[This] book acquaints the beginner with the topic of gnosticism and early Christianity and presents to the specialist some of the new frontiers their colleagues are exploring. For the beginner there is a concise introduction to gnosticism. It covers the issues of origin, literature, leading ideas, and possible links with early Christianity. Each contributor has prepared a preface to his or her paper that points to its salient features and explains how the essay fits into the overall subject of the book.
--from the Preface