Einar Thomassen elected as Honorary Member of the EASR

Einar Thomassen is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Bergen and is one of the foremost specialists of gnosticism and early Christianity. He took his PhD at the University of Saint Andrews in 1982, with a thesis on “The Tripartite Tractate from Nag Hammadi”. After his PhD he held academic positions in different Norwegian universities, leading to his appointment as Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Bergen in 1993.

From early on the main focus of his research has been Valentinianism, the most important current of Christian gnosticism in late antiquity, considered heretical by mainstream Christian theologians. In order to understand the historical development of Valentinianism, Thomassen worked intensively on the Coptic manuscripts of Nag Hammadi. Years of research that had started with the translation of the Tripartite Tractate for his PhD dissertation culminated in 2006 with the publication of his celebrated monograph, The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the “Valentinians”, in the Brill series of Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies. Appreciated worldwide for his specialist studies, Thomassen has however not refrained from engaging with broader perspectives on religious history, with the publication of a historical introduction to Christianity, first published in 2000, and a monograph on ancient religions in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, first published in 2010. He recently published a monograph on the early Gnostics and is now preparing a textbook on comparative aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Thomassen has been quite active in service and leading roles for the scholarly community. He was President of the Norwegian Association for the History of Religions from 1994 to 1998, and took on important positions in the EASR as Vice-President from 2010 to 2013, and then as President from 2014 to 2019. We should also mention here that not only has he been a regular presence at EASR conferences since the early days of our Association, but has also played an important role as organiser of the third EASR conference, held in Bergen in 2003. He has also been the editor of Numen, the flagship journal of the International Association for the History of Religions (2000–2008) and editor of the important Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies series at Brill (2008–2018).

For all his academic achievements and the many years of service for our discipline and scholarly community, it is a pleasure to confer on Einar Thomassen the Honorary Membership of the EASR.