(1731 words)
  • Marion Spies (Bergische Universit)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Gnosis (“knowledge”) is a Greek word of Indo-European origin, which is used in comparative religion to indicate a movement in antiquity stressing the awareness of divine mysteries. This awareness could either be obtained by revelation or by initiation into secret traditions. On the whole, the teachings of the gnostics say that God, the father of Christ, is not the creator God, the latter original God being unknown; that the world is the erroneous consequence of a split within the deity; and that man is alien to the natural world, but related to the deity. Because, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a unified concept of gnosticism (which is a modern term, not used in antiquity), in the following the reader will be …

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Spies, Marion. "Gnosticism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 May 2004
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]