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11671Re: another newbie

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  • pmcvflag
    Nov 11, 2005
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      Hey Ben

      >>>OK we'll have to agree to disagree.....I was meaning more the word Gnosis....but I am getting a feeling for this group..its ok<<<<

      Well, it is certainly ok to disagree here. Who knows where conversation will lead?

      As for the term "Gnosis". I do understand that Many in the New Age movement use it to refer to devine union, but I can demonstrate that it is not how the traditional Gnostics used the word.  Not that there is anything wrong with the New Age movement, but they are not traditional Gnostics. Actually, the subject was just being discussed in another group so I can paste some of what I wrote here as well. Let me get back to the subject in a moment.

      >>>......I wont mention melchizedek...lol...<<<

      Well, there is the Melchezidek of Jewish legend.... and then there is the Nag Hammadi version.  
      >>>I need an academic approach as well.....shrug if thats your thing...this group's,,,so be it
      I know my girl friend would wince though....lol....but I am not her....<<<

      Good, I am glad you can enjoy it *lol*. It really isn't such a bad thing to have an historical understanding to add to ones spiritual understanding. I do find it unfortunate that many people are under the mistaken impression that Gnostics were against academic approach though. Though the New Age groups like the Nazorean Essenes are surely very nice people, their beliefs are not always really very similar to the original Essenes, Manichaeans, etc.

      So, let me take a moment and use passages from historical Gnostic texts to demonstrate what I mean. First, here are some passages that absolutely prove that union with the divine, or the mystical experience, was not exactly what the Gnostics were talking about with the concept of "Gnosis".....

      "Whoever comes to understand the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death." (Thomas)

      "When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." (Thomas)

      As you can see, Thomas states explicitely that part of the soteriological function of knowledge was related to interpretation... an intellectual process. It also talks about knowing one's self, which certainly for the ancient Gnostics includes divine union, but there is also another aspect to it as the following text demonstrates.

      "Now it is not merely the washing which liberates, but also the knowledge: who were we? What have we become? Where were we? Into what place have we been cast? Whither are we hastening? From what have we been delivered? What is birth? What is rebirth? (Theodotus)

      This passage deals directly with the mythological outline in Gnosticism. In ancient Gnostic thinking, knowing yourself means knowing the cosmological outline you are connected to. To them, the spirit is of course from the spiritual source, and one is cast into the physical trap. The Sophia is fallen into the world, and is dealing with the error. The point is, understanding of the mythology was considered part of Gnosis, according to the historical Gnostics.

      Gnostics got the term "Gnosis" from Plato, who describes it this way...

      "This knowledge is not something that can be put into words like other sciences; but after long-continued intercourse between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of the subject, suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, it is born in the soul and straightway nourishes itself. "(Plato)

      What is being talked about there is something like what we today would call an "epiphany". It includes both the study aspect of the student and teacher, but also a sort of intuited grasp. Either one without the other was not "Gnosis" in this original usage.

      So, we should be clear that the Gnostics of old did not see Gnosis as completely destinct from critical thinking. On the contrary, the Gnostics of old saw themselves as philosophers, academicians... scholors. Here is solid proof in Gnostic texts...

      "For scientific knowledge is necessary both for the training of the soul and for gravity of conduct; making the faithful more active and keen observers of things. For as there is no believing without elementary instruction, so neither is there comprehension without science. For what is useful and necessary to salvation, such as the knowledge of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and also of our own soul, are wholly requisite; and it is at once beneficial and necessary to attain to the scientific account of them. "(Theodotus)

      "So also scientific knowledge (gnosis), shedding its light and brightness on things, shows itself to be in truth the divine wisdom, the pure light, which illumines the men whose eyeball is clear, unto the sure vision and comprehension of truth."  (Theodotus)

      Even besides these passages (and these are just a few of many passages I could have picked), we have accounts from Platonists like Celsus and Plotinus that Gnostics were members of the Platonic academies. We are told by other heresiologists that some Gnostics considered Pythagoras to be a prophet equal to Jesus.


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