The comparative religion collecting area offers a broad historical background to the study of the Hermetica and of Gnosis and opens with a general section including such classical studies as those of J.G.R. Forlong, Rivers of Life, James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis, and Mircea Eliade, Geschichte der religiösen Ideen.
In addition to general works on Egyptian cultural and religious history, this section contains a number of more specific studies exploring the relationship between the Hermetica, ancient Egyptian religion and magic and the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria, the latest of which is Maarten Raven’s Egyptian magic. The quest for Thoth’s Book of Secrets (2012), a work published on the occasion of an exhibition on Egyptian magic in the Museum of Antiquities in Leiden in 2011. Other works consider the connection between the Egyptian god Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus.
This section contains works which are illustrative of the appeal which the culture of ancient Egypt exerted and still exerts on modern Western esoteric authors and currents.
Greek and Roman mystery religions were major components of the late-Hellenistic environment. General studies on myths and mythologies, the pre-Christian wisdom mysteries or cults (Mithras, Eleusis) are placed here.
This section has many links with other collecting areas within the library: Hermetic philosophy, Gnosis, pre-Christian cults and mysticism. A number of patristic works – insofar as they have not been placed within the collecting areas Gnosis and Hermetica – can be found here, but also a private press edition of the Bergpredigt Jesu (not on the open shelf), one of 25 copies printed on vellum by the famous Insel Verlag in 1908.