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Volume Editor: Göran Larsson
Professor Geo Widengren (1907–1996), holder of the chair in History of Religions and Psychology of Religions at Uppsala University between 1940 and 1973, is one of Sweden’s best-known scholars in the field of religious studies. His involvement in the start of the IAHR and publications on topics such as the phenomenology of religions, Iranian studies and Middle Eastern Religions make Widengren one of the founding fathers of the History of Religions as an academic discipline. This volume pays tribute to Widengren’s academic achievements and critically discusses his work in light of the latest academic findings and research.
Social Networks and Religious Identity in Late Antique Egypt
The Manichaean Church in Kellis presents an in-depth study of social organisation within the religious movement known as Manichaeism in Roman Egypt. In particular, it employs papyri from Kellis (Ismant el-Kharab), a village in the Dakhleh Oasis, to explore the socio-religious world of lay Manichaeans in the fourth century CE.
Manichaeism has often been perceived as an elitist, esoteric religion. Challenging this view, Teigen draws on social network theory and cultural sociology, and engages with the study of lived ancient religion, in order to apprehend how laypeople in Kellis appropriated Manichaean identity and practice in their everyday lives. This perspective, he argues, not only provides a better understanding of Manichaeism: it also has wider implications for how we understand late antique ‘religion’ as a social phenomenon
Author: Zeke Mazur
In The Platonizing Sethian Background of Plotinus’s Mysticism, Zeke Mazur offers a radical reconceptualization of Plotinus with reference to Gnostic thought and praxis.
A crucial element in the thought of the third-century CE philosopher Plotinus—his conception of mystical union with the One—cannot be understood solely within the conventional history of philosophy, or as the product of a unique, sui generis psychological propensity. This monograph demonstrates that Plotinus tacitly patterned his mystical ascent to the One on a type of visionary ascent ritual that is first attested in Gnostic sources. These sources include the Platonizing Sethian tractates Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1) and Allogenes (NHC XI,3) of which we have Coptic translations from Nag Hammadi and whose Greek Vorlagen were known to have been read in Plotinus’s school.
In Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in Its Contexts, new essays by renowned scholars address questions about what the ancient science of the heavens was in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds, and the numerous contexts in which it was pursued. Together, these essays will enable readers not only to understand the technical accomplishments of this ancient science but also to appreciate their historical significance by locating the questions, challenges, and issues inspiring them in their political, medical, philosophical, literary, and religious contexts.

Winner of the 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award
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.
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.
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.
This collection of essays—the ninth volume in Brill’s Pauline Studies series—features Paul and his relationship to knowledge. Gnosis, the Greek word generally translated as "knowledge," is broadly interpreted, and the essays contained in this volume revolve around both a more general notion of knowledge in relation to Paul and more specific references to Gnosticism. Several of these essays discuss Paul’s use of "knowledge" words, Paul’s knowledge and understanding of key themes and ideas in his writings, Paul’s interpreters in light of gnostics like Valentinus and Marcion, and Gnosticism in light of Paul’s letters. This collection of essays exposes the reader to crucial topics regarding Paul and Gnosis that are not readily addressed elsewhere.
The tenth and eleventh centuries are pivotal for the history of the West. The writings of Ademar of Chabannes, many of which are still unpublished, offer numerous insights into why these changes were occurring. Because his promotion of the cult of St. Martial of Limoges contains much that is exaggerated or even untrue, his writings have been viewed with suspicion. What this book seeks to do is make clear that such distrust is justified, but that there is much material in those manuscripts throwing light on the origins of the crusades, the rise of heresy, the great feudal warfare and the reality of apocalyptic fear.
In 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.