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 "Origen"
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 141: Brian Alt on Sacred Materials, Divine Names, and Subtle Physiology in Iamblichean Theurgy
We explore the nitty-gritty of the ritual acts lying behind the theoretical discussions in the De mysteriis. Brian Alt is our guide on a journey through Iamblichean theurgy, its many parallels in Hermetica and ‘magical’ papyri from Egypt, and its echoes in earlier and later Platonism.
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.
We discuss the unbelievably-baffling evidence concerning the identity of Origen, student of Ammonius, and his relationship with Plotinus. Two Ammoniuses and two Origens? One Ammonius, two Origens? Or one of each, meaning that the famous father of Christian esotericism was in fact the philosophic colleague of the greatest Platonist of antiquity? We try to present the main evidence and let the gentle listener decide (or decide that we can't decide).
We talk about how Plotinus defined himself and his lineage, versus how modern scholars tend to define these things. We discuss Plotinus' unusual esoteric perennialism, his allegiance to the Ancients, and why, though he may have been a Platonist, he didn't think so.
Episode 111: ‘The Philosopher of our Time’: Introducing Plotinus
Plotinus was the greatest philosopher of late antiquity, and one of the most crucial thinkers for the long story of western esotericism. We introduce his amazing philosophy and the basics of his biography.
We speak with Anna van den Kerchove, a leading voice in the scholarly trend ‘reclaiming’ ancient Hermetism from its long sojourn outside the realms of respectability. We discuss Hermetic texts and the kinds of milieux in which they may have circulated in antiquity.
We continue our discussion with Dr Litwa, following a few irresponsible, speculative alleyways, and learning a lot about the incredible reception of Hermetic literature outside of Hermetism in the process.
Episode 107: M. David Litwa on Deification in the Hermetica
We discuss the important Hermetic idea (or should that be ‘practice’?) of becoming divine with Dr M. David Litwa, who has devoted considerable thought to the matter of deification. A fascinating conversation emerges, and Litwa blows our mind.
We explore the polemics and counter-polemics of Origen's Contra Celsum, with a particular eye toward the use (and abuse) of the esoteric as a strategy of tradition-building, exclusion, and totalising interpretation.
An almost-unknown Middle Platonist philosopher named Celsus wrote the first-known anti-Christian polemical pamphlet some time in the later second century. This is The True Account. It is esoteric.
Origen's theory of prophecy – what it is, how it works, who constitutes a prophet, and so on – is fascinating, but he never lays it out in a straightforward way. For that you need Dr Claire Hall and Jaffa Cakes.
Professor Reppmann delves into Origen's self-castration (yes, really), anathematisation, and reappearance as the quintessential Christian esotericist.
Episode 97: Aron Reppmann Introduces Origen of Alexandria
Professor Aron Reppmann introduces the life, thought, and esotericism of Origen of Alexandria, one of the greatest church-fathers, Platonist theologian par excellence, and revolutionary scriptural exegete.
Episode 93: Henny Fiskå Hägg on Clement’s Apophatic Writing
We speak with Professor Henny Fiskå Hägg about the apophatic theory and writing-practice of Clement of Alexandria, one of antiquity's finest exponents of the art of writing about that-about-which-nothing-can-be-written.
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?
We investigate the esoteric practice of one of Middle Platonism's most enigmatic figures, the great Numenius of Apamea.
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’.