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University of Creation Spirituality
Doctor of Ministry Degree/Certificate Program

March 2004 Intensive
March 22-26 2004 CA

Seminar: Genesis Now! Creation Mysticism and Mystical Practice in Early Judaism,            Christianity and Islam - # 60075

Instructor: Neil Douglas-Klotz.       

Faculty Bio:    Neil Douglas-Klotz holds a Ph.D. in religious studies and psychology and an M.A. in somatic psychology. He is an independent scholar with a background in hermeneutics, Middle Eastern languages, and sacred movement. He is the author of the books Prayers of the Cosmos, Desert Wisdom, The Hidden Gospel and The Genesis Meditations. He serves as co-chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion.  He currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and co-directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning.


Revealing a spirituality that unites Judaism, Christianity and Islam, this

course introduces participants to the history of how early mystics—including Jesus—may have meditated in all three great religions springing from the Middle East. All three faiths, in spite of apparent differences, share an emphasis on sacred beginnings. Over the centuries, Westerners have progressively lost this sense, instead emphasizing apocalyptic endings. The “original meditation” seeks to reclaim the life-affirming energy of sacred “beginning time,” so that one can experience its creative power for oneself and one’s community.

Participants will be introduced to the Middle Eastern tradition of interpretation-translation as a spiritual practice (Hebrew term, midrash). They will also gain an awareness of how this practice can be used in their own spiritual lives in their relation to everyday life themes of love, work and knowledge. The course will use chant, meditation, body prayer and Dances of Universal Peace from the Aramaic Christian, Jewish and Sufi traditions, as well as sound practice, and meditation to help reawaken the sense of boundless creative potential and deep peace in one’s lives.


The class will use hermeneutical methods related to a Middle Eastern approach to key words in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic that can be found in various strata of the Hebrew creation stories, the reported sayings of Jesus in the Gospels, and the creation stories in the Quran. The course will also engage in a form of heuristic group inquiry, guided by the instructor, which uses Middle Eastern styles of body prayer and meditation to explore spiritual themes in the lives of the participants.



Douglas-Klotz, Neil. (2003). The Genesis Meditations: A Shared Practice of Peace for Christians, Jews and Muslims. (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books).


Boman, Thorlief. (1960). Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. Philadelphia: Westminster.

Douglas-Klotz (1999). The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spirituality of the Aramaic Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books

Douglas-Klotz, Neil. (1990). Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

------------. (1995). Desert Wisdom: The Middle Eastern Tradition from the Goddess through the Sufis. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. Available in the US from www.abwoon.com

------------. (1999b). Midrash and postmodern inquiry: suggestions toward a hermeneutics of indeterminacy. Currents in Research: Biblical Studies Volume 7, 181-193. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

-----------. (2000). Genesis Now: Midrashic Views of Bereshit Mysticism in Thomas and John. Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in the Thomas Traditions Section, Nashville, TN, November 21, 2000. Posted at www.abwoon.com

-----------.  (2003 b). Reading John in Bereshit Time: Semitic Constructions of Creation Mysticism in the Early Syriac Versions. A paper given in the Christian Apocrypha and Nag Hammadi section of the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. November 2003. Posted at www.abwoon.com

Suggested Paper Topics:

1.      Reflect upon the themes of the course and their relation to your own spiritual experience of cultivating a creative vision and empowered heart in your life.

2.      How does the concept of ever-present creation as found in the cosmology/psychology of Jesus’s Aramaic language, allow you to relate his sayings and teachings to your own experience as a creative being in the world.

3.      How do the various Aramaic/Hebrew concepts of time, as discussed in the course, illuminate or clarify your own experiences of relationship to the caravan of creation?


Session 1:         Introduction. Semitic and Greek language and cosmology. Oral and written stories. The earliest Middle Eastern creation stories. Semitic and Greek ideas of time, space, holiness, and embodiment. The Hebrew creation stories and their setting. Story as spiritual practice.

Session 2:         Influences of Creation (Bereshit) Mysticism on the teachings of Jesus as found in the synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, and the Gospel of Thomas. The creation history of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Session 3:         Themes and Body Prayers: Chapters 5-7 (Genesis Meditations).

Session 4:         Themes and Body Prayers: Chapters 8-10 (Genesis Meditations).

Session 5:         Themes and Body Prayers: Chapters 11-12 (Genesis Meditations) Further Discussion and Closure.                              

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