Andrew’s Comments: This book was an awful lot of work, but it was worth it. I was amazed to discover that no one had never actually made a thorough dictionary of Gnosticism since the nineteenth-century revival of interest in the Gnostics. There are a few brief glossaries and lexicons in the backs of books, but that’s it. (The Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism is an excellent, though expensive, academic tool, but it is an encyclopaedia of the western esoteric tradition in its broadest sense, not a dictionary of Gnosticism.) So I went and did it myself. The resulting book is a really thorough guide to the Nag Hammadi library and ancient Gnosticism but also takes in the Cathars, the Mandaeans, heretical theology, modern Gnostics and Gnostic churches and much more beside. This dictionary will help you understand Gnosticism in a deeper way by giving you the information you need at your fingertips instead of leaving you to wade in a morass of incomprehensible names and academic jargon.
A Dictionary of Gnosticism is a scholarly yet accessible guide that covers the people, mythology, movements, scripture, and technical terms related to this pre-Christian Western religion. It contains nearly 1700 entries, from Aachiaram, an angel in the Secret Book of John to Zostrianos, a third-century Gnostic text, and is a reliable reference for the Nag Hammadi library and other Gnostic texts. An introduction explains who the Gnostics were and provides a whirlwind tour through the history of this captivating movement.
Published November 17 2009 by Quest Books; 296 pages; ISBN-10: 0835608697
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“Andrew Phillip Smith offers us yet another key opportunity to expand our knowledge of Gnosticism. A fascinating, solidly-researched key resource for students, academics, and practitioners alike. A ‘beacon of Light’ for our time! Highly recommended.”
–Dr. Karen Ralls, Oxford, author of The Templars and the Grail
This book is the answer to the prayers of students and practitioners of Gnosticism from far and wide. Andrew Phillip Smith has given us a readable, informative and accurate compendium of words, names and concepts of Gnostic interest that will be welcomed and used abundantly.
—Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller, Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica and author of Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing
Not only is this an excellent aid for anyone trying to make sense out of the complicated cosmologies and scriptures of the ancient Gnostics, but it also provides an overview of gnostic movements and mystics down through the centuries.
“A long-awaited and indispensable grammar of classical Gnosticism – essential for any serious student, and a practical gem for the curious.”
— Jordan Stratford, author of Living Gnosticism
“More than a dictionary for reference and research, this book is an index of ideas and suggestions. Readers interested in Gnosticism and related alternative religions of earlier times will find a whole host of new ideas and leads and directions for further inquiry. Think of the book as a thousand starting points for your explorations into spiritual unknowns!”
—Stevan Davies, Professor of Religious Studies, Misericordia University
‘A Dictionary of Gnosticism is a valuable resource for any student of Gnosis. If you need a helpful translator of the language, or a sympathetic guide to the beliefs of these extraordinary women and men who lived a long time ago, in a world far, far away, then this is the book for you. Think of it as the ‘Lonely Cosmos Guide to Gnosis’, and always pack a copy when you are setting out for that strange and exciting country. Have a great trip!’
—Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy authors of The Jesus Mysteries and The Gospel of the Second Coming.
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