13064Re: Classifications among the Valentinians
- Jun 28, 2007Hey Dwain
>>>exactly who i was speaking of. who did the more sensitive evaluationand when did it occur? are there any links to this information you can
Hmmm, now that you mention it I don't really even know of many
websites on the subject. I guess I can't be very helpful in that way.
I am far from a specialist when it comes to the Mandaeans, so I am
only quoting the story as I have heard it. According to Lady Drower,
one of the early researchers of these people, she initially
categorized Mandaeans as "Gnostics" because a friend of hers (I
believe it was Quispel, if I remember correctly) convinced her they
must be connected. She states that at the time she didn't know much
about "Gnosticism" (though she knew very much about Mandaeans and
Quispel did not), and in her later books she recants her initial
categorization because as she learned more about Gnosticism she felt
they were actually quite different. In other words, the person who
categorized them this way in the first place is the one later points
out that the categorization was overly hasty.
By that time, though, I guess the damage was done, so to speak.
Depending on her early observations many other authors who are either
specialists in Gnosticism but not Mandaeans, or in Mandaeans but not
Gnosticism have recounted the similarities and lumped them together.
For instance, Rudolph does so in "Gnosis". I even have a book by
Lupieri called "Mandaeans; the last Gnostics". The problem is that
Rudolph simply takes it for granted that they must be Gnostics, and
doesn't really explain why that would be so. Lupieri, on the other
hand, does try to explain the connection but he is not as well
informed about Gnosticism so some of the things he seems to set up as
points of similarity don't actually work very well.
Although it came out that way in my previous post, I don't actually
intend to say that the Mandaeans COULDN'T be in some way categorized
as Gnosticism (the way I tend to with Manichaeans). It could be a good
conversation to explore right here on the forum. If you have some
specific similarities in mind we can certainly test them and see what
everyone thinks about it.
It seems to me that one of the most common things I hear people
mention as important in connecting the two movements is the
name "Mandaean" itself. The problem with this is that it is not what
they traditionally called themselves. I am skeptical about the role of
esoteric knowing in the soteriology of the Mandaeans, and this is the
sort of thing I think we need to be sensetive about when we deal with
the issue. What I have read about the Mandaeans has implied to me that
their salvational beliefs actually place the emphasis on ritual
practice rather than on some kind of "Gnosis". Perhaps you can help
clarify this issue for us in the course of conversation.
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