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10415Re: Baptism

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  • lady_caritas
    Jan 12, 2005
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > Just to add to what Dr Turner stated (and mildly refute Turner's
      > statement that Gnostic texts are silent on the matter as well as
      > bolster his main point concerning spiritual meaning above ritual
      > practice), I would like to point out a passage from Philip....
      > "If one goes down into the water and comes up without having
      > received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the
      > name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the
      > name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it
      > back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is
      > demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a
      > mystery."
      > At first this may sound a bit like an admonition that we could
      > actually here in the average Christian church today, but I think Dr
      > Turner is right on the mark in pointing out that in the Gnostic
      > context this is at least in part meant to be understood within the
      > allegorical framework of understanding vs non understanding. To
      > that point more clear we can look at the earlier statement in
      > that says "He who has received something other than the Lord is
      > still a Hebrew" that comes after a fairly direct (almost
      > unchericteristically so) explination that the word "Hebrew" is
      > as an initiatory term rather than one of cultural identity.
      > In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
      > allegorical meaning and spiritual process of the message rather
      > washing away sins to make amends to some angry Demiurge lest he
      > smite us.
      > We may be tempted to see this difference between the Gnostic and
      > common modern understanding of baptism as nothing more than
      > sectarian dogmatic debate, but it actually goes further than that.
      > By raising the issue of form and function we are forced to consider
      > methodology itself. What I mean there is, it two completely
      > different things to say that a ritual is meant to somehow please a
      > god vs whether it is meant to help us understand something about
      > ourselves and the universe around us. This is ritual as magic spell
      > vs ritual for spiritual meaning. I think it is safe to say that the
      > exact same ritual can be used in the two completely different
      > contexts. Perhaps it is that realization that allowed the
      > Valentinians to exist in and among the non-Gnostic Christians and
      > use the same ritual practice while simply seeing them as well
      > meaning people who didn't fully understand yet because of thier
      > being stuck in physical understandings of the spiritual process.
      > Hope I didn't confuse the issue.
      > PMCV

      Not at all, PMCV. Great insights,... except that I can't find where
      Turner talked about silence in Gnostic texts. Perhaps you could
      direct me. The quote I typed from *Bentley Layton* did mention that
      though. Also, Turner does touch on Valentinian baptism as well as
      Sethian baptism; whereas, Layton's quote preceded a section basically
      discussing Sethian texts.

      Apropos of your discussion of Valentinian baptism, PMCV, I found
      Turner's discussion of two baptisms to be interesting.

      "For the Tripartite Tractate (NHC I,5: 127,25), Valentinian baptism
      is equivalent to the redemption, the second baptism (the baptism 'in
      the fullest sense' as opposed to 'the baptism which we previously

      "Like the Gospel of Philip, A Valentinian Exposition understands the
      first baptism as the forgiveness of sins, but whose effect seems to
      be the same as the "redemption" or second baptism described in
      patristic sources: it elevates the recipient out of the world into
      the aeon. In both treatises the first baptism seems to be connected
      with an anointing and a eucharist, although the significance of the
      latter seems to be attenuated. In the Gospel of Philip, which seems
      to refer to the rites of redemption and bridal chamber as a sort of
      second baptism, the chrism becomes the central part of the baptismal
      rite, overshadowing the eucharist altogether."

      Turner's mention of rites overlapping in this section is compelling,
      too. He seems to broaden the concept (or definition) of "baptism."
      What do you (and other members) think?

      I believe you're correct that the Valentinians were generally a bit
      more accepting or at least tolerant of the non-Gnostic Christians'
      water ritual. Well, I imagine they would have to be to try to
      survive in their midst. Occasional polemics against water immersion
      (by some groups) ("impure baptism in a dark water that enslaves")
      such as described by Turner at the end of his section on Sethian
      ... certainly would be self-defeating if sharing a community with non-
      Christians were a goal, as in the case of the Valentinians.

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