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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.
An international team of twenty scholars under Edmondo F. Lupieri’s direction produced Mary Magdalene from the New Testament to the New Age and Beyond. While the historical figure of the Magdalene may be lost forever, the construction of her literary images and their transformations and adaptations over the centuries are a lively testimony to human creativity and faith. Different pictures of Mary travelled through time and space, from history to legend and mythology, crossed religious boundaries, going beyond the various Christianities, to become a “sign of contradiction” for many. This book describes a special case of biblical reception history, that of the New Testament figure of a woman whose presence at the side of Jesus has been disturbing for some, but proves to be inspiring for others.
A Study of Determinism and Early Christian Philosophy of Ethics
Author: Paul Linjamaa
In The Ethics of The Tripartite Tractate (NHC I, 5) Paul Linjamaa offers the first full length thematical monograph on the longest Valentinian text extant today. By investigating the ethics of The Tripartite Tractate, this study offers in-depth exploration of the text's ontology, epistemology, theory of will, and passions, as well as the anthropology and social setting of the text.
Valentinians have often been associated with determinism, which has been presented as “Gnostic” and then not taken seriously, or been disregarded as an invention of ancient intra-Christian polemics. Linjamaa challenges this conception and presents insights into how early Christian determinism actually worked, and how it effectively sustained viable and functioning ethics.
Author: Lucie Rault
L’Hymnaire manichéen chinois offre un ensemble de 25 hymnes destinées à la pratique de la religion manichéenne par la Section des Auditeurs. Mis au jour à Dunhuang (actuel Gansu) au début du 20ème siècle, après être resté enfoui dans une cache pendant quelque douze siècles, ce rouleau écrit en langue chinoise, comprend plusieurs hymnes transcrites de diverses langues courantes en Asie centrale à l’époque de sa rédaction.
Cette traduction apporte une vision nouvelle de la Religion de Lumière, telle qu’elle se vit adoptée par les Chinois, ainsi que de l’ampleur du message du prophète iranien Mani (216-276), aspirant à une portée universelle et destiné à relier entre eux les hommes de tous horizons de par le monde, quelque soit leur origine, leur langue ou leur histoire.



L’Hymnaire manichéen chinois presents a collection of twenty-five hymns that were intended for the Manichean religious practice of the class of Auditors. The scroll, which came to light in the early twentieth century in the province of Dunhuang (modern Ganzu) after lying buried for around twelve centuries, contains several hymns transcribed from a variety of languages that were current in Central Asia during the epoch of its redaction. This translation provides a new perspective on the Religion of Light as it was adopted in China, and on the wide reach of the message of the Iranian prophet Mani (216-276) that aimed at universal scope and was meant to unite people from all parts of the world, of whatever origin, language and history.
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.
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.
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.