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
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Guy G. Stroumsa, Ph.D. (1978), Harvard, is Martin Buber Professor of Comparative Religion and Director of the Center for the Study of Christianity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of
Another Seed: Studies in Gnostic Mythology (Brill, 1984),
Savoir et salut: traditions juives et tentations dualistes dans le christianisme ancien (Paris, 1972) and
Barbarian Philosophy: the Religious Revolution of Early Christianity (Tübingen, 1999).
is an important interpretation of the changing attitudes toward esotericism that were a significant aspect of the early development of Christianity...wealth of new insights.'
History of Religion, 1999.
…the book contains much valuable, intriguing material.'
Jorunn J. Buckley,
Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
Stroumsa's book will prove important to anyone interested in esotericism, mysticism, and the Jewish origins of early Christianity. Recommended for all libraries.'
Laurence H. Kant,
Religious Studies Review, 2001.
…imposante et suggestive documentation…'
All those interested in intellectual and religious history of Late Antiquity, Patristics, students of Christian (and Jewish) mysticism, gnosticism.