We are instantly fascinated by the suggestion of conspiracies and cover-ups; this has become so much the stuff of our imagination these days that it is only natural, it seems, to expect it when we turn to ancient texts, especially biblical texts. We treat them as if they were unconvincing press releases from some official source, whose intention is to conceal the real story; and that real story waits for the intrepid investigator to uncover it and share it with the waiting world. Anything that looks like the official version is automatically suspect. (Archbishop Rowan Williams)
Well it seems the case that many do, that was my point. But there are those who are more concerned with it actually said, rather than what they want it to say.If one can construe Gnosticism to be anything one likes...
Because it's such a pessimistic message.why do you construe it to be everything you dislike?
Good luck!I will now attempt a bridging of the gap.
OK."Agenda". When I read all our thoughts on different subjects I think it's clear that we often react predictably according to our experiences and perspectives. It's a human factor. This could be defined as an agenda. Like wils crusade against tradition, and Thomas struggle against the secular, my refusal to take a stand on anything, and so on.
I don't see how it can't, unless the content is pure empiricism ... and perhaps even then.In most science we try to take the person writing a paper out of the paper, but in sociology, for example we often point out how the person can be biased and how it will effect the paper.
Perhaps not, but then such sweeping generalisations are rather glib and pejorative, and in the case of good scholarly practice, just not true.Agenda though have a negative connotation, implying control and manipulation. This, I don't think, is fair to assume in most cases. And I'm guessing that wasn't implied by wil.
Such cynicism! And such a sweeping and indiscriminate condemnation is rather an extremist opinion, wouldn't you say?
I know you won't believe this, but not everyone is as self-serving as you assume us all to be.
For those who care, there is peer review – not flawless, but the best process we have. And certainly more forgiving than the assumption that everyone lies.
...Then take the Essenes, the Cathars, the Bogomils – who instituted a rule far more severe than orthodoxy. ...
Well apart from the apparent 'fact' that one can construe it to be anything one likes, I rather think its appeal is that it's seen as anti-establisment, anti-authoritarian, anti-church.
Gnosticism is always presented as 'free thought v the constraints of orthodoxy', ...
And I should accept your opinion as FACT, er, because it's your opinion?Cynicism?? Every author has an agenda is FACT!
You choose to believe so, but in the absence of evidence, I keep an open mind on the matter.Matthew Mark Luke and John....for instance....
By conflating texts, invent quotes or simply ignoring the contrary viewpoint?we all have our notions and are doing our level best to defend our notions and beliefs...
Sorry pal, YES.Negative? Cynicism...NO!
YOU PROVE MY POINT!then you have Fox News or MSNBC.... both sides create their hyperbole to support their agenda and don't mention any evidence or discussion that would counter that.... This is oh so common in books, book reviews, letters to the editor...Religious texts, religious criticism...
OK. I'll take your word for it.then you have Fox News or MSNBC.... both sides create their hyperbole to support their agenda and don't mention any evidence or discussion that would counter that....
How common is it, do you think, that people falsify data, because that's what we're talking about?This is oh so common in books, book reviews, letters to the editor...Religious texts, religious criticism...
Your position? Don't have to. You've made my point for me.How can you deny it?
So you still don't see the error in your thinking, even when I illustrate it with your Fox/MSNBC rant?I am not saying they all falsify data...
I am saying they choose not to report data that doesn't fit their paradigm.
As far as I know, "Gnosticism" can refer to either Gnostic Christianity or as an umbrella term for multiple knowledge seeking path with ties to early Christianity. I'm more concerned with the latter, but anyone with answers feel free to answer.
1.) Does Gnosticism have to be inherently dualistic? Are there any non-dualistic streams of thought in Gnosticism? Are there any that might resemble Vishishtadvaita from Hinduism?
As Elaine Pagels points out in her book The Gnostic Gospels, "Valentinian gnosticism...differs essentially from dualism" (Pagels 1978). Describing Gnostic systems such as Valentinianism as "dualist" has also been subject to extensive criticism by Simon Petrement (1990). Indeed, it has been recognized for some time that "a standard element in the interpretation of Valentinianism and similar forms of Gnosticism is the recognition that they are fundamentally monistic" (Schoedel 1980, see also Petrement 1984, Dawson 1992). This article represents an attempt to characterize Valentinian monism.
