Cover

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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Abbreviations

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pp. ix-xx

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

The terms “Christianity” and “Judaism” are difficult for students of these ancient religions. Church historians remain unable to pinpoint once and for all the emergence of “Christianity” from “Judaism”; scholars of Judaic studies debate when Judaism was “invented.”1...

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1. Culture Wars

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pp. 8-31

Who were these followers of “Adelphius and Aculinus” in the time of Plotinus? Porphyry says that they were Christian heretics, but also trained Platonists. Nothing is known about Adelphius or the authors of other texts (now lost) the heretics brandished, “Alexander...

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2. Plotinus Against His Gnostic Friends

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pp. 32-47

The testimony of Porphyry about the heretics known to him and Plotinus is a fascinating and rich account of their encounter with living, breathing readers of Sethian apocalypses. He says that this literature circulated among Christian Platonists, who invoked alien,...

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3. Other Ways of Writing

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pp. 48-76

Plotinus claims that the Gnostics do not write in a philosophical style, and so “another way of writing” would be necessary to refute them. Porphyry, meanwhile, denigrates the Sethian apocalypses as “forgeries” (πλάσματα), and it seems this formed the basis of his critique...

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4. The Descent

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pp. 77-94

While the entirety of Sethian literary tradition is cast in the shape of contemporary apocalypses, scholars have long distinguished between the texts that are also inundated with the language of contemporary Neoplatonic metaphysics—the Platonizing literature, Zostrianos...

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5. The Ascent

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pp. 95-111

While we have found Plotinus’s complaints about the Gnostic approach to writing and divine providence to reflect the contents of the Sethian literature that informed his friends, many of his arguments deal with cosmological concerns—the preexistence of matter,...

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6. The Crown

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pp. 112-139

The ritual practices described in Marsanes (NHC X,I) are distinctive among the Platonizing Sethian literature, encompassing such diverse activities as alphabet mysticism and the use of arcane ritual instruments.1 Scholars have thus referred to these practices and...

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7. Between Judaism, Christianity, and Neoplatonism

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pp. 140-160

Having examined the culture wars taking place among second-and third-century intellectuals, Plotinus’s polemic against his friends in Rome, the literary heritage of the apocalypses they circulated, and the views these texts espoused about soteriology,...

Appendix: Reading Porphyry on the Gnostic Heretics and Their Apocalypses

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pp. 161-164

Notes

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pp. 165-249

Bibliography

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pp. 250-302

Index

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pp. 303-319

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 320-321

I never do anything right the first time, and this book is no exception. Its thought, structure, and goals have all undergone many revisions, which have benefitted enormously from years of conversation, advice, and criticism, for which I am indebted to the following in particular...