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10699Re: Fwd: Gnostic claims to Paul of Tarsus

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  • lady_caritas
    Feb 23, 2005
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, 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 specifically
      > 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 in
      > 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 both
      > 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).
      > PMCV

      Hello everyone! There are certainly many members here who have read
      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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