Tag Archives: sethian gnosticism

The Apocalypse of the Alien God

Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism by Dylan M Burns, in the Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion series, from University of Pennsylvania Press, may be of interest.

Dylan M Burns Apocalypse of the Alien God from University of Pennsylvania Press

“In the second century, Platonist and Judeo-Christian thought were sufficiently friendly that a Greek philosopher could declare, ‘What is Plato but Moses speaking Greek?’ Four hundred years later, a Christian emperor had ended the public teaching of subversive Platonic thought. When and how did this philosophical rupture occur? Dylan M. Burns argues that the fundamental break occurred in Rome, ca. 263, in the circle of the great mystic Plotinus, author of the Enneads. Groups of controversial Christian metaphysicians called Gnostics (‘knowers’) frequented his seminars, disputed his views, and then disappeared from the history of philosophy—until the 1945 discovery, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, of codices containing Gnostic literature, including versions of the books circulated by Plotinus’s Christian opponents. Blending state-of-the-art Greek metaphysics and ecstatic Jewish mysticism, these texts describe techniques for entering celestial realms, participating in the angelic liturgy, confronting the transcendent God, and even becoming a divine being oneself. They also describe the revelation of an alien God to his elect, a race of ‘foreigners’ under the protection of the patriarch Seth, whose interventions will ultimately culminate in the end of the world.

Apocalypse of the Alien God proposes a radical interpretation of these long-lost apocalypses, placing them firmly in the context of Judeo-Christian authorship rather than ascribing them to a pagan offshoot of Gnosticism. According to Burns, this Sethian literature emerged along the fault lines between Judaism and Christianity, drew on traditions known to scholars from the Dead Sea Scrolls and Enochic texts, and ultimately catalyzed the rivalry of Platonism with Christianity. Plunging the reader into the culture wars and classrooms of the high Empire, Apocalypse of the Alien God offers the most concrete social and historical description available of any group of Gnostic Christians as it explores the intersections of ancient Judaism, Christianity, Hellenism, myth, and philosophy.” [via]

A Little World Made Cunningly

A Little World Made Cunningly by Scott David Finch, a 2013 paperback graphic novel, with an afterword by Steven L Davies discussing Gnostic interpretation and parallels, is part of the collection at the Reading Room courtesy of the author.

Scott David Finch A Little World Made Cunningly

“At the beginning of this dreamlike graphic novel, a young woman’s sleep is disturbed by a mysterious voice calling in the night. She follows the sound into a forest grove where she is inspired to weave a dress of leaves. As she adorns her garment with one last leaf, it breaks and falls away, ruining her creation. She collapses in frustration only to awaken as some other tiny self on the surface of that torn leaf. She begins to explore her microscopic new world under the moonlight, unaware that a frightened, hungry creature, Samael, is growing on the darkened underside of this leaf world.

Scott David Finch’s A Little World Made Cunningly is a story about creativity built on the ancient template of the Creation Story.

Drawing upon images from esoteric Christianity, the syntax of postmodernism, and Saturday morning cartoons, Finch’s work demonstrates an interest in the arcane strata below and beyond ordinary waking consciousness. He often employs several parallel lines of metaphor at once in a dense, layered visual language.

After more than twenty years of making large brightly colored paintings derived from photographic imagery, during a creative block 2010, images of a woman weaving leaves into a dress around her own body began to unfold in his mind’s eye. This narrative impelled him to devote the next year to writing and drawing A Little World Made Cunningly.” — back cover

Scott David Finch A Little World Made Cunningly detail

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

A Little World Made Cunningly

A Little World Made Cunningly by Scott David Finch, is a graphic novel that may be of interest.

Scott David Finch A Little World Made Cunningly

“At the beginning of this dreamlike graphic novel, a young woman’s sleep is disturbed by a mysterious voice calling in the night. She follows the sound into a forest grove where she is inspired to weave a dress of leaves. As she adorns her garment with one last leaf, it breaks and falls away, ruining her creation. She collapses in frustration only to awaken as some other tiny self on the surface of that torn leaf. She begins to explore her microscopic new world under the moonlight, unaware that a frightened, hungry creature, Samael, is growing on the darkened underside of this leaf world. Scott David Finch’s A Little World Made Cunningly is a story about creativity built on the ancient template of the Creation Story.

Drawing upon images from esoteric Christianity, the syntax of postmodernism, and Saturday morning cartoons, Finch’s work demonstrates an interest in the arcane strata below and beyond ordinary waking consciousness. He often employs several parallel lines of metaphor at once in a dense, layered visual language. After more than twenty years of making large brightly colored paintings derived from photographic imagery, during a creative block 2010, images of a woman weaving leaves into a dress around her own body began to unfold in his mind’s eye. This narrative impelled him to devote the next year to writing and drawing A Little World Made Cunningly.” [via]