Hans Jonas. All investigations of detail over the last half century have proved divergent rather than convergent, and leave us with a portrait of Gnosticism in which the absence of a unifying character seems to be the salient feature' - Hans Jonas, Preface, No modern writer that I am aware of has brought life to Gnosticism as Jonas has. While in no way neglecting historical or theological issues, Jonas didn't get bogged down in them: he insisted on revealing the existential import of Gnosticism. Indeed, at the end of this book he explores the commonalities of ancient Gnosticism and Heidegger's existentialism.
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Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The existentialist bent--Jonas a student of Martin Heidegger--makes an interesting contrast to Pagel's more orthodox view of gnostic religion as theistic. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 16th by Beacon Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Although enough information has come to light to cast Martin Heidegger's qualities as a human being in doubt, there is little question but that many of his students—schooled by his powerful mind to explore the subtle immensities of phenomenology, ontology, and metaphysics in the early-to-mid twentieth century—went on to become influential and powerful thinkers themselves.
In this powerful, illuminating work, Jonas traces the directions of classical western thought in the centuries prior to the birth of Christ, a period in which Greek-centred Hellenism spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern world, working its way into the cultural and belief systems that had preceded it as Greek itself became the language of choice for serious discourse.
The intermingling of Greek rationality and philosophy with the rich mythological tapestries of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Persia—combined with the massive upheavals and destruction that accompanied the setting up of two colossal, antagonistic empires, Roman and Parthian, as masters of the settled world—produced a ferment of new religious and philosophical notions, an intricately creative cauldron in which roiled many of the ideas that provided the base material with which the road towards the modern world has been paved.
Jonas aimed for an even mix of the Iranian and Syrian-Egyptian types in the six principal systems he examines, even including a pagan gnostic belief in the Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus.
The most detailed exegesis is performed upon the highest-deemed representatives of the two strands: the Valentinian Speculation for the S-E and Manicheanism for the Iranian. The final chapters compare Gnostic virtues—in libertinism and a more prevalent asceticism— against those of classical Greece and Christianity, explore the minimal amounts of the Nag Hammadi discovery then available a complete tome of Gnostic writings in Coptic which was only partially translated at the time of the printing of Jonas' revised second edition , and conclude with an epilogue comparing Gnosticism with Existentialism—focussing on Heidegger's early work in Being and Time —that is worth the price of the book alone.
Then, as now, the terror and dread that bears down upon the naked soul when belief in the unity of man with nature—a unity that is grounded in the infinite—is shattered by the ever-anew anxieties of the unsettled and unsettling present , a now in which neither guilt nor hope can dampen the flames of an existence that appears alone and isolated, will cause the afflicted to seek answers inward, away from the cold and unfathomable world.
In the gnostic dawn, postulating a divinity beyond all comprehension seemed a rational response to the apparent irrationality of a suddenly menacing and hardscrabble environment. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the manner in which Jesus Christ is re-invented as an incarnation of the Unknown Divinity's essence, sent to impart to man the gnosis that will reveal the ignorant materiality of the natural world; thus Christ's tribulations were to impede the success of his mission to educate man, whereas in Christian soteriology Christ's tribulations were the very means with which he would redeem the sins of a fallen mankind.
In Gnosticism, original sin is non-existent, the God of Eden being the deceiving and jealous Demiurge, the serpent but one of the manifestations of this Jesus incarnate who braves the dangers of the Archons and their darkness in an effort to make man aware of the Alien God; an entity unknown and unknowable despite the fact his divinity, existent in the pneuma of every man and woman, is the path to salvation by way of a post-cosmic reunion of the pneuma with the infinite Divine Light.
As the Demiurge has often been identified with the Old Testament God, the Gnostics were from the start in opposition to Judaism and Christianity; and yet its dualistic structure, rich mythology, and inspired metaphysics and soteriology has had a vast influence upon religious, philosophical, and political thought, and has continued to exert a fascination upon people, from a variety of cultural backgrounds, through to today. Although criticized as being dated due to the subsequent information made available through the completed translations of the Nag Hammadi discoveries, The Gnostic Religion is brilliantly written and clearly explained, and the linkage made between this ancient dualism and modern nihilism provides a unique lens for interpretation.
This wonderful book is a keeper, a tome I will be dipping into and refreshing myself with over time—for without embracing their eschatology, I can't but agree with the central Gnostic premise: knowledge is indeed the spark that kindles the flames of a very human passion; the boundless curiosity to explore the world and try to make sense out of all that the senses reveal. View all 8 comments. This book caught my attention at some point in the past. Then it was mentioned again recently in another book I'm reading, so I thought to look it up in the school library, and behold it was there.
So I read it. Fascinating genesis story about my coming to read this book aside, I'm going to add another one, because this is about all these different Gnostic views of the world, and they are not a real group of views, but competing attempts at mythologizing the Judeo-Christian, or monotheistic reli This book caught my attention at some point in the past.
Fascinating genesis story about my coming to read this book aside, I'm going to add another one, because this is about all these different Gnostic views of the world, and they are not a real group of views, but competing attempts at mythologizing the Judeo-Christian, or monotheistic religions at the time. So this second genesis story is that Dan Mother Fucking Brown is coming out with his new piece of conspiracy swill this week and I got such a hard on thinking that once again we will discover the truth in Mr.
