13136Re: Gnostic beliefs on matter
- Aug 30 6:41 PMPMCV,
You raise a good point for clarification concerning an ambiguos use
of "tradition" on my part. I do think it is possible to draw a
distinction between "historical" Gnosticism and "traditional"
Gnosticism and when done, the tension of which I spoke might become
Historical Gnosticism existed in a place (Easterm Mediterranean?) and
time (a couple, three centuries on both sides of the time of Jesus?)
and what we know about it is contained in books (New Testament, Nag
Hammadi, Oxyrhynchus, etc.). When speaking of Historical Gnosticism,
we can be very specific, though what we say may differ significantly
based on our interest, hermeneutic, agenda, etc. Whatever we say,
however, must confine itself to this historical time and place and
documents. This is the reason d'etre of this particular list.
Historical Gnosticism, however, is the historical artifact of a
living tradition and historical Gnosticism is only one window into
this tradition. Within this historical window, we hear of this thing
called "gnosis" that cannot be expressed nor contained by words.
Traditional Gnosticism begins with the rumors and glimpses of this
gnosis as expressed culturally in Historical Gnosticism and attempts
to trace it through the ages and even into the present in hopes of
living it. Traditional Gnosticism is the lived and living gnosis of
which Historical Gnosticism, as described above, is only a snapshot
in a given time and place and as contained in certain documents.
Without anchoring itself to this historical "snapshot," however,
Traditional Gnosticism loses its connection with Gnosticism and
merely becomes a generic from of spirituality or mysticism.
I'm rambling now, but it is when this connection is lost or ignored
in the modern and current expression of a spiritual experience that
the person can no longer claim to have a Gnostic experience, but at
most an experience of gnosis, which has become synonymous with a
As for the tension of which I spoke: Historical Gnosticism is an
account of applied Gnosticism as practiced in a certain time and
place and as contained in certain documents; Traditional Gnosticism
attempts to take those historical practices and apply them in the
here and now as possibly adapted to fit the current culture.
The raison d'etre of this list is Historical Gnosticism; the grace of
this list is that it allows for Traditional Gnosticism; anathema on
this list is modern experiences of gnosis with no grounding in
Gnosticism, whether Historical or Traditional.
I hope this provides some clarification on my use.
--- In email@example.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
> Hey Mark
> >>>I would also see intellect and critical perspective as
> attributes, along with will, of historical Gnosis. Saying
> that "books have nothing to do with gnosis" is like saying that a
> river's banks have nothing to do with the direction the water
> There will always be a tension between traditional Gnosis and
> applied gnosis today in part because traditional Gnosis had much to
> do with application.<<<
> Although I find the tension you are talking about to be a bit odd,
> think there is no question that it is there in many cases. I have
> theories, but I see no reason to foist them into the conversation
> this point.
> I have a question for the sake of clarification. I get the
> impression that when you say "traditional" you may not only be
> meaning "historical". Is that true? The reason I say that is
> obviously there would be no tension on the part of historical
> Gnostics in this case.
> That could be a good arbitrary definition in this forum, and I
> believe it may have come up in the past. It could help us make an
> even further destinction between the entirely modern "gnostics"
> have very little in common with the historical meaning of the term,
> and some modern groups that a bit closer to the thinking of
> historical movements and ideas.
> Or maybe that would just confuse the issue, I don't know. I am
> always looking for ways to make the lingo a bit more specific
> because some of the differences really do confuse a lot of people
> who are less familiar with the hisorical texts and groups.
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