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Author: John Willmett


This article examines the views of Gurdjieff’s disciples P.D. Ouspensky and Maurice Nicoll on the esoteric nature of the Gospels. Utilising one of Wouter Hanegraaff’s definitions of esotericism as religious activity concerned predominantly with salvific knowledge of the ‘inner mysteries of religion’ reserved for a selected elite, Ouspensky’s and Nicoll’s view of the Gospels as the rendering in metaphorical form of esoteric knowledge as the formulation of the esoteric psychology of the path of inner evolution is discussed. Sources for this discussion are Ouspensky’s A New Model of the Universe (1931), and Nicoll’s The New Man (1950) and The Mark (1954). It is suggested that the Gospels render esoteric knowledge and its linguistic expression secret and hidden. Nicoll’s idea of the necessity for this secrecy and hiddenness in dealing with the esoteric, that esoteric knowledge given to those unprepared for it is dangerous, both because it will be spoiled, its truth and beauty destroyed, and because it will turn into what Nicoll calls “world poison”, is illustrated in a discussion of the thesis presented in Jacob Needleman’s A Sense of the Cosmos (1975), that the rise of modern science represents an abuse of esoteric knowledge. The article concludes by presenting ideas from Needleman, Ouspensky and Nicoll of what needs to be done in the face of this current widespread abuse of esoteric knowledge.

In: Aries
From Confessional Churches to Polite Piety in the Dutch Republic
Editors: Joke Spaans and Jetze Touber
The history of the relation between religion and Enlightenment has been virtually rewritten In recent decades. The idea of a fairly unidirectional ‘rise of paganism’, or ‘secularisation’, has been replaced by a much more variegated panorama of interlocking changes—not least in the nature of both religion and rationalism. This volume explores developments in various cultural fields—from lexicology to geographical exploration, and from philosophy and history to theology, media and the arts—involved in the transformation of worldviews in the decades around 1700. The main focus is on the Dutch Republic, where discussion culture was more inclusive than in most other countries, and where people from very different walks of life joined the conversation.

Contributors include: Wiep van Bunge, Frank Daudeij, Martin Gierl, Albert Gootjes, Trudelien van ‘t Hof, Jonathan Israel, Henri Krop, Fred van Lieburg, Jaap Nieuwstraten, Joke Spaans, Jetze Touber, and Arthur Weststeijn.
al-Ḏahab al-masbūk fī ḏikr man ḥaǧǧa min al-ḫulafāʾ wa-l-mulūk. Critical Edition, Annotated Translation, and Study
In Caliphate and Kingship in a Fifteenth-Century Literary History of Muslim Leadership and Pilgrimage Jo Van Steenbergen presents a new study, edition and translation of al-Ḏahab al-Masbūk fī Ḏikr man Ḥağğa min al-Ḫulafāʾ wa-l-Mulūk, a summary history of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca by al-Maqrīzī (766-845 AH/ca. 1365-1442 CE). Traditionally considered as a useful source for the history of the ḥağğ, al-Ḏahab al-Masbūk is re-interpreted here as a complex literary construction that was endowed with different meanings. Through detailed contextualist, narratological, semiotic and codicological analyses Van Steenbergen demonstrates how these meanings were deeply embedded in early-fifteenth century Egyptian transformations, how they changed substantially over time, and how they included particular claims about authorship and about legitimate and good Muslim rule.
A Transcultural Historical Perspective
Muslims in Interwar Europe provides a comprehensive overview of the history of Muslims in interwar Europe. Based on personal and official archives, memoirs, press writings and correspondences, the contributors analyse the multiple aspects of the global Muslim religious, political and intellectual affiliations in interwar Europe. They argue that Muslims in interwar Europe were neither simply visitors nor colonial victims, but that they constituted a group of engaged actors in the European and international space.

Contributors are Ali Al Tuma, Egdūnas Račius, Gerdien Jonker, Klaas Stutje, Naomi Davidson, Pieter Sjoerd van Koningsveld, Umar Ryad, Zaur Gasimov and Wiebke Bachmann.

This title is available online in its entirety in Open Access.