Lectures Ritman Research Institute

The Ritman Research Institute strives to create opportunities for scholarly exchange through lectures, conferences, round tables and other events. To further stimulate conversation in the academic community, videos of our events will appear here.

Lecture: Wouter Hanegraaff, 20 October 2022, “Hermetic Spirituality and Altered States of Knowledge”

In this lecture, Wouter Hanegraaff will talk about his new book Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late Antiquity (Cambridge University Press 2022). The Hermetic literature has mostly been interpreted as philosophical treatises about theological topics, but Hanegraaff challenges this dominant narrative. He wants to demonstrate that, in fact, it was concerned with powerful experiential practices intended for healing the soul from mental delusion. The “Way of Hermes” involved radical alterations of consciousness in which practitioners claimed to perceive the true nature of reality behind the hallucinatory veil of appearances. Hanegraaff will explain how they went through a training regime that involved luminous visions, exorcism, spiritual rebirth, cosmic consciousness, and union with the divine beauty of universal goodness and truth. The final goal was to attain the salvational knowledge known as gnosis.

Read more about Wouter Hanegraaff


Lecture: Emile Schrijver, “The Book Culture of the First Generations of Portuguese Jewish Refugees in Amsterdam”, 10 November 2022 (keynote for “Amsterdam as Haven” Conference)

The first Portuguese Jews reached the city of Amsterdam at the end of the sixteenth century. In the course of the decades that followed they developed a unique book culture that reflected the complexities of the escape of Iberian Jewry from the Peninsula more than a century earlier in many different ways. This lecture will discuss the calligraphy and typography, the multiculturalism, the politics and the complex interrelation with pre-expulsion Jewry of a unique Amsterdam Portuguese-Jewish book culture.

Read more about Emile Schrijver