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Litwa Expands on the Hermetic Reception
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We have a bit more discussion with Dr Litwa, exploring his take on the question of Hermetic communities in antiquity, the reception of the Hermetica in antiquity and beyond (and the irresponsible but irresistible question of why Clement and Origen don’t mention Hermes), the dating of the theoretical Hermetica (third and fourth centuries, for the most part), and more.
M. David Litwa is Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. He has published widely, in particular contributing a number of incredibly useful translations from the Greek and book-length studies on divinisation in multiple historical contexts.
See his website, or the notes to Episode 107 of the podcast, for some of his many delicious publications. In this episode we cite, additionally,
- M. D. Litwa. How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2019.
November 18, 2020
Litwa provides superb broad ranging historical perspectives. Have appreciated his variety of brain twisting in his scholarship, particularly as it pertains to early Christianity. Great interview skills Earl…
November 25, 2020
It may be personally taste, but this interview wasn’t nearly irresponsible enough 🙂
I’ve been reading up on the Shabaka Stone
(c700 bce) which present the henoistic philosophy of Memphis, namely that of Ptah (the “pt” in Egypt), the god of design and craft, which is presented as the logo-istic source of all gods. This Shakaba stone, erected by a black Pharaoh celebrating the reuniting of Egypt, has lines like:
“Thoth came into being in him as Ptah. Life power came into being in the heart and by the tongue and in all limbs, in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart) is in all bodies and it (the tongue) is in every mouth of all gods, all men, all flocks, all creeping things and whatever lives ; thinking whatever the heart wishes and commanding whatever the tongue wishes”
“Thus the gods entered into their bodies of every kind of wood, of every kind of stone, of every kind of clay, in every kind of thing that grows upon him in which they came to be. Thus all the gods and their kas were gathered to him, content and united with the Lord of the Two Lands.”
Now, it would be irresponsible to say that Pythagoras probably came upon this when he was studying in Memphis — and may even have authored protohermetic treatises. Fine. In contrast, it is not at all irresponsible to communicate an open-ended narrative that there seem to be strong pre-Christian, native Egyptian philosophical influences on the hermetica. So, for my taste, I’d like to see just a tiny bit more irresponsibility.
With thanks and appreciation to Litwa!
(More in Bodine, J. J. (2009). The shabaka stone: an introduction. Studia Antiqua, 7(1), 3.)