Christian Gnosis

From St. Paul to Meister Eckhart

Wolfgang Smith

San Rafael, CA: Sophia Perennis, 2009.
240 pages
Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59731-092-5
Price: $17.95 US
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Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-59731-093-2
Price: $26.95 US
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Basing himself on Christian sources—literally ‘”from Saint Paul to Meister Eckhart’—Wolfgang Smith formulates what he terms an ‘unexpurgated’ account of gnosis, and demonstrates its central place in the perfection of the Christ-centered life. He observes, moreover, that the very conception of a ‘supreme knowing,’ as implied by the aforesaid sources, has a decisive bearing upon cosmology, which moreover constitutes the underlying principle upon which his earlier scientific and philosophical work—beginning with his ground-breaking treatise on the interpretation of quantum mechanics—has been based. The ‘fact of gnosis,’ however, has a decisive bearing on the theological notion of creatio ex nihilo as well, and it is this imperative that Smith proposes to explore in the present work. What is thus demanded, he contends, is the inherently Kabbalistic notion of a creatio ex Deo et in Deo, not to replace, but to complement the creatio ex nihilo. This leads to an engagement with Christian Kabbalah (Pico de la Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin, and Cardinal Egidio di Viterbo especially) and with Jacob Boehme, culminating in an exegesis of Meister Eckhart’s doctrine. The author argues, first of all, that Eckhart does not (as many have thought) advocate a ‘God beyond God’ theology: does not, in other words, hold an inherently Sabellian view of the Trinity. Smith maintains that Eckhart has not in fact transgressed a single Trinitarian or Christological dogma; what he does deny implicitly, he shows, is none other than the creatio ex nihilo, which in effect Eckhart replaces with the Kabbalistic creatio ex Deo. In this shift, moreover, Smith perceives the transition from ‘exoteric’ to ‘esoteric’ within the integral domain of Christian doctrine.

Table of Contents

Preface—Gnosis and Nascent Christianity—Cosmology in the Face of Gnosis—Transcending the Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Kabbalistic Exegesis—The Wisdom of Christian Kabbalah—The Gnosis of Jacob Boehme—Meister Eckhart on Creation—Eckhart's Trinitarian Nondualism—Postscript—Index of Names

Praise

Wolfgang Smith brings to his writing a rare combination of qualities and experiences, not the least his ability to move freely between the somewhat arcane worlds of science and traditional metaphysics. Alongside Dr. Smith's imposing qualifications in mathematics, physics, and philosophy, we find his hard-earned expertise in Platonism, Christian theology, traditional cosmologies, and Oriental metaphysics. His outlook has been enriched both by his diverse professional experiences in the high-tech world of the aerospace industry and in academia, and by his own researches in the course of his far-reaching intellectual and spiritual journeying. Here is that rare person who is equally at home with Eckhart and Einstein, Heraclitus and Heisenberg!
Harry Oldmeadow, La Trobe University

About the Author

Wolfgang Smith ranks today as one of the foremost exponents of what many have called the sophia perennis, the traditional and timeless wisdom of mankind. After receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia he taught at various universities, including M.I.T. and U.C.L.A. Since his retirement from academic life he has authored several books and numerous articles relating to the critique and interpretation of science from a metaphysical point of vantage. Sophia Perennis has also published his The Quantum Enigma: Finding the Hidden Key,Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief, and Science & Myth: What They Never Told Us.