It is worth noting that Valentinianism shows an astonishing degree of similarity to another monistic system, the Advaita Vedanta school of Indian philosophy. In Advaita, the material world is an illusion (maya) attributed to ignorance (avidya) of the true reality. Through knowledge (jnana) of the ultimate reality (brahman), the world of multiplicity vanishes. True redemption (moksha) is the knowledge of one's true nature.
This raises the intriguing possibility of some kind of connection between the two. There was some awareness of Indian thought in the ancient Roman world. However, at the time of Valentinus, there was no systematic statement of Advaita thought. It is possible that Valentinus came into contact with some form of early Advaita Vedanta teaching. Advaita philosophy as it now stands was given its definitive form by Shankara in the 6th or 7th century AD. There also exists the possibility that he was influenced by Valentinian thought. Valentinians are known to have been active in the Middle East as late as the seventh century. It is possible that Valentinian missionaries or refugees may have made their way to India and come into contact with Shankara or his immediate predecessors. However, any connection between the two remains purely hypothetical.
- Valentinian Monism
Demiurge is the Mediator, the law giver, the creator of the world. He is neither the Devil nor the Father.2.) What exactly are the Demiurge and Sophia?
Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles was himself a gnostic so if you are a gnostic you can consider yourself to be more orthodox than Catholics or Protestants or any other Christians denominations for that matter.3.) Can one be apart of an orthodox or "official" Christian denomination and still also identify as Gnostic? Or at least have theological influence from it?
It was the Sethian gnostics who said that the creator and the creation is evil but the Valentinian gnostics strongly criticized Sethians and they do not consider the creator and the creation to be evil instead they just consider it to be neutral or just. But see what the Gospel of John itself says on this topic.4.) How would you counteract criticisms that Gnosticism is a "depressing" or "material denying" path?
Yes it literally denies the existence of the physical world.5.) Branching from 4, does Gnosticism literally deny the material world? In that the physical world does not actually exist?
Yes it is true. Gnosticism and Science are mutually exclusive. They both are oil and water. They don't mix well.6.) I've gotten a general impression that Gnostics tend to be anti-science. Is this inherently so?
According to the Sethian gnostics yes he is and according to the Valentinian gnostics he is not evil.7.) Is God evil?
Gnostics have no interests in such speculations because the goal of ancient gnosticism is neither to return to heaven nor to hell but to return to Pleroma the abode of the Father.8.) Are heaven and hell literally real or are they more symbolic?
He is one of the Aeons in the Pleroma, the Nous and was sent by the supreme Aeon of the Father. Jesus the son of God was sent by the demiurge and Christ was sent by the Holy Father. So there is salvation for both orthodox Christians as well as gnostic Christians. Gnostic Christians upon receiving gnostics redeem themselves here and now but Psychic Christians who possess blind faith and interpret the Bible literally wait for the second coming of Christ and finally they too will be allowed to enter the Pleroma.9.) What is the nature of Christ? Is he the divine savior and son of God? Or more of a Promethean/Luciferian archetype?
I seriously doubt that because gnostics were emanationists and they literally believed that their myth was more real than ordinary reality. So they literally believe in the existence of the Aeons or syzgies i.e. male and female pairs.10.) Can one be a non-theistic Gnostic? In that, they apply Gnostic metaphysics, philosophy, and spirituality to their life; but don't necessarily believe in God?
Aren't all the sacred scribes?Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles was himself a gnostic ...
Ooh, careful ... that does rather come across as a rather elitist viewpoint? It runs the risk of echoing the rich man and the publican syndrome (cf Luke 18).so if you are a gnostic you can consider yourself to be more orthodox than Catholics or Protestants or any other Christians denominations for that matter.
Hi Ammonius, and welcome.
Aren't all the sacred scribes?
I don't think there's such a thing as a 'gnostic religion' really, there's just different dispositions towards the received tradition. Authentic traditions caters for all tastes, gnosticism becomes a limitation when it puts itself first, as if the 'Gnostic Christian' is better or special, compared to the 'Christian'.
So I tend to reject 'Gnostic Christianity' as elitism, whereas 'Christian gnosis' is just what is.
