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Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism [Hardcover]

By Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Editor), Antoine Faivre (Collaborator), Roelof Van Den Broek (Collaborator) & Jean-Pierre Brach (Collaborator)
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Item description for Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Antoine Faivre, Roelof Van Den Broek & Jean-Pierre Brach...

Now available in one volume

This is the first comprehensive reference work to cover the entire domain of "Gnosis and Western Esotericism" from the period of Late Antiquity to the present. Containing around 400 articles by over 180 international specialists, it provides critical overviews discussing the nature and historical development of all its important currents and manifestations, from Gnosticism and Hermetism to Astrology, Alchemy and Magic, from the Hermetic Tradition of the Renaissance to Rosicrucianism and Christian Theosophy, and from Freemasonry and Illuminism to 19th-century Occultism and the contemporary New Age movement. Furthermore it contains articles about the life and work of all the major personalities in the history of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, discussing their ideas, significance, and historical influence.

This one volume edition is an unabridged version of the two volume edition published in 2005.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brill Academic Pub
Pages   1228
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 2.25" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   4.04 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 1, 2006
Publisher   Brill Academic Pub
ISBN  9004152318  
ISBN13  9789004152311  

Availability  2 units.
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More About Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Antoine Faivre, Roelof Van Den Broek & Jean-Pierre Brach

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Wouter J. Hanegraaff is a Research Fellow at the Department for the Study of Religions at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He is coeditor of Gnosis and Hermeticism: From Antiquity to Modern Times, also published by SUNY Press.

Wouter J. Hanegraaff has an academic affiliation as follows - Universiteit van Amsterdam University of Amsterdam Universiteit van Am.

Wouter J. Hanegraaff has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Suny Series, Western Esoteric Traditions

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Reviews - What do customers think about Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism?

The Definitive Book on the Subject  Nov 10, 2006
This book might be called 'Everything you wanted to know about religious subjects that lie outside the mainstream of Christian, Jewish, or Islamic religions.' In fact, although this is a book on Gnosis or Gnosistism, it admits (unusual for a dictionary) that Gnosis is a word that really can't be defined. At the very least, the concept of Gnosis has changed over time from a pejorative word to one with a presumption that it had to do with organized opposition to the early Christian church.

The book is in dictionary format, more or less, with the understanding that it contains some 400 entries. 400 entries spread out over 100 pages comes out to three pages per entry. And in actual usage, the page count is not even. 'Neoplatonism' for instance runs 8 pages, 'Perennial Philosophy' has only one word: Tradition.

There were approximately 180 contributors to the book, each an expert in a particular field, and coming from a world-wide range of countries. The main editor, Wouter J. Hanegraaff is a professor at the University of Amsterdam and the compilation of this work represents a task lasting six years, followed by two more years of work in producing the book. This book represents a momumental first effort. And it is likely to become a standard text in the field. I expect that over the years there will be later editions, but not frequently. It belongs in every religious library.
Academic.....wonderful!  Aug 3, 2006
This is absolutely a treasure of dictionary, very well edited by scholars of this important field of ancient studies. Beautiful edition in hard cover, with the latest information on gnosticism, manichaeism and everything esoteric, but, best of all, from the point of view of serious scholars, which make this book such a great tool for the biginning of any scholarly research in these hidden fields of religion. Absolutately worth buying!
Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism - Review  Oct 27, 2005
This is a fantastic refernece book! It covers all aspects of the Western Esoteric movement, as well as Gnostic religions! A must for an student and scholar of these areas!
up to date, elucidating; an indispensable, stimulating read  Jun 14, 2005
This insightful new dictionary is absolutely indispensable for academic research as well as for the spiritual seeker who wants to know more about ideas and practices of the traditions of Gnosis & Western Esotericism. Every article is a pleasure to read by style and structure. So before you know you are looking to other entries for more! This dictionary stands out for its rich contents on diverse topics, well divided into correlating articles about historical periods and systematically differing orientations, on many persons and organisations and so on, from the first to the twenty-first centuries. It is well organized. Most articles are very good; several excellent. There is to be found much stimulus and inspiration for further research as well as for study from more individual points of view.
So in one stroke we have now an indispensable goldmine of information about a once dark corner of our culture at our disposal. This is very good quality for sure. What has become visible now, is a vast field of academic knowledge - about topics despised of in the mainstream Western religions as heretic and dangerous as well as until recently more often than not neglected by the academic world. Which knowledge now also figures within the boundaries of many generally accepted paradigms or discussions shared by a large number of academic researchers, among which the writers of the articles in this dictionary.
The balance between general and special topics seems adequate for the time being, particularly as this is only the first edition. The attention to Judaism and Islam could easily have been more abundant than the rather limited information that is now given. The same applies to the relation with Eastern (and possibly other) religions - and of course their mystical, gnostical and esoterical sides (if relevant as such or to the subject in case) - which could have been dealt with more systematically. But this requires of course a network of participant researchers and writers which is still larger. To me in any case it is not understandable that not more attention is given to the context of Hellenistic and related surrounding (mystery) religions within which Gnosticism and Hermetism rose. Why much attention to the philosophical influences of Aristotelism and Neo-Platonism and not to these contextual and also influential religions? Religions always develop contextually. Again there is no systematic treatment of those influences and developments here, although it has to be said that the separate articles mention a lot of them. (For my complete review including info and comments about separate articles see .)
The terms `gnosis' and `esotericism' have a connotation of rejection within dogmatical theology and reasonable science which often were far from neutral to these subjects of study. Or better said, within the course of fighting those phenomena they - or their forerunners - intentionally shaped this terminology with a negative connotation, that is defined those phenomena as to be judged negatively. Now my question is: by using the terminology coming from the enemies, does not the very title of the dictionary give in too much to 'standard' prejudices? If one as is done here, gives a neutral view of a subject field and sees that it can be treated the same as `normal' subject fields, why restricting oneself to this field only? Of course a problem with this is that a dictionary like this one is part of the academic discourse (as indeed is also the chair system on which the differentiation of subject fields within a university is based) and does not want to remove itself to much from this discourse - which itself is not a truth but a chosen method and viewpoint. But within the academic discourse there should be the possibility of - and often is much - discussion and fight about paradigms, and it has to be said that the subjects of this dictionary - as do religion and spirituality in general - give much occasion to that.
This dictionary is very well organized and edited. The design is also very good, a pleasure to see, to hold in your hand and to read (pleasant typography). The indexes on entries, persons and groups are very useful. There is however one great omission: an index on subjects you will not find. I remember having worked with many encyclopaedias, f.e. the RGG (Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart), and - I assume - without its index on subjects I would have had only half of the advantages compared with having this index. For example there are so many concepts or images of which the history and meaning becomes co much clearer if one can search for and look within the articles, that this omission within the dictionary really is a pity to me. Could one say that "Sophia / Wisdom" is deserving less of an entry than is "Reincarnation" (which has got an entry)? I urge the publisher to give attention to this omission for a following edition. However, one absolutely can say that this dictionary gives a sound and rather complete basis of information which in itself is indispensable for those who want to be up to date with current research.
So the strength of this well designed and edited dictionary is explicit in the well written articles on separate subjects, almost all from a remarkable neutral viewpoint that is without implicit or explicit prejudices. However in some broader and fundamental questions and topics this strength is still implicit only. But the information gathered within this goldmine will not easily be found elsewhere, and more than compensates for those of our desires which are not yet fulfilled in this magnificent first edition.

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