This is a very rare signed first edition of the classic study of mysticism by Baron Friedrich von Hugel, published in 1908. Slightly worn, it is otherwise in good condition. Von Hugel was a very influential Catholic figure of the late 19th century and early Twentieth centuries whose writings extended into the fields of theology and philosophy. He was spiritual adviser to the major Anglican writer on mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, whose work was perhaps, even at that time, better known than his own. This two volume work is his magnum opus.
This is the fourth impression, dated 1957, of the classic account by P.D. Ouspensky of the teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff. The first edition was in 1950. This copy is most unusual in still being in pristine, virtually as new, condition.
This important collection of writings by P.D. Ouspensky on science, occultism, religion and art was first published 1931. This copy was printed in 1960. It is a reprint of the third edition, dated 1938. For a book of this age it is in unusual in being in pristine, virtually as new, condition.
This is the first edition, published by Oxford University Press in 1956, without dust wrapper and slightly warn but otherwise in good condition. R.H. Lightfoot was a hesitant scholar who published little, what he did publish however was always highly meticulous. Originally told he was not good enough for an academic job he started out as a curate in a country parish. He went on however to take up a professorship at Oxford and came to be regarded as one of the foremost New Testament scholars of his time. This commentary was still not quite complete at his death in 1953. It was put into its final form by his pupil C.F. Evans.
This hardback volume, published by the Promethean Trust in 1999, is still in pristine condition. ‘On the Mysteries’ is a key work by Iamblichus, the Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher of the late third and early fourth century. Incorporated in this volume are also his ‘Life of Pythagoras’ and other Pythagorean fragments. Thomas Taylor, the translator was himself a pivotal figure in the revival of Neoplatonist thinking in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
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Porphyry, who lived from about 232 to 305, was a disciple of Plotinus and an important Neoplatonic philosopher in his own right. He was also the most learned of the early critics of Christianity. Having heard Origin preach however and also studied the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian gospels he found the new religion to be lacking both in literary quality and philosophical substance. The gospels, he concluded, were the work of charlatans; Jesus himself was a criminal and a failure – even from the Jewish perspective. ‘Even’, he writes, ‘if Christ’s suffering was carried out according to God’s plan, even if he was meant to suffer punishment – at least he might have faced his suffering more nobly and spoken words of power and wisdom to Pilate, his judge, instead of being made fun of like a peasant boy in the big city.’ His followers had betrayed him; their chief, the greatest coward of all, was made a prince of his church. And their teaching was self-contradictory; they look for the end of the world, but what they really want is control of the empire.
Due to its highly critical nature his work Against the Christians was condemned to be burnt in 448. It survives only in fragments preserved by the cleric and teacher Macarius Magnes. It is these fragments which the biblical scholar Joseph Hoffmann has edited, together with his own illuminating introduction and commentary. As Hoffmann points out ‘The sentiments expressed were devastating because they came from someone who knew the sacred books of the Christians and their doctrines intimately.’ He would not allow the Christian apologists to take refuge in allegory, pointing out that the Greek of the gospels was that of the market place, bearing no comparison with the language of Homer, hence quite incapable of supporting the more enlightened interpretation the might try to put on it.
The argument in essence is the old one between Athens and Jerusalem, going back to the Maccabean period and beyond, yet given a sharper polemic and philosophical edge by Porphyry. It is also not a million miles from some of the more enlightened attitudes to religion today. Joseph Hoffmann’s aim in this volume is to allow Porphyry to speak for himself.
This fine quality hardback, published in 1994 by Prometheus Books, is already quite rare and sought after.