Christian gnosis is not like 'common gnosis' – by which I mean those gnostic systems that share complex cosmologies – because Christian gnosis seeks to remove the veils that we tend to erect, and emphasises the Immanent Presence of the Divine.
It's a different order of gnosis altogether, compared to the teachings that Paul, John and Peter were confronted with. Paul warns against the 'pseudo gnosis' (cf 1 Timothy 6:20) of the world, and points to the 'gnosis of the crucifixion' (cf 1 Corinthians 1:22), which heterodox gnostic systems try and explain away.
Ooh, careful ... that does rather come across as a rather elitist viewpoint? It runs the risk of echoing the rich man and the publican syndrome (cf Luke 18).
I would say Traditional Christian gnosis (pre-Reformation) is all about caritas, it's a dynamic of meanoia-kenosis-theosis. I can't think of anything 'more gnostic' than that!
The elements of an authentic Christian gnosis I would say are the orthodox Christian Mysteries: Baptism and Eucharist, Cross and Resurrection, Incarnation and Trinity ... whereas the Gnostic Christian movements tried to make Christianity fit in their box, as it were.
Well that's rather a telling point, isn't it? It's spiritual elitism.Gnosticism is indeed a limitation followed by only an elected few individuals and considers others as ignoramus people.
Exactly. Sheer nonsense, sheer arrogance. Who decides who is who? The self-styled pneumatics, of course, who sit in judgement on everyone else. How do they know? Easy: If your audience adores you, they are psychics, if they don't, they're hylics.Pneumatic Christians are better than Psychic Christians and Hylics are the worst people of all.
No, I am saying more than that.I think you are conflating Christian mysticism with Christian gnosticism both are two different things and both are right.
Yes, I suppose, in context, one could say that. Teresa's insights and inspiration, her theology and psychology far outstrips Valentinus!St. Teresa of Avila is a good example for Christian mysticism and Valentinus is a good example for Christian gnosticism.
LOL! Actually it's the other way round.Christian gnosticism is superior than Christian mysticism.
Yes it is. And it panders to the 'conspiracy theorist' in us all.Gnostic Christianity is indeed elitism.
No need to apologise, we all know that. Philemon and 1 Thessalonians are widely regarded as authentic, btw, but we know the Pastorals as not from Paul's own hand. It seem to be a bigger stumbling block for you than for us.I am sorry, the Pastoral epistles, Philemon and Thessalonians are all fake letters in the name of Saint Paul ...
Ah, you're prejudices are showing! The Pauline Corpus was written before the Age of the Fathers, so the above claim is somewhat anachronistic and inaccurate.The orthodox church Fathers wrote those books fearing the growing rise of gnosticism in and around them.
D'you not think it reasonable that the Church preserve itself from error?Computer studies, works of Elaine Pagels, S.E Porter and quite a few other scholars know that Pastoral epistles are fake letters in the name of Saint Paul and it served only one goal to suppress gnosticism. There are countless literature out there on this issue you can refer to them.
Every Gnostic claimed to be in possession of 'secrets' imparted by Christ to him and him alone. Christ seems to have tricked a number of Gnostics into believing they alone had these keysValentinians knew about a second Baptism and there is the holy of the holiest, the Bridal Chamber which the orthodox church didn't knew ...
According to Valentinus. From Theudas, but then we have no evidence to suggest that Theudas ever existed And if he did, we have not the least idea of whether he was a good Pauline student, or a complete numbskull! Certainly Paul never endorsed him to anyone ...and Valentinians also truly received the apostolic tradition from Saint Paul.
Nah. Only if you have absolute faith in Theudas ... which I don't.Therefore gnostic Christians are more orthodox than Catholics or Protestants or Mormons or any other denominations for that matter.
Well that's rather a telling point, isn't it? It's spiritual elitism.
This has dogged esotericism down through history. Once again, every tradition comprises the esoteric and the exoteric in a harmony. Once one tires to extrapolate the esoteric alone, then you're left with nothing but egoism.
