The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections On The Study Of Religion by Jeffrey J. KripalThe Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections On The Study Of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections On The Study Of Religion

byJeffrey J. Kripal

Paperback | December 15, 2006

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 229 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


“Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.” With those words in Genesis, God condemns the serpent for tempting Adam and Eve, and the serpent has shouldered the blame ever since. But how would the study of religion change if we looked at the Fall from the snake’s point of view? Would he appear as a bringer of wisdom, more generous than the God who wishes to keep his creation ignorant? 

Inspired by the early Gnostics who took that startling view, Jeffrey J. Kripal uses the serpent as a starting point for a groundbreaking reconsideration of religious studies and its methods. In a series of related essays, he moves beyond both rational and faith-based approaches to religion, exploring the erotics of the gospels and the sexualities of Jesus, John, and Mary Magdalene. He considers Feuerbach’s Gnosticism, the untapped mystical potential of comparative religion, and even the modern mythology of the X-Men. 

Ultimately, The Serpent’s Gift is a provocative call for a complete reorientation of religious studies, aimed at a larger understanding of the world, the self, and the divine.

Jeffrey J. Kripal is the J. Newton Rayzor Professor in and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is the author of Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna and Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism, both published by...
Title:The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections On The Study Of ReligionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:December 15, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226453812

ISBN - 13:9780226453811


Table of Contents

Preface: Digging Up My Library


Introduction: The Serpent’s Gift

Faith, Reason, and Gnosis

The Premodern, the Modern, and the Postmodern

Toward a Gnostic (Post)Modernity


Writing as Hissing

Autobiographical and Pedagogical Contexts

The Essays

1 The Apocryphon of the Beloved


The Quest for the Heretical Jesus

“One Will Know Them by Their Roots”

From the Womb . . .

Sexual Healings: Dispelling the Demons of Abuse

Sexual Teachings

The Man Jesus Loved

The Woman Jesus Loved

The Secret

2 Restoring the Adam of Light

The Adam of Light Awakened by Her

The Fiery Brook

The Sacrilegious Secret of Christian Theology

Implications of the Method

The Historical and Intellectual Contexts

“Man Is God to Man”: The Virtues of Pluralism and Polytheism

Completing the Incarnation of Love (and Sex): Embodiment in Feedback’s Thought

The Sexuality of Numbers

The Cancer and the Cure

Toward a Mystical Humanism: A Gnostic Rereading

3 Comparative Mystics

The Rebuke of the Gnostic and the Oriental Renaissance

Comparative Mystics

Ramakrishna: Colonialism, Universalism, Mysticism

Doctrinal and Historical-Critical Analysis

Ramakrishna and the Comparativist

The Critical Study of Religion as a Modern Mystical Tradition

The Scandal of Comparison

Professional Heresy: The Gnostic Study of Religion

Interlude: Logoi Mystikoi; or, How to Think like a Gnostic

4 Mutant Marvels

Educational and Sexual Allegory

On Puberty and Powers

Denying the Demiurge

Toward a More Radical Empiricism

Dissociation and the Release of Nonordinary Energies

On Death as Dissociation

Real X-Men

On X-clusions and X-ceptions

Political Allegory; or, How (Not) to Be an X-Man

Conclusion: Return to the Garden

The Other Tree

The Forbidden Fruit

“When He Becomes Troubled, He Will Be Astonished”

The Flaming Sword and the Bridal Chamber


The Fruit of the Tree; or, My Gnostic Library before I Have to Bury It (Again)