Ferdinand Christian Baur’s Die Christliche Gnosis, first published in 1835, is considered by many to be the most important book on Gnosticism published in the nineteenth century and is a pivotal work within Baur’s canon. Baur’s unique thesis of a link between ancient and modern religious philosophy, as well as his conception of Gnosticism – developed through dialogues with his predecessors and contemporaries – consolidate Christian Gnosis as an important contribution to Christian theology.
In this seminal work, written over a hundred years before the manuscript discovery at Nag Hammadi, Baur classifies the gnostic systems in terms of how they conceive the relationship of Christianity to Judaism and paganism, describing them in detail. He then goes on to describe the criticism of and reaction to gnosis in church history, before contending with the modern religious philosophy of his time, discussing Boehme, Schelling, Schleiermacher and Hegel. Christian Gnosis is Baur’s first great religio-historical study, and Robert Brown’s masterful translation ensures the work is as impactful today as it was on its first publication.
Baur’s Introduction: The Topic of This Investigation and How it Has Been Treated: Massuet, Mosheim, Neander
Part One: The Concept and Origin of Gnosis, the Division of Gnosis as to Its Various Principal Forms, and Their General Determination
1. The Concept of Gnosis
2. The Origins of Gnosis
3. Classification of the Gnostic Systems
Part Two: The Various Principal Forms of Gnosis
1. The Form of Gnosis Linking Christianity Closely to Judaism and Paganism
2. The Form of Gnosis Separating Christianity from Judaism and Paganism: The System of Marcion
3. The Form of Gnosis Identifying Christianity and Judaism, and Setting Forth Both of Them in Opposition to Paganism: The Pseudo-Clementine System
Part Three: The Conflict of Gnosis with Neoplatonism and with the Teaching of the Church; the Further Development of Gnosis in Virtue of This Conflict
Introduction: The Pagan and Christian Polemic against Gnosis
1. The Polemic of the Neoplatonists against the Gnostics
2. The Polemic against Gnosis by the Church Fathers: Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria
Part Four: Ancient Gnosis and More Recent Religious Philosophy
1. The Transition from Ancient Gnosis to the More Recent Religious Philosophy
2. The More Recent Religious Philosophy
Index of Persons
Index of Subjects
Endorsements and Reviews
That Baur’s speculative masterpiece, Die christliche Gnosis (1835), has not been translated into English before now has always struck me as a scandal. The translation by Brown of this difficult and sometimes meandering text is impeccable. But what is even more impressive is that in his translation we capture the excitement of Baur’s critical retrieval of ancient forms of thought that has shaped a form of modern Protestantism that moves decisively beyond sola Scriptura.
Cyril O’Regan, Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, Notre Dame University
In Christian Gnosis, Baur set forth with vigor and surprising clarity what he referred to as the ‘internal coherence’ of the gnostic system, from antiquity to the thought of his older contemporaries. In this beautifully annotated translation, Peter Hodgson and Robert Brown make this important work accessible to the anglophone world at last, enabling a new generation of readers to wrestle with Baur’s provocative synthesis of a perennial theme.
David Lincicum, Rev. John A. O’Brien Associate Professor of Theology, Notre Dame University