Not really, the doctrines of gnostics are openly available to anyone who have interests in them. Gnostics loved magic and rituals and the methodology for those rituals are openly available to all those who have done deep research in them and gnosticism is always an individualistic religion, we have no interests in proselytizing other people to our religion, we have no interests in establishing a church, in fact we do not like mass worship at all. What connects us is our gnostic visionary experiences and nothing else. Anyone can experience it on their own, one is free to do it or not. Its quite amazing how gnosticism has survived for millennium of years despite its not organized and faced so much suppression from orthodox religions.Exactly. Sheer nonsense, sheer arrogance. Who decides who is who? The self-styled pneumatics, of course, who sit in judgement on everyone else. How do they know? Easy: If your audience adores you, they are psychics, if they don't, they're hylics.
No, hylics are materialists who loved matter and did not believed in Christ, mainly atheists, secular humanists, apostates all fall into that category. The widow, the publican, the tax collector are not hylics.It's utterly contra-Christian. Scripture is replete with examples of those whom the elite would write off as hylic as being 'justified' by God – the widow, the publican, the tax collector ... I'm sure the sacra doctrina of the other Traditions tells the same story.
Christianity is indeed a mystery religion but fundamentalist Christians having interpreted their scriptures too literally have stripped off its mystery and in order to distance themselves from such Christians the label Gnostic Christians are applied to those people who interpret the scriptures allegorically rather than literally.No, I am saying more than that.
'Christian mysticism' and 'Christian gnosticism' is a tautology. To qualify Christianity with 'mysticism' or 'gnosticism' as something other than Christianity-as-such is an error, although an understandable one. American Christianity seems to be just secular Christianity – a romantic humanism by which a 'mystery religion' is stripped of its 'mystery'!
A religion is both mystical and gnostic but not its followers and that's the point.But the point is, how can a religion not be 'mystical', or 'gnostic'?
Its not artificial or judgemental they distance themselves because they have genuine doctrinal differences with each other. For example orthodox Christians believe in bodily resurrection while Valentinian Christians believe only in spiritual resurrection.The distinction is artificial and usually judgemental. People qualify themselves as a 'Christian mystic' or a 'Christian gnostic' to distance themselves from your average Christian, whom they usually describe in quite pejorative terms.
Valentinus is called as the gnostic for all seasons and Teresa of Avila is an infant compared to the knowledge of the giant Valentinus whose school flourished worldwide and still does.Yes, I suppose, in context, one could say that. Teresa's insights and inspiration, her theology and psychology far outstrips Valentinus!
Not really, get ready to drop Gospel of John and the genuine Pauline Epistles from the Biblican canon of the Catholic church because these books is more in light with gnosticism than with the orthodox church. The truth is out there for anyone who does more research and slowly the church will lose new visitors and its already happening worldwide.LOL! Actually it's the other way round.
No, Gnosticism is supported by scholarly evidence, scriptural evidence and also by empirical evidence. No need to be a conspiracy theorist, all one has to do is offer good arguments, the evidence is out there for anyone to see it.Yes it is. And it panders to the 'conspiracy theorist' in us all.
So you openly accept that your church fathers manipulated scriptures for their own selfish reasons and you are quite proud of it? Isn't it? Saint Paul was never against gnosticism in fact the irony is he was the sole initiator into the mysteries of gnosis.No need to apologise, we all know that. Philemon and 1 Thessalonians are widely regarded as authentic, btw, but we know the Pastorals as not from Paul's own hand. It seem to be a bigger stumbling block for you than for us.
Both Colossians and the letters to Hebrew are from Saint Paul and when one studies his letters in the original language it was written which is Greek then one easily finds that Colossians is full of references to gnosticism.Ah, you're prejudices are showing! The Pauline Corpus was written before the Age of the Fathers, so the above claim is somewhat anachronistic and inaccurate.
I would rather say the pseudo-Pauline letters were written around the time the Church was organising itself to cope with its expansion, and certainly with a view to combatting 'gnostic' interpretations of the Christian mysteries, which is understandable. But were they written by 'the orthodox church Fathers'? I don't think so, that infers a later date. Orthodoxy was taking shape when these letters were written.
The Hymn of Colossians, for example, is a profound theological commentary of 'Christian gnosis' as opposed to 'Gnostic Christian' doctrines. It's also assumed to be a hymn sung in the early Liturgies. Is it from Paul? Probably not. I like to think not. Like the Letter to the Hebrews, I like to think Paul was not the only one with some theological insight. Does it matter? Not really. It's the content that counts.
