Gnosticism and the History of Religions

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
David G. Robertson
Scientific Studies of Religion: Inquiry and Explanation
  • New York: 
    Bloomsbury Academic
    , September
     2021.
     240 pages.
     $115.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9781350137691.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

Building on critical work in biblical studies, which shows how a historically-bounded heretical tradition called Gnosticism was 'invented', this work focuses on the following stage in which it was "essentialised" into a sui generis, universal category of religion. At the same time, it shows how Gnosticism became a religious self-identifier, with a number of sizable contemporary groups identifying as Gnostics today, drawing on the same discourses.

This book provides a history of this problematic category, and its relationship with scholarly and popular discourse on religion in the twentieth century. It uses a critical-historical method to show how and why Gnosis, Gnostic and Gnosticism were taken up by specific groups and individuals - practitioners and scholars - at different times. It shows how ideas about Gnosticism developed in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholarship, drawing from continental phenomenology, Jungian psychology and post-Holocaust theology, to be constructed as a perennial religious current based on special knowledge of the divine in a corrupt world.

David G. Robertson challenges how scholars interact with the category Gnosticism, and contributes to our understanding of the complex relationship between primary sources, academics and practitioners in category formation.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

David G. Robertson is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University, UK. He is co-founder of the Religious Studies Project, and co-editor of the journal Implicit Religion. His work applies critical theory to the study of alternative and emerging religions, "conspiracy theory" narratives and the disciplinary history of the study of religions. He is the author of UFOs, the New Age and Conspiracy Theories (Bloomsbury, 2016) and co-editor of After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies (2016) and the Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion (2018).

Comments

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.