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Dylan Burns Ascends to the Plēroma

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NHC Codex VIII in its covers

We continue our discussion about various things Gnostic (some Sethian, some not), concentrating on two main questions: trying to envision what kinds of readership these texts might have had in late antiquity, and what kinds of ritual practices the readership might have been performing. We discuss:

  • The scribal note by the ‘Hermetic scribe’ in NHC VI found between VI 7, The Prayer of Thanksgiving, and VI 8, a Coptic translation of the Greek text Teleios Logos, a.k.a. the Hermetic Asclepius,
  • The question of Sethian ritual, covering the Sethian ‘five seals’ and the question of baptism (and the rejection of water-baptism, also a feature of Manichæism),
  • The Marsanes, the single MS found in NHC X, which is an ancient ‘grimoire’ full of fascinating practical details (but also, unfortunately, of holes in the papyrus and thus in our knowledge), and
  • The question of acquiring visions, illustrated by the texts Zostrianos, Allogenes, and Three Steles of Seth.

Interview Bio:

Dylan Burns is Assistant Professor of the History of Esotericism in Late Antiquity at the University of Amsterdam’s HHP. He is an editor of Brill’s Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies series. His many publications deal with ancient Gnosticism, Platonistic and Platonising religious movements, Platonism and ancient philosophy more generally, as well as the wider field of western esotericism studies. His most recent book at the time of writing is Did God Care? Providence, Dualism, and Will in Later Greek and Early Christian Philosophy.