Perhaps its time to do some self introspection for the Church and consider herself to be in error. The only thing the church did right was including Gospel of John and the authentic Pauline Epistles in its biblical canon. Which is enough for gnosticism to raise again.D'you not think it reasonable that the Church preserve itself from error?
Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]" (Gospel of Thomas)Every Gnostic claimed to be in possession of 'secrets' imparted by Christ to him and him alone. Christ seems to have tricked a number of Gnostics into believing they alone had these keys
The work of Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Paul and Spiritual Seed: The Church of the Valentinians by Einar Thomassen slams orthodox church straight out. The orthodox Church has got nothing to be apologetic now because it has been proved beyond doubt that St. Paul was a gnostic. In fact many serious Christians are asking the question can St. Paul be trusted? So the best place where the Pauline Epistles should exist is in the Gnostic Bible not in the New Testament.According to Valentinus. From Theudas, but then we have no evidence to suggest that Theudas ever existed And if he did, we have not the least idea of whether he was a good Pauline student, or a complete numbskull! Certainly Paul never endorsed him to anyone ...
So that is a really dodgy thesis ... I wouldn't risk it.
Nah. Only if you have absolute faith in Theudas ... which I don't.
But here's the point:
What did Valentinus teach?
Not the usual stuff, common to mystical speculation generally, but the 'secret apostolic teaching' he's supposed to have received from Paul?
We have not the feintest idea.
None of his writings are extant except those quoted by his critics who refute his teachings, therefore it's unlikely they would transmit anything 'useful'. And his followers modified his teachings to make them their own, as is common among Gnostics, where it's almost de rigueur to alter a received doctrine to make it your own, so we're on no better ground there
Christ and the gnostic Saint Paul together can take Christianity to the far reaches of the world and can make Christianity live forever. Valentinus did not invented anything new he exposed what was already codified by Saint Paul in his letters in a quite elegant and in an apostolic traditional manner. The truth is in the Pauline letters we don't have to go anywhere for it.So you're left hanging, really ... the distortions of Valentinus' teaching could be greater than any distortion of the orthodox, in fact it's more likely, as the orthodox was subject to more checks and balances.
Really, I would have thought anyone who thinks they're following an authentic Gnostic teaching today is pursuing a chimera.
All you've got is generalisms, the filtering of Christian ideas through Platonism or some other branch of speculative thinking.
There's no way in the world one can argue that it's authentically Christian.
I do. I don't rate it.Do you know what Gospel of Philip says?
LOL.Yes gnostics are extremely arrogant but they are also one of the most kind-hearted persons in the world.
Oh, good grief ...Valentinus is called as the gnostic for all seasons and Teresa of Avila is an infant compared to the knowledge of the giant Valentinus whose school flourished worldwide and still does.
Well there's a thing!Both Colossians and the letters to Hebrew are from Saint Paul and when one studies his letters in the original language it was written which is Greek then one easily finds that Colossians is full of references to gnosticism.
Definition of Arrogance:
"The offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride."
haughtiness, conceit, hubris, self-importance, egotism, sense of superiority; pomposity, high-handedness, swagger, boasting, bumptiousness, bluster ...
Arrogance is a vice, not a virtue.
The first commentary on the Gospel of John was written by a Valentinian gnostic named Heracleon. Many of the verses in the Gospel of John were added later to refute the gnostics.You do know it's said that John refused to share the same airspace as Cerinthus, an early gnostic, and that the Johannine Epistles were expressly written to refute his dualist teachings, and, by the way, the teachings contained in the Gospel of Philip?
"Gnosis (knowledge) of the Father removes the power of sin. Those who have gnosis (knowledge) are theoretically free of sin. The Gospel of Philip says "The one who has knowledge is a free person. But the free person does not sin, for the one who sins is a slave of sin " (Gospel of Philip 77:15-18 cf.. John 8:34). Spiritual people by definition do not sin. Through knowledge they die with regard to sin and are raised up again with Christ (Excepts of Theodotus 77:1). Gnosis (knowledge) eliminates their inner demons and gives them a "pure heart" which allows them to lead a sinless existence (Valentinus Fragment 2/H). "The idea that man is above sin is typical of Gnostic arrogance.