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Re: [XTalk] Gnostic influences?

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  • Robert M. Schacht
    At 08:54 AM 10/11/00 , you wrote: Bob, The points that follow do not directly answer your original qq., but I hope they may throw some light on it. I am also
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 11, 2000
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      At 08:54 AM 10/11/00 , you wrote:

      The points that follow do not directly answer your original qq., but I hope they may throw some light on it. I am also hoping that they will elicit some responses to related qq that are presently of interest to me.
      1) As you noted Pagels wrote some time ago. When I recently acquired the new paperback edition I was disappointed to discover that it seems simply to reproduce the orginal text of 1975. There is no additional section commenting on developments over the last 25 years when Gnosticism studies have been flowing at full tide. Her biblio. contains nothing more recent than the early 70s.
      This is the edition that I have, and I have no quarrel with these details.

      (One result, in my recent attempt to read up on the current state of Gosticism studies, I have had to leave her aside as there was so much else deserving attention.)

      Nevertheless, as my comments below may show, she dealt with a number of the issues you raise, perhaps in more detail than you assumed. Pagels had an inside pipeline to the forthcoming Nag Hammadi material, and seems to have had a fairly thorough access to a wide range of the gnostic texts under study at that time.

       2) Many see Marcion as the thinker who developed the tensions he found in Paul's thought in a ditheist direction: on the one hand the god of the Jewish scriptures, creator and giver of the law, endlessly punitive and cruel; on the other the all-good Father of Jesus Christ who has eyes only for the needs of the human creatures who are living under the oppression of the creator/law-giver god, and who sends a savior to deliver them.
      3) Marcion, then, shares the ditheism of the Gnostics, but did that make him a Gnostic? Given the vagueness and elasticity of the term, the question may be unanswerable!

      The relationship of Marcion and (not with) the Gnostics has received a great deal of corrective attention in the middle third of the 20th century, enough to dispel the idea that Marcion was a Gnostic. However, I am not familiar with the issue of ditheism-- at least not under that name. The Gnostics certainly entertained the idea of a demiurge in addition to the Highest God, and often criticised non-Gnostic Christians for worshipping the demiurge instead of the Highest God because of their inability to see the difference. But is this really the same as Marcion's ditheism?

       4) Question:  What is thought of Joseph Hoffman's "Marcion: On the Restitution of Christianity" (1984). For him Marcion, despite his ditheism,  is not a Gnostic because he does not share the Gnostic understanding of the human dilemma nor, consequently, their understanding of the remedy, salvation.
      He sees Marcion as totally dependent on Paul who does not believe that a minority of humans have a divine spark or element buried within them; and consequently does not see the role of the savior as being that of their awakener to the saving knowledge (gnosis) of a) the high, all-good God and b) their own forgotten divinity.
      Instead he sees humanity as a fallen 'massa damnata', all equally under the power of Sin from which they cannot deliver themselves; and the supposedly all-good high God as freely chosing to deliver who he will, a minority [or is that only part of Augustine's contribution?] So for Paul and Marcion, as for the Gnostics,  humanity is divided into two categories, but for M. and M.'s Paul, all of them are equally capable of being saved by the savior, but only the elect are actually saved. And saved not by Gnosis, but by faith.

      I am not familiar with Hoffman's work.

      Whereas for the Gnostice there are two essentially, intrinsically diiferent kinds of humans: the psuchikoi and the pneumatikoi. And only the latter can--and must?--be saved, by spiritual gnosis....

      The latter, according to Pagels' account of the Valentinian Gnostics, are automatically saved because they are the elect. Salvation is available to the psuchikoi, but they have to do the right thing to get it.

      When I return home, I'll have to look up what Jim Davila wrote to CrossTalk a year or so ago when we had a discussion of Jewish Gnosticism, etc.

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