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Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing

Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing [Kindle Edition]

Stephan A. Hoeller
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Gnosticism developed alongside Judeo-Christianity over two thousand years ago, but with an important difference: It emphasizes, not faith, but direct perception of God--Gnosticism being derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning "knowledge." Given the controversial premise that one can know God directly, the history of Gnosticism is an unfolding drama of passion, political intrigue, martyrdom, and mystery. Dr. Hoeller traces this fascinating story throughout time and shows how Gnosticism has inspired such great thinkers as Voltaire, Blake, Yeats, Hesse, Melville, and Jung.


Spiritual seekers don't need to look to the East; inspiration is right here at home. Derived from the Greek word for 'knowledge' or 'insight', a Gnostic is one who seeks direct experience of Divinity. Refuting the notion that no coherent set of Gnostic beliefs exists, this authoritative introduction reveals Gnosticism as the indigenous mystical tradition of the West and considers its message to Judeo-Christianity in the twenty-first century.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 692 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books; 1 edition (13 Dec 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AY469JI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #299,563 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling defense of Gnosticism for our era 28 Aug 2010
Far from being a mere overview of the history of the heterogeneous ancient Gnostic movement, Gnostic polemist Stephan Hoeller puts forward a compelling case for the relevance of Gnosticism today.

A skillful blend of history, esotericism and spiritual insight, Stephan Hoeller reveals the limitation of the orthodox Christian and Jewish world view and proposes the Gnostic alternative with simplicity and poise. Emphasizing the need for each and every one of us to transcend our limitations and those of our imperfect world with the aid of the great spiritual advanced beings of all cultures (especially Jesus), Hoeller proves the relevance of the myths, sacraments, depth psychology as espoused by the Jungian school and an enlightened spirituality in our secularized world.

A brilliant introduction to a cherished spiritual tradition that deserves to be heard.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book that falls between two stools 6 Jan 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was written, I believe, to be a general introduction to Gnosticism for people with no prior understanding. It is very good in that it does give a brief overview of the major concepts that Gnosticism entails as well as similarly brief overviews of the major Gnostic sects that have appeared through out history.
On the negative side, the book is brief, after all it is only an introduction, and will need to be supplemented by other reading before a modern reader can get a true idea of what Gnosticism was in history, and is today. I would reccomend supplementary readings of "The Allure of Gnosticism" Ed Robert Segal, for an overview of Gnosticism from a genererally psychoanalytic, Jungian perspective, and Elaine Pagels "The Gnostic Gospels" for a scholarly, but very readable treatment of the ancient gnostic literature. I would genuinely suggest a modern beginner should read this supplementary work before launching into a reading of the Nag Hammadi Books because they are confusing and off-putting until you can approach them with a good idea of the "Inner language" or jargon of the times.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rediscovery of ancient wisdom 27 Dec 2003
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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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gnosticism at its best 23 Jun 2003
This is the BEST book a Gnostic wannabe might want to start from. It covers a little bit of everything. This is definetily THE book to own about Gnosticism.
From the myths of the early Christian Gnostics to the modern Gnostic thoughts that are spread through the world(although some hidden) this books has it all. The Gnostic views on Jesus, the various Gnostic "groups" that existed and some still exist. Their works, beliefs, sacraments.
really, REALLY GOOD!!
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacklustre and Dull 8 Jan 2004
By A Customer
Perhaps I have been spoilt by having read many far better books on Gnosticism, because I found myself nodding off frequently over this lacklustre volume. The author's heavy Jungian slant is speculative at best, and struck me as anachronistic. I also found the book somewhat slanted in favour of the religious sect its author leads - it is important to bear in mind that millennial revivalism is unlikely to bear much resemblance to the persecuted groups of early centuries.
As an introductory 'dummies' (albeit short on entertainment) text, the book is dull but usable, but it has little to offer those with some prior knowledge.
If you were going to read only one book on Gnosticism, you could do far worse than snap up Elaine Pagels' superb introduction "The Gnostic Gospels", (also available from Amazon), which offers highly readable yet scholarly coverage which could leave no reader disappointed.
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