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11933Re: What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King

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  • queenmab7777
    Feb 15, 2006
      Hey PMCV,

      Thanks for that! Seems those poor old ancient 'gnostics' have almost
      been having a worse time of it from the scholars of the past century,
      than they did from Irenaeus et al. :-P There is the history of
      religion and then there is the history of the spin about the history
      of religion. [Sigh]

      Although the subject has a horrible kind of fascination. Sounds as
      though your forthcoming book has all the makings of a cult classic!


      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
      > Shoshanna
      > >>>Thanks for your comments! Yes I'd love to read your 'boiled down
      > version' when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King
      > interviewed recently and she had some interesting things to say, but
      > perhaps I'll hold off ordering that book for now.
      > Yes, I've run across Williams's 'Rethinking gnosticism' and I think
      > maybe he has a point. When you consider that those ancient groups
      > didn't call themselves Gnostics anyway, it's no surprise that the "g"
      > word has led to some confusion...<<<
      > Well, actually since you have already read Williams, you have the
      > basics of Dr King's book as well. It really is an expansion of the
      > same idea. She is a bit more concise... nails the lid on the coffin
      > so to speak.... and leaves less gaps and questions than Williams
      > does. She does not deal with questions of exactly what we can infer
      > about the historical people themselves, so much as how bias has
      > formed the word "Gnosticism" itself.
      > For instance, she talks about the first known uses of the word in
      > history (in the 1700s) and how they were used primarily for polemic.
      > Inspired by the early heresiologists, these later usages assumed a
      > sort of categorization that even the early heresiologists had not
      > quite actually stated (except for the general one of "heretic").
      > From that she then moves into modern academic usage, and how it was
      > different, but effected, by the early sources, and then the later
      > categorization. She goes especially into the effect that the German
      > scholars and Existentialist philosophers like Harnack and Jonas
      > (respectively) had in coining the category. She pretty conclusively
      > demonstrates exactly how their biases caused them to pick attributes
      > for the category of "Gnosticism" that are actually worse than
      > questionable, but sometimes simply not demonstrated at all in the
      > texts (or even in some cases by the heresiologists). Origins such
      > as "the Hellenization of Christianity" imply a Eusebian paradigm,
      > and a fall from a previous truth, and was intruduced with exactly
      > that polemic intent in mind. The supposed "negative world view" was
      > certainly an aspect of Existentialism, helping to imply the
      > antiquity of that school, while the "antisemitism" certainly had
      > more to do with a falling out with the former philosophical bent
      > than anything demonstrated cohesively amongst the historical
      > Gnostics.
      > By the time we get to the long list of attributes of the category
      > of "Gnosticism", we find hardly anything that seems to have been
      > applied as a genuine critical attribute that would hold up to modern
      > historical analysis... but instead simply religious and
      > philosophical agendas attempting to use the ancient people to
      > forward modern ideas. Quite a soap opera actually.
      > Unlike Dr Williams, though, Dr King does not feel that discarding
      > the category altogether is the only way... though she does say she
      > is uncomfortable with the term. She doesn't accept Williams'
      > term "Biblical Demiurgy", but doesn't offer any new ways of dealing
      > with the subject either.
      > Of course I DO have some of my own ideas about that... but you'll
      > have to wait for my book on the subject ;) *lol*
      > PMCV
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