Lance Jenott

Lecturer in Classics and Religious Studies
PhD, Princeton University
research interests:
  • New Testament
  • Christian Origins
  • Second Temple Judaism
  • Greek and Coptic languages
  • Greco-Roman Philosophy
  • Classical Civilizations
  • Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1050
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Lance Jenott teaches courses in Classics and religious studies, with a focus on early Christianity and classical civilizations. 

Jenott's research interests include New Testament and Christian origins, second temple Judaism, and religions of antiquity. His Hermeneia Series commentary on the Gospel of Judas is under contract with Fortress Press.

    recent courses

    Freshman Seminar: Sexuality in Early Christianity (L08 180)

    What did Jesus of Nazareth and his early followers teach about sexuality -- about marriage, adultery, divorce, the virtues of procreation and celibacy, same-sex relationships, and erotic desire? How and why did ancient Christians take different stances on these issues, and how do these traditions continue to inform sexual ethics and gender roles today? In this class, we will study these questions by examining key passages from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, Paul’s letters, writings of early church leaders, martyr propaganda, monastic literature, and apocryphal books deemed heretical. We will also consider the interpretations of contemporary historians of religion informed by recent trends in sexuality and gender theories.

      Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity: Topics in Christian Thought (L08 3821)

      From the time Jesus of Nazareth preached in the rural countryside of Judea, his followers interpreted his words differently and wrote varied accounts of what he said and did. As time passed, and Jesus’ movement grew into a world religion -- Christianity -- disagreement among Christians only continued to increase, leading to the need to define and enforce correct beliefs and practices -- a Christian ‘orthodoxy’ embodied in the now-familiar institutions of creed, canon, and clergy. Yet in the process of creating an orthodoxy, what was left out? Whose voices were suppressed? Through careful study of ancient texts long-ago deemed heretical, and virtually lost until the twentieth century, this course examines the wide varieties of Christianity in its nascent years, and how the framers of orthodoxy defined themselves against these alternatives.

        Introduction to Greek Literature: Plato (L09 317C)

        Introduction to Attic prose through the reading of Plato’s Apology and related texts.

          Major Figures in Christian Thought: The Alternative Jesus (L23 381)

          Although Jesus of Nazareth is regarded by millions as savior and sage, he left us no writings of his own, so that the task of telling his story fell to followers and critics of later generations. This course examines how Jesus and his message, 'the good news,' are depicted in strikingly different ways in Christian literature and beyond. After closely examining the various portraits of Jesus set forth in the four biblical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and understanding the unique perspectives of each story teller, we will then consider the even wider variety of views found in Gospels not included in the Bible, such as the Gospels of Thomas, Mary, Peter, and Judas. We will also look at how Jesus is represented in the literature of other religious movements, including the Qu'ran, the Book of Mormon, and medieval Jewish legends. Emphasis will be on understanding the diversity of perspectives on Jesus and how he serves as a powerful vehicle for conveying the values of those who tell his story.

            Selected Publications

            Books

            The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices, co-authored with Hugo Lundhaug. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 97. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015.

            The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation of the ‘Betrayer’s Gospel.’ Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 64. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.

            Edited Volumes

            The Nag Hammadi Codices and Late Antique Egypt, co-edited with Hugo Lundhaug. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck (contracted for 2017).

            Jewish and Christian Cosmogony in Late Antiquity, co-edited with Sarit Kattan Gribetz. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 155. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.

            Beyond the Gnostic Gospels: Studies Building on the Work of Elaine Pagels, co-edited with Eduard Iricinschi, Nicola Denzey Lewis and Philippa Townsend. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 82. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.

            Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner, ed. Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus, in collaboration with Dylan Burns, Lance Jenott and Zeke Mazur. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

            Articles and Book Chapters

            “Reading Variants in James and the Apocalypse of James: A Perspective from New Philology.” In Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and Material Philology, ed. Liv Ingebord Lied and Hugo Lundhaug; Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

            “Production, Distribution, and Ownership of Books in the Monasteries of Upper Egypt: The Evidence of the Nag Hammadi Codices,” co-authored with Hugo Lundhaug in Monastic Education in Late Antiquity: The Transformation of Classical Paideia, ed. Samuel Rubenson and Lillian Larsen; Cambridge University Press, 2016.

            “Clergy, Clairvoyance, and Conflict: The Synod of Latopolis and the Problem with Pachomius’ Visions.” In Beyond the Gnostic Gospels (see above), 320–34.

            “Recovering Adam’s Lost Glory: Nag Hammadi Codex II in its Egyptian Monastic Environment.” In Jewish and Christian Cosmogony (see above), 222–43.

            “Emissaries of Truth and Justice: The Seed of Seth as Agents of Divine Providence.” In Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (see above), 43–62.

            “The Gospel of Judas 45,6–7 and Enoch’s Heavenly Temple.” In The Codex Judas Papers: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Tchacos Codex held at Rice University, Houston, Texas, March 13–16, 2008, ed. April D. DeConick, 471–77. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 71. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

              The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation of 'the Betrayer's Gospel'

              The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation of 'the Betrayer's Gospel'

              Lance Jenott presents a new critical edition, annotated translation, and interpretation of the Gospel of Judas which, for the first time, includes all extant fragments of the manuscript. Departing from the scholarly debate over how this second-century Gospel portrays the character of Judas Iscariot, he investigates the text's preoccupation with Jesus' Twelve Disciples, and why its author slanders them as immoral priests who unwittingly offer sacrifice to a false god. Jenott challenges previous interpretations of Judas as a Gnostic text that criticizes the sacrificial theology, Christology, and ritual practices of the orthodox church, including Eucharist and baptism. Instead, he emphasizes how its Christian author voices a political critique of the emerging clergy who established their ecclesiological authority through doctrines of apostolic succession and the exclusive right to administer the Eucharist. In the final chapter, Jenott leaves questions about the author's second-century Sitz im Leben behind to consider how Judas may have appealed to the fourth-century Coptic Christians who produced our only known copy.