12817Re: Mani & The Manicheans this Sunday on Coffee, Cigs & Gnosis!!!
- Oct 31, 2006--- In email@example.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
> Miguel and all
> >>>Hope you catch it. BeDuhn was a great interviewee.<<<
> SO, I did catch it... did anyone else here do so? Anyone have
> thoughts or comments about the interview, or about the subject?
> Questions? Criticisms? Debate points?
> I did notice a few things about the interview. I noticed how Dr
> BeDuhn seemed to concede the term "Gnosticism" for the sake of the
> interview, but vascilated between drawing the line and trying to
> a concerted effort to use the term in a more popular way.I'm not sure he actually conceded, PMCV, because he did point out
differences and similarities between Manichaeans and earlier
Gnostics, allowing the listener to at least begin a process of
examining this subject of categorization. Possibly his primary focus
of the interview could have been to give general information about
Mani and the Manichaeans for an audience of varied backgrounds, as
you point out, and not get too specific in an academic way about
categorization. In fact I don't remember the actual
word "Gnosticism" being used all that much in the interview. Yet use
of terms like "gnostic movement" or "gnostics" or "antecedent
gnostic" would seem to show a predilection for a specific category
for comparison in his view.
And Dr. BeDuhn (pronounced, if I understand correctly: "beh-doon")
did say early on in the interview that how Manichaeism is related to
the broader Gnostic movement is debatable. Even though he didn't get
into depth about the actual function of gnosis, he did bring out the
importance of this type of knowledge for both Manichaeans and earlier
Gnostics, involving the true nature of god and soul. Even though we
see syncretism, a few differences he pointed out included how in
Manichaeism a good god created the world, which distinctly varied
from the antecedent Gnostic world-maligned creation, and also the
Manichaeans' belief that non-humans, i.e., plants and animals have
souls, which is broader than most gnostic systems. We also see a
pantheism in Manichaeism in that everything has god in it; everything
is a mixture of good and evil, and there is a real affirmation of the
natural world, quite different from other gnostic systems. PMCV, in
this regard you also pointed out in a previous post (#12810) an
important difference concerning cosmology:
"Gnostic texts generally see the universal flaw as being caused by
seperation from the spiritual source. In other words, duality is a bad
thing. Manichaeans, on the other hand, describe a setting in which the
flaw in the universe was caused not because of duality, but because of
a mixing of the dual forces that should naturally be kept apart. In
Manichaean thinking the world is a sort of machine for sorting out the
dual elements back into their rightful opposites (the world having a
positive function). Gnostics, on the other hand, present the world as
a flawed creation by an ignorant Demiurge."
All this said, there is still the issue of the function of Gnosis in
the system, as you also mentioned. And one could examine whether
Gnosis or rather Praxis is emphasized as the main soteriological
> I was also aware of his considerably more diplomatic presentationof
> various authors' method of popularizing Gnosticism, and theresulting
> information as it really relates to subject at hand. The pointabout
> accentuating certain popular attributes is a nice way ofquestioning
> the validity of those attributes and reliability of the picturethose
> authors are presenting. If one wished to state that more simplythey
> could say that many popular efforts are unfortunately based ongloss
> and spin.... but I am a bit more blunt than most ;)that
> I was a little disappointed that Dr BeDuhn danced past the issue of
> the funtion of gnosis in Manichaean thought vs the function in
> Gnostic thinking, since it is so core to the issue of what the
> category of "Gnostic" is meant to communicate. I do, however,
> understand that simply going with the flow may have been easier
> considering the shortness of the interview and perhaps the fact
> the audience was likely to be new to the subject. Of course, inthis
> forum we try to go a bit deeper into this kind of issue. Even inthis
> forum it has sometimes been difficult to convey for some peoplethat
> the Gnostic concept of "Gnosis" is different from the Catholicto
> concept of "gnosis", because when people see the word they tend to
> automatically assume a whole host of connections.
> I have often argued that the Manichaean concept of "gnosis", is far
> closer to the orthodox Christian (especially Catholic) usage than
> the Gnostic one. However, I leave that open to discussion anddebate.
>Would you care to share your views further on this subject, PMCV?
One also could posit whether orthodox Christianity most likely
derived its concept of gnosis at least in part from Manichaeism, due
to the influence of Augustine. Apparently, Dr. BeDuhn currently is
working on the figure of Augustine regarding his use of Manichaeism
in Catholic material. Should be interesting.
BTW, I know it's Halloween, but perhaps some more spirited members
lurking in the shadows might want to question or comment more on the
interview or Manichaeism in general?
It appeared to me that Dr. BeDuhn really enjoyed this subject. He
particularly seemed to light up when discussing the Manichaean
positive view of world beauty (countering a reputation as "world
haters") and part of their affirmation of beauty as manifested in the
high value that Manichaeans placed on human art.
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