Phenomena Magazine has the first reviews of Lost Teachings of the Cathars and Secret History of the Gnostics
Title: The Secret History of The Gnostics
Author: Andrew Philip Smith
This first class new book is one of several dealing with the ever-mysterious and poorly understood subject of Gnosticism. The difference is that this one is actually both readable and extremely informative. In fact the author shows in the first few pages just how Gnostic beliefs have percolated their way into mainstream culture via a variety of unlike sources. Chief amongst these has been in literary works like, amongst others, Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ and in iconic films like the ‘Matrix’ series. The author also (and very helpfully) explains exactly what is meant by ‘Gnostic’ and ‘Gnosticism’, which at its core is the desire of the individual to discover his own personal God and develop his own view of reality. Also covered are the horrendous trials and tribulations faced by the early Gnostics like the Cathars and the Bogomils, both of whom were ruthlessly suppressed by the Catholic Church in a spectacularly brutal fashion, much as some branches of Islam still viciously persecute those who disagree with their teachings. The fact that Gnosticism still survives in various forms today is a testament to its open and fair minded approach to spirituality; which the book explains (especially their beliefs and traditions) in fascinating detail. This book is a splendid introduction for anyone wishing to increase their understanding of the subject and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Title: The Lost Teachings of The Cathars
Author: Andrew Philip Smith
This important, new, scholarly and eminently readable book from Andrew Philip Smith is designed as a companion piece to equally fascinating, ‘The Secret History of The Gnostics’ from the same author. In this book, Smith achieves the difficult feat of rendering a work that is both well-researched and informative, but at the same time eminently approachable. The author takes the reader on a fascinating journey of exploration and succeeds in revealing the truth about the Cathars and how they functioned, but also shows in unflinching detail the vicious and spiteful suppression they suffered at the hands of an embittered medieval Catholic Church. From what the author reveals this is hardly surprising, since, by their simple piety, the Cathars offered both another interpretation of scripture and simultaneously just how corrupt, venal and hypocritical the medieval Catholic Church actually was. The author traces the history of the Cathars and their dualistic beliefs from their Mandean and Bogomil origins to their final, bloody denouement following a lengthy crusade against them at their mountaintop fortress of Montsegeur. Although this event more or less finished them as an organised group, oddly enough some of their customs still find resonances with other, single minded religious sects such as Opus Dei and rather more worryingly, Islamic factions like ISIS and al Qaeda. This book makes a vital contribution to the corpus of knowledge about the mysteries and practises of the Cathars and richly deserves a place in the bookshelf of anyone who desires a deeper knowledge of this group.