Sons of Light and Sons of Seth

I discussed Dylan M. Burns’s book Apocalypse of the Alien God, an account of the influential early Gnostic sect called Sethians. Burns’s arguments resonated because of work I have been doing recently on the origins of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, and the influence of the sectarian Judaism we know from Qumran and the Dead Sea [Read More...]

Seth and the Alien God

Plotinos

The origins of Gnosticism are normally discussed in terms of debates within Christianity. However, one richly informative conflict occurred beyond the familiar realm of church history. One of the great minds of Late Antiquity was the Egyptian-born philosopher Plotinus, the leading figure of Neoplatonism, and a younger contemporary of Origen. Around the year 263, in [Read More...]

Christians in Babylon

In the early Christian era, Mesopotamia/Iraq was a thriving center of rabbinic Judaism, and throughout the first millennium it was the intellectual capital of that faith. Given the Jewish background, naturally we find very early Christian settlements in Iraq. Within the Persian empire, the greatest seat of church power was of course at the capital [Read More...]

Egypt’s Diaspora

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Although the third century BC is a shadowy time in Jewish history, both faith and people were being transformed in multiple ways. I recently lamented how little we know of the Jewish world in Palestine at this time, but of course revolutionary developments were occurring elsewhere, in the emerging Diaspora. Two developments in this era [Read More...]

The Missing Century

I am in search of a missing century. As I recently described, the second century BC was an incredibly fertile time for Jewish culture and religion, with emerging ideas about Judgment and the afterlife, angels and demons, and a major outpouring of writings. From a Christian perspective, we are looking at the essential prehistory of [Read More...]

MASONS AND MUSLIMS

zColonial Possessions in 1900

I have recently been posting on the astonishingly widespread influence of Freemasonry both in Anglo-American culture, and in Continental Europe. But that global influence went even further, into some regions and contexts that today seem almost incredible. To illustrate this, I turn to the origins of modern Islamic thought. At the end of the nineteenth [Read More...]

ENOCH ABIDES

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Although the Book of Enoch was highly regarded in the early Christian church, it fell out of favor by the fourth century. From the ninth century, it virtually disappeared from European churches at least, and the text would be lost for a millennium. But the work proved surprisingly durable. Centuries after it was denounced by [Read More...]

LOSING ENOCH

The scriptures attributed to the Biblical figure of Enoch commanded immense respect in the early Christian church, but by the ninth century or so, these had largely vanished from use, in Europe at least. Not only were they treated with less respect, but they effectively disappeared. Why and how did this happen? What does this [Read More...]

THE MYSTERY OF ENOCH

Idris_the_prophet

And Enoch walked with God and then he was gone, for God took him. I am investigating a mysterious disappearance. As I am a mere academic, there’s no actual blood involved, but it’s still a puzzling case. Briefly, I am trying to explain why the Book of Enoch vanished as thoroughly as it did, and [Read More...]

PETER’S APOCALYPSE

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At some point in the ninth century, a Christian monk was buried at Akhmim, in Egypt, ancient Panopolis. Portions of several books were laid alongside him, perhaps because they were his particular favorites in life, or else because their visions of the heavenly realms were so appropriate to his passing from this world. This was [Read More...]


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