Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times

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R. van den Broek, Wouter J. Hanegraaff
SUNY Press, 1998 - Religion - 402 pages
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This volume introduces what has sometimes been called "the third component of western culture". It traces the historical development of those religious traditions which have rejected a world view based on the primacy of pure rationality or doctrinal faith, emphasizing instead the importance of inner enlightenment or gnosis: a revelatory experience which was typically believed to entail an encounter with one's true self as well as with the ground of being, God.

The contributors to this book demonstrate this perspective as fundamental to a variety of interconnected traditions. In Antiquity, one finds the gnostics and hermetics; in the Middle Ages several Christian sects. The medieval Cathars can, to a certain extent, be considered part of the same tradition. Starting with the Italian humanist Renaissance, hermetic philosophy became of central importance to a new religious synthesis that can be referred to as Western Esotericism. The development of this tradition is described from Renaissance hermeticists and practitioners of spiritual alchemy to the emergence of Rosicrucianism and Christian theosophy in the seventeenth century, and from post-enlightenment aspects of Romanticism and occultism to the present-day New Age movement.

 

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Contents

GNOSTICISM AND HERMETISM IN ANTIQUITY Two Roads to Salvation
1
GNOSTIC AND HERMETIC ETHICS
21
MANICHAEISM Its Sources and Influences on Western Christianity
37
A CHRISTIAN GNOSTIC TEXT The Gospel of Truth
53
THE ASCLEPIUS From the Hermetic Lodge in Alexandria to the Greek Eucharist and the Roman Mass
69
A READING OF THE DISCOURSE ON THE OGDOAD AND THE ENNEAD NAG HAMMADI CODEX VI6
79
THE CATHARS Medieval Gnostics?
87
RENAISSANCE HERMETICISM AND THE CONCEPT OF WESTERN ESOTERICISM
109
HERMETICISM IN EARLY ROSICRUCIANISM
197
CHRISTIAN THEOSOPHIC LITERATURE OF THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES
217
ROMANTICISM AND THE ESOTERIC CONNECTION
237
WILLIAM BLAKE AND HIS GNOSTIC MYTHS
269
WESTERN ESOTERIC SCHOOLS IN THE LATE NINETEENTH AND EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURIES
311
STOCKHAUSENS DONNERSTAG A US LICHT AND GNOSTICISM
347
THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT AND THE ESOTERIC TRADITION
359
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
383

FRANCESCO PATRIZIS HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY
125
SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY Interpreting Representative Texts and Images
147
MUSIC AND THE HERMETIC TRADITION
183

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About the author (1998)

Roelof van den Broek is Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. He has also written The Myth of the Phoenix: According to Classical and Early Christian Traditions and Studies in Gnosticism and Alexandrian Christianity.

Also at the University of Utrecht, Wouter J. Hanegraaff is a Research Fellow in the Study of Religions. He is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought.

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