A Dictionary of Gnosticism

A Dictionary of Gnosticism


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296 Pages
9in x 6in

Blockbuster films like The Matrix and Stigmata have helped fuel the continued fascination with Gnosticism, a pre-Christian Western religion based on the direct knowledge of the Divine, which itself provides salvation. Although The Matrix conveys complex concepts like archons and dualism with marvelous simplicity, Gnostic texts do anything but. Curious new students of Gnosticism find they are swiftly bombarded with numerous foreign, often un-translated, and barely pronounceable terms like Acinetos and Deitharbathas. Now for the first time, a comprehensive guide to all aspects of Gnosticism and related spirituality is available to the public in a straightforward dictionary.

As editor of The Gnostic magazine and author of several books on apocryphal scriptures, Andrew Phillip Smith draws on his extensive knowledge of Gnosticism to provide a succinct yet thorough compilation for scholars and spiritual seekers alike. Smith not only defines the terminology of the Nag Hammadi library and the ancient Gnostics, but also their successors such as the Manichaeans, Mandaeans and Cathars. His definitions also cover Hermeticism, the apocrypha, medieval heresy, dualism, and the modern Gnostic revival.

An amazing storehouse of information, A Dictionary of Gnosticism, contains nearly 1,700 entries, from Aachiaram, an angel in the Secret Book of John, to the Zostrianos, a third-century Gnostic text that recounts a series of revelations on the successive stages of the soul’s ascent. With an easy-to-read introduction explaining who the Gnostics were and what Gnosticism is, Smith delivers a whirlwind tour through the ancient and diverse history of this captivating movement.


Andrew Phillips Smith offers us yet another key opportunity to expand our knowledge of Gnosticism. A fascinating, solidly-researched key resource for students, academics, and practitioners alike "A 'beacon of Light' for our time! Highly recommended."
— Dr Karen Ralls, Oxford, author of The Templars and the Grail.

"Created in response to the sudden appearance of gnosticism in film and popular culture, this fascinating lexicon offers 1700 definitions explaining the enigmatic references, figures, texts, and puzzling redundancies that exist in New Testament apocrypha. An eight-page bibliography rounds out this vital translation tool, which will aid both scholarly inquiry and ambitious lay study."
—Library Journal, February 1, 2010

This book is the answer to the prayers of students and practitioners of Gnosticism from far and wide. Andrew Phillip Smith has given us a readable, informative and accurate compendium of words, names and concepts of Gnostic interest that will be welcomed and used abundantly.
—Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller, Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica and author of Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing

Not only is this an excellent aid for anyone trying to make sense out of the complicated cosmologies and scriptures of the ancient Gnostics, but it also provides an overview of gnostic movements and mystics down through the centuries.
—Jay Kinney

"A long-awaited and indispensable grammar of classical Gnosticism – essential for any serious student, and a practical gem for the curious."
— Jordan Stratford, author of Living Gnosticism

"More than a dictionary for reference and research, this book is an index of ideas and suggestions. Readers interested in Gnosticism and related alternative religions of earlier times will find a whole host of new ideas and leads and directions for further inquiry. Think of the book as a thousand starting points for your explorations into spiritual unknowns!"
—Stevan Davies, Professor of Religious Studies, Misericordia University

'A Dictionary of Gnosticism is a valuable resource for any student of Gnosis. If you need a helpful translator of the language, or a sympathetic guide to the beliefs of these extraordinary women and men who lived a long time ago, in a world far, far away, then this is the book for you. Think of it as the 'Lonely Cosmos Guide to Gnosis', and always pack a copy when you are setting out for that strange and exciting country. Have a great trip!'
—Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy authors of The Jesus Mysteries and The Gospel of the Second Coming