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5961[Gnosticism] Re: (im-)Perfection

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  • lady_caritas
    Jun 2 8:21 AM
      "I don't know of a Gnostic story of Moses, …" (Rob, #5959)

      Hi, Rob. One that comes to mind is _Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora_ ~


      I agree with the "Archive Notes" in the link above that Bentley
      Layton's translation is preferable. Nonetheless, this letter written
      by the Valentinian teacher, Ptolemy, although an example of a more
      relaxed view of the demiurge, does show the "craftsman" as the god
      who is but one of multiple authors of the law.

      "For if the Law was not ordained by the perfect God himself, as we
      have already taught you, nor by the devil, a statement one cannot
      possibly make, the legislator must be some one other than these two.
      In fact, he is the demiurge and maker of this universe and everything
      in it; and because he is essentially different from these two and is
      between them, he is rightly given the name, intermediate."

      "First, you must learn that the entire Law contained in the
      Pentateuch of Moses was not ordained by one legislator - I mean, not
      by God alone, some commandments are Moses', and some were given by
      other men. The words of the Savior teach us this triple division."

      In this piece Ptolemy is instructing a woman apparently of
      conventional Christianity.

      "His manner of presentation is elementary, using terms that are moral
      and nonmetaphysical, and almost entirely within the realm of
      conventional Christian language … […] ..Ptolemy's conclusions take
      him to the very edge of metaphysics and myth, which he promises will
      form the next lesson his course ( […] his next lesson to Flora does
      not seem to have survived).
      In the opening of the _Epistle_, Ptolemy sets out to refute two other
      opinions on the source of the old Testament law. One opinion
      identified the legislator with the highest God; this was the view of
      ordinary Christianity and a great part of Judaism. The other
      identified the legislator with the devil; scholars have been
      uncertain about the source of this opinion, but it may refer to
      gnostics who followed a myth like the _The Secret Book According to
      John_ or _The Revelation of Adam_, where the craftsman of the world
      (Ialdabaoth) appears to be identical with the god of Israel."
      (Bentley Layton, _The Gnostic Scriptures_, pages 306-307)
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