The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, Christian H. Bull argues that the treatises attributed to Hermes Trismegistus reflect the spiritual exercises and ritual practices of loosely organized brotherhoods in Egypt. These small groups were directed by Egyptian priests educated in the traditional lore of the temples, but also conversant with Greek philosophy. Such priests, who were increasingly dispossessed with the gradual demise of the Egyptian temples, could find eager adherents among a Greek-speaking audience seeking for the wisdom of the Egyptian Hermes, who was widely considered to be an important source for the philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato. The volume contains a comprehensive analysis of the myths of Hermes Trismegistus, a reevaluation of the Way of Hermes, and a contextualization of this ritual tradition.
This historical study argues that the Mandaean religion originated under Sasanid rule in the fifth century, not earlier as has been widely accepted. It analyzes primary sources in Syriac, Mandaic, and Arabic to clarify the early history of Mandaeism. This religion, along with several other, shorter-lived new faiths, such as Kentaeism, began in a period of state-sponsored persecution of Babylonian paganism. The Mandaeans would survive to become one of many groups known as Ṣābians by their Muslim neighbors. Rather than seeking to elucidate the history of Mandaeism in terms of other religions to which it can be related, this study approaches the religion through the history of its social contexts.
Mani at the Court of the Persian Kings the authors explore evidence arising from their project to edit the Chester Beatty
Kephalaia codex. This new text presents Mani at the heart of Sasanian Iran in dialogue with its sages and nobles, acting as a cultural mediator between East and West and interpreter of Christian, Iranian, and Indian traditions. Nine chapters study Mani’s appropriation of the ‘law of Zarades’ and of Iranian epic; suggest a new understanding of his last days; and analyse his formative role in the history of late antique religions.
These interdisciplinary studies advance research in several fields and will be of interest to scholars of Manichaeism, Sasanian Iran, and the development of religions in Late Antiquity.