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  • pege41
    Hi, I have lurked awhile maybe a year? I read from the web and guilty of not coming more often. I have a question, and if any would like to e-mail me privately
    Message 1 of 10 , Dec 28, 2004
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      Hi, I have lurked awhile maybe a year?
      I read from the web and guilty of not coming more often.
      I have a question, and if any would like to e-mail me privately that
      is fine also.
      How does Baptism play into gnosticism?


      thanks
      Pam
    • lady_caritas
      ... that ... Hi, Pam. I don t if anyone has emailed you privately, but I ll take a stab here with a few references for you. John D. Turner has written an
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 6, 2005
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        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pege41 <no_reply@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi, I have lurked awhile maybe a year?
        > I read from the web and guilty of not coming more often.
        > I have a question, and if any would like to e-mail me privately
        that
        > is fine also.
        > How does Baptism play into gnosticism?
        >
        >
        > thanks
        > Pam


        Hi, Pam. I don't if anyone has emailed you privately, but I'll take
        a stab here with a few references for you.

        John D. Turner has written an excellent scholarly paper on ritual in
        Gnosticism, including a whole section on baptism with details about
        Sethian and Valentinian baptism:
        http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm

        In addition, Bentley Layton has a nice summary of Gnostic baptism in
        his Historical Introduction to Part One of _The Gnostic Scriptures_,
        pages 19-20. I'll type it up for you below with links to some of
        works I found online that he references.

        Hope this helps.

        Cari

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Like other Christians, the gnostics laid great stress on the
        importance of baptism and made strong use of baptismal rhetoric when
        speaking of salvation. To judge from the texts, gnostic baptism
        marked a decisive step in the spiritual life of the gnostic,
        involving renunciation, instruction, learning, and initiation in to a
        new "kinship" and a new state of life. Reception of gnostic baptism
        was closely associated with reception of _gnosis_ and was believed to
        enable the gnostic to overcome death.

        Various stage of a gnostic baptismal ceremony are enumerated in FTh
        {First Thought in Three Forms (Trimorphic Protennoia) -
        http://gnosis.org/naghamm/trimorph.html }: the candidate strips
        off "darkness," puts on a robe of light, is washed in the waters of
        life, receives a throne of glory and is glorified with glory of "the
        kinship," and finally is raised to "the luminous place of . . .
        kinship." The baptized is also said in EgG {The Holy Book of the
        Great Invisible Spirit (The Egyptian Gospel) -
        http://gnosis.org/naghamm/goseqypt.html } to put on the name of
        Jesus, and according to BJn {The Secret Book According to John -
        http://gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn.html } _gnosis_ is received when the
        savior seals the candidate with "the light of the water of the five
        seals." These five seals are mentioned in many passages of gnostic
        scripture as having a very intimate connection with _gnosis_, but
        what they consist of is never clearly explained. EgG concludes with
        a lengthy, ecstatic baptismal invocation presumably spoken by a
        recipient of gnostic baptism.

        Yet despite the insistence on baptism in gnostic scripture, the
        references to it are phrased in exaggerated poetic language, always
        giving the impression that the ceremony takes place not on earth, but
        only in the spiritual realm. For example, various aeons known from
        gnostic myth take a leading role in the ceremony; the spiritual
        baptismal water is even mythically personified, as are "the five
        seals." It may seriously be asked, then, whether such references to
        baptism are not mere metaphor, a mystical description of salvation by
        acquaintance (such an equation is explicitly made at the end of RAd
        {The Revelation of Adam - http://gnosis.org/naghamm/adam.html } ).
        Was there also a physical gnostic rite of baptism, and if so was it a
        once-for-all initiation into the new kinship of the gnostic church or
        a repeatable act of mystical enlightenment? What was its relation,
        if any, to that baptism already received by members of the non-
        gnostic church who then converted to gnostic Christianity? No answer
        to these questions is given by the scriptures themselves, apart from
        silence. But St. Epiphanius, a hostile--and not fully reliable--
        fourth-century observer (EpA {Epiphanius. On the Archontics – p. 194
        of _The Gnostic Scriptures_} ), reports that the Archontics, a
        subdivision of the gnostics, "curse and reject [non-gnostic] baptism,
        even though there are some among them who have already been baptized
        [as orthodox Christians]" because baptism is "alien and has been
        established in the name of Sabaoth," i.e. the god of Israel, who
        according the Archontics is the son of Satan. Furthermore, according
        to St. Epiphanius, the Archontics believe that when the soul is saved
        it "gets _gnosis_ and flees baptism of the [non-gnostic] church."
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      • pege41
        Thank you Cari, I sent you a message. Pam ... take
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 11, 2005
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          Thank you Cari, I sent you a message.
          Pam

