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10412Re: Baptism

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  • lady_caritas
    Jan 6, 2005
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pege41 <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > Hi, I have lurked awhile maybe a year?
      > I read from the web and guilty of not coming more often.
      > I have a question, and if any would like to e-mail me privately
      > is fine also.
      > How does Baptism play into gnosticism?
      > thanks
      > Pam

      Hi, Pam. I don't if anyone has emailed you privately, but I'll take
      a stab here with a few references for you.

      John D. Turner has written an excellent scholarly paper on ritual in
      Gnosticism, including a whole section on baptism with details about
      Sethian and Valentinian baptism:

      In addition, Bentley Layton has a nice summary of Gnostic baptism in
      his Historical Introduction to Part One of _The Gnostic Scriptures_,
      pages 19-20. I'll type it up for you below with links to some of
      works I found online that he references.

      Hope this helps.



      Like other Christians, the gnostics laid great stress on the
      importance of baptism and made strong use of baptismal rhetoric when
      speaking of salvation. To judge from the texts, gnostic baptism
      marked a decisive step in the spiritual life of the gnostic,
      involving renunciation, instruction, learning, and initiation in to a
      new "kinship" and a new state of life. Reception of gnostic baptism
      was closely associated with reception of _gnosis_ and was believed to
      enable the gnostic to overcome death.

      Various stage of a gnostic baptismal ceremony are enumerated in FTh
      {First Thought in Three Forms (Trimorphic Protennoia) -
      http://gnosis.org/naghamm/trimorph.html }: the candidate strips
      off "darkness," puts on a robe of light, is washed in the waters of
      life, receives a throne of glory and is glorified with glory of "the
      kinship," and finally is raised to "the luminous place of . . .
      kinship." The baptized is also said in EgG {The Holy Book of the
      Great Invisible Spirit (The Egyptian Gospel) -
      http://gnosis.org/naghamm/goseqypt.html } to put on the name of
      Jesus, and according to BJn {The Secret Book According to John -
      http://gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn.html } _gnosis_ is received when the
      savior seals the candidate with "the light of the water of the five
      seals." These five seals are mentioned in many passages of gnostic
      scripture as having a very intimate connection with _gnosis_, but
      what they consist of is never clearly explained. EgG concludes with
      a lengthy, ecstatic baptismal invocation presumably spoken by a
      recipient of gnostic baptism.

      Yet despite the insistence on baptism in gnostic scripture, the
      references to it are phrased in exaggerated poetic language, always
      giving the impression that the ceremony takes place not on earth, but
      only in the spiritual realm. For example, various aeons known from
      gnostic myth take a leading role in the ceremony; the spiritual
      baptismal water is even mythically personified, as are "the five
      seals." It may seriously be asked, then, whether such references to
      baptism are not mere metaphor, a mystical description of salvation by
      acquaintance (such an equation is explicitly made at the end of RAd
      {The Revelation of Adam - http://gnosis.org/naghamm/adam.html } ).
      Was there also a physical gnostic rite of baptism, and if so was it a
      once-for-all initiation into the new kinship of the gnostic church or
      a repeatable act of mystical enlightenment? What was its relation,
      if any, to that baptism already received by members of the non-
      gnostic church who then converted to gnostic Christianity? No answer
      to these questions is given by the scriptures themselves, apart from
      silence. But St. Epiphanius, a hostile--and not fully reliable--
      fourth-century observer (EpA {Epiphanius. On the Archontics – p. 194
      of _The Gnostic Scriptures_} ), reports that the Archontics, a
      subdivision of the gnostics, "curse and reject [non-gnostic] baptism,
      even though there are some among them who have already been baptized
      [as orthodox Christians]" because baptism is "alien and has been
      established in the name of Sabaoth," i.e. the god of Israel, who
      according the Archontics is the son of Satan. Furthermore, according
      to St. Epiphanius, the Archontics believe that when the soul is saved
      it "gets _gnosis_ and flees baptism of the [non-gnostic] church."
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