Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity

Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity : Under Pitiless Skies

3.66 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 11 business days
When will my order arrive?


In Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Nicola Denzey Lewis dismisses Hans Jonas' mischaracterization of second-century Gnosticism as a philosophically-oriented religious movement built on the perception of the cosmos as negative or enslaving. A focused study on the concept of astrological fate in "Gnostic" writings including the Apocryphon of John, the recently-discovered Gospel of Judas, Trimorphic Protennoia, and the Pistis Sophia, this book reexamines their language of "enslavement to fate (Gk: heimarmene)" from its origins in Greek Stoicism, its deployment by the apostle Paul, to its later use by a variety of second-century intellectuals (both Christian and non-Christian). Denzey Lewis thus offers an informed and revisionist conceptual map of the ancient cosmos, its influence, and all those who claimed to be free of its potentially pernicious effects.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 206 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 17.53mm | 481g
  • Leiden, Netherlands
  • English
  • 9004245480
  • 9789004245488
  • 2,414,716

Table of contents

1. Were the Gnostics Cosmic Pessimists?

2. Nag Hammadi and the Providential Cosmos

3. This Body of Death: Cosmic Malevolence and Enslavement to Sin in Pauline Exegesis

4. Heimarmene at Nag Hammadi: The Apocryphon of John and On the Origin of the World

5. Middle Platonism, Heimarmene, and the Corpus Hermeticum

6. Ways Out I: Interventions of the Savior God

7. Ways Out II: Baptism and Cosmic Freedom

8. Astral Determinism in the Gospel of Judas

9. Conclusions, and a New Way Forward
show more

Review quote

"focused study that seeks to rebut the characterisation of second-century Gnosticism as a religious philosophy that apprehends the universe as an enslaving force. [...] a rich study, which offers a new way of thinking about the concept of face in Gnostic texts. promises to be a valuable and provocative contribution." - Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, in: The Expository Times 126/2 (2014)
"...concise and convincing, [...] the book is clearly-argued [...]. Its critical engagement with the research of the old school dispels scholarly myths and provides a new starting point for debate about how we are to understand the problems of fate, providence, and salvation in late ancient religious life.[...] worthwhile reading not just for students of Gnostic and Hermetic literature, but the New Testament, early Christian studies, and religion in the later Roman Empire as well." - Dylan Burns, Leipzig University, in: Numen 61 (2014)
"...excellent overview of the primary sources whilst producing numerous thought-provoking arguments [...] It is a useful book for anyone interested in second-century thought patterns and is suitable for a wide audience with a range of interests." - Sarah Parkhouse, Durham University, in: Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies (
show more

About Nicola F. Denzey

Nicola Denzey Lewis, Ph.D (1998), Princeton University, is Visiting Associate Professor in Religious Studies at Brown University. A specialist in Gnosticism, her publications include Introduction to 'Gnosticism': Ancient Voices, Christian Worlds (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
show more

Rating details

3 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 0% (0)
4 67% (2)
3 33% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X