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Re: Gnosticism vs. Orthodoxy/ Sethians

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  • Mike Leavitt
    Hello pmcvflag ... Just one, the early Valentinians were in the church, the Sethians were not. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 9, 2004
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      Hello pmcvflag

      On 12/10/04, you wrote:


      > I would like to see what people think of the mythological structure
      > itself. Are there reasons for the severe dramtic difference we see
      > between the Valentinian and Sethian outlines? I ahve often dealt
      > with this as a literary hermeneutic point, but I also brought up the
      > question as to just how literal vs literary this should be
      > understood. Why, then, with the Valentinian and Sethian cosmology
      > being essentially related, is the emphasis so strikingly different?

      Just one, the early Valentinians were in the church, the Sethians were
      not.

      Regards
      --
      Mike Leavitt ac998@...
    • lady_caritas
      ... times, ... first ... a ... suprise. ... period ... pricipally ... sense ... mentioned. ... adoption ... a ... the ... Betty, you speak of the idea of
      Message 2 of 20 , Dec 10, 2004
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        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
        wrote:

        > now, if that isn't enough to make your head spin, much later in the
        > article the author is more specific in describing the contrast
        > between Christianity and Sethianism, then mentions just where
        > Valentinus is, in proximity to Christianity.
        >
        > "For Christianity, the period of Isreal was one only of preparation
        > for the advent of salvation in Christ, while for the Sethians,
        > salvation had been in principle already achieved in primordial
        times,
        > with the raising of Seth and his seed into the Aeons. Thus the
        first
        > and second descents of the redeemer had actually already performed
        > the fundamental work of salvation in primordial times and left
        > witnesses to it on inscribed steles and in books. The third descent
        > of the redeemer is therefore only to remind the earthly Sethians of
        > what had been accomplished for them in the past, and to grant them
        a
        > means of realizing this in the present through the baptismal ascent
        > ritual.
        > That this third descent of the redeemer is identified with the
        > preexistent Christ who brings salvation as gnosis rather that
        > salvation through his death on the cross should occasion no
        suprise.
        > There were tendencies toward such views in Johannine Christian
        > circles as well. One should bear in mind that also during this
        period
        > (140-160)Valentinus likewise developed the notion of a pneumatic
        > Christ coming to waken the sleeping spirit in humankind, a notion
        > which lies at the core of his system. Valentinus and his sucessors
        > made Christ the focus of their system and thus were allied
        pricipally
        > with Christianity.'rite Sethians, however, seemed to find their
        sense
        > of uniqueness in opposition to the church on grounds just
        mentioned.
        > Since various groups were not isolated from one another but freely
        > made use of texts and ideas borrowed from other groups, the
        adoption
        > of Christ into their system was only natural, but did not
        > fundamentally change its basically non-Christian nature and inner
        > cohesion."
        >
        > it's seems then, that fundementally, the Sethians and Valentinians
        > idea of gnosis would logically differ? for Valentinians, Gnosis is
        a
        > more vague notion of "knowledge" that one cultivates within, with
        the
        > potential of salvation. while the Sethians, salvation has already
        > occured in primordial times, and Gnosis is merely remembering one's
        > spiritual past, inferred by a Heavenly counterpart through the
        > practice of the baptismal ascent ritual.


        Betty, you speak of the "idea" of Gnosis. Ideas may have differed
        due to differing environments and cultural influences. There is
        certainly that element, and yet I feel that this mental aspect, the
        intellectual realization, was part of a larger common
        cognitional/pneumatic _experience_ (not just emotional or magical or
        mystical or rational) from whence came an abundance of differing
        expressions, which in themselves changed in the first few centuries
        as explained by John D. Turner in his article.

        I'm reminded of "An Interview with Gilles Quispel" by Christopher
        Farmer (p. 27-29) in the first issue _Gnosis Magazine_, (Fall/Winter
        1985).
        From the interview:
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        Farmer: I liked what you once said in an article about the Nag
        Hammadi discovery, that whether or not these writings are true or not
        there is certainly a sincere and authentic expression being
        manifested in them.

        Quispel: Yes, and that's what Jung once said to me. He said, "I
        don't like the Neoplatonists, mainly because you don't find there so
        much an experience but more of a rationalization of the experience,
        but with the Gnostics you have the experience, and the proof that it
        is all personal experience is that these systems are so different
        from each other." I think that is a very valid observation from that
        old fox.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Well, perhaps it is personal, but there is a cultural as well as a
        personality component that could very well affect individual likes,
        dislikes, and differences in general. I do agree with Jung's
        observation about "a sincere and authentic expression." This could
        very well stem from an origin of experience that transcends
        nature/nurture considerations. In spite of Jung's observation about
        different systems, the Neoplatonists and Valentinians and Sethians
        had plenty in common. Their griping at each other was often about
        emphasis and details. So human they were. The rationals didn't like
        all the ecstatic incantations of others, etc. Humans are so
        complex. That is why I appreciate what often seems like the
        ridiculous intricacy of Gnostic cosmologies. Some things these
        Gnostic groups did share were emanation systems from an unknown
        source and an interest in cosmogony.

