Fortress Press

Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature

Ancient Gnosticism

Traditions and Literature

Birger A. Pearson (Author)


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Even as public interest is attracted to this esoteric religion, Escholars have debated its origins, its relationship to Judaism and Christianity, and even whether one distinctive and separate Gnostic "religion" ever existed. Birger Pearson's expert and accessible introduction brings the reader into the debate. Directly addressing the nettling questions of origins and definition, Pearson situates the advent of Gnosticism within the Greco-Roman religious world and critically appraises the sources. With illustrations, maps, timeline, and bibliography, Pearson's volume facilitates the pursuit of gnosis, at least historically, by general readers, students and scholars alike.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9780800632588
  • Format Paperback
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 378
  • Publication Date June 21, 2007


A useful introduction ... a judicious treatment of numerous thorny issues."
– Harold Attridge, Yale Divinity School

Table of Contents

  1. The Earliest Gnostic Teachers
  2. "Sethian" or Classic Gnosticism
  3. The Gnostic Gospels
  4. Basilides and Gnosticism
  5. Valentinus and Gnosticism
  6. "Three-Principle" Systems
  7. Coptic Gnostic Writings of Uncertain Affiliation
  8. Hermes Trismegistus and Hermetic Gnosis
  9. Mani and Manichaeism
  10. The Mandaeans: Surviving Relic of Ancient Gnosis
Epilogue: The Persistence of Gnosticism