          >
          > Hi, Pam. I don't if anyone has emailed you privately, but I'll
          take
          > a stab here with a few references for you.
        • pmcvflag
          Just to add to what Dr Turner stated (and mildly refute Turner s statement that Gnostic texts are silent on the matter as well as bolster his main point
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 11, 2005
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            Just to add to what Dr Turner stated (and mildly refute Turner's
            statement that Gnostic texts are silent on the matter as well as
            bolster his main point concerning spiritual meaning above ritual
            practice), I would like to point out a passage from Philip....

            "If one goes down into the water and comes up without having
            received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the
            name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the
            name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it
            back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is
            demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a
            mystery."

            At first this may sound a bit like an admonition that we could
            actually here in the average Christian church today, but I think Dr
            Turner is right on the mark in pointing out that in the Gnostic
            context this is at least in part meant to be understood within the
            allegorical framework of understanding vs non understanding. To make
            that point more clear we can look at the earlier statement in Philip
            that says "He who has received something other than the Lord is
            still a Hebrew" that comes after a fairly direct (almost
            unchericteristically so) explination that the word "Hebrew" is meant
            as an initiatory term rather than one of cultural identity.

            In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
            allegorical meaning and spiritual process of the message rather than
            washing away sins to make amends to some angry Demiurge lest he
            smite us.

            We may be tempted to see this difference between the Gnostic and the
            common modern understanding of baptism as nothing more than
            sectarian dogmatic debate, but it actually goes further than that.
            By raising the issue of form and function we are forced to consider
            methodology itself. What I mean there is, it two completely
            different things to say that a ritual is meant to somehow please a
            god vs whether it is meant to help us understand something about
            ourselves and the universe around us. This is ritual as magic spell
            vs ritual for spiritual meaning. I think it is safe to say that the
            exact same ritual can be used in the two completely different
            contexts. Perhaps it is that realization that allowed the
            Valentinians to exist in and among the non-Gnostic Christians and
            use the same ritual practice while simply seeing them as well
            meaning people who didn't fully understand yet because of thier
            being stuck in physical understandings of the spiritual process.

            Hope I didn't confuse the issue.

