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Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination by Wouter Hanegraaff: PROSE award for the best book in Religious Studies in 2022

Wouter Hanegraafs book Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination has won the PROSE award for the best book in Religious Studies published in 2022! PROSE is one of the most prestigious awards in academic publishing.

“The 2023 PROSE Award entries considered by our judges illustrate the wide breadth of excellence, diversity, and merit in scholarly works published today, in all areas of academic study,” commented Emily Bokelman, Manager, Member Programs, AAP. “Our 25-judge panel evaluated this year’s entries to select 105 titles as finalists, further naming 40 exceptional titles to be honored as Category Winners.”

Book description:
In Egypt during the first centuries CE, men and women would meet discreetly in their homes, in temple sanctuaries, or insolitary places to learn a powerful practice of spiritual liberation. They thought of themselves as followers of Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary master of ancient wisdom. While many of their writings are lost, those that survived have been interpreted primarily as philosophical treatises about theological topics. Wouter J. Hanegraaff challenges this dominant narrative by demonstrating that Hermetic literature was concerned with experiential practices intended for healing the soul from mental delusion. The Way of Hermes involved radical alterations of consciousness in which practitioners claimed to perceive the true nature of reality behind the hallucinatory veil of appearances. Hanegraaff explores how practitioners went through a training regime that involved luminous visions, exorcism, spiritual rebirth, cosmic consciousness, and union with the divine beauty of universal goodness and truth to attain the salvational knowledge known as gnôsis.

Cambridge University Press; ISBN 978-1-009-12306-8

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