‘The Secret History of the Gnostics’ by Andrew Phillip Smith: Book Review
The Secret History of the Gnostics is a good introduction to the scriptures, beliefs, and traditions of the many Gnostic groups and churches of the past and present. It discusses the birth of Gnosticism, Gnostic mythology, and the various groups that are considered to be Gnostic. I read the Holy Bible in two months after which I picked this book to read. I had read certain Gnostic gospels when I was nineteen years old which had inducted me into Gnostic literature. I have got some clarity about the many forms of gnostic churches after reading this book. I highly recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in seeking the truth about Gnosticism.
This book analyzed the myths of Gnosticism connected with the Bible and other spiritual works. It was fascinating to read the truth of the Old Testament God being different from the God mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ during his ministry. I was familiar with Gnosticism, and I am glad to have read this in-depth guide through the various schools of Gnosticism over the ages. Some of these Gnostic groups are:
- The Manichaeans
- The Cathars
- The Mandaeans
These are the main Gnostic churches or groups. The book enlightens its readers to the fact that Gnosticism focused on gaining knowledge or ‘Gnosis’ to reach the real God called Pleroma that contains the Holy Spirit. This is the same God that is spoken about by Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. According to this book, the God mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible happens to be a different being from the real source. Taoism practiced in the east, the early Vedic religion, Mahayana Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism are the true forms of worship of the Pleroma. The book mentions the many ways we can devote our lives to studying scripture to get a clear understanding of the underlying mythological differences between what we are told about, and what was regarded as heresy at certain points in the past. It was an enlightening read which taught me many ways to interpret the mythical stories from the past. There are thousands of shocking statements mentioned in this amazing book about the Gnostic gospels and Christian books that have been ignored by the prevalent Christian community. The information will blow your mind away.
To give an example of the out of the box information mentioned in this book, I would like to draw your attention to Lord Jesus Christ’s talk with Nicodemus the Pharisee, in the Gospel of John mentioned in the Holy Bible.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.'” —John 3:1-7
To a layperson, the whole talk of Jesus doesn’t make any sense. Why would the Lord Jesus condemn the ‘flesh’ when it was God who made men in the ‘flesh?’ Present mainstream Christianity and Catholicism portray the dialogue as an indication that one becomes a new person in Christ through the Sacraments. However, once you hear the Gnostic interpretation of this part of the Gospel, then a certain subtle clarity emerges. The Gnostic interpretation is that the Lord Jesus was talking about a different God. He is talking of Pleroma, the real universal god from which the Old Testament God had his being after the fall of Sophia or ‘thought’. According to Gnosticism, it is only in Pleroma that the Holy Spirit or Holy Breath resides. It is the Holy Spirit that gives clarity to people of the flesh who are created by a distortion of Pleroma whose name, as per this book and Gnosticism, is the Demiurge. This Pleroma is the Father God spoken of by the Lord Jesus throughout his ministry. It then makes sense; he was talking about becoming ‘born again’ through the real Father God and which can only happen if you listen to the Redeemers ‘He’ personally sends into the world in every mathematically sacred era. Redeemers like Lord Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Zoroaster who is also known as Zarathustra, the Prophet Muhammad, and a host of many other Redeemers. One can also be ‘born again’ or ‘born anew’ if you accept ‘gnosis’ or ‘knowledge’ or ‘the Word’ and then you can receive the Holy Spirit or Holy Breath which is only present in Pleroma, and not in Demiurge. Notice, how later on the Lord Jesus speaks of all the Redeemers sent down to Earth in the plural when he sees that Nicodemus is clueless:
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.” —John 3:10-13
Indeed, Gnosticism is esoteric knowledge about things we as persons of the flesh are frightened to even delve into. This is because it shakes our very foundation, the foundation of our false world order. But if we cannot understand the ‘earthly things’ spoken of by these Redeemers, then how will we understand when they speak about heavenly things?
This and a lot of other amazing matter is what you will come across if you read this book The Secret History of the Gnostics. I will not be delving too deeply into the book because I am not qualified to do so; I am learning along the way myself. But yes, there is more esoteric meat here in this book that can churn the juices in your brain. It has excellent resource material and references to books to allow us to study more about Gnosticism.
You will learn in this book about:
- The importance of Seth, the third son of Adam.
- The reality behind the God of Moses and the God of the Bible Patriarchs.
- The fact that Gnosticism is present in every part of our life and society in hidden and subtle ways.
- The different ways to interpret the Lord Jesus’s Passion with an open mind.
- The truth behind the Nag Hammadi Library.
- The revival of Gnosticism in popular culture like movies, virtual reality games, fiction books, and so on.
Go get your copy of The Secret History of the Gnostics by Andrew Phillip Smith today and start a ‘knowledge revolution’. I will try to delve deeper into Gnosticism. It is twelve years since I’ve last read up about Gnosticism directly and I think it is high time I do so. I also encourage you to check out the reference section in this book because that is where you can get a lot of great material concerning your field of study. Go ahead and get your copy and support Andrew Phillip Smith. This is a splendid book for even a casual reader who wants to just read up on Gnostic mythology and philosophy.
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