            PMCV

            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
            wrote:
            >
            > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pege41 <no_reply@y...> wrote:
            > >
            > > Hi, I have lurked awhile maybe a year?
            > > I read from the web and guilty of not coming more often.
            > > I have a question, and if any would like to e-mail me privately
            > that
            > > is fine also.
            > > How does Baptism play into gnosticism?
            > >
            > >
            > > thanks
            > > Pam
            >
            >
            > Hi, Pam. I don't if anyone has emailed you privately, but I'll
            take
            > a stab here with a few references for you.
            >
            > John D. Turner has written an excellent scholarly paper on ritual
            in
            > Gnosticism, including a whole section on baptism with details
            about
            > Sethian and Valentinian baptism:
            > http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm
            >
            > In addition, Bentley Layton has a nice summary of Gnostic baptism
            in
            > his Historical Introduction to Part One of _The Gnostic
            Scriptures_,
            > pages 19-20. I'll type it up for you below with links to some of
            > works I found online that he references.
            >
            > Hope this helps.
            >
            > Cari
            >
            > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            >
            > Like other Christians, the gnostics laid great stress on the
            > importance of baptism and made strong use of baptismal rhetoric
            when
            > speaking of salvation. To judge from the texts, gnostic baptism
            > marked a decisive step in the spiritual life of the gnostic,
            > involving renunciation, instruction, learning, and initiation in
            to a
            > new "kinship" and a new state of life. Reception of gnostic
            baptism
            > was closely associated with reception of _gnosis_ and was believed
            to
            > enable the gnostic to overcome death.
            >
            > Various stage of a gnostic baptismal ceremony are enumerated in
            FTh
            > {First Thought in Three Forms (Trimorphic Protennoia) -
            > http://gnosis.org/naghamm/trimorph.html }: the candidate strips
            > off "darkness," puts on a robe of light, is washed in the waters
            of
            > life, receives a throne of glory and is glorified with glory
            of "the
            > kinship," and finally is raised to "the luminous place of . . .
            > kinship." The baptized is also said in EgG {The Holy Book of the
            > Great Invisible Spirit (The Egyptian Gospel) -
            > http://gnosis.org/naghamm/goseqypt.html } to put on the name of
            > Jesus, and according to BJn {The Secret Book According to John -
            > http://gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn.html } _gnosis_ is received when
            the
            > savior seals the candidate with "the light of the water of the
            five
            > seals." These five seals are mentioned in many passages of
            gnostic
            > scripture as having a very intimate connection with _gnosis_, but
            > what they consist of is never clearly explained. EgG concludes
            with
            > a lengthy, ecstatic baptismal invocation presumably spoken by a
            > recipient of gnostic baptism.
            >
            > Yet despite the insistence on baptism in gnostic scripture, the
            > references to it are phrased in exaggerated poetic language,
            always
            > giving the impression that the ceremony takes place not on earth,
            but
            > only in the spiritual realm. For example, various aeons known
            from
            > gnostic myth take a leading role in the ceremony; the spiritual
            > baptismal water is even mythically personified, as are "the five
            > seals." It may seriously be asked, then, whether such references
            to
            > baptism are not mere metaphor, a mystical description of salvation
            by
            > acquaintance (such an equation is explicitly made at the end of
            RAd
            > {The Revelation of Adam -
            http://gnosis.org/naghamm/adam.html } ).
            > Was there also a physical gnostic rite of baptism, and if so was
            it a
            > once-for-all initiation into the new kinship of the gnostic church
            or
            > a repeatable act of mystical enlightenment? What was its
            relation,
            > if any, to that baptism already received by members of the non-
            > gnostic church who then converted to gnostic Christianity? No
            answer
            > to these questions is given by the scriptures themselves, apart
            from
            > silence. But St. Epiphanius, a hostile--and not fully reliable--
            > fourth-century observer (EpA {Epiphanius. On the Archontics – p.
            194
            > of _The Gnostic Scriptures_} ), reports that the Archontics, a
            > subdivision of the gnostics, "curse and reject [non-gnostic]
            baptism,
            > even though there are some among them who have already been
            baptized
            > [as orthodox Christians]" because baptism is "alien and has been
            > established in the name of Sabaoth," i.e. the god of Israel, who
            > according the Archontics is the son of Satan. Furthermore,
            according
            > to St. Epiphanius, the Archontics believe that when the soul is
            saved
            > it "gets _gnosis_ and flees baptism of the [non-gnostic] church."
            > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          • nakedalchemy@aol.com
            In a message dated 1/12/2005 12:12:43 AM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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              In a message dated 1/12/2005 12:12:43 AM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
              In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
              allegorical meaning and spiritual process of the message rather than
              washing away sins to make amends to some angry Demiurge lest he
              smite us.
              yes, the function of ritual is supposedly to aid in awakening and be a transitional aspect, marking the transition from one state to another, of awareness. When we dont get the message it implies ritually, we are merely faking it for whatever reasons...to be included, to not be left out, to let others think we are what we are not..it comes back to haunt eventually.
              it is a cleansing,but not of sins etc, of old thought, or is supposed to be.
               
