cover image Gnostic Mysteries of Sex

Gnostic Mysteries of Sex

Tobias Churton. Inner Traditions, $19.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-62055-421-0

Churton (The Mysteries of John the Baptist) takes readers on a historical tour of available writings on sexual gnosis. By avoiding well-known works and examining many lesser-known writers on heresiology%E2%80%94gnostics were considered heretics by the early institutional church %E2%80%94Churton concludes that gnostic sexual practices (seeking union with God through sex) were sacramental to the initiated, as well as deeply feared by those uninitiated. Churton focuses on the life of Simon Magus, an apostolic challenger, ostensible magician, and charlatan whose gnostic doctrines terrified the early church. Sects such as the Seths, Serpent Worshippers, and Seed Gatherers (semen is an integral part of Churton's analysis) are woven into the narrative. While Churton's scholarship seems to be both deep and broad, the reader sometimes loses the thread of the story in the numerous details and segues. This work will likely find its best audience among academics and those who consider themselves gnostic aficionados. Without some prior background or knowledge of these religious groups, the reader may be left both wandering and wondering. (Sept.)