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  • Gerry
    ... sects. ... Actually, since the scope of the book *is* so broad, it doesn t do much for defining differences between groups which the editors chose to cover
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 19, 2004
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "klausdieterdill" <kdd6@n...>
      wrote:
      > james,
      > get the "gnostic bible". it gives a broad view of the gnostic
      sects.
      > best,
      > dwain



      Actually, since the scope of the book *is* so broad, it doesn't do
      much for defining differences between groups which the editors chose
      to cover in that anthology. They sought to produce a single volume
      that captured a wide array of texts which exhibit a common
      gnostic "flavor," and as a literary resource in that regard, I think
      they succeeded. In a Gnostic sense, however, if we but considered
      whether gnosis held its characteristic soteriological value for the
      groups selected, we would have to seriously question the inclusion of
      many of those in the final chapters.

      If you or James or anyone else is interested in books that deal with
      the subject, here is a short list of some that are helpful in one way
      or another. That's hopefully a nice way of saying that they may also
      have shortcomings in various regards, so don't consider one scholar's
      viewpoint to be *the* definitive assessment of Gnosticism. While
      actually a compilation of texts, even Layton's book has helpful
      overviews of each section, as well as introductory notes for each
      text:

      _The Gnostic Gospels_
      Elaine Pagels

      _The Gnostic Scriptures_
      Bentley Layton

      _The Gnostic Religion_
      Hans Jonas

      _Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism_
      Kurt Rudolph

      _Rethinking "Gnosticism"_
      Michael Williams


      For all those that I've neglected, I'm sure that other members can
      contribute additional resources.

      Gerry
    • ignisapocryphon
      Currently reading The Gnostic Gospels by Pagels right now. I heard it was good from a reliable source and went and got it as soon as it hit the shelf. (I
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 19, 2004
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        Currently reading "The Gnostic Gospels" by Pagels right now. I heard
        it was good from a reliable source and went and got it as soon as it
        hit the shelf. (I live in a town where the main religion is
        Fundamentalist Southern Baptist Christianity. Gnosticism 'is heresy'
        here. Even mentioning the slightest hint of a different religion gets
        you WEIRD looks...) It's actually beginning to look quite good.
        However, Gerry, in answer to your question, I got the spelling "Naj"
        from Elaine Pagels. It helps me to remember exactly how to pronounce
        the word, just for aesthetic purposes. Hehe. Words are words...

        Also, I was talking about Jesus Christ as the Logos. So I guess
        Valentinian is my path for now... however looking into the other
        sects
        is a definite on my list. For now, Valentinian will do.

        Gerry, are those books in order of preference? If not, which book
        would you prefer me as a "babe in Christ"? (I hate this town...)

        Christ is holy,
        IgnisApocryphOn



        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:

        > Actually, since the scope of the book *is* so broad, it doesn't do
        > much for defining differences between groups which the editors
        chose
        > to cover in that anthology. They sought to produce a single volume
        > that captured a wide array of texts which exhibit a common
        > gnostic "flavor," and as a literary resource in that regard, I
        think
        > they succeeded. In a Gnostic sense, however, if we but considered
        > whether gnosis held its characteristic soteriological value for the
        > groups selected, we would have to seriously question the inclusion
        of
        > many of those in the final chapters.
        >
        > If you or James or anyone else is interested in books that deal
        with
        > the subject, here is a short list of some that are helpful in one
        way
        > or another. That's hopefully a nice way of saying that they may
        also
        > have shortcomings in various regards, so don't consider one
        scholar's
        > viewpoint to be *the* definitive assessment of Gnosticism. While
        > actually a compilation of texts, even Layton's book has helpful
        > overviews of each section, as well as introductory notes for each
        > text:
        >
        > _The Gnostic Gospels_
        > Elaine Pagels
        >
        > _The Gnostic Scriptures_
        > Bentley Layton
        >
        > _The Gnostic Religion_
        > Hans Jonas
        >
        > _Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism_
        > Kurt Rudolph
        >
        > _Rethinking "Gnosticism"_
        > Michael Williams
        >
        >
        > For all those that I've neglected, I'm sure that other members can
        > contribute additional resources.
        >
        > Gerry
      • Gerry
        ... Ahhh, yes. There s one of those churches just two blocks from my house. And besides traditional fundamentalists in the neighborhood, we ve also got
        Message 3 of 7 , Aug 20, 2004
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          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "ignisapocryphon" <jstatom@o...>
          wrote:
          > Currently reading "The Gnostic Gospels" by Pagels right now. I
          > heard it was good from a reliable source and went and got it as
          > soon as it hit the shelf. (I live in a town where the main religion
          > is Fundamentalist Southern Baptist Christianity.



          Ahhh, yes. There's one of those churches just two blocks from my
          house. And besides traditional fundamentalists in the neighborhood,
          we've also got Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter Day Saints that like to
          spread the word. After dealing with several incidents of flooding on
          my property from all the tropical weather this past month, I'm
          considering just leaving a moat around the house. Do you think it
          would cut down on unwanted proselytizers coming to the door? ;-)



          Gnosticism 'is heresy'
          > here. Even mentioning the slightest hint of a different religion
          gets
          > you WEIRD looks...) It's actually beginning to look quite good.
          > However, Gerry, in answer to your question, I got the
          spelling "Naj"
          > from Elaine Pagels. It helps me to remember exactly how to
          pronounce
          > the word, just for aesthetic purposes. Hehe. Words are words...
          >
          > Also, I was talking about Jesus Christ as the Logos. So I guess
          > Valentinian is my path for now... however looking into the other
          > sects
          > is a definite on my list. For now, Valentinian will do.
          >
          > Gerry, are those books in order of preference? If not, which book
          > would you prefer me as a "babe in Christ"? (I hate this town...)
          >



          While I'm here, let me just give a few reasons as to why I was
          encouraging you to explore the texts as a whole. Consider the
          Apocryphon of John, for example. Technically speaking, it fits into
          what most would consider the classic Gnostic texts, i.e., Sethian.
          In one version, the closing line which mentions "the savior" contains
          a further elaboration in the form of "Jesus the Christ." Now, a
          number of scholars would consider that to be a later entry by a
          more "Christian" Gnostic scribe. I'd be inclined to agree, but the
          point of it is that Christian Gnostics from that era found value in
          Gnostic texts which by today's attempted classifications might paint
          them as "less" Christian.

