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Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism
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Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Who were the Gnostics? Were they heretics or visionaries who possessed the keys to Christianity's deepest secrets? Where did they come from? Did they leave any descendants? Why were they suppressed? Why do their ideas keep reappearing? Forbidden Faith is a comprehensive popular history of Gnosticism, a secretive tradition that has survived for centuries in many forms under ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Harper SanFrancisco
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Tim Pendry

I cannot think of a better popular introduction to the gnostic turn of mind although the book is mistitled and the author admits as much. The Gnostic turn of mind is a way of seeing for many human beings whereas Gnosticism was a belief system of a particular time and place.

Gnosticism, the very particular set of beliefs, emerged out of the creative struggles for meaning in antiquity. It died out with the triumph of an authoritarian, nay, totalitarian catholicism in alliance with secular tyranny.
Erik Graff
Aug 17, 2009 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: heresiological neophytes
Recommended to Erik by: Dorothy Gregory
Shelves: religion
This book is designed to be popular. If you've liked what you've read about "gnostic religion", are intrigued by claims of vast masonic conspiracies, read C.G. Jung or William Blake, or think either The Matrix or The DaVinci Code profound films, then there's a lure here to catch your attention and it will likely be found to deliver at least a foretaste of what you're really interested in. As an introduction to what has traditionally been associated with gnosticizing tendencies in religion, this ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
I read this book once before a few years ago, before I had joined Good Reads. It is a good introduction to gnosis and the Gnostic legacy. This is a very difficult subject to write authoritatively on as the Gnostics were systematically wiped out and their ideas suppressed for hundreds of years by the Roman Catholic church. Mr. Smoley acknowledges these limitations and does an admirable job of siting sources which give a glimpse of what their beliefs were. He does find it necessary to postulate or ...more
Mar 22, 2015 jcg rated it liked it
This book fails to live up to its promise of tracing the Gnostic legacy from the Gospels to the Da Vinci Code. In spite of being the editor of the magazine Gnosis for many years, it is unclear if author Smoley understands what the main threads of Gnosticism are. His chapter "Who Were the Gnostics?" is muddy and fails to clearly define the main tenets of the Gnostic faith (there were many Gnostic groups who were not all in agreement).

The rambling history he traces is more one of esoteric hermeti
May 15, 2016 Orion rated it liked it
This is a chronology of gnostic thought, from its beginnings to the present day. The book is reasonably easy to read despite the fact it has some difficult concepts. A more thorough discussion of the basic tenets of gnosticism would have been useful but the author seems to pre-suppose the reader has acquaintance with these and does not do much to describe them. In places the author seems to be reaching rather than basing conclusions on solid fact, but it is overall a good, interesting book.
Jan 25, 2016 Christine rated it it was amazing
Not a book to be read kightly, but ine to be taken in small doses which require much mentak "chewing". A definite must for history buffs.
Mar 22, 2010 Denise rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
There were many different schools of thought in early Christianity. The New Testament, as most people know it, was "selected" by church leaders out of many gospels. The Gospel of Thomas was not included because it taught that divinity resides within each person instead of in the place known as "heaven". The church wanted to consolidate power in the hands of church leaders rather than allowing individuals to "find their own way" so such beliefs were condemned and its advocates persecuted. This bo ...more
Pavandeep Singh
May 31, 2010 Pavandeep Singh rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
One of the most interesting Gnostic books I've read, very easy to read for the novice and has a lot of details for the starter to grasp and ponder and explore much, much further. Though this book meanders constantly with occultism and esoteric knowledge of other kinds, like Manichaeism, it is sort of like a wide coverage of many important hermetic and secret knowledge and overall, for anyone interested, a good book to check out at least.
Bob Couchenour
Apr 13, 2013 Bob Couchenour rated it it was amazing
Thuis is one of the best books I have read on the subject. And it provided plenty of reference links for my future reading. Very comprehensive without being overburdening. A good book to consider if you are searching out the alternatives to conventional religion, but not so disenchanted to write-off all ancient ideas as simply arcaic and antiquated.
Aug 09, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it
Smoley begins the book by examining various disperate schools of Gnostic thought from antiquity. Smoley then moves to a brief overview of Western Civilization, highlight various groups and movements, that while not fully Gnostic, maintained or professed ideas consistent with Gnosticism
Mar 03, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
This was a good, easily accessible overview of gnosticism and what is often referred to as gnosticism today. If you are looking for an in depth analysis, you will be slightly disappointed, but for those beginning their research, this is an excellent place to begin.
Oct 18, 2015 David rated it liked it
noteworthy: ya kno; i was LOOKING FOR one of those Gnosticism for Dummies/Idiots buks: but seems i found a gud-enuff version here! recommended for beginners & the curious
Christopher Selmek
Apr 27, 2016 Christopher Selmek rated it it was amazing
Quit and interesting tour though early Christianity, how the intellectually curious were purged, and how their legacy has survived to the present day.
Simon B
Jul 06, 2008 Simon B rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Simon by: no-one
Shelves: x
A quick look into the history of the world that surrounds the monotheistic religions that are organized and not organized
Kylie Briggs
This book assumes the reader has a greater knowledge of Catholic Church history than I do. But I really enjoyed it.
Mar 31, 2010 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, spiritual
This is a great introduction to Gnosticism and its influence in thought down through the ages!
chase Adams
Jul 04, 2009 chase Adams rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
awful title and cover. actual content ranging from extremely competent to enlightening.
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“Broadly speaking, religion fulfills two main functions in human life. In the first place, it’s meant to foster religious experience, to enable the individual soul to commune with the divine. In the second place, it serves to cement the structure of society, upholding values and ideals that preserve the common good. The word religion derives from the Latin religare, meaning “to bind back” or “bind together.” Religion’s function is to bind individuals both to God and to one another.” 2 likes
“someone with access to an inner source of spiritual insight does not need the church—or does not need it as ordinary people do. Furthermore, such a person often has an inner authority lacking in many leaders of established religions. This was precisely the response Jesus evoked when he began to preach: “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22).” 1 likes
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