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Terror and Intrigue
In Gnostic Countercultures, fourteen scholars investigate countercultural aspects associated with the gnostic which is broadly conceived with reference to the claim to have special knowledge of the divine, which either transcends or transgresses conventional religious knowledge. The papers explore the concept of the gnostic in Western culture from the ancient world to the modern New Age. Contributors trace the emergence, persistence, and disappearance of gnostic religious currents that are perceived to be countercultural, inverted, transgressive and/or subversive in their relationship to conventional religions and their claims to knowledge. The essays represent a selection of the papers delivered at the international congress Gnostic Countercultures: Terror and Intrigue convened at Rice University, March 26-28, 2015. The essays were originally published in Gnosis 1.1-2 (2016) and are available for the first time under separate cover.
Collected Essays on Mani, Manichaeism and Augustine
Mani and Augustine: collected essays on Mani, Manichaeism and Augustine gathers in one volume contributions on Manichaean scholarship made by the internationally renowned scholar Johannes van Oort. The first part of the book focuses on the Babylonian prophet Mani (216-277) who styled himself an ‘apostle of Jesus Christ’, on Jewish elements in Manichaeism and on ‘human semen eucharist’, eschatology and imagery of Christ as ‘God’s Right Hand’. The second part of the book concentrates on the question to what extent the former ‘auditor’ Augustine became acquainted with Mani’s gnostic world religion and his canonical writings, and explores to what extent Manichaeism had a lasting impact on the most influential church father of the West.
The Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom
In 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.
The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani, a Coptic papyrus codex preserved at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, describes Mani’s mission, teachings and debates with sages in the courts of the Sasanian empire during the reign of Shapur I; with an extended account of his last days and death under Bahram I. The text offers an unprecedented new source for the history of religions in Late Antiquity, including interactions of Manichaean, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions in Iran, remarkably transmitted into the Mediterranean world as part of Manichaean missionary literature. This is the first of four fascicles constituting the editio princeps, based on enhanced digital and multispectral imaging and extended autoptic study of the manuscript.
A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the “Fifth Gospel”
Now available in Open Access thanks to the support of the University of Helsinki. In The Gospel of Thomas and Plato, Ivan Miroshnikov contributes to the study of the earliest Christian engagements with philosophy by offering the first systematic discussion of the impact of Platonism on the Gospel of Thomas, one of the most intriguing and cryptic works among the Nag Hammadi writings. Miroshnikov demonstrates that a Platonist lens is indispensable to the understanding of a number of the Thomasine sayings that have, for decades, remained elusive as exegetical cruces. The Gospel of Thomas is thus an important witness to the early stages of the process that eventually led to the Platonist formulation of certain Christian dogmata.
Both the Thunder: Perfect Mind (NHC VI,2) and the Trimorphic Protennoia (NHC XIII,1) present their readers with goddesses who descend in such auditive terms as sound, voice, and word. In Linguistic Manifestations in the Trimorphic Protennoia and the Thunder: Perfect Mind, Tilde Bak Halvgaard argues that these presentations reflect a philosophical discussion about the nature of words and names, utterances and language, as well as the relationship between language and reality, inspired especially by Platonic and Stoic dialectics.
Her analysis of these linguistic manifestations against the background of ancient philosophy of language offers many new insights into the structure of the two texts and the paradoxical sayings of the Thunder: Perfect Mind.
Author: Erin Evans
Despite the surge of interest in Gnostic texts following the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, the Coptic Books of Jeu and Pistis Sophia remain understudied. Often dismissed as convoluted, confused, and repetitious, Erin Evans convincingly shows that these texts represent the writings of a distinct religious group with a consistent system of theology, cosmology, and ritual practice. This book offers an in-depth examination of these texts, their relationship to other contemporary Gnostic ideas, and their use in the context of a practicing religious group. Three thematic sections demonstrate how the collection of texts functions as a whole, covering baptisms and mystical ascent procedures, guides to moral living, and introductory texts and myths.
Selected Papers from the Seventh International Conference of the International Association of Manichaean Studies in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, 8–12 September 2009
In 2009 the Seventh International Conference of Manichaean Studies was held at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. The 22 selected papers of this volume offer a deep insight into the faith of Manichaean communities ranging from the very beginning of the 3rd century up to the last traces of worship today. Among others the authors deal with sources from Augustin, John the Grammarian, Ephrem the Syrian and further sources written in Coptic, Sogdian, Middle Persian, Parthian and Chinese. Several studies about Manichaean art and iconography offer a visual impression, which gives a new opportunity for understanding the religion of Light.
Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature. Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson
Ritual, magic, liturgy, and theurgy were central features of Gnosticism, and yet Gnostic practices remain understudied. This anthology is meant to fill in this gap and address more fully what the ancient Gnostics were doing. While previously we have studied the Gnostics as intellectuals in pursuit of metaphysical knowledge, the essays in this book attempt to understand the Gnostics as ecstatics striving after religious experience, as prophets seeking revelation, as mystics questing after the ultimate God, as healers attempting to care for the sick and diseased. These essays demonstrate that the Gnostics were not necessarily trendy intellectuals seeking epistomological certainities. They were after religious experiences that relied on practices. The book is organized comparatively in a history-of-religions approach with sections devoted to Initiatory, Recurrent, Therapeutic, Ecstatic, and Philosophic Practices. This book celebrates the brilliant career of Birger A. Pearson.
In Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Nicola Denzey Lewis dismisses Hans Jonas' mischaracterization of second-century Gnosticism as a philosophically-oriented religious movement built on the perception of the cosmos as negative or enslaving. A focused study on the concept of astrological fate in “Gnostic” writings including the Apocryphon of John, the recently-discovered Gospel of Judas, Trimorphic Protennoia, and the Pistis Sophia, this book reexamines their language of “enslavement to fate (Gk: heimarmene)” from its origins in Greek Stoicism, its deployment by the apostle Paul, to its later use by a variety of second-century intellectuals (both Christian and non-Christian). Denzey Lewis thus offers an informed and revisionist conceptual map of the ancient cosmos, its influence, and all those who claimed to be free of its potentially pernicious effects.