The Robe of Glory: An Ancient Parable of the Soul - Reviews and Comments
Now out of print. A revised form has been incorporated into The Prodigal Soul: The Wisdom of Ancient Parables.
In this book, John Davidson makes a valuable contribution towards popularizing gnostic and apocryphal literature, attempting to make this important part of our Christian heritage accessible to the ordinary reader. For too long, the fifty two gnostic tractates discovered in 1945 have only been available to academics in the book entitled The Nag Hammadi Library in English. In this form, gnostic literature has remained impenetrable to most people. I think that it is of great value to make it more accessible....
There was great variety of thought amongst the earliest Christians, just as there is now. During the first few centuries, however, orthodox Christian authorities successfully eradicated all Christian literature which did not conform to their own notion of orthodoxy, to create the idea that there was no substantial variety of thought within the Church.
The book focuses mainly on interpreting one particular Syriac mystic poem, The Robe of Glory, found in the 'apocryphal' Acts of Thomas, though it also provides a general background to the ancient mystic literature of the Middle East. He describes how mystics have been free to teach and follow a spirituality unimpaired by involvement in religion. He has valuable insights into how the processes of organized religion have obscured mystic teachings by literalizing them and enforcing them as doctrines, so creating division and sectarianism.
Wendy Worham, Sea of Faith
John's commentary draws on many parallel passages from the Nag Hammadi Library and elsewhere in illuminating the depth of meaning of the rich vein of mystical themes in the poem. The result is an extensive meditation on the perennial stages of the spiritual path which will appeal to all students of mysticism.
David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network Newsletter
Here we have a radiant gem, a jewel of a dissertation upon an allegorical poem that is profoundly mystical, full of beauty, portraying the truths and story of man's fall from Grace and of the weary but persistent journeying on the road he takes to Perfection and his Spiritual Home.... John Davidson gives us a penetrating analysis and commentary on this poem so full of mystical and spiritual truths, so beautifully expressed.... The reader will with benefit return frequently to the reading of this book as within its pages there is witness to so much love, compassion, understanding and deep spiritual knowledge, so welcome and reassuring in these tumultuous and earth-shattering days. Accustomed as we are to the author's recent series on science and mysticism, we welcome this, his first book in a promised series relating to the teachings of Jesus and other mystics of his time. Following upon his commentary on The Robe of Glory, we are introduced to many of the ancient writings from the apocryphal and gnostic literature and incorporating material from the Nag Hammadi Library with the well-researched and discerning observations and interpretations we have come to expect from this versatile author. Concluding, we are regaled with an account of The Parable of the Pearl Merchant, a delightful saga in a short tractate from the Acts of Peter and The Twelve Apostles in the Nag Hammadi Library. The latest book from the pen of John Davidson is a classic for our time and not to be missed.
Doris Middleton, Beyond
I enjoyed your clear, vigorous style and the lucidity of your exposition; and it was a pleasure to meet the verses from the Parthian Hymn-cycles in this new setting.
Professor Mary Boyce, Retd.
I have been particularly impressed by The Robe of Glory, which confirms so much of what I have read over many years. I am ordering two further copies which I intend to place where they may be of use to others.
Dr David Hodges, University of London
Just the sort of book I enjoy reading.
Jillie Collings, Author, London
As soon as I received the book, a friend borrowed it and has returned it only a few days ago.
Mrs Gool Minwalla, President, Theosophical Society, Pakistan
I found (it) very beautiful and inspiring. Your scientific work is warmed and softened by your very human understanding and your mystical approach and The Robe is made highly respectable by your thorough academic research.
Nola Collins, West Sussex
I don't doubt that you will have many appreciative letters such as this, but I wanted to declare how impressed I was by your deep spiritual insight into these ancient writings and how grateful I am to you for bringing them to our attention. But more than that I am tantalized by the deeper glimpses your book gives of your own profound understanding of these things. I agree entirely with your view that organized religion is of no use without individual mystic experience, individual awareness of our own Buddha-hood or conformity with deity.... I must reiterate the deep spiritual influx your book brought to me and which has made me want to write to you at once to thank you for that gift. That sounds stilted, but I feel sure you will understand.... The main purpose of this letter was to thank and bless you for your very beautiful book. I hope to read more of your work soon.
Charles Bryant, Kent