9780812245790 0812245792 Apocalypse of the Alien God shows that the fundamental break between the Platonic tradition and Judeo-Christianity began when the mystic Plotinus rejected the teachings of the Sethians, an influential group of Gnostics who operated at the intersection of Hellenic, Jewish, and Christian thought., Augustine of Hippo is history's best-known Christian convert. The very concept of conversio owes its dissemination to his Confessions, and yet, as Jason David BeDuhn notes, conversion in Augustine is not the sudden, dramatic, and complete transformation of self we probably remember it to be. Rather, in the Confessions Augustine depicts conversion as a lifelong process, a series of self-discoveries and self-departures. In this first volume, BeDuhn reconstructs Augustine's decade-long adherence to Manichaeism, apostasy from it, and subsequent conversion to Nicene Christianity. The second volume demonstrates that as Augustine defined and became a "Catholic" self, he also intently engaged with his former Manichaean faith in works up to and including the Confessions. Book jacket., In the second century, Platonist and Judeo-Christian thought were sufficiently friendly that a Greek philosopher could declare, "What is Plato but Moses speaking Greek?" Four hundred years later, a Christian emperor had ended the public teaching of subversive Platonic thought. When and how did this philosophical rupture occur? Dylan M. Burns argues that the fundamental break occurred in Rome, ca. 263, in the circle of the great mystic Plotinus, author of the Enneads . Groups of controversial Christian metaphysicians called Gnostics ("knowers") frequented his seminars, disputed his views, and then disappeared from the history of philosophy--until the 1945 discovery, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, of codices containing Gnostic literature, including versions of the books circulated by Plotinus's Christian opponents. Blending state-of-the-art Greek metaphysics and ecstatic Jewish mysticism, these texts describe techniques for entering celestial realms, participating in the angelic liturgy, confronting the transcendent God, and even becoming a divine being oneself. They also describe the revelation of an alien God to his elect, a race of "foreigners" under the protection of the patriarch Seth, whose interventions will ultimately culminate in the end of the world. Apocalypse of the Alien God proposes a radical interpretation of these long-lost apocalypses, placing them firmly in the context of Judeo-Christian authorship rather than ascribing them to a pagan offshoot of Gnosticism. According to Burns, this Sethian literature emerged along the fault lines between Judaism and Christianity, drew on traditions known to scholars from the Dead Sea Scrolls and Enochic texts, and ultimately catalyzed the rivalry of Platonism with Christianity. Plunging the reader into the culture wars and classrooms of the high Empire, Apocalypse of the Alien God offers the most concrete social and historical description available of any group of Gnostic Christians as it explores the intersections of ancient Judaism, Christianity, Hellenism, myth, and philosophy.