"Tobias Churton is the perfect candidate to explore Gnosticism with an insightful gaze and a solid grip on history. In 1987 he was involved in the acclaimed British Channel Four series The Gnostics and wrote the companion volume. Many of us interested in Gnosticism were first exposed to the Gnostic tradition through these early works.
Churton breaks out of the Christian ghetto mentality and explores Gnosticism as a wider phenomenon meandering through history. His depth of coverage is impressive, from early Vedic and Zoroastrian traditions through Judaism, Christianity and medieval sects, to modern neo-Gnostics, including the infamous Aleister Crowley. He offers an excellent summary of various Gnostic streams, with lucid commentary and lots of quotes from primary sources.Churton shows his background in Freemasonic history with a superb exploration of the Gnostic elements in Hermeticism and Freemasonry. Churton sees Gnosticism as a playful exploration of the spiritual verities, a praxis (i.e. practical spirituality) based on a direct perception of the spiritual world (gnosis = to know), rather than as a purely speculative form and this is the key to understand his work."
Churton separates the wheat from the chaff and disposes of unnecessary speculations and fantasy. To get a good handle on what Gnosticism is really all about (and isn’t), a great place to start is with Gnostic Philosophy by Tobias Churton."
Robert Burns, NEW DAWN magazine
"For the last 2000 years or more, Gnosticism has been persecuted and wilfully misunderstood by those who prefer to control human freedom. In this magisterial work Churton explores the origins of Gnosticism, its growth and development and along the way setting right not a few myths which have developed. This is not really a book to be read through in one sitting, it is rather a work to be dipped into in order to elucidate some important episode in our history which has hitherto been ignored or misused. The section on Jesus and the relationship of his words with the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls is particularly important. Churton writes: ‘Had Jesus visited the supposed "Qumran Sect" he would I think have looked at the community, with their hopes for changing the nature of the world from without, with pity.’ Churton bravely seeks to rescue the eighteenth century Illuminati and the later Aleister Crowley from the hell to which they have been consigned by historians. He sees the rise of the radical Illuminati as the consequence of the replacement of pro-masonic and benevolent enlightenment rulers with narrow-minded successors. The exploration of Crowley’s thought is fascinating and, one assumes, seminal."
Michael Baigent, FREEMASONRY TODAY
"A wonderful book. I've felt happy since I read it yesterday. The breadth of coverage is great: over 2000 years of Gnostic groups and individuals, among them Cathars, Sufis, Jacob Bohme, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Carl Jung, and Rudolf Steiner.
Within each topic, there’s suprising depth of coverage. The coverage of the Sufis is beautiful writing. The coverage of Aleister Crowley is enthusiastic and complex. This is in no way a dry survey. Nevertheless, the writing is backed up with 42 pages of footnotes and a 7 page bibliography. Altogether, many pointers to further reading on Gnosticism. There were some surprises for me about who could be considered Gnostic: for example, the coverage of the Troubadours and, more recently, Jimi Hendrix. Churton is able to define Gnosticism through those he has selected to represent it. It's a long way from Valentinus to Hendrix, to be sure, but Churton quite capably threads together the many individuals and groups he considers Gnostic. In doing so, he moves from history to presence, so that he may, as if he did for me, provide you a vital sense of how Gnosticism may be relevant today for you.
Gnostic Philosophy may inform and entertain, but, due to the deep care and warmth with which Churton has written it, it may also call to you. This book is a brilliant presentation of why Gnosticism matters."
Everpresence of Gnosis, by ‘calmly’ May 7, 2005 ***** (Amazon Review)
"Churton, founding editor of Freemasonry Today, is an authority on the subject and comprehensively chronicles Gnostic History to its earliest origins. What is more, he does this in a highly readable format, his journalistic experience shining through in each chapter. If your curiosity of Western esoterica has been piqued of late, and you're looking to get the low-down on what it is actually all about, there is probably no better place to start."
The Real McCoy, August 11, 2005 **** by’ BPG’ (Amazon Review)
"I read every word of this book. First, it is not about some slightly interesting “idea” circulating in the development of Christianity. It’s about gnosis which is the full realization of being. It’s about the ancient and eternal quest for the Meaning of Existence. It's the history of a philosophical search based on the illusion of separation from source that's become entangled over the long years in complex literalism. And it’s made thrillingly clear to a careful reader because it's well understood by its own writer. This one will always have space on my bookshelves, shelves that get smaller as the years pass rather than larger. I seem to be getting very picky as I go along."
LibraryThing: ***** (Amazon Review)