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Paul Mirecki

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Paul Mirecki (born 1950) is Bible scholar and associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas and the faculty advisor for the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics student organization. He was chairman of the department until 2005.

He worked with John Strugnell as one of the translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls and discovered the Gospel of the Savior, a previously unknown gospel which he helped translate.[1]


Mirecki grew up Roman Catholic in Worth, Illinois, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. His parents wanted him to be a priest. Instead, he took to music. In the late 1960s, he attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, majoring in musical composition and playing classical guitar and piano.

He dropped out early to work, but returned to college in 1973, pursuing religious studies at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned a Th.D. in Theology from Harvard University in 1986, with a thesis on the Gospel of Mark, "Mark 16:9-20, Composition, Tradition and Redaction." After teaching stints at the University of Michigan and Albion College, Mirecki joined the University of Kansas faculty in 1989.

Intelligent Design controversy[edit]

In November 2005, Mirecki made derogatory comments about adherents of intelligent design. He was scheduled to teach a class in spring 2006 on the topic Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism. (The original title was Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies, but the phrase "Other Religious Mythologies" was removed on November 28 [5].) [2] This proposed course followed a November 8 ruling by the Kansas State Board of Education designed to allow Kansas public school students to hear more criticism of evolution in class. In 1999 Mirecki had participated in parody creationist organization at KU called Families for Learning Accurate Theories (F.L.A.T.) in response to and ridicule of creationists on the Kansas Board of Education who decided to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution.

In emails to the Society for Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics, Mirecki commented on the course's perspective on intelligent design, saying, "The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology'." Mirecki signed the note, "Doing my part to piss off the religious right, Evil Dr. P." He later apologized for these words and urged that the class be canceled.

The course was withdrawn on December 1, 2005, with the support of University of Kansas Provost David Shulenburger.[3] Some conservative political activists were not satisfied with the university's response and called for sanctions against Mirecki or for his dismissal.

On December 5, 2005, Mirecki reported that he was accosted and beaten by two unidentified men. He was treated and released from Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Mirecki has stated that the men made reference to the recent controversy over the class during the beating. On December 7, Mirecki stepped down from his post as department chair. He denounced the university as being not supportive of him and his First Amendment rights, and said he had faced an increase in harassment since the chancellor publicly called his email commentary "repugnant and vile." He also criticized the police as treating him more like a criminal than a victim, saying they had confiscated his car and his computer and had interrogated him for up to five hours straight [6].[4]

The University of Kansas issued a press release on December 10 affirming that it stood behind Mirecki unequivocally, that it deplored the violence against him, that he remained a tenured professor, that he had resigned as department chair voluntarily on the recommendation of the department faculty, that he had canceled the course on intelligent design voluntarily, but that the university "continues to believe the course has merit and should be taught in the future."


Gospel of the Savior: A New Ancient Gospel. with Charles W. hedrick, [Santa Rosa, Calif.]: Polebridge Press, 1999. According to WorldCat, the book is held in 116 libraries [5] The Gospel has been subsequently analyzed by Michael J Kruger in The Gospel of the Savior: an analysis of P. Oxy. 840 and its place in the Gospel traditions of early Christianityeiden ; Boston : Brill, 2005.

Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World (RGRW 141; Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2002). Refereed. (Co-edited with M. Meyer)

The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and its World (NHMS; Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2001). Refereed. (Co-edited with J. BeDuhn)

Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources (NHMS 43; Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1997). Refereed. (Co-edited with J. BeDuhn)

Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (RGRW 129; Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1995). Refereed. (Co-edited with M. Meyer)

He is the editor or co-editor of a number of academic publications, mostly on ancient magic and on Manichaeism :

  • BeDuhn, Jason, and Paul Allan Mirecki, eds. Frontiers of Faith The Christian Encounter with Manichaeism in the Acts of Archelaus. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  • Mirecki, Paul Allan, and Marvin W. Meyer. (eds.) Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World. Leiden: Brill, 2002. His most widely held book, it is held in 1235 libraries according to WorldCat,[6]
  • Mirecki, Paul Allan, and Jason BeDuhn. (eds.) The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and Its World. Leiden: Brill, 2001.
  • Mirecki, Paul Allan, and Jason BeDuhn. Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources. Leiden: Brill, 1997.
  • Meyer, Marvin W., and Paul Allan Mirecki. Ancient Magic and Ritual Power. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995.


  1. Kim Strosnider "Scholar Says He Has Found a Lost Gospel of Early Christians" in Chronicle of Higher Education March 21, 1997 [1] Accessed March 23, 2016.
  2. Thomas Bartlett, "U. of Kansas Draws Media Frenzy With News That It Will Offer Course on Intelligent Design as Myth" Chronicle of Higher Education, November 23, 2005 [2] Accessed March 22, 2016
  3. Thomas Bartlett, "U. of Kansas Professor Pulls Plug on Course Designed to Debunk Intelligent Design" Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 2, 2005 [3] Accessed March 22, 2016
  4. Thomas Bartlett, "Professor Who Drew Fire for Proposed Course Debunking Intelligent Design Says He Was Beaten" Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 7, 2005 [4] Accessed March 22, 2016
  5. WorldCat book entry
  6. WorldCat book entry

External links[edit]

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