Concealment, Pseudepigraphy and the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity

In: Aries
Kelley Coblentz Bautch St. Edward’s University, Austin

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Historians of antiquity and of the modern and postmodern world have made advances in defining esotericism and mysticism and ought to be in conversation with one another. Collaborative work among scholars of esotericism of diverse periods is at a beginning stage, despite shared methodologies and commitment to undergirding studies in cultural and historical contexts. Contemporary study of esoteric rhetoric aids our understanding of hiddenness, secrecy and revelation in ancient Jewish and Christian texts. The practice of pseudepigraphy in antiquity, which obscures a text’s author, may be related, though, to religious experience or to a traditionary process. Scholars who are aware of misrepresentations of esotericism have a responsibility to consider manifold reasons for the practice of pseudepigraphy, in contrast to the scholars who associate use of pseudonyms with duplicity and malfeasance.

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