It is true that the Netherlands have a strong gnostic and especially hermetic tradition, but I wonder why our knowledge isn’t shared more with other countries. This book is the result of a congress that was held in the fall of 1990 in Amsterdam. 18 Experts gave lectures about the influence of the Hermetic Gnosis (an Egyptian religion) on Western culture.
The lectures are worked to articles, that are edited and explained or introduced by professor Gilles Quispel. He was born in 1916 and in 1952 he received the so-called Jung-Codex for his translation of five unknown Gnostic writings. In 1956 he brought the Coptic “Gospel Of Thomas” on his flight from Egypt, which was not ready for publishing before 1991. Further Quispel has offered the world a great work with his gigantic translation and elucidation of the “Asclepius”, which is one of the main hermetic writings.
The congress and this book has been made possible with the help of the “Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica” (or the Ritman library) from Amsterdam which owns over 15.000 writings from which a large part ancient.
The articles are by known and unknown writers, such as J. Slavenburg, J.-P. Mahé, G. Quispel himself, J. Mansveld, J. van Oort and more with as closer-off an article by J. Ritman about the “Bibliotheca”. All in all spanning an amount of over 670 pages.
The different articles are about various subjects and (in my humble opinion) not equally interesting. The book is in a way chronological and it starts in Alexandria, where the writers believe Hermeticism was founded. Then church-fathers such as Philo and Clemens of Alexandria, Origenes are dealt with and then we move through Egypt to Greece, early Christianity, Giovani Pico della Mirandola, Patrizi, Paracelcus, Böhme, William Blake, the Theosophical Society and gnosticism in different traditions.
Overall pretty exhaustive, with as only endorsement that because it are all different articles, there is no definate structure in the book. Of course also the writing-styles are different and some writers definately are much better readable than others.