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6927Re: [Gnosticism2] Re: Resonating scripture

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  • AJRoberti@aol.com
    Jan 4, 2003
      Hello Cari,

      << Nice assortment, Tony. Would you care to comment further on any of
      these? >>

      Thank you. Certainly I will comment further. But first let me clarify:

      << Also, do you have any problem reconciling _The Testimony of Truth_
      with Valentinian selections on your list? >>

      Haw haw haw! Sorry, my occasion for laughter out loud is noting that I
      somehow misread "Testimonium" as "Evangelium." So my revised list should be:

      The GOSPEL of Truth
      The Hymn of the Pearl
      The Odes of Solomon
      Epistle of Ptolemy to Flora
      The Gospel of Philip
      The Gospel of Thomas
      Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians

      A more self-consistent list, no?

      In retrospect I am forced to add:
      The Exegesis on the Soul
      The Thunder, Perfect Mind

      On the whole this set of texts defines what I consider the core of Christian
      Gnosticism. A few notables are missing; but in considering Christian gnosis
      specifically I'd have to presume that one is already familiar with the four
      core gospels and the Pauline epistles (minus the dreadful so-called pastoral
      trio of course).

      What makes me focus on these texts specifically is not the "detail" of their
      content but their perhaps deceptive simplicity. They can be read in a
      straightforward way, but they also have enough esoteric content to express
      the mystical teachings of Gnosticism.

      One thing that characterizes the above collection of texts is an attitude
      that traditional religious rites and observances are useless in
      "guaranteeing" that one will achieve a state of harmony with the divine.

      I would also say that they describe a cosmic state of affairs much more
      complex than the teaching of "dualism" typically associated with Gnosticism
      in general. (Hymn of the Pearl notwithstanding.) In fact I would go so far
      as to say that dualism is irrelevant from the Valentinian point of view. The
      Valentinian school is less dualistic even than "mainstream" Christianity.

      The Epistle to Flora is a good introduction to the Valentinian hermeneutic.
      It is not flawless, but it draws you in, and it is easy to read without
      familiarity with the more esoteric underpinnings of Valentinian teaching.
      What this text and the Gospel of Truth imply, is that the underlying
      conclusions and principles of Valentinian thought can be expressed wholly in
      the milieu of traditional Christian terminology. They demonstrate why
      heresiologists were so threatened by Valentinianism. However they constitute
      a polemic not only against the hierarchical elitism of the mainstream church
      but also the esoteric monopoly of the Gnostic cults.

      The Odes of Solomon might be the most concise and accurate mystical text ever
      written -- except of course the Tao Te Ching.

      The Gospel of Philip is the only one among the above texts that is generally
      unapproachable without some scholarly understanding of Gnosticism and without
      some experience in esoteric philosophy. But its hints at the practices of
      Gnostic Christianity as a cult are invaluable from the point of view of
      modern reconstructionism.

      Tony Roberti
      Renewal Gnosticism: http://members.aol.com/AJRoberti/rg/index.htm
      Gulf Coast Gnostics: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GCGnostics/

      "The Tao that is coded in words is dead. The teachings of the Tao are so
      precious and important that they cannot be revealed in the written word."
      --Shui-ch'ing Tzu
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