now on the editorial board of New Testament Studies. 

Recently, Dr. King made international headlines for her revelation of a fragment of papyrus that portrays Jesus as referring to a wife. The text, she wrote, provided “direct evidence that claims about Jesus’s marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship.”

She will deliver the Graduate School Horace Mann Medalist Forum: "Was Jesus Married?  Early Christian Controversies over Marriage, Celibacy, and Salvation." The forum is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, in Metcalf Research Laboratory, Friedman Auditorium, Room 101.

Dr. King is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the International Association for Coptic Studies, and Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.