Understand, Pneumen, that it was not my intent to be condecending
with my suggestion to step back for a moment... I simply meant to
point out that some of your assurtions are... well, not always
SEEMING to be consistant with observable critical destinctions. I
mearly meant that perhaps it would be a good idea to leave Dr Pagels
(who is not always such a critical source) behind and take a look at
something a bit better corroborated and less popular in it's purpose
(some have even said "sensatinalist").
>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.<
And yet, it is generally accepted amongst academecians that the
Gospel of Mark has been heavily edited, both adding and removing
sections. The "Biblical" version of Jesus' saying concerning seeking
and finding leaves out some pretty key elements when compared to
Thomas, and Dr Pagels (whom I only point out because you seem to
trust her), in her latest book, dedicates a great deal of attention
to how diametrically opposed John and Thomas' understanding of Jesus
is. The seeming subtle difference in his sayings have such profound
implications that she considers John to have been written for the
purpose of gaining political (Church politics.. not secular
government) ground over Thomas.
>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.<
How about the fact that the Geneologies in Matthew and Luke are not
in accord? Appologists come up with a number of excuses, but the
more cricital answer is that the purpose was political. Besides...
the burden of proof lies on the claimants. Since Matthew is so
obviously a rewriting of Exodus, there is good reason to demand
proof of any literal validity. Otherwise there is simply better
evidence behind the observation that we are seeing a mythological
process... making the notion of "falsification" only relevent when
the story line is intropolated with seeming historical claims (such
as supposed geneologies, or attacks on Mary, or Thomas, Peter, etc.).
>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
(concerning my statement that Orthodox xources misrepresent
Ok, how about this for evidence? Take a look at Clement's treatement
of Carpocrates, and that of Irenaeus. They both agree that
Carpocrates was a libertine (though Irenaeus admits that he is
unsure if that is really true) but the simalarities end there. In
fact, both sources cannot be true since the belief system they
describe are at odds. This problem is pretty common knowledge.
Unless you can reconcile these accounts... it is fair to say that
the heresiologies can't always be trusted.
Let's add to this the fact that the so called "Cainites" dealt with
by a few heresiologists probably never existed. If they did, the
charges against them were so contrived (and cliche' urban legend of
the time) as to be very unlikely. In fact, Dr William questions if
any of the charges of libertine behavior in the Gnostic sects in
general are worth anything, and most scholors today agree that at
least many of them are not. The orthodox heresiologists describe
Abraxas as something completely different from what our surviving
Gnostic sources do, and the list goes on.
>As I said, there are plenty of things in the canonical gospels that
would have been deleted if political power were all that was
And as I said, there is evidince that some things were in fact
deleted. Even if you do not believe in Mortin Smith's descovery of
purged sections of Mark (though most do), the odd editing of the
sections that would be filled are well known. And the theory of the
addition of the last section is nearly universally accepted as fact.
Your own home Bible is even likely to point it out.
Early Christians seem to have had no qualms about creative
redaction, just as the redacter of the J, E, P, D, segments of the
Torah had none.
>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.<
Sure... IF one takes that eisegetic and anti-historical method of
>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?<
There is one problem... if you believe that Orthodox sources about
Gnosticism are accurate, as you have said you do, then some Gnostics
believed they must commit every sin to gain salvation... murder,
rape, child molestation... is that about love?
>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 coin.<
Where ever you got the idea that Valintinians were trying to
reconcile Orthodox and Gnostic beliefs.... throw that book away (or
at least toss the bathwater portion). Valintinians did not view
themselves as a different movement, there was no such thing as
the "orthodox church" for them to try to reconcile with "Gnosticism"
(a term that they probably never used either). Valintinians simply
considered themselves good Christians who were participating in
something a bit deeper than the as yet uninitiated other Christians.
They thought of themselves as the true followers of Paul's secret
teachings. Two rungs on a ladder would be a better description that
two sides of the coin, and attempted reconciliation of two movements
is something you will need to demonstrate (to put it as kindly as I
>However, if one views early Christian debates as a Valentinian
exercise in the reconciliation of opposites, one can overcome these
Assuming one has understood the Valentinian belief system as well as
they think they have. Does Dr Pagels or Jung? Well, I would
certainly question using these sources without adding something more
critical (not to say they have no value).
And... I am STILL seeing a fatal flaw in the seeming need to stick
to Valentinian thought, since it is not representative of GNosticism
as a whole.