Peter Kirby said:
>>I guess I don't understand the premise. What is it about
the second century that made Christians start to hate
Some while ago I recall reading an essay that explained the
general (although not universal) Gnostic proclivity towards
celibacy and asceticism as due to a rejection of everything
that would drag down an inquisitive person from learning
esoteric teachings or discovering "truths."
That would include a wife and children. Once an individual
in that era gets married and starts having children, the
responsibilities would weigh so heavily on the vast majority
of individuals that there would be little leisure for
reading (assuming he could read) or money to afford study at
the feet of a teacher.
The daily life of the average Egyptian was somewhat unique.
The vast majority of persons, mostly native Egyptians, were
peasants. Even in the larger nomes (villages), many of the
non-Greeks (called "Persians" regardless of nationality if
they were not Egyptian natives) and even some of the lower
level "Greeks" (a technical designation, finally defined by
law in the early 1st century CE I believe, for those exempt
from paying certain taxes) seemed to be leasing plots of
(probably somewhat marginal) land from the state to farm on
the side to supplement their regular salaries or wages. This
suggests that most folks were barely getting by, even in the
towns, in the 1st century CE.
Couple this economic stress with the Jewish/Christian
apocalyptic idea of "election," and the general male
domination of culture, and it is not hard to imagine groups
of "free thinking" men rejecting all association with women
and family as essentially a plot by evil powers to keep them
from discovering some deep truth about the world. In the
case of Gnostics, that truth was the "fact" that there was a
secret way out of the cycle of birth-marriage-death, and
that people like them (but no one else) were destined to
discover the secret.
This "classic" way of thinking can, I seem to recall, be
demonstrated in the cases of several Gnostic sects in
2nd-3rd century Alexandria. I believe the essay I read was
in _The Roots of Egyptian Christianity_ (ed. Birger
Cleveland, Ohio, USA