The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus

The Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom

Christian H. Bull, Leiden: Brill, 2018


In The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, Christian H. Bull argues that the treatises attributed to Hermes Trismegistus reflect the spiritual exercises and ritual practices of loosely organized brotherhoods in Egypt. These small groups were directed by Egyptian priests educated in the traditional lore of the temples, but also conversant with Greek philosophy. Such priests, who were increasingly dispossessed with the gradual demise of the Egyptian temples, could find eager adherents among a Greek-speaking audience seeking for the wisdom of the Egyptian Hermes, who was widely considered to be an important source for the philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato. The volume contains a comprehensive analysis of the myths of Hermes Trismegistus, a reevaluation of the Way of Hermes, and a contextualization of this ritual tradition.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents


Who is Hermes Trismegistus?

The Myth of Hermes Trismegistus

The Primordial Egyptian Kings in the Hermetica

Conclusion to Part 1

What is the Way of Hermes?

Introduction to the Way of Hermes

The Ritual of Rebirth

Heavenly Ascent: The Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth (NHC VI,6)

Conclusion to Part 2

Who Were the Hermetists?—Situating the Way of Hermes

The True Philosophy of Hermes

The Magician and the Temple

The Egyptian Priesthoods and Temples



Index of Ancient Sources


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