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10705Re: Fwd: Gnostic claims to Paul of Tarsus

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  • pmcvflag
    Feb 28, 2005
      This post from Lady Cari clarifies things a great deal (and as
      always, provides better perspective for the conversation). I had
      been under the impression that the book dealt with the origins of
      Paul's theological thinking, and I am happy to hear that was a
      misconception on my part. What Lady Cari outlines for us here makes
      infinitely more sense.

      As we talked about previously, understanding Paul in an historical
      way is pretty limited, and our only recourse then is his few
      accepted writings (roughly half of what is attributed to him in the
      New Testement). The problem is, hermeneutics.... how are we to
      interprate these writings? Obviously many people from many movements
      saw Paul as their own, and the "orthodox" view of who Paul is
      obviously doesn't stand up.

      The only question to be answered here then would be, who Paul was in
      the understanding of, and how Paul was interprated by, the Gnostics.


      ________________Cari's Post_____________________________

      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

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