ISBN: 978-1-59731-092-5 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-59731-093-2 (cloth)
Basing himself on Christian sources—literally ‘”from Saint Paul to Meister Eckhart’—Wolfgang Smith formulates what he terms an ‘unexpurgated’ account of gnosis, and demonstrates its central place in the perfection of the Christ-centered life. He observes, moreover, that the very conception of a ‘supreme knowing,’ as implied by the aforesaid sources, has a decisive bearing upon cosmology, which moreover constitutes the underlying principle upon which his earlier scientific and philosophical work—beginning with his ground-breaking treatise on the interpretation of quantum mechanics—has been based. The ‘fact of gnosis,’ however, has a decisive bearing on the theological notion of creatio ex nihilo as well, and it is this imperative that Smith proposes to explore in the present work. What is thus demanded, he contends, is the inherently Kabbalistic notion of a creatio ex Deo et in Deo, not to replace, but to complement the creatio ex nihilo. This leads to an engagement with Christian Kabbalah (Pico de la Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin, and Cardinal Egidio di Viterbo especially) and with Jacob Boehme, culminating in an exegesis of Meister Eckhart’s doctrine. The author argues, first of all, that Eckhart does not (as many have thought) advocate a ‘God beyond God’ theology: does not, in other words, hold an inherently Sabellian view of the Trinity. Smith maintains that Eckhart has not in fact transgressed a single Trinitarian or Christological dogma; what he does deny implicitly, he shows, is none other than the creatio ex nihilo, which in effect Eckhart replaces with the Kabbalistic creatio ex Deo. In this shift, moreover, Smith perceives the transition from ‘exoteric’ to ‘esoteric’ within the integral domain of Christian doctrine.
Table of Contents
Preface—Gnosis and Nascent Christianity—Cosmology in the Face of Gnosis—Transcending the Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Kabbalistic Exegesis—The Wisdom of Christian Kabbalah—The Gnosis of Jacob Boehme—Meister Eckhart on Creation—Eckhart’s Trinitarian Nondualism—Postscript—Index of Names
Praise for Christian Gnosis
Wolfgang Smith brings to his writing a rare combination of qualities and experiences, not the least his ability to move freely between the somewhat arcane worlds of science and traditional metaphysics. Alongside Dr. Smith’s imposing qualifications in mathematics, physics, and philosophy, we find his hard-earned expertise in Platonism, Christian theology, traditional cosmologies, and Oriental metaphysics. His outlook has been enriched both by his diverse professional experiences in the high-tech world of the aerospace industry and in academia, and by his own researches in the course of his far-reaching intellectual and spiritual journeying. Here is that rare person who is equally at home with Eckhart and Einstein, Heraclitus and Heisenberg! —Harry Oldmeadow, La Trobe University
About the Author
Wolfgang Smith graduated from Cornell University at age eighteen with majors in physics, philosophy, and mathematics. After taking an M.S. in physics at Purdue, he pursued research in aerodynamics, where his papers on diffusion fields provided the theoretical key to the solution of the re-entry problem for space flight. After receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, Dr. Smith held faculty positions at M.I.T., U.C.L.A., and Oregon State University, where he served as Professor of Mathematics until his retirement in 1992. In addition to numerous technical publications (relating to differential topology), Dr. Smith has published three previous books and many articles dealing with foundational and interdisciplinary problems. He has been especially concerned to unmask conceptions of a scientistic kind widely accepted today as scientific truths.