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Guy Stroumsa

The American historian of ancient religions, Morton Smith (1915-1991), studied with the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem (1897-1982), when he was in Jerusalem during the Second World War. After the war, the two started a long, fascinating and at times intense correspondence that ended only with Scholem's death. These letters, found in the Scholem archive in the National Library in Jerusalem, provide a rare perspective on the world and the approach of two leading historians of religion in the twentieth century. They also shed important new light upon Smith's discovery of a letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria referring to a secret Gospel of Mark.
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Hidden Wisdom

Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism

Guy Stroumsa

This book investigates the problem of esoteric traditions in early Christianity, their origin and their transformation in Patristic hermeneutics, in the West as well as in the East. It argues that these traditions eventually formed the basis of nascent Christian mysticism in Late Antiquity. These esoteric traditions do not reflect the influence of Greek Mystery religions, as has often been claimed, but rather seem to stem from the Jewish background of Christianity. They were adopted by various Gnostic teachings, a fact which helps explaining their eventual disappearance from Patristic literature. The ten chapters study each a different aspect of the problem, including the questions of Gnostic and Manichaean esotericism. This book will be of interest to all students of religious history in Late Antiquity.

This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details.
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Hidden Wisdom

Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism. Second, Revised and Enlarged paperback edition

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Guy Stroumsa

This book investigates the problem of esoteric traditions in early Christianity, their origin and their transformation in Patristic hermeneutics, in the West as well as in the East. It argues that these traditions eventually formed the basis of nascent Christian mysticism in Late Antiquity. These esoteric traditions do not reflect the influence of Greek Mystery religions, as has often been claimed, but rather seem to stem from the Jewish background of Christianity. They were adopted by various Gnostic teachings, a fact which helps explaining their eventual disappearance from Patristic literature. The eleven chapters study each a different aspect of the problem, including the questions of Gnostic and Manichaean esotericism. This book will be of interest to all students of religious history in Late Antiquity.

Revised and extended paperback edition. Originally published in 1996. Please click here for details.
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Homer, the Bible, and Beyond

Literary and Religious Canons in the Ancient World

Edited by Margalit Finkelberg and Guy Stroumsa

As distinct from the extant studies of ancient canonical texts, which focus either on literary (Greco-Roman) or religious (Judeo-Christian) canons, the present volume aims at bridging between these two fields by proposing the first comparative study of canon.
An international team of experts discusses the processes of canon-formation in societies of the ancient world, addressing such issues as canon and the articulation of identity; the hermeneutical attitude toward canonical texts; textual fixity and openness; oral and written canons; methods of transmission, and more. Among the topics discussed are Mesopotamian canons; Zoroastrianism; the Bible; Homer; literary and philosophical canons in ancient Greece and Rome; the New Testament; the Roman law; Rabbinic Judaism and Kabbalistic literature.
The future of the so-called Western Canon is one of the most hotly debated issues of the day. There is reason to believe that what is perceived today as a unique crisis, can be put into perspective by students of ancient societies, for the simple reason that the ancient world offers us the historical perspective of civilizations as a whole and allows us to study cultural phenomena in the longue durée.
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Edited by Jan Assmann and Guy Stroumsa

This collection of papers from two workshops - held in Heidelberg, Germany, in July 1996 and Jerusalem, Israel, in October 1997 - is concerned with anthropological rather than theological aspects of the Near Eastern and Mediterranean religions, ranging from the 'primary' religions of the archaic period and their complex developments in Egypt and Mesopotamia to the 'soteriological' movements and 'secondary' religions that emerged in Late Antiquity.
The first part of the book focuses on "Confession and Conversion", while the second part is devoted to the topic of "Guilt, Sin and Rituals of Purification".
The primary purpose of this volume is to convey a sense of the dynamics and dialectical relationships between the various Near Eastern and Mediterranean religions from the archaic period to Late Antiquity.