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Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing Paperback – July 1, 2002


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Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing + The Gnostic Gospels + The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts Complete in One Volume
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books; 1 edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608169
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Various groups like the Mandaeans, Manicheans and Cathars are investigated.
Pieter Uys
Stephan's book allows the reader to make his own choices and interpretations, rather than forcing a "this is the way it is" attitude onto everything.
Douglas J. Ridge
Bishop Hoeller's book is a first-rate introduction to Gnosticism in general, and I highly recommend his other books as well.
Nate Merit

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Zev Bazarov on July 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a great modern introduction to Gnosticism. It covers Gnostic creation myth, rituals, teachers, Sophia (divine feminine wisdom), the Gnostic Jesus, Mandaens Manichaens Cathars, modern Gnostics and more. This is a basic overview for beginners, not for the advanced. If you know nothing of gnosticism, and are looking for a general overview, this is it. It is written very simply and clear. It also lists a good list of books for further study. Also includes a short dictionary of Gnostic terms. Details teachings and myths. There is no better introduction than this. If you enjoy this book, read the others listed at the end for further in depth information. 5 stars. Check it out.
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91 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Side by side with Christianity, the Gnostic tradition had its origins 2000 years ago in the Middle East. The main difference between the two is that Christianity focuses on faith whilst Gnosticism seeks a state of consciousness in which the divine can be directly experienced. Hoeller's excellent book investigates the history of the Gnostic worldview as an indigenous Western mystical tradition. It is also a concise and sympathetic look at the teachings and spiritual lineage of Gnosticism.
According to the author, Gnosticism straddles the divide between psychology and religion - the place where soul and spirit meet, where dream and vision are transformed into an experience of liberation. Gnostic myths, metaphors and symbols partake of both psychological and metaphysical meaning. It this sense they are like endless loops in which psychological meaning points to metaphysical meaning that leads one back to the individual psyche again. It is the place where cosmology and psychology fuse, where archetypes and deities merge and separate in an endless dance. In both the intrapsychic and external sense, Gnostic myths belong in depth psychology and religion at the same time.
The author discusses the Gnostic view of the soul and of the divine and manifest worlds, considers the Gnostic Christ as a guide to the sacred mysteries and as Liberator more than Saviour and looks at the concept of Sophia (wisdom) in the Gnostic tradition. Various groups like the Mandaeans, Manicheans and Cathars are investigated.
One of the most interesting sections deals with three great Gnostic thinkers: Valentinus (famous for the poetic beauty of his words), Basilides (renowned for his mystical profundity) and Marcion (noted for his informed criticism of the Bible.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm totally new to Gnosticism and found this book to be a comprehensive introduction on the subject, as well as quite accessible and easy to read. He covers vast territory without going into too much detail, and also provides excellent bibliographies if you wish to further explore the subject.
I do get the feeling from reading the subject that he is pushing his own particular brand of gnosticism, some of which is disconcerting. He seems to argue at the end that gnostics should turn their back on the world completely, and let it suffer in its own pool of dreck. That was unsettling to me but as I explore gnosticism further in other books, I'll find out for myself if this is THE gnostic position on the subject or just one position of many within the gnostic world.
Overall though, a great place to start for the Gnostic beginner.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Courterier on May 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Having been intruiged by Gnosticism for several years, I was finally compelled to pick up a text that did something other than introduce one, or several, of the Nag Hamadi scriptures. Stephan A. Hoeller(Tau Stephanus I) is a long-time Gnostic Bishop, with a valid line of Apostolic Succession. He holds a PhD had has been the head of a California-based Gnostic organization for many years: in short he is well-qualified to write this book.
I must say that his education and, further, his experience with Gnostic Christianity show in the way he writes this book. It is an extremely thorough introduction to Gnostic Christianity, in all its forms. He frequently mentions Jungian psychology, but Jungian theory does not sour this book one bit. Mentions of Jung are generally brief, and used to present one explaination to a topic. The book covers the Gnostic gospels, some early history of Christianity, prominent early Gnostics, Gnostic views of salvation, Christ, and resurection. It's a very, very in-depth, and well-researched, book. I would recomend it to anyone seeking an introduction to Gnostic Christianity.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Stephan Hoeller's book "Gnosticism" is truly a great introduction to Gnosticism in both its ancient and modern forms. I find it quite humorous that some of the "reviewers" on here are being so critical of a book, when they obviously haven't even read the introduction. The fact that someone even mentioned that the book is biased makes me laugh...of course it's biased, as are most books trying to tell people about their philosophy or beliefs. The market is flooded with books on the beliefs of Orthodox Christians; does it threaten you that a Gnostic Bishop gives an alternative opinion?
Also, in reply to someone who said, "He seems to argue at the end that gnostics should turn their back on the world completely, and let it suffer in its own pool of dreck." This however is a misrepresentation of Dr. Hoeller's views. Who much like comparative mythologists Joseph Campbell would say, "The world is a mess. It's always been a mess. We can't change the world. We can only change ourselves." I know for a fact that Stephan would add to this "but you can make it better" and of course that would probably be summed up in "changing yourself".
If you bought this book in the hopes that it was a scholarly book you should've referred to page 10 in the Introduction, "This book is not primarily a work of academic scholarship...The format and style of this book are rather more simple than those of my other books, even simpler than I like. The reason for this is that the book aspires to serve as an introduction to the subject." However, this does not make the book useless! If you want scholarship read Pagels, Jonas, Rudolph, Ehrman, or any of the authors that he gave in his "Gnostic Reading List" at the end of the book for further study.
If however, you want to "wade in the shallows of this deep subject called Gnosticism" and find out how a modern day Gnostic Bishop applies these Ancient concepts and beliefs in today's world, you should buy this book.
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