        I think remembrance through an inner awakening was important for all
        Gnostics, whether with the help of one or three descents of a
        redeemer. As Mike pointed out, the Valentinians seemed to have a
        more direct connection with a burgeoning Christianity than others.
        Remembrance was the key, though, for Valentinians and Sethians
        alike,... awakening "the sleeping spirit in humankind."

        Regardless of when a salvation "in principle" had been achieved for
        these groups, the inner realization wasn't always considered apparent
        without the aid of ritual or an initiatory process, in some cases.
        Various rituals were used and sometimes were even discarded by
        various sects. I would imagine that Sethian and Valentinian groups
        were comprised of members at various stages in the process of Gnosis,
        just as we find today. Hence, the amount of emphasis on sacramental
        aspects would vary.

        IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common emphasis on
        a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common to these
        groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying expressions,
        cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in attaining Gnosis.


        Cari
      • lady_caritas
        ... Hi, PMCV. Turner also does mention (near the end of III. Chronology and Redaction, A. Before 100 C.E.) earliest Sethian compositions that were written by
        Message 3 of 20 , Dec 10, 2004
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          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
          >
          > It seems to me from this short bit I have read, that Dr Turner
          > postulates a later origin for Sethianism, but not so late as some
          > believe.
          >
          > In looking at this part of Turner's outline....
          >
          > "So far as I can see, most of the Sethian documents cited above
          > originated in the period 100-250 C.E.


          Hi, PMCV. Turner also does mention (near the end of III. Chronology
          and Redaction, A. Before 100 C.E.) earliest Sethian compositions that
          were written by the end of the first century. I would copy and paste
          here, but I can't seem to access the web page right now.

          He basically shows an origin for Sethianism before 100 C.E in this
          whole section. Are there sources that postulate a much earlier
          origin?

          Cari
        • Mike Leavitt
          Hello lady_caritas ... I have heard about 100 BCE. PMCV? Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
          Message 4 of 20 , Dec 10, 2004
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            Hello lady_caritas

            On 12/10/04, you wrote:

            >
            >
            > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
            >>
            >> It seems to me from this short bit I have read, that Dr Turner
            >> postulates a later origin for Sethianism, but not so late as some
            >> believe.
            >>
            >> In looking at this part of Turner's outline....
            >>
            >> "So far as I can see, most of the Sethian documents cited above
            >> originated in the period 100-250 C.E.
            >
            >
            > Hi, PMCV. Turner also does mention (near the end of III. Chronology
            > and Redaction, A. Before 100 C.E.) earliest Sethian compositions
            > that were written by the end of the first century. I would copy and
            > paste here, but I can't seem to access the web page right now.
            >
            > He basically shows an origin for Sethianism before 100 C.E in this
            > whole section. Are there sources that postulate a much earlier
            > origin?
            >
            > Cari

            I have heard about 100 BCE. PMCV?

            Regards
            --
            Mike Leavitt ac998@...
          • Mike Leavitt
            Hello lady_caritas ... We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were very theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis. Regards -- Mike
            Message 5 of 20 , Dec 10, 2004
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              Hello lady_caritas

              On 12/10/04, you wrote:

              > IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common emphasis
              > on a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common to
              > these groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying
              > expressions, cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in attaining
              > Gnosis.

              We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were very
              theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis.

              Regards
              --
              Mike Leavitt ac998@...
            • lady_caritas
              ... attaining ... very ... Yes, Mike, and I don t know if Jung felt the same dislike for Proclus as he did toward other Neoplatonists. Proclus was still the
              Message 6 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                > Hello lady_caritas
                >
                > On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                >
                > > IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common emphasis
                > > on a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common to
                > > these groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying
                > > expressions, cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in
                attaining
                > > Gnosis.
                >
                > We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were
                very
                > theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis.
                >
                > Regards
                > --
                > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


                Yes, Mike, and I don't know if Jung felt the same dislike for Proclus
                as he did toward other Neoplatonists. Proclus was still the
                philosopher, but certainly incorporated theurgy in his contemplation
                of Forms.
                http://www.kheper.net/topics/Neoplatonism/Proclus-theurgy.html