          Along those same lines, another thing to consider is why the
          Valentinians approached the scriptures as they did. One thing that's
          often mentioned of Gnosticism is that it was free of doctrine. I
          believe it was Michael Williams (although I'd have to hunt to be
          sure) who suggested that it perhaps only appears to be the case. If
          history had worked out differently such that some of these groups
          might have enjoyed greater longevity, they might very well have
          advocated a fixed canon and specific doctrines for their followers
          (although, hopefully, something less rigorous than Marcion's
          approach). Their use of initiatory sacraments seems to support
          this. It makes one wonder whether Valentinus realized the precarious
          situation Gnostics found themselves in with regards to the growing
          proto-orthodoxy. Some of the Valentinian works are aimed at
          appealing to psychic Christians and they tended to focus on
          scriptures which those Christians were accustomed to reading; isn't
          it possible that this was something of a survival strategy? As for
          the pneumatic followers in that tradition, it's hard to imagine that
          they would have limited their chosen texts to such
          outwardly "acceptable" books once they were free from the eyes of
          those who might persecute them.

          As for the order of the book recommendations, I was really just
          throwing them out there, but Pagels and Layton may be better choices
          for newcomers. I'll give you an idea why I stress a critical reading
          of any (or ALL) of these authors. I find Pagels to have a very
          accessible writing style, which is not at all to say that she can't
          also compose a very scholarly work. The side that shows though is
          largely dependent on the book she's trying to put forward. Some have
          a more "popular" appeal than others, and as such, they may be subject
          to a more popular understanding of the concepts. I guess I feel that
          Gnosticism shouldn't be a popularity contest. If it's watered down
          too much, it loses its "life-giving" quality.

          Here's an example from pop-culture that typifies my wonder at what
          people think they're actually reading out there:

          http://members.aol.com/morgands1/closeup/text/keitel.htm

          In various interviews, actor Harvey Keitel has expressed an
          appreciation for the works of Elaine Pagels, although, in some of
          those conversations, it comes across almost as an obsession! In the
          page cited above, he talks of how preparing for such films as _The
          Last Temptation of Christ_ has led him to do "a lot of reading."
          Well, when he describes Pagels as a "very important novelist," it
          makes me question whether we've been reading the *same* Elaine
          Pagels. The titles and subject matter certainly look the same, but
          maybe somebody should point out to him that they're not fiction.

          Gerry
        • Gavin Riggott
          ... Can t charismatic Christians walk on water? Hrmm, maybe I shouldn t have said that... By the way, PMCV, I havn t forgot about that discussion, I ve just
          Message 4 of 7 , Aug 20, 2004
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            > Ahhh, yes. There's one of those churches just two blocks from my
            > house. And besides traditional fundamentalists in the neighborhood,
            > we've also got Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter Day Saints that like to
            > spread the word. After dealing with several incidents of flooding on
            > my property from all the tropical weather this past month, I'm
            > considering just leaving a moat around the house. Do you think it
            > would cut down on unwanted proselytizers coming to the door? ;-)

            Can't charismatic Christians walk on water? Hrmm, maybe I shouldn't have
            said that...

            By the way, PMCV, I havn't forgot about that discussion, I've just had a lot
            of stuff going on at the moment. I'll get to it eventually.


            Gavin Riggott
          • Gerry
            ... I obviously neglected to consider that, Gavin, and *that* church is just two blocks in the other direction. Geez, you re making me think I may need to
            Message 5 of 7 , Aug 20, 2004
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              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gavin Riggott" <wu@n...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > Can't charismatic Christians walk on water? Hrmm, maybe I
              > shouldn't have said that...
              >



              I obviously neglected to consider that, Gavin, and *that* church is
              just two blocks in the other direction. Geez, you're making me think
              I may need to reinforce my drawbridge with spikes . . . just in case.

              Gerry
            • klausdieterdill
              ... of ... gerry, i agree, the gnostic bible is very broad and takes a broader and narrower definition of gnosticism than this group accepts. it is my
              Message 6 of 7 , Aug 22, 2004
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
                > In a Gnostic sense, however, if we but considered
                > whether gnosis held its characteristic soteriological value for the
                > groups selected, we would have to seriously question the inclusion
                of
                > many of those in the final chapters.
                >
                gerry,
                i agree, the gnostic bible is very broad and takes a broader and
                narrower definition of gnosticism than this group accepts.

                it is my understanding that the authors defined gnosis as knowledge
                and gnosticism as the search for knowledge and did not discriminate as
                to the source of that knowledge.

                there are many faces of gnosticism and each face is diferent. some
                people like this face and some people like that face. but there is a
                common denominator to all beliefs world wide and the gnostics (broad
                definition) are closer to it than any other group. and this point is
                also outside the scope of this group, yes?

                best,
                dwain
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