Religion Past and Present

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(315 words)

[German Version]

Today, esotericism (Gk ἐσωτερικόv/esōterikón, “the internal”) encompasses all those writings, doctrines and practices that either (1), to the extent that they involve religious matters, contradict the declared doctrines of the churches or (2), to the extent that they understand themselves as knowledge, are irreconcilable with the knowledge and methods of science and, consequently, claim to be “higher knowledge,” or (3) whatever can be sold on the esoteric market as eso-tericism. In antiquity, philosophical writings intended only for initiates were…

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Zinser, Hartmut, “Esotericism”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 23 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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