5961[Gnosticism] Re: (im-)Perfection
- 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
"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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