                Cari
              • lady_caritas
                ... some ... Chronology ... and ... this ... Oh, yes, Mike. I checked back to a previous post of mine (#10379) in which I quoted from the preface of Turner s
                Message 7 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                  > Hello lady_caritas
                  >
                  > On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                  >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...>
                  wrote:
                  > >>
                  > >> It seems to me from this short bit I have read, that Dr Turner
                  > >> postulates a later origin for Sethianism, but not so late as
                  some
                  > >> believe.
                  > >>
                  > >> In looking at this part of Turner's outline....
                  > >>
                  > >> "So far as I can see, most of the Sethian documents cited above
                  > >> originated in the period 100-250 C.E.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Hi, PMCV. Turner also does mention (near the end of III.
                  Chronology
                  > > and Redaction, A. Before 100 C.E.) earliest Sethian compositions
                  > > that were written by the end of the first century. I would copy
                  and
                  > > paste here, but I can't seem to access the web page right now.
                  > >
                  > > He basically shows an origin for Sethianism before 100 C.E in
                  this
                  > > whole section. Are there sources that postulate a much earlier
                  > > origin?
                  > >
                  > > Cari
                  >
                  > I have heard about 100 BCE. PMCV?
                  >
                  > Regards
                  > --
                  > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


                  Oh, yes, Mike. I checked back to a previous post of mine (#10379) in
                  which I quoted from the preface of Turner's article, mentioning
                  "Sethianism as a non-Christian
                  baptismal sect of the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. which
                  considered itself primordially enlightened by the divine wisdom
                  revealed to Adam and Seth,..."

                  I don't know how much further back we could go, but even activity
                  around 100 B.C.E. would exemplify non-Christian roots.

                  Cari
                • Mike Leavitt
                  Hello lady_caritas ... I seem to remember Iamblicus On the Mysteries, which was very theurgic too. I don t have ready access to my library (long story) or I
                  Message 8 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                    Hello lady_caritas

                    On 12/11/04, you wrote:

                    >
                    >
                    > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                    >> Hello lady_caritas
                    >>
                    >> On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                    >>
                    >> IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common emphasis
                    >> on a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common to
                    >> these groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying
                    >> expressions, cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in
                    > attaining
                    >>> Gnosis.
                    >>
                    >> We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were
                    > very
                    >> theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis.
                    >>
                    >> Regards
                    >> --
                    >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                    >
                    >
                    > Yes, Mike, and I don't know if Jung felt the same dislike for
                    > Proclus as he did toward other Neoplatonists. Proclus was still the
                    > philosopher, but certainly incorporated theurgy in his contemplation
                    > of Forms.
                    > http://www.kheper.net/topics/Neoplatonism/Proclus-theurgy.html

                    I seem to remember Iamblicus On the Mysteries, which was very theurgic
                    too. I don't have ready access to my library (long story) or I would
                    check.

                    Regards
                    --
                    Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                  • lady_caritas
                    ... emphasis ... the ... contemplation ... theurgic ... would ... You must have some amazing library, Mike. Anyway, I was able to find this online:
                    Message 9 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                      > Hello lady_caritas
                      >
                      > On 12/11/04, you wrote:
                      >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...>
                      wrote:
                      > >> Hello lady_caritas
                      > >>
                      > >> On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                      > >>
                      > >> IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common
                      emphasis
                      > >> on a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common to
                      > >> these groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying
                      > >> expressions, cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in
                      > > attaining
                      > >>> Gnosis.
                      > >>
                      > >> We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were
                      > > very
                      > >> theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis.
                      > >>
                      > >> Regards
                      > >> --
                      > >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Yes, Mike, and I don't know if Jung felt the same dislike for
                      > > Proclus as he did toward other Neoplatonists. Proclus was still
                      the
                      > > philosopher, but certainly incorporated theurgy in his
                      contemplation
                      > > of Forms.
                      > > http://www.kheper.net/topics/Neoplatonism/Proclus-theurgy.html
                      >
                      > I seem to remember Iamblicus On the Mysteries, which was very
                      theurgic
                      > too. I don't have ready access to my library (long story) or I
                      would
                      > check.
                      >
                      > Regards
                      > --
                      > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


                      You must have some amazing library, Mike. Anyway, I was able to find
                      this online:
                      http://www.esotericarchives.com/oracle/iambl_th.htm


                      Cari
                    • Mike Leavitt
                      Hello lady_caritas ... This appears to be the work in question. The style makes it a bit hard to read, I m afraid. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
                      Message 10 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                        Hello lady_caritas

                        On 12/11/04, you wrote:

