Esotericism in Antiquity: An Aries special issue

TauroctonyThere is much exciting work going on in the area of esotericism and the religions of antiquity at the moment. One of the people who have been instrumental in lifting the focus on antiquity within the study of esotericism (and bringing esotericism to a sometimes unwilling crowd of Gnosticism and ancient Christianities specialists – kudos for that!) is Dylan Burns, currently of the University of Leipzig. I’ve written about Dylan’s work previously, and of course, there’s been mention of the ESSWE Network for the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity (NSEA) which he co-founded with Sarah Veale.

Now, fresh off those unobtanium-coated Brill printers is a new special issue of Aries (15.1) focusing on esotericism in antiquity, and edited by Dylan Burns. With no less than eight articles – including a few shorter ones – it is another good step in the direction of putting ancient esotericism back on the map of those esotericism researchers who have  been living mostly in modern times (well, at least not much earlier than the 15th century). Articles cover some of the usual suspects, including Hermetism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, pseudepigrapha and Hekhalot mysticism, but several of the articles also come with a quite deliberate theoretical edge. This special issue in the leading esotericism journal, then, is a sign that perhaps we can stop worrying that the field is neglecting antiquities. At least there are very healthy signs for the dialogue between specialists to continue.

Here is a complete list of the articles:

Concealment, Pseudepigraphy and the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity
Kelley Coblentz Bautch

Secrets without Mystery
Raʿanan Boustan

Ancient Esotericism, Problematic Assumptions, and Conceptual Trouble
Kocku von Stuckrad

Esotericism in Classical Rabbinic Culture
Joshua Ezra Burns

Esoteric Discourse and the Jerusalem Temple in the Gospel of Philip
Matthew Twigg

μίξεώς τινι τέχνῃ κρείττονι
Dylan M. Burns

Ancient Hermetism and Esotericism
Christian H. Bull

Taking the Shape of the Gods
Gregory Shaw

While articles are behind a paywall that even many university libraries haven’t penetrate, you should at least be able to check out the abstracts from the journal’s website.


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