These volumes, complete in themselves as a series of studies in a definite body of tradition, are intended to serve ultimately as a small contribution to the preparation of the way leading towards a solution of the vast problems involved in the scientific study of the Origins of the Christian Faith. They might thus perhaps be described as the preparation of materials to serve for the historic, mythic, and mystic consideration of the Origins of Christianity,—where the term “mythic” is used in its true sense of inner, typical, sacred and “logic,” as opposed to the external processioning of physical events known as “historic,” and where the term “mystic” is used as that which pertains to initiation and the mysteries.
The serious consideration of the matter contained in these pages will, I hope, enable the attentive reader to outline in his mind, however vaguely, some small portion of the environment of infant Christianity, and allow him to move a few steps round the cradle of Christendom.
Though the material that we have collected, has, as to its externals, been tested, as far as our hands are capable of the work, by the methods of scholarship and criticism, it has nevertheless at the same time been allowed ungrudgingly to show itself the outward
expression of a truly vital endeavour of immense interest and value to all who are disposed to make friends with it. For along this ray of the Trismegistic tradition we may allow ourselves to be drawn backwards in time towards the holy of holies of the Wisdom of Ancient Egypt. The sympathetic study of this material may well prove an initiatory process towards an understanding of that Archaic Gnosis.
And, therefore, though these volumes are intended to show those competent to judge that all has been set forth in decency according to approved methods of modern research, they are also designed for those who are not qualified to give an opinion on such matters, but who are able to feel and think with the writers of these beautiful tractates.
The following abbreviations have been used for economy of space:
C. H. = Corpus Hermeticum.
D. J. L. = Mead (G. R. S.), Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? An Enquiry into the Talmud Jesus Stories, the Toldoth Jeschu, and Some Curious Statements of Epiphanius: being a Contribution to the Study of Christian Origins (London, 1903).
F. F. F. = Mead (G. R. S.), Fragments of a Faith Forgotten. Some Short Sketches among the Gnostics, mainly of the First Two Centuries: a Contribution to the Study of Christian Origins based on the most recently recovered Materials (London, 1900; 2nd ed. 1906).
G. = Gaisford (T.), Joannis Stobæi Florilegium (Oxford, 1822), 4 vols.; Io. Stob. Ec. Phys. et Ethic. Libri Duo (Oxford, 1850), 2 vols.
H. = Hense (O.), I. Stob. Anth. Lib. Tert. (Berlin, 1894), 1 vol., incomplete.
K. K. = “The Virgin of the World” (Κόρη Κόσμου).
M. = Meineke (A.), Joh. Stob. Flor. (Leipzig, 1855, 1856), 3 vols.; Joh. Stob. Ec. Phys. et Ethic. Lib. Duo (Leipzig, 1860), 2 vols.
P. = Parthey (G.), Hermetis Trismegisti Pœmander ad Fidem Codicum Manu Scriptorum recognovit (Berlin, 1854).
Pat. = Patrizzi (F.), Nova de Universis Philosophia (Venice, 1593).
P. S. A. = “The Perfect Sermon, or Asclepius.”
R. = Reitzenstein (R.), Poimandres: Studien zur griechisch-ägyptischen und früchristlichen Literatur (Leipzig, 1904). Ri. = Richter (M. C. E.), Philonis Judæi Opera Omnia, in Bibliotheca Sacra Patrum Ecclesiæ Græcorum (Leipzig, 1828-1830), 8 vols.
S. I. H. = “The Sermon of Isis to Horus.”
W. = Wachsmuth (C.), Io. Stob. Anthologii Lib. Duo Priores . . . Ec. Phys. et Ethic. (Berlin, 1884), 2 vols.
G. R. S. M.