10699Re: Fwd: Gnostic claims to Paul of Tarsus
- Feb 23, 2005--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> Ok... so now to the point. What is the relationship between Paul
> Gnosticism? In his letters to Corinth he seems to be specificallyborrowed
> speaking against Gnostics. On the other hand it is long been
> observed that he doesn't really give attention to a physical Jesus,
> and he uses many Gnostic terms and concepts. As both of you, Mike
> and Crispin, point out, it is possible that Paul could have
> from Gnosticism. However, some of these terms were also common inopposed
> the Hellenized Jewish (primarily Pharisee) practice of Merkabah as
> well. To assume that it was Paul who borrowed from Gnostics we have
> to assume that Gnostics existed prior to Paul. While I think it is
> likely they did, I don't think we should assume it.
> Valentinus' claim is unproven, but I also think we need to be
> careful before thinking it was for nothing but prestige. There has
> been actual academic debate about this, and we are only talking
> about two generations within a literate range of history (as
> to the generations prior to Paul). We must pay attention to bothHello everyone! There are certainly many members here who have read
> sides of the debate, and not assume a cause and effect relationship
> for the history that came later... since the evils of the Church
> that Crispin mentions are based on faulty hermeneutics that could
> have been applied to any material.
> I'll be honest, I could frankly give a fig if Paul turns out to be
> Gnostic or not (though I doubt the debate will be solved any time
> soon). Some have pointed out Paul's literary achievements, while
> others have blamed him for the fall of Christianity.
> BTW, I have to admit that I have not read Dr Pagels' "The Gnostic
> Paul", and I am not familiar with her arguments on the subject.
> Since it is easy to present the letters to Corinth as a case
> against, I was wondering if anyone who has read this work by Dr
> Pagels might be willing to present her points (if anyone here has
> read it).
or are at least familiar with Elaine Pagels's _The Gnostic Paul_,
which we've alluded to before in discussion.
PMCV, Dr. Pagels offers a detailed exegesis of various letters
attributed to Paul. Perhaps you or others might have specific
questions or verses in mind that others or I could address either in
summary or by quoting from Dr. Pagels's book.
Her introduction clarifies in detail hermeneutical history related to
Paul. She also states her specific focus ~
" on Paul _as he is being read in the second century_. The subject
is, of course, not Paul himself but `the gnostic Paul' -- that is,
the figure that emerges from second-century gnostic sources. This
investigation into the history of hermeneutics makes no attempt to
reconstruct a historical account of the apostle himself, or of the
issues he confronted in his own communities. Instead the task is to
investigate how two conflicting views of Paul emerge and develop as
early as the second century."
Dr. Pagels's study includes evidence from sources such as 1) extant
fragments of such teachers as Valentinus, Ptolemy, Heracleon, and
Theodotus; 2) passages of Valentinian exegesis from accounts of
specific heresiologists she enumerates; and 3) citations and
allusions to "Pauline" texts found in Nag Hammadi writings (those
generally considered Valentinian).
In her introduction, Elaine Pagels also mentions Paul's sense
of "dual responsibility," which ~
"impels Paul to write his letters, as he preaches, `in two ways at
once.' As he proclaims the savior to psychics in terms they can
grasp, so he addresses to them the outward, obvious message of his
letters. But to the initiates, who discern `the truth' hidden there
in `images,' he directs his deeper communication: they alone
interpret pneumatically what psychics read only literally."
And, as such, Dr. Pagels discusses letters ~
"which (according to extant evidence) the Valentinians considered
Pauline: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, and Hebrews. (The very few references to 1-2
Thessalonians are discussed in other sections.)
"Examination of the Greek and Coptic texts is, of course, essential
for scholarly evaluation of the evidence cited. For the reader's
convenience, however, sections of the Greek texts of the epistles
(selected according to availability of corresponding Valentinian
exegesis) have been included and translated to indicate the textual
basis of the gnostic reading (e.g. 1 Cor 2:14a: `the psychic does not
discern pneumatic things'). Passages of Valentinian exegesis are
cited below the text under discussion. Where no Valentinian
citations are extant for a certain passage, the Pauline text is
I hope this little summary offers a bit of help to get things started.
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