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The Serpent's GiftGnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion$
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Jeffrey J. Kripal

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226453804

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226453828.001.0001

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Restoring the Adam of Light

Restoring the Adam of Light

(p.59) 2 Restoring the Adam of Light
The Serpent's Gift
University of Chicago Press

This chapter turns to some of the Gnostic contours of modern critical thought. It is striking that the gnostic texts claim repeatedly that the original Adam or Human One knew more and more deeply than the creator-god. The goal of much gnostic ritual and speculation, moreover, was to restore humanity to its unitary source in the Pleroma (“the Full”) via what the texts call “the bridal chamber,” an initiatory or baptismal rite that may have had actual sexual components. Well before Freud or Nietzsche, Ludwig Feuerbach attempted something similar through a radical reversal of the psychological dynamic of projection. For him, religious ideas are human projections that alienate and impoverish us by denying what is best in us and projecting it into the sky. In proposing his projectionist method as a means to get at the “essence of Christianity” and help effect the incarnation of God in humanity, Feuerbach was essentially proposing a kind of mystical humanism. The chapter takes up these ideas as the historical foundations of later critical thought, particularly as it is found in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud—those three critical thinkers whom Paul Ricoeur called our “masters of suspicion.”

Keywords:   Gnostics, Pleroma, Ludwig Feuerbach, human projections, Christianity, God, Marx, Nietzsche, humanism

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