We’ve just published G. J. Wheeler’s article The Finding of Hidden Texts in Esoteric and Other Religious Traditions: Some Notes on “Discovery Narrative” . The article can be found in advance form in Volume 7, no. 2 (2019).
This article deals with a motif that appears repeatedly in the history of the Western traditions of esotericism and alternative spirituality. The motif is an essentially simple one: a person claims to have discovered an older, previously hidden text containing sacred knowledge, and he then duly circulates that knowledge to the world. The term “discovery narrative” may be used to describe this phenomenon. Perhaps surprisingly, discovery narratives have generally been neglected by scholars of esotericism. This article traces occurrences of the motif through history and examines both the drivers behind its usage and the tensions which appear to be inherent within it.