Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview

Poimandres
The Hermetic Tractates

Introduction: This writing comes from a large, heterogenous collection of writings known as the Corpus Hermeticum, so-called because some of them have to do in one way or another with the God Hermes. The meaning of the title of this writing is uncertain. The two most commonly accepted interpretations are: (1) the title is Greek and may mean, “shepherd of man” or “shepherd”; (2) the title derives from the Coptic (p.eime.n.re) and means “the knowledge of the Sun-God (Ra).” The second alternative better fits the document’s contents. The author is unknown and opinions differ as to the date of the writing. But the second century A.D. is a likely date.

Part of the reason for the uncertainty as to Poimandres’ date is the puzzling character of the writing itself. Although the author clearly relies on the Jewish creation account in Genesis, chs. 1–2, the writing as a whole comes from a very different context. Is Poimandres a Greco-Egyptian mystical revelation of the creation of the world, which dips from time to time into the narrative of Genesis? Or is it a product of esoteric Jewish mysticism, well assimilated to mystical traditions of other religions? In either case, Poimandres is an excellent example of the religious syncretism that flourished during the GrecoRoman age, that is, the process in which religious traditions mix and appropriate symbols from other traditions.

Poimandres gives expression to a profound pessimism regarding life, a deep rejection of the tangible world. Human beings are not at home in this world; they are “strangers in a strange land.” They are “in the world” only because they have somehow gotten themselves subjected to a terrible demonic Power which rules the physical universe.

The corollary to this deep disenchantment with the world is the view that authentic human existence may only be restored by enlightenment, enlightenment in the form of secret, saving knowledge (gnosis). This knowledge brings to a few elect humans the realization of their predicament in the world and the message that they really do not belong here, but are destined to return to the heavenly realm from whence they came. In short, humans are presented in Poimandres as heavenly souls entrapped in this evil and unredeemable creation.

So humans are dual creatures; they are divine, immortal souls which have somehow gotten ensnared in filthy physical bodies. Gnosis frees the divine element from the trap of the body, so that the souls may ascend through the heavenly spheres back to their true heavenly abode.

-239-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Documents for the Study of the Gospels
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 299

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.