              mychael
            • lady_caritas
              ... make ... Philip ... meant ... than ... the ... Not at all, PMCV. Great insights,... except that I can t find where Turner talked about silence in Gnostic
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                >
                > Just to add to what Dr Turner stated (and mildly refute Turner's
                > statement that Gnostic texts are silent on the matter as well as
                > bolster his main point concerning spiritual meaning above ritual
                > practice), I would like to point out a passage from Philip....
                >
                > "If one goes down into the water and comes up without having
                > received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the
                > name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the
                > name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it
                > back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is
                > demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a
                > mystery."
                >
                > At first this may sound a bit like an admonition that we could
                > actually here in the average Christian church today, but I think Dr
                > Turner is right on the mark in pointing out that in the Gnostic
                > context this is at least in part meant to be understood within the
                > allegorical framework of understanding vs non understanding. To
                make
                > that point more clear we can look at the earlier statement in
                Philip
                > that says "He who has received something other than the Lord is
                > still a Hebrew" that comes after a fairly direct (almost
                > unchericteristically so) explination that the word "Hebrew" is
                meant
                > as an initiatory term rather than one of cultural identity.
                >
                > In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
                > allegorical meaning and spiritual process of the message rather
                than
                > washing away sins to make amends to some angry Demiurge lest he
                > smite us.
                >
                > We may be tempted to see this difference between the Gnostic and
                the
                > common modern understanding of baptism as nothing more than
                > sectarian dogmatic debate, but it actually goes further than that.
                > By raising the issue of form and function we are forced to consider
                > methodology itself. What I mean there is, it two completely
                > different things to say that a ritual is meant to somehow please a
                > god vs whether it is meant to help us understand something about
                > ourselves and the universe around us. This is ritual as magic spell
                > vs ritual for spiritual meaning. I think it is safe to say that the
                > exact same ritual can be used in the two completely different
                > contexts. Perhaps it is that realization that allowed the
                > Valentinians to exist in and among the non-Gnostic Christians and
                > use the same ritual practice while simply seeing them as well
                > meaning people who didn't fully understand yet because of thier
                > being stuck in physical understandings of the spiritual process.
                >
                > Hope I didn't confuse the issue.
                >
                > PMCV


                Not at all, PMCV. Great insights,... except that I can't find where
                Turner talked about silence in Gnostic texts. Perhaps you could
                direct me. The quote I typed from *Bentley Layton* did mention that
                though. Also, Turner does touch on Valentinian baptism as well as
                Sethian baptism; whereas, Layton's quote preceded a section basically
                discussing Sethian texts.

                Apropos of your discussion of Valentinian baptism, PMCV, I found
                Turner's discussion of two baptisms to be interesting.

                "For the Tripartite Tractate (NHC I,5: 127,25), Valentinian baptism
                is equivalent to the redemption, the second baptism (the baptism 'in
                the fullest sense' as opposed to 'the baptism which we previously
                mentioned')."

                "Like the Gospel of Philip, A Valentinian Exposition understands the
                first baptism as the forgiveness of sins, but whose effect seems to
                be the same as the "redemption" or second baptism described in
                patristic sources: it elevates the recipient out of the world into
                the aeon. In both treatises the first baptism seems to be connected
                with an anointing and a eucharist, although the significance of the
                latter seems to be attenuated. In the Gospel of Philip, which seems
                to refer to the rites of redemption and bridal chamber as a sort of
                second baptism, the chrism becomes the central part of the baptismal
                rite, overshadowing the eucharist altogether."

                Turner's mention of rites overlapping in this section is compelling,
                too. He seems to broaden the concept (or definition) of "baptism."
                What do you (and other members) think?
                http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm#Heading3


                I believe you're correct that the Valentinians were generally a bit
                more accepting or at least tolerant of the non-Gnostic Christians'
                water ritual. Well, I imagine they would have to be to try to
                survive in their midst. Occasional polemics against water immersion
                (by some groups) ("impure baptism in a dark water that enslaves")
                such as described by Turner at the end of his section on Sethian
                baptism...
                http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm#Heading2
                ... certainly would be self-defeating if sharing a community with non-
                Christians were a goal, as in the case of the Valentinians.


