The Gnostic World  book cover
1st Edition

The Gnostic World

ISBN 9781138673939
Published October 11, 2018 by Routledge
716 Pages

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Book Description

The Gnostic World is an outstanding guide to Gnosticism, written by a distinguished international team of experts to explore Gnostic movements from the distant past until today. These themes are examined across sixty-seven chapters in a variety of contexts, from the ancient pre-Christian to the contemporary. The volume considers the intersection of Gnosticism with Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Indic practices and beliefs, and also with new religious movements, such as Theosophy, Scientology, Western Sufism, and the Nation of Islam.

This comprehensive handbook will be an invaluable resource for religious studies students, scholars, and researchers of Gnostic doctrine and history.

Table of Contents


Garry W. Trompf


1. Gnosticism, Gnostics, and Gnosis

Dylan M. Burns

2. "The Gnostic World": A History of Scholarship (until 2000)

Garry W. Trompf

3. Gnostics and Temporality: From Myth to Macrohistory

Garry W. Trompf


4. Ancient Pre-Christian "Gnosticisms": The State of the Questions

Carl B. Smith II

5. The Jewish Background to "Gnosticism": A Guide for the Perplexed

Garry W. Trompf

6. Gnostic Motifs in the New Testament

Pheme Perkins

7. On Ancient "Gnosticism" as a Problematic Category

Michael A. Williams

8. Gender Issues and the Study of Ancient "Gnosticism"

Majella Franzmann

9. The Gnostics in Early Christian Heresiology

Mark Edwards

10. Genres of Gnostic Literature and the "Classical Gnostic" School of Thought

John D. Turner

11. Sethian Gnostic Speculation

John D. Turner

12. Basilides and the Basilidians

Jean-Daniel Dubois

13. Valentinus and the Valentinians

Einar Thomassen

14. Is the Gospel of Thomas Gnostic?

David W. Kim

15. The Gospel of Judas and the Tchacos Codex

Garry W. Trompf and David W. Kim

16. The Mandaeans: Writings, Rituals, and Art

Brikha Nasoraia

17. Hermetism and Gnosticism

Jean-Pierre Mahé

18. Plotinus and the Gnostics

Francis Lacroix and Jean-Marc Narbonne

19. Gnostic Elements in Ancient Magical Papyri

Malcolm Choat

20. Mani’s Life

Iain Gardner

21. The Manichaean Path to Salvation

Jason D. BeDuhn

22. Insight and Means in Chinese Manichaean Texts

Gunner B. Mikkelsen

23. From "Zurvanism" to Mazdak

Garry W. Trompf and Milad Milani

24. Christian Gnosis: From Clement the Alexandrian to John Damascene

Doru Costache

25. Gnostic Vicissitudes in Late Antiquity

Garry W. Trompf

26. Jñāna: Gnostic Tendencies in Early Hinduism and Buddhism

Gregory Bailey

27. The Discourse of Truth in Tiantai Buddhism: "Gnosis Beyond Gnosis"

Haiyan Shen, with Brikha H.S. Nasoraia


28. Questions of Gnostic Influence on Early Islam

John C. Reeves

29. An Agenda for the Study of Early Shiʿi Cosmologies

Mushegh Asatryan

30. Classic Sufism and Gnosis

Milad Milani

31. Ismailism and Gnosis

Farhad Daftary

32. Druze Gnosis and the Mystery of Time

Adnan Kasamanie

33. Gnostic Elements in Yezidism

Victoria Arakelova and Garnik Asatryan

34. Kabbalah and Gnosticism

Michael Schneider

35. Bogomils and Cathars

Zdenko Zlatar

36. Alchemy and Gnosis from Antiquity to Early Modern Times: "As Above so Below"

Peter Marshall

Modern: West, East, and Current Issues

Europe and the West

37. "Gnosis" as Term and Concept in the Esoteric Movements of the Modern West: An Attempt at Periodization

