Hermetic Piety of the Mind
Semiotic & Cognitive Study of the
Discourse of Hermes Trismegistos

By J. Peter Sodergard
December 2003
Almqvist & Wiksell International
ISBN: 91-22-02048-9
284 pages, 6" x 8 "
$79.50 Paper Original


This is a Ph.D. dissertation. The present work explores how the concept mind is used in the discourse of Hermes Trismegistos for the bringing forth of a Hermetic piety of mind, which culminates in mystical vision and in the divinization of the initiand. In focus are some constitutive elements of a religious discourse stemming from Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, and which has survived largely in the form of spiritually instructive dialogues, written in the name of Hermes Trismegistos or in the names of those associated with him.

Thus, the work analyzes the semiotic and cognitive processes and basic components of a discourse that intended to capture and to transport the mind of the reader into a particular story world, thereby conveying a persuasive 'presence' of the unlimited and divine, so that this fictive world became the true version of the world. The reading and performance of the dialogues aimed at the passage of the initiand into the state of being a hermetist, who has been reborn in nous, and who has been liberated from the physical body. Such a Model Reader perceives the All with the eye of nous, i.e. from and by the omniscient vision of the mind of God. In particular, the work studies how the conceptual metaphors of the discourse use the body and the perceptions of the senses as a source-domain for the description of the target domain: an unlimited and incorporeal existence into which the mind of the reader is initiated.

Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series, No. 41

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