The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity
by David Brakke 2010
About the Author
David Brakke is the Ohio State University Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History. He received the B.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1983), M.Div. from Harvard University (1986), and Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale University (1992). Before coming to OSU in 2012, he taught for nineteen years in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, where he was department chair from 2006 to 2011.
Professor Brakke studies and teaches the history and literature of ancient Christianity from its origins through the fifth century, with special interests in asceticism, monasticism, “Gnosticism,” biblical interpretation, and Egyptian Christianity. Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (Oxford UP 1995; Johns Hopkins UP 1998) examines the social and political dimensions of a bishop’s ascetic teachings, and Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity (Harvard UP 2006) explores the role of evil forces in the formation of the monk as a virtuous self and as a social role. The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity (Harvard UP 2010) argues for a social and cultural approach to the definition of “Gnosticism” and to the question of “orthodoxy” and “heresy” in the era before Constantine. It was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011.
About the Book
Who were the Gnostics? And how did the Gnostic movement influence the development of Christianity in antiquity? Is it true that the Church rejected Gnosticism? This book offers an illuminating discussion of recent scholarly debates over the concept of “Gnosticism” and the nature of early Christian diversity. Acknowledging that the category “Gnosticism” is flawed and must be reformed, David Brakke argues for a more careful approach to gathering evidence for the ancient Christian movement known as the Gnostic school of thought. He shows how Gnostic myth and ritual addressed basic human concerns about alienation and meaning, offered a message of salvation in Jesus, and provided a way for people to regain knowledge of God, the ultimate source of their being.
Rather than depicting the Gnostics as heretics or as the losers in the fight to define Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, in which other Christians not only rejected their ideas but also adapted and transformed them. This book will challenge scholars to think in news ways, but it also provides an accessible introduction to the Gnostics and their fellow early Christians.
CLICK HERE TO
Access this book for online reading or download for offline reading. Subscribers can access more than 100 books:
biography, economics, history, philosophy, religion, & science. New titles added frequently.