Antoine Faivre

38. Byzantine and Modern Orthodox Gnosis: From the Eleventh to the Twenty-first Century

Doru Costache

39. Pansophia, Christian Kabbalism, and the Quest for Universal Knowledge in the Early Modern West

Garry W. Trompf

40. Freemasonry: Gnostic Images

Garry W. Trompf

41. British Romanticism: Gnostic Longings

William Christie

42. William Blake, the Ancient Gnostics, and the Birth of Modern Gnosticism

Peter Otto

43. Gnosis in the "French Occult Revival" and its Offshoots

Tobias Churton

44. The "Lost Word" Key and Esoteric Eschatology: Blavatsky’s Gnosis the Core of Krishnamurti’s Teaching

Al Boag

45. The Philosophy of Guido von List (1848-1919): Connecting Gnosticism to Nazism

Jeffrey D. Lavoie

46. Rudolf Steiner: Multiple Bodies

Wayne Hudson

47. Gnostic Sensibility in Gurdjieff’s "Work"

Constance A. Jones

48. Western Sufism and Gnosis

Mark Sedgwick

49. Gnosis: A Perennialist Perspective

Harry Oldmeadow

50. Carl Jung on Gnosticism

Robert A. Segal

51. Elevating the Family in the Nation of Islam: Discerning the "Gnostic Factor"

Dennis Walker

East (and Beyond)

52. Inner Tradition: Recovering Christianity of the East

Lynn C. Bauman

53. Gnosis in Bābism and Gnostic Signs in Bābī Talismans

Denis MacEoin

54. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Gnoseology and its Impact on his Political Worldview

Emad Bazzi

55. Syncretistic Sufi Gnosticism in South and Southeast Asia

Clinton Bennett

56. Aurobindo and Supermind

Peter Heehs

57. Of Gnosis in Tribal and "Primal" Cultures

Garry W. Trompf


58. Between the Libertines and the Renunciants: The neo-Gnostic synthesis of Samael Aun Weor

Bernard Doherty

59. Scientology and Gnosticism: L. Ron Hubbard’s "The Factors" (1953)

Donald A. Westbrook and James R. Lewis

60. Gnostic and Esoteric Filaments in Popular Culture

Adam Possamai

61. Feminist Gnosis and Modern Gender Issues

Jay Johnston

62. Modern Psychedelic Gnosis

Christopher Partridge

63. Exposing Gnosticism

Douglas E. Cowan

64. Gnostic Fiction

Carole Cusack

65. Cinema: evil demiurges in Hollywood fi lms at the threshold of the twenty-first century

Fryderyk Kwiatkowski

66. Music and Gnosis

Joscelyn Godwin

67. Aesthetics and Visual Art

Jay Johnston


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Garry W. Trompf is Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, and Adjunct Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, Australia.

Gunner B. Mikkelsen is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Jay Johnston is Associate Professor, School of Literature, Art and Media, University of Sydney, Australia.


"As a new wave of critical scholarship into Gnosticism, ancient and modern, begins, The Gnostic World is the ideal place to get caught up. Impressively combining concise entries on Gnosticisms familiar and unfamiliar, from the early Christianity to medieval Islam, fin de siècle occultists and 21st century cinema, with digestible summaries of the definitional and theoretical controversies, this will be the standard reference work for many years to come." David G. Robertson, The Open University, UK

"The Gnostic World is a comprehensive, ground-breaking presentation of the diverse beliefs, practices, and social formations related to the movements previously known as "Gnostic." In over forty chapters ranging from the ancient world to contemporary culture, international experts address recent controversy regarding the historical reconstruction of such groups while also breaking new ground in following diverse but interconnected literary and intellectual traditions. The result is a major achievement in the comparative study of religions." Paul Dilley, The University of Iowa, USA

"This broad and comprehensive volume not only includes chapters on Gnostic movements in late antiquity, but also covers more recent religions that are structurally similar to ancient Gnosticism, as well as such topics as anti-cult groups and Gnosticism in fiction and music. It will be an invaluable resource for scholars and other interested readers." Olav Hammer, University of Southern, Denmark.

"The Gnostic World is an impressive collection of interdisciplinary studies of Gnosticism, a phenomenon that has intrigued (and often confused) many people from antiquity through today. Written by leading international experts, the volume explores all dimensions of the topic, often with new insights and fascinating cross-references to other cultural phenomena and theoretical discussions. The Gnostic World is an indispensable tool for students of Gnosticism and a milestone of critical research." Kocku von Stuckrad, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.