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The appeal of Gnosticism and metaphysical rebellion as alternatives
In attempting to resolve the conflict between spirit and matter, the incorruptible and the corrupt, Gnosticism gave rise to a many interpretations, each championed by a sect or sub-sect.
Hence the importance of Book 1, where Taubes develops a general theory of apocalypticism, one which subsumes both late Israelite prophetic Messianism, Christian chiliasm, Gnosticism, and even secularized philosophies of history (Lessing, Hegel and Marx).
He and his theosophical rivals see affinities between early Christian Gnosticism and modern Theosophy, but Streeter positions Theosophists--ancient and modem--as the problematic kind of wandering prophet, a source of "danger and distraction" for "the Church," both in the Roman and British Empires.
In spite of the obvious seriousness and relative secretiveness invested in "authentic" esoteric practice, many people, whether or not they know anything, in the "academic" sense, about Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Kabbalah, and so forth, are profoundly affected by representations in art and literature that convey ideas about the unquantifiable aspects of the universe and, on this level at least, are ever ready to be entertained by and to indulge in "esoteric" concepts.
Along the way, he becomes entranced with such fringe movements as the Rosicrucians and gnosticism.
Gnosticism was the movement that declared that the God Jesus claimed as "Father" was different than the God of Israel depicted in the Hebrew Bible.
Fedan draws upon his years of studying Templar history to embed his fictional narrative with historically accurate information and references that include such diverse elements as Gnosticism, medieval military history, royal biographies, and more.
From the ancient Greeks to Gnosticism and early Christianity, author Arthur Versluis uncovers Western sexual mysticism's secret roots in a survey that examines divine unions inherent in sexual practices.
One has to do with the question of whether this is in fact a Gnostic text and if so, what brand of Gnosticism is at issue (King 2003).
The fresh perspective is likely to spark controversy in positing, among other things, that Gnosticism was merely a failed attempt to paganize Christianity and the decline in paganism was less due to state repression than the appeal of Christianity to the masses.
As if this source was not enough, Rosenthal then invents a "hypothetical Jewish Gnosticism as a second possible influence on Muhammad" and a "pagan Gnosticism" as the third source, only to discard them within one paragraph and reaffirm: "Thus, the Gnostic Christian hypothesis would so far seem to point to the most likely source of inspiration for the Prophet's concept of knowledge" (28).