Gnosticism: Its History and Influence

Gnosticism: Its History and Influence

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Author/Editor: Walker, Benjamin
Publisher: Aquarian Press
Date: 1983
Binding: Paperback
Condition: USED - Very good. An excellent, unmarked copy with minor shelf wear.

Gnosticism (from the Greek gnosis--’knowledge’) is a generic term for the beliefs and practices of a bewildering number of unorthodox religious sects that flourished in the Roman Empire and Western Asia during the early centuries of the Christian era. It fused past and present, east and west, the rational tradition of the classical world and the mystery cults of pagan antiquity.

Though Christ was fundamental to the gnostic view of salvation, gnosticism was fed by many ancient streams of thought—including Egyptian mythology, Chaldean magic and Jewish mysticism. Its secret practices ranged from extreme asceticism to extreme licentiousness, and wherever it went it left a large legacy of speculation and belief, the full extent of which is only now coming to light.

Benjamin Walker provides a way through the complex labyrinth of gnostic thought for the general reader. He describes the gnostic texts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi documents), the nature and development of gnostic thought, the secret rites of the main gnostic sects, and the influence of gnosticism on the religious and esoteric thought of the West—from Neoplatonism, the Cathars and the Troubadours to nineteenth-century diabolism and modern Free Love sects.