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The Way of Hermes: New Translations of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

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  • Posted November 21, 2011

    A manageable introduction to the complex world of Hermeticism

    Hermeticism conjures up a wide variety of images and notions for people and this book goes a long way to dispel any naïve ideas of what Hermeticism is and offer an insight into the original texts that form the Corpus Hermeticum; the body of work composed in Alexandria around the time of Christ. Antoine Faivre, one of the leading scholars in the field of Western esotericism defines Hermetism as directly relating to the Corpus Hermeticum and Hermeticism including that but extending beyond into the realm of alchemy and more modern esoteric thought. This is an important distinction as the two terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The Corpus Hermeticum derives its name from Hermes Trismegistus, the supposed author of the Corpus Hermeticum and who until the seventeenth century was believed to be a real historical figure contemporary with Moses. While few still hold to this idea the knowledge contained within the texts is powerful and can be read again and again. The similarity between the description of Christ in the Gospel of John as the Word and the description of Poimandres as Nous in the first book of this work is interesting and points to the popularity of Logos theology in Alexandria at this time. The accusation that the author of the Gospel of John borrowed these terms from Greek philosophy or Hermetism is a contentious one and worth further investigation. Anyway, a great book and while some of the terms are hard to grasp in the beginning it¿s worth the effort.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hermetism

    Heretism is a fascinating religion! I personally am one to read primary texts and in this case I would be extremely cautious about secondary. There were a lot of misconceptions about Hermetism in the Rennaissance era, so you've got to be careful on the accuracy of a secondary text. This work is one of two halves of the primary texts. The other half would be the technical Hermetica, which is hard to find in English & is also the cause of the misconceptions since they only considered that half. Hermetism falls into the broad category of Gnosticism, even though it is a Pagan form of it. It is highly based in Greek philosophical traditions (as you can tell when reading this). I did a 25 page research paper on Hermetism for a very high level Gnosticism class. There are Ancient Egyptian roots to it, but it is still a very Alexandrian (Greek) movement. They've combined Thoth and Hermes to form Hermes Trismegistus (meaning 3 the greatest), different from both yet similar. He has three levels to him (hence Tris). On the surface it's hard to see how he is called Hermes at all, or how he was associated with Thoth!

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