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Iamblichus' De Mysteriis: A Manifesto of the Miraculous (Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies) Hardcover – 28 Aug 2001

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'In this meticulous study of the De Mysteriis Emma Clarke argues convincingly that Iamblichean theurgy cannot - and should not - be explained as an intellectual enterprise: theurgy was not a calculus of abstractions but a discipline of not-knowing that initiated its adepts into miraculous encounters with the gods. For those interested in theurgic states of ecstasy and possession, Clarke s lucidly written book will be required reading.' ----- Gregory Shaw, Stonehill College, USA

'Emma C. Clarke has written an important and deceptively provocative book... [a] fine book... Clarke forces us to confront our own limitations in trying to reenter the thought world of someone like Iamblichus.' ----- Ancient Philosophy

About the Author

Emma C. Clarke, Latymer School, London, UK

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sober scholarly objective new look at this important document. 30 Jan. 2006
By Sky Dragon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Scholarly yet easy to read, detailed yet fascinating, this short book helped me to fathom Iamblichus' difficult text. The author extracts key passages and content to create a description of Iamblichus' pratical ideas about religion and spiritual practice as essentially a consitent form of magic, contrary to attempts to portray him as either a rationalist on the one hand or merely superstitious on the other.

Iamblichus' work from about 300 A.D. is a defense of pagan religious theology and worship against rationalist/materialist attacks. However, it is a hard read for a contemporary person trying to understand his ideas of religious practice. Clarke slices it up and chews it for the modern reader.

One quibble: in the introduction, Clarke seems to have a Christian reference frame and attributes aspects of Iamblichus' ideas she sees as positive to Christian influence, e.g. the emphasis on experience of the divine over philosophy and learning.

I believe this is patently false, that pagan religion had a long history of divine revelatory experience, as in the mystery religions that strongly influenced neo-platonists including Iamblichus. In fact any examinition of history shows Christianity inherits ideas from the ancient mystery religions and the Platonists, and not the other way around. Clarke seems to be writing with the agenda of a Christian polemicist who approves of Iamblichus because he appears to echo some Christian values and so shows the influence of Christianity on the pagans.

Nevertheless, this agenda does not intrude on the clarity of the reading of Iamblichus, and Clarke's apparent faith enables her to take seriously Iamblichus' supernatural beliefs in a way a sceptical scholar might find difficult.
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