10705Re: Fwd: Gnostic claims to Paul of Tarsus
- Feb 28, 2005This 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.
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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