Thoughts on Christian esoterism

And yet, the parable is about how the heavenly kingdom is like a hidden treasure- a figure of speech commonly used to denote esoteric knowledge.

Combining traditions according to the Gospel according to Luke (Lk 17:20-21) and the Gospel "of Thomas" (Th 3, Th 113, Th 51), Jesus (p.b.u.h) said,
“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed. It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is.’ If those who lead you say, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it. What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it."

And Th 2:
Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."

There is a mystic component in the Kingdom of God, particularly in the sayings written down in Th. But it is not hidden or invisible. His message of the Kingdom is not a secret teaching, but he explained it as a kind of a project of God, a seed, and he gave concrete guidance with his teachings to make it grow inside and let it spread out.
A précis of the Introduction of "Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism" by Guy G. Stroumsa

There has commonly been assumed a conflict between orthodox 'exoteric' Christianity and the Hellenistic 'esoteric' schools – the Gnostics, the Greek mystery cults, other religions – all of whom were perceived as a serious challenge to early Christianity. Thus Mithra and Christ were seen as competing for the same ground in the Roman empire.

This outlook is now rejected, but the Christian mustèrion continued to be studied in a mainly pagan.

Only comparatively recently has the Jewish background to Christianity been afforded its due attention.

The discoveries of esoteric traditions in Palestinian Judaism, both among the Pharisees and the Essenes, had a far larger impact on the development of Christian mystical speculation than the Greek mystery cults, and it is they that shape the background of the “secret words” of Jesus and of the “advanced doctrines” of Paul.

Scholars now recognise the Jewish roots of Christian esoteric doctrines. This Jewish esotericism has its own roots in apocalyptic literature, in texts which often claim to reveal the divine secrets. Further evidence emerges from the Dead Sea Scrolls, in particular in their insistence on “secrets” (sod, raz). It is natural to see such texts and their conceptions as the obvious and immediate background of Paul’s mustèrion.

Paul, moreover, was privy to revelations in mystical experiences (2 Corinthians 12:1–6), and there are correspondences to the Jewish Merkavah, and to Jewish esoteric-mystical texts – the Heikhalot literature. Such texts refer to the secrets of the Torah, and in particular to the secrecy of the divine name (ha-sod ha-gadol). These Hebrew texts all later than Paul’s letters, but it's agreed they most likely contain earlier material.


This looks like it might realign some of my opinions regarding 'Christian esoterism' ... I'll keep posting snippets ...
Jesus' parable about the hidden treasure may be relevant. The merchant in it doesn't come across as a member of an inner elite at all.
Simon Magus, on the other hand...

Much like I tried to explain to Wil...I don't pretend to know anything esoteric. I know a little bit about it philosophically, but all I know is in my head, I don't practice. That is by choice.

I'm just not much of a joiner.

I've had my experiences, but I don't seek them; they slap me when the time is appropriate.