We discuss the extraordinary late-antique novel of the early Christian church at Rome, known as the Pseudo-Clementine literature. Gnosticism, Jewish-Christianity, esotericism, scriptural and other forgery, and the problem of authenticity itself loom large as we quite improperly discuss a text meant only for true initiates.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Gnosticism"
Our interview with Charles Häberl gets some extra time, and we explore the life and work of the contemporary scholar of a living Gnostic tradition, with the challenges, pitfalls, and huge opportunities furnished by that job-description. Along the way we look at aspects of the Mandæan community in diaspora, introduce the Sabæans, and address the question of Mandæan esotericism.
Episode 155: Charles Häberl on the Mandæans
In one of the single most fascinating interviews we have ever had the pleasure of conducting, we speak with Charles Häberl on the Mandæans, a living religious tradition of Mesopotamia, now largely living in a global diaspora, which is the single Gnostic religion surviving from late antiquity. Forget Nag-Hammadi; it's all about San Antonio.
We go through a number of case-studies of early Christian magic with Korshi Dosoo. Come for the queer Christian love-spell and unlooked-for cameo appearance by the Gnostic Barbelo, stay for the Satan-Unicorn.
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we explore the world of first-millennium Christian magic as it is found in the papyrus-records, both published and unpublished.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 147: Daniel James Waller on the Jewish Incantation-Bowls
We dive more deeply into the enigmatic corpus of late-antique Jewish ‘incantation bowls’ from Mesopotamia with the help of researcher Daniel Waller. We discuss the bowls as material objects, functional technology, and their place in late-antique Jewish culture.
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 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.
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.
We discuss the question of who might have written the Anonymous, and the possible ramifications that might have on the relationships between Sethian Gnosticism and Platonist philosophy in late antiquity. Another one for the hardcore.
We introduce an enigmatic text, the anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides, and discuss why it, and its noetic triad of hyparxis, noēsis, and zōē, have so many scholars of Platonism and Platonistic religious currents arguing and causing a fuss.
In the first part of a two-part episode we explore the textual, theological, and other intricacies of interpreting the ‘fifth gospel’ with Ivan Miroshnkov, Coptologue, historian, and man of parts. Featuring a cameo appearance by ABBA.
We ask Jason BeDuhn some responsible and irresponsible questions about Mani and Manichæism, in which it emerges that the Religion of Light was a much more positive, even world-affirming faith than is commonly thought.
Episode 123: Jason BeDuhn on Mani and Manichæism
We discuss one of the most anomalous, vexing, and fascinating religious movements in history, the first to span east and west, the elusive but crucial Manichæism, and its prophet, the great Apostle of Light, Mani. The eternal struggle between light and darkness is on, and minds will be blown.
A leading scholar of the interconnections between Plotinus' thought and the thought of the Gnostics whom he disliked so much, Jean-Marc Narbonne discusses some of the Plotinian texts and ideas which make more sense if we see them in dialogue with the Gnostics.
Episode 118: Dylan Burns on Sethian Gnosticism
We discuss the Platonistic Sethian tractates and the movements which lay behind them with Copticist and scholar of Platonistic esotericism Dylan Burns. Ancient texts, methodological distinctions, cosmic catastrophe, and salvation abound.
Episode 109: Christian Bull on the Way of Hermes in Antiquity
In our final episode in the Hermetica series, we discuss the way of Hermes in antiquity with Christian Hervik Bull. Come for the renunciation, immortalisation, and hypercosmic ascent, stay for the animated statues.
We continue reading, with C.H. VI-X posing all manner of baffling interpretive questions, as well as some of the most inspiring and gorgeous religious ideas from antiquity. Come for god as the hyperessential good, stay for the noetic garments of fire.
In the first of a two-part episode, we read through Book V of Clement's Stromateis, which contains, among other things, perhaps the fullest surviving exposition on types of esoteric discourse from antiquity. Come for the ainigmata and symbola, stay for Abraham the astrologer.
The surviving oeuvre of Clement of Alexandria hides some complicated textual issues. In this episode, not for the fainthearted, we discuss the various lost works, fragments, and alleged forgeries.