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📙 Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (Numen Book Series, 70) by Guy Stroumsa — free download


Interested readers will mull the provocative suggestions and assertions contained in this comprehensive agenda. Stroumsa, generally speaking, mounts a convincing exposition of his basic thesis. The present reviewer would agree that esotericism--in the sense of a restrictive, private oral exposition of written scriptures that is handed down from teacher to student--does play a demonstrable role in the earliest layers of Christian literature: the very concept of an "apostolic succession," and the latter's social significance in the formation of early Christian communities, would be otherwise meaningless. Such teachings probably undergird the production of the many surviving apocryphal gospels, acts, and apocalypses. Once scribalized, they in turn augment and reinforce the authority of the group possessing them, while simultaneously encouraging the growth of new oral traditions for self-elucidation. But I disagree with Stroumsa regarding a posited ossification of interpretive traditions in "gnostic myth." The exegetical traditions are certainly there, remythologized, but they in turn now become the focus of expository attention by subsequent generations of tradents. One need only point to the growing evidence for the continuing vitality of gnostic mythemes within the biblically based religions long after the supposed demise of so-called classical gnosticism; such longevity would seem to require the existence of a living (esoteric) interpretive tradition.

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