Browns books that I ran out early and picked up a book on secret religions and read it like a maniac while jacking off with my free hand at the excitement Mr. Brown brings to me. Also if I waited a week later every other douchebag I mean serious reader, will also be once again engrossed in Gnostic-esque books and I'd look like a bandwagon jumper.
If the bible can have two genesis accounts than so can I. I found this book pretty interesting, but since I was reading it casually not taking notes, or any of that shit , there were parts of the book that are just a mess in my head. Joas likes jumping different 'religions' sects? This is kind of interesting stuff to me, the difference the view of the individual in Greek thought, the shift from the Polis to Cosmopolitanism and it's ramifications on what is thought of as the individual, the public and the private spheres, and how all of this goes to differences in shaping mytho-centric metaphysical views of creation and the cosmos.
This book goes to show how certain Greek ideas run through all of the different attempts at metaphysics of the time on metaphysics, couldn't New Age people have not picked up this word and tried to make it their own.
Couldn't they have just called their stuff Dopey Shit, and left metaphysics to philosophy. Philosophy does have the fucking squatter rights on the term since it's the name of one of Aristotle's books from years ago and all. The keeper of the morons and haters of books. The overseerer of believers of Dopey Shit, so it will be done. I don't know what I was talking about. Oh something about different views of the world, metaphysically.
It's interesting shit at trying to grapple with obvious problems in the simplistic and kind of contradictory Moses explanation of the beginning of the world.
Why are there two stories? Well some of the sects talked about in this book have a good reason for it, most of them though just tack on lots and lots of stuff before whatever it is that makes the person known as Adam occur. There are battles between light and darkness, fucked up attempts and creation, a God who doesn't give a shit about what happens, the blind crazy god one normally thinks of as the creator of our world when one thinks of gnostic world creation, a poor female named Sophia who just creates everything out of a fucked up attempt at emulating the original creator, a God thrown into the darkness and trapped in our world now covered in all of the muck and filth of non-pure being, and lots more little tales some of these are from the same story, some from different ones, there are lots of them.
What I like about these stories are they are serious attempts at trying to give some kind of meaning to the darkness of the world. Instead of just shrugging while making a silly face to the question of why there is evil in the world if God is all good, and saying "He works in mysterious ways! I'm growing tired of writing this review. Maybe I will return to it. The book is interesting. It's interesting especially in light of my pop-knowledge of the subject, and realizing that the stuff that Mr.
Brown has popularized is kind of a watered down version of what Gnostic thought actually was or maybe not, as I hadn't read much about this prior to this book, and knew most of what I knew from the back of books and from other reputable sources, my knowledge of Mr. Brown and his books is also derived from similar means. I haven't read any of them. I haven't seen the movies. I read a few pages of the book Mr. Brown wrote about some painting and the church and it hurt me by how simplistically the page I read was written.
So I take it back. I read one page of Mr. Brown's work , and that the real nuances and differences between these different views of the world are pretty interesting. Will I go out and buy a book with all of the works mentioned in here in translation?
Probably not. If you have read this far I thank you, sorry this didn't turn out to be informative. I hope you at least got a chuckle out of the dick and retard jokes. View all 9 comments. Jan 01, India Marie Clamp rated it really liked it Shelves: divinity.
Gnostic religion is not a commonplace nor mediocre subject in which to delve for anything termed as casual reading. Gnosticism is to a seeing divine on the right and on the left a blind demiurge. You see, O child, through how many bodies [elements? What Marcion Hans Jonas is brilliant in his methodology to engage the reader and cause erudition in modern terminology, ideas and examples.
Plentiful and symphonic in its use of cadence to indulge the senses of a presumed forgotten religion. Jonas blends the doctrines of the East and West, thus giving us sarkic, hylic and pneumatic examples of the soul.
View 1 comment. Jan 30, Jason Ross rated it really liked it. This is a very academic treatment of Gnosticism, but one that has endured through three editions. Such a lifespan is exceedingly rare for an academic book, and surprising for a book so technical in its treatment of such an arcane topic. Interest in the Gnostic religion transcends academia.
The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity
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Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email. In any conflict it is the victorious party that writes the history, and, particularly if the issue is religion, the record of the opposition is either wholly effaced or survives only in the aspect given it by its enemies. So it has been with the Gnostics, whose doctrines could be reconstructed only from attacks made upon them by certain Church Fathers who wrote while Gnosticism was a present danger.
The Gnostic Religion
Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in , which may have disturbed Jonas, as he was Jewish and an active Zionist. Certainly, in Jonas would repudiate his mentor Heidegger, for his affiliation with the Nazis. He left Germany for England in , and from England he moved to Palestine in There he met Lore Weiner , to whom he became betrothed. He was sent to Italy , and in the last phase of the war moved into Germany. Thus, he kept his promise that he would return only as a soldier in the victorious army. In this time he wrote several letters to Lore about philosophy, in particular philosophy of biology, that would form the basis of his later publications on the subject.