Sunday, July 22, 2007

Birger Pearson, Ancient Gnosticism

Latest from Fortress:

Fortress Press Releases Ancient Gnosticism

Minneapolis (July 20, 2007) — In the newly released Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature, Birger A. Pearson provides authoritative answers to the questions: Who were the Gnostics? What did they believe?

Even as public interest is attracted to this esoteric religion, scholars have debated its origins, its relationship to Judaism and Christianity, and even whether one distinctive and separate Gnostic “religion” ever existed. Pearson’s expert and accessible introduction brings the reader into this debate.

In Ancient Gnosticism Pearson surveys all the primary literary evidence for ancient Gnosticism, providing a clear and succinct introduction to each individual writing (including the newly published Gospel of Judas from the Tchacos Codex), along with a judicious consideration of the historical origin of Gnosticism. The classic schools of Christian Gnosticism are discussed, along with Hermetic Gnosis, Manichaeism, and the Mandaeans. Chapters are helpfully keyed to all the standard translations of Gnostic writings, including The Nag Hammadji Scriptures: The International Edition, edited by Marvin W. Meyer (2007). The book includes illustrations, maps, timeline, and a bibliography.


Maps and Illustrations


Map of the World of Ancient Gnosticism

1. What is Gnosticism?

2. Heresiological Reports on Early Gnostic Teachers and Systems

3. Sethian or Classic Gnosticism

4. Gnostic Biblical Interpretation: The Gnostic Genesis

5. Basilides and Basilidian Gnosis

6. Valentinus and Valentinian Gnosis

7. Three-Principle Systems

8. Coptic Gnostic Writings of Uncertain Affiliation

9. Thomas Christianity

10. Hermes Trismegistus and Hermetic Gnosis

11. Mani and Manichaeism

12. The Mandaeans: A Surviving Relic of Ancient Gnosis

Epilogue: The Persistence of Gnosticism

Suggestions for Further Reading


Birger A. Pearson is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a leading expert on Gnosticism. His previous books include The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Fortress Press, 1997), Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity (Fortress Press, 1990; new release 2006), and Gnosticism and Christianity in Roman and Coptic Egypt (2004). He is the translator of Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X (1997) and (with Frederik Wisse) of Nag Hammadi Codex VII (1996).

Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature
By Birger A. Pearson

Item Number: 978-0-8006-3258-8

Price: $25.00 / CAN $30.00/ UK £14.99
Specs: 6” x 9”, paperback, 256 pages

To order Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at

To request review copies (for media) or to inquire about speaking opportunities and interviews with the authors please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail

To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

No comments: