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, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> Ok, Pneumen, now we are getting to some more difficult problems....
> >>Firstly, in the limited amount of scholarship I've read on early
> Christianity, I see little evidence of the falsification of Jesus's
> words or that the words attributed to him were not his own.<<
> Well, evidence simply does not generally prove negatives. However,
> most historians do agree that at least some rewriting went on.
I simply find it hard to believe that a Christian, even a power-hungry
one, who sincerely believed in Jesus would knowingly falsify his
words. It seems that there are enough subsersive ideas in the
canonical gospels that would have been taken out if someone was
seriously interested in using Jesus as a means of defending
established social orders.
Real evidence could negate anything written in canonical scriptures,
and prove that certain claims have been falsified. None has ever been
found. There is only skeptical speculation, which is in fine in
scholarly debate if it is accepted as such.
> >>In fact, Gnostic and Orthodox sources, while critical of each
> other, never misrepresent the other.<<
> This statement, Pneumen, is absolutely false. In fact, it is known
> quite well that Orthodox sources not only misrepresent Gnostics, but
> in some cases make up Gnostic sects that most likely did not even
Well, lets be careful here. You ask me for evidence when I make
claims, so it would only be fair to provide an example here.
The sources I've read (Elaine Pagels and www.gnosis.org) tend to quote
the parts of Iraneus et al that they find useful and accurate, so I
may be getting an impression that the Orthodox of the second century,
while hostile to gnosticism, were not liars. The impression I get is
that these heresologists were cantankerous old farts and were very
"Roman" in that they were not particularly nuanced in their view of
the world. But that doesn't mean they were not sincere.
> >>Given that this is he case, why in the world would they invent
> things that come out Jesus's mouth?<<
> Political power.
As I said, there are plenty of things in the canonical gospels that
would have been deleted if political power were all that was
important. Was the Christian Church really a political force in the
2cnd century? It seems that the Orthodox were more obsessed with
martyrdom in those days than political power. I would tend to see the
debates between the various factions as more sincere than that.
Of course, this would not be the case in the fourth century, when the
Gospels were either cannonized or suppressed. But I think at this
time, it would have been difficult to actually alter any of the texts,
as they seem to have been well established by this time.
> >>Secondly, I think that the word "Father" is so powerfully
> archetypical, that it must have anthropomorphical cannotations. To
> deny that would be to deny ones own humanity.<<
> Funny you should put it like that... since to EVENTUALLY remove
> one's self from humanity is exactly the goal of Gnosis.
I don't know about that. I would say that the goal is to remove
yourself from worldly entanglements, and affirm ones true humanity. I
would not phrase this as removing oneself from humanity, but rather,
taking your proper place within it.
> >>Christian Gnostics certainly would. One could say that the
> Christian message has so permeated Western Society that
> Valentinianism is pobably the most influential and relevant in any
> discussion of Gnosticism. It also has the most surviving texts.<<
> Not exactly, Pneuman. Even the Valintinians would not have seen
> Jesus as the savior in the same way that modern Catholics do. Jesus'
> words would be important to a point, at which time Gnosis would take
That would depend on the modern Catholic. I suspect that there are
likely monastic orders and individual mystics that come close. If one
takes a Jungian view of ritual, one could say that Gnosticism is built
right into the Mass and Communion, and that this is closer to the core
of Gnosticism than any surviving theological or speculative text. As a
matter of fact, it would be directly responsible for the power that
the Catholic Church has exercised over the western mind.
> It has become clear that you have some Orthodox faith in Jesus. That
> is fine, and I would not attack that.
Quite the contrary. Every inch of my background has made me
suspicious of Orthodoxy and externalities, especially secular ones,
which makes Faith quite impossible for me. That's why Gnosticism, for
me, is something that I'm forced into for Salvation. Being able to
have Faith is a gift for those who can do it.
I'm more interested in what is at the core of the Christian message.
The way to tell if a religious message is valid is to examine the
external "fruit" that these extrernal traditions bring: How do
"believers" or "knowers" behave? Are the societies built on these
religious traditions brutal or compassionate? Indeed, early Christian
society was appealing because Christians were essentially nice people
who were nice to each other. What is the spirit that such a community
is built on?
If you look at how the Christian commandment to love one another
(which can be taken both literally and allegorically) has transformed
a brutal Roman civilization into liberal Western Society (through
various Christian inspired ideologies such as the Enlightenment), I'd
say one has to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath
water when examining orthodox Christianity.
This was precisely what the Valentinians were doing. Their aim was to
reconcile the Gnostic and Orthodox viewpoints. I think this attempt
was noble. I believe that someone with the proper Gnosis would
recognize Gnostic and Orthodox Christianity as two sides of the same
> May I suggest, though, that it
> seems possible you have committed some level of eisegesis concerning
> Gnosticism that has prevented you from gaining an historically
> accurate outline of thier beliefs? Can I make a suggestion? Step
> back for a moment and assume you are reading these texts with no
> preconcieved ideas of what a "Christian" must look like... or what
> relation Gnosticism may have had to what later became Christianity.
That is precisely what I do. I tend to take both the Canonical and
Gnostic Gospels at par. I view the 2cnd century debates within the
Christian community as a sincere attempt of a community to grasp the
Christian message. For that matter, I take any religous texts as
valid, and tend to view them as an outward expression of universal
truths that can only be grasped through inner transformation.
Religious traditions embroider that message with culture.
And as long as we're getting into condescending psychoanalysis, I
think there is a tendency among many "neo-Gnostics" to view Orthodox
Christianity with more hostility than it deserves. This is
understandable when one lives in a Bible Belt, where fundamentalists
and the politicization of religion are very easily to project it on
the Orthodox of yore.
However, if one views early Christian debates as a Valentinian
exercise in the reconciliation of opposites, one can overcome these