Long before there was a system of belief called Gnosticism there were those who reached for a special intimate knowledge of God and His mysterious ways. The possession of such knowledge, they believed, would bring salvation from suffering.
All religious traditions acknowledged that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations they offer for this imperfection - and in what they suggest might be done about it. While many religionists hold that humans are to be blamed for these imperfections, the Gnostics believed that the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner, thereby implicating the creator. Such a perspective was regarded as blasphemous by fellow-Christians at the dawn of the new religion, and led to the sect's persecution. Equally concerning were the Gnostics' liberal views regarding sex, the role of women, and toleration of other faiths.
In The Essence of the Gnostics Bernard Simon offers a fascinating insight into this ancient and yet in many ways surprisingly contemporary faith, and explores the reasons for its current renaissance.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Gnosticism Defined 15
Chapter 2 Mystery Religions 33
Chapter 3 The Creation Myths 53
Chapter 4 Gnosticism as Christian Heresy 69
Chapter 5 The Personalities of Gnosticism 91
Chapter 6 Gnostic Texts 117
Chapter 7 Sophia, her Magic and the Serpent 137
Chapter 8 Persecution and Propaganda 157
Chapter 9 Towards the Present Time 183
Chapter 10 Gnostics and Gnosticism Today 203
Bibliography and Reading List 225