Argues that the discourse of Jacob Boehme represents the return of Gnostic thought in modernity after a thousand year hiatus.
Jacob Boehme, the seventeenth-century German speculative mystic, influenced the philosophers Hegel and Schelling and both English and German Romantics alike with his visionary thought. Gnostic Apocalypse focuses on the way Boehme's thought repeats and surpasses post-reformation Lutheran thinking, deploys and subverts the commitments of medieval mysticism, realizes the speculative thrust of Renaissance alchemy, is open to esoteric discourses such as the Kabbalah, and articulates a dynamic metaphysics. This book critically assesses the striking claim made in the nineteenth century that Boehme's visionary discourse represents within the confines of specifically Protestant thought nothing less than the return of ancient Gnosis. Although the grounds adduced on behalf of the "Gnostic return" claim in the nineteenth century are dismissed as questionable, O'Regan shows that the fundamental intuition is correct. Boehme's visionary discourse does represent a return of Gnosticism in the modern period, and in this lies its fundamental claim to our contemporary philosophical, theological, and literary attention.
Cyril O'Regan is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of The Heterodox Hegel and Gnostic Return in Modernity, both published by SUNY Press.
O'Regan's Gnostic Apocalypse is exhaustively and densely argued … O'Regan's significant contribution to scholarship—beyond the general need for books on thinkers such as Boehme—comes from his enticing suggestion that it is with such important thinkers as Hegel and Blake that Boehme's legacy lies and that, similarly, the sources of a thinker such as Hegel are to be found not only in the previous tradition of 'German idealism' represented by Kant among others but also in more marginal and theological figures as Boehme. " — The Journal of Religion
"His scholarship is meticulous and this in itself guarantees the long term impact of the work. O'Regan has done a first-rate job in explaining Boehme, locating him within the complex strands of esoteric mystical speculation that streamed into the seventeenth century, and demonstrating the uniqueness of Boehme's own synthesis as a key transmitter of Gnostic structures into religious and philosophical movements of the modern world. " — David Walsh, author of The Third Millennium: Reflections on Faith and Reason