Podcast Episodes Themed "Christianity"

Episode 153: Korshi Dosoo on Early Christian Magic

With papyrologist Korshi Dosoo as our guide, we explore the world of first-millennium Christian magic as it is found in the papyrus-records, both published and unpublished. Along the way we learn more about Christianity than we expected.

Episode 152: Prolegomena to Christian Magic

We set the stage for an examination of early Christian magical traditions, starting from the authoritative writings of the church fathers, who deny that there is such a thing as Christian magic, and insist that polytheist religion is the real sorcery. Then it turns out that there is lots and lots of Christian magic from late antiquity.

Episode 145: Thinking through Monotheism, Henotheism, Polytheism, and Dualism in Late Antiquity

We wander through a bunch of important (but mushy) ideas helpful for understanding late antiquity and late-antique religion: monotheism, henotheism, polytheism, and dualism. Featuring the triumphant return of Rupert and Steve, and they brought some friends.

Episode 144: Politics and Religion in Late Antiquity, Part II: The Rise of Christianity and the Invention and Eclipse of ‘Paganism’

We dive into the history of late-antique Rome from the perspective of Jews, Christians, ‘pagans’, ‘heretics’, and others vis à vis the Roman state, and give some partial explanations for how the ‘impossible’ happened, and the Empire became the Christian Empire.

Episode 143: Politics and Religion in Late Antiquity, Part I: Geopolitics, Empire, and Rabbinic Judaism

At the end of the the third century, the podcast dives back into the realm where politics meets religion. In Part I, we discuss the geopolitical balance of the Roman and Sassanian states, the position of the Jews in late antiquity, and the basics of the future of Jewry, a new form of Jewish life and religion known as Rabbinic Judaism.

Episode 132: Astral Accretions, Fate, and the Resurrection-Body: Other Subtle Bodies of Antiquity

We discuss other subtle-body theories in antique esoteric literature from the Hermetica, the Platonists, Basilides, Origen, and other esoteric Christians, looking at theories of astral accretions, counterfeit spirits, resurrection-bodies, and more.

Episode 128: Porphyry and the Barbarians: Ethnicity, Religious Practice, and Esoteric Interpretation

We get into Porphyry's reception of Greek and non-Greek wisdom, and the ways in which esoteric truth is to be found in various cultural locales. We also discuss the one place where it is most definitely not to be found: Christianity.

Anna van den Kerchove Hermeticises Further

We ask Anna van den Kerchove some seriously irresponsible questions about ancient Hermetism, the fate of the Hermetica, and the intellectual milieu of late antiquity (and even the second century). She answers with both scholarly care and aplomb.

The Ascension of Isaiah and the Second-Century Christian Esoteric

We examine the Ascension of Isaiah, an important Jewish-Christian apocalypse of the second century with a long history in later esoteric Christianities. The text gives us important insights into the struggles within the early church for authority between visionary, prophetic inspiration and hierarchical canonicity, and the ways in which the early church dealt with the inconvenient fact that the Rapture hadn't happened according to schedule. It also presents a deluxe terrain of angelic palaces and thrones, themes of descent and ascent, and some juicy details relating to ascent as a spiritual practice in antiquity.

Episode 81: Warfaring Strangers: Prolegomena to Second-Century Christianity

We take a deep breath before diving into detailed discussions of early esoteric Christianities to consider a few key terms and their historical development. What was orthodoxy? What was heresy? Who were the heresiologists, and what were they doing?

Episode 80: Michael Williams on the Trouble with ‘Gnosticism’

Professor Michael Williams leads us on a tour of ‘Gnosticism’, both as a term (used and misused by ancient heresiologists, Reformation-era polemicists, modern scholars, and even modern ‘Gnostics’) and as a group of late-ancient religious texts which are very, very interesting, but which should probably not be called ‘Gnostic’.

Episode 73: Ineffable Initiations and Golden Asses: Apuleius of Madauros and the Metamorphoses

Apuleius was a great Latin-language Middle Platonist writer, whose works preserve some fascinating esoteric materials which had a major impact on the development of western esotericism in the Latin middle ages and beyond. We introduce the man and his famous occult novel, the Metamorphoses, or Golden Ass.

The Esoteric New Testament, Part III: John and Apocalypse

We turn to our most esoteric evangelist, John, and discuss his many writings, two of which – the Gospel and Apocalypse – have left an indelibly esoteric character on Christianity. Come for the logos-theology, stay from the Beast whose number is 666.

The Esoteric New Testament, Part I: The Gospel of Mark

In a three-part episode, we explore the writings known as the New Testament, looking for traces of the esoteric. As it turns out, this collection is full of promising material for developing an esoteric religious movement. We start with the Gospel of Mark and its theme of the ‘Messianic secret’.

Episode 64: The Enigma of Early Christianity

We introduce Christianity. Just how did this movement get started in the first place? The crazy thing is, no one knows.