Gnosticism: Beliefs and Practices
This book is an introduction to a system of religious and philosophical beliefs known as Gnosticism, which was widely embraced in the earlier centuries of Christianity. It is a descriptive account of a way of thought that provided a "reasoned" alternative to "orthodox" Christianity, without being bound by tradition or rigid uniformity. The discovery of Gnostic texts in 1945, some probably from the second century, provide prime source material about Gnosticism as a system of "gnosis" necessary for salvation, and about the orgin, meaning and destimy of human life. The author provides a fresh interpretation and evaluation of Gnostic texts and their impact on early Christianity. As an alternative to "orthodox" Christianity these texts shed light on the characters and events of the New Testament, and the reasons why the "orthodox" community opposed Gnosticism so strongly and sought to repress its ideas. The text includes information about initiation rites into the mystery of this secret kno
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