                        >
                        >
                        > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                        >> Hello lady_caritas
                        >>
                        >> On 12/11/04, you wrote:
                        >>
                        >>>
                        >>>
                        >>> --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...>
                        > wrote:
                        >>>> Hello lady_caritas
                        >>>>
                        >>>> On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                        >>>>
                        >>>> IOW, to end my rambling here, there seemed to be a common
                        > emphasis
                        >> >> on a pneumatic remembrance, an awakening from ignorance common
                        >> >> to these groups, that was still apparent in spite of varying
                        >> >> expressions, cosmological details, and ritual emphasis in
                        >>> attaining
                        >>>>> Gnosis.
                        >> >>
                        >> >> We should remember that the late NeoPlatonists like Proclus were
                        >>> very
                        >>>> theurgic, if not plain magical in their emphasis.
                        >>>>
                        >>>> Regards
                        >>>> --
                        >>>> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                        >>>
                        >>>
                        >>> Yes, Mike, and I don't know if Jung felt the same dislike for
                        >>> Proclus as he did toward other Neoplatonists. Proclus was still
                        > the
                        >>> philosopher, but certainly incorporated theurgy in his
                        > contemplation
                        >>> of Forms.
                        >>> http://www.kheper.net/topics/Neoplatonism/Proclus-theurgy.html
                        >>
                        >> I seem to remember Iamblicus On the Mysteries, which was very
                        > theurgic
                        >> too. I don't have ready access to my library (long story) or I
                        > would
                        >> check.
                        >>
                        >> Regards
                        >> --
                        >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                        >
                        >
                        > You must have some amazing library, Mike. Anyway, I was able to find
                        > this online:
                        > http://www.esotericarchives.com/oracle/iambl_th.htm

                        This appears to be the work in question. The style makes it a bit
                        hard to read, I'm afraid.

                        Regards
                        --
                        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                      • pmcvflag
                        In my memory I seem to recall that Pearson pushes back even farther, a little into the second century B.C.. To be honest though, I can t recall what evidence
                        Message 11 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                          In my memory I seem to recall that Pearson pushes back even farther,
                          a little into the second century B.C.. To be honest though, I can't
                          recall what evidence he presents for that.... and I can't think of
                          any myself. I also was just noticing that Turner and Pearson seem to
                          have many parallel studies, such as the specific connection between
                          Gnosticism and Platonism. From what I am reading they seem very much
                          in agrement. Perhaps Turner is a good replacement (and maybe a bit
                          updated) for the fact that Pearson seems pretty hard to find. It
                          would be helpful to have more books on this perticular subject to be
                          able to recomend to people. Expect my review within a year ;) *lol*

                          PMCV

                          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...>
                          wrote:
                          > > Hello lady_caritas
                          > >
                          > > On 12/10/04, you wrote:
                          > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...>
                          > wrote:
                          > > >>
                          > > >> It seems to me from this short bit I have read, that Dr
                          Turner
                          > > >> postulates a later origin for Sethianism, but not so late as
                          > some
                          > > >> believe.
                          > > >>
                          > > >> In looking at this part of Turner's outline....
                          > > >>
                          > > >> "So far as I can see, most of the Sethian documents cited
                          above
                          > > >> originated in the period 100-250 C.E.
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > Hi, PMCV. Turner also does mention (near the end of III.
                          > Chronology
                          > > > and Redaction, A. Before 100 C.E.) earliest Sethian
                          compositions
                          > > > that were written by the end of the first century. I would
                          copy
                          > and
                          > > > paste here, but I can't seem to access the web page right now.
                          > > >
                          > > > He basically shows an origin for Sethianism before 100 C.E in
                          > this
                          > > > whole section. Are there sources that postulate a much
                          earlier
                          > > > origin?
                          > > >
                          > > > Cari
                          > >
                          > > I have heard about 100 BCE. PMCV?
                          > >
                          > > Regards
                          > > --
                          > > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                          >
                          >
                          > Oh, yes, Mike. I checked back to a previous post of mine (#10379)
                          in
                          > which I quoted from the preface of Turner's article, mentioning
                          > "Sethianism as a non-Christian
                          > baptismal sect of the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. which
                          > considered itself primordially enlightened by the divine wisdom
                          > revealed to Adam and Seth,..."
                          >
                          > I don't know how much further back we could go, but even activity
                          > around 100 B.C.E. would exemplify non-Christian roots.
                          >
                          > Cari
                        • pmcvflag
                          Hey Mike... ... Sethians were not.
                          Message 12 of 20 , Dec 11, 2004
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                            Hey Mike...

                            >>>"Just one, the early Valentinians were in the church, the
                            Sethians were not."<<<

                            Perhaps, but what about the synagogue? Also, I am not so sure that
                            the Christinized "Sethian" tracts were not originally used in the
                            church. On the other hand, they are hard to reconcile with what we
                            know of the earliest Christian texts. I think this question is very
                            difficult to be positive about, either way.

                            PMCV
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