                Cari
              • lady_caritas
                ... immersion ... non- ... Ooops, correction: That last line should read: ... if sharing a community with non-Gnostic Christians were a goal. Cari
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > I believe you're correct that the Valentinians were generally a bit
                  > more accepting or at least tolerant of the non-Gnostic Christians'
                  > water ritual. Well, I imagine they would have to be to try to
                  > survive in their midst. Occasional polemics against water
                  immersion
                  > (by some groups) ("impure baptism in a dark water that enslaves")
                  > such as described by Turner at the end of his section on Sethian
                  > baptism...
                  > http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm#Heading2
                  > ... certainly would be self-defeating if sharing a community with
                  non-
                  > Christians were a goal, as in the case of the Valentinians.
                  >
                  >
                  > Cari

                  Ooops, correction: That last line should read:

                  ... if sharing a community with non-Gnostic Christians were a goal.


                  Cari
                • pmcvflag
                  Cari.... ... though.
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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                    Cari....

                    >>"The quote I typed from *Bentley Layton* did mention that
                    though."<<

                    Oops, nope, that is right.... it was Layton not Turner. I got mixed
                    around a little there for a moment. *blush*.

                    PMCV
                  • pmcvflag
                    To add to what you say here Mychael, I think ritual can also serve as a mnemonic, or to enhance a particular mood (whether it be the sense of superiority in
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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                      To add to what you say here Mychael, I think ritual can also serve
                      as a mnemonic, or to enhance a particular mood (whether it be the
                      sense of superiority in the entrance and black robes of a judge at a
                      trial, or the act of wearing the little black dress to enhance that
                      feeling of sexy confidence.. it has a ritual function.) OUr whole
                      lives are filled with rituals we don't even think about, but they do
                      effect us.

                      However, as Mychael points out the function of ritual in the
                      initiatory process is a bit more specific and integral. In fact some
                      rituals go so far as to be intended to actually induce the
                      change/experience/understanding, not just to enhance a mood or help
                      us remember. Gnosticism is an initiatory system, by definition.

                      PMCV

                      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, nakedalchemy@a... wrote:
                      >
                      > In a message dated 1/12/2005 12:12:43 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                      > no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                      >
                      > In other words, the functions of the rituals is to gain that
                      > allegorical meaning and spiritual process of the message rather
                      than
                      > washing away sins to make amends to some angry Demiurge lest he
                      > smite us.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > yes, the function of ritual is supposedly to aid in awakening and
                      be a
                      > transitional aspect, marking the transition from one state to
                      another, of
                      > awareness. When we dont get the message it implies ritually, we
                      are merely faking it
                      > for whatever reasons...to be included, to not be left out, to let
                      others
                      > think we are what we are not..it comes back to haunt eventually.
                      > it is a cleansing,but not of sins etc, of old thought, or is
                      supposed to be.
                      >
                      > mychael
                    • nakedalchemy@aol.com
                      In a message dated 1/12/2005 9:36:03 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes: However, as Mychael points out the function of ritual in the
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jan 12, 2005
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                        In a message dated 1/12/2005 9:36:03 PM Eastern Standard Time, no_reply@yahoogroups.com writes:
                        However, as Mychael points out the function of ritual in the
                        initiatory process is a bit more specific and integral. In fact some
                        rituals go so far as to be intended to actually induce the
                        change/experience/understanding, not just to enhance a mood or help
                        us remember. Gnosticism is an initiatory system, by definition.

                        PMCV
                        I agree, and some ritual has shown to do this for certain individuals...it became an "out of mind, but in the mind experience" and opened their eyes, if only enough to continue onward onto the path they chose that they were initiated in, and ye,s this is what it is, Gnostic thought is an initiation system,perhaps full of all the outer acoutrements of ritual, prayer etc, but the initiatory process, for me, is an ever evolving one, and I don't like to take things for granted and  settle myself there.
                        I may be stuck in a present state of mind about something until which time something else clicks, another "aha" moment, and I will investigate it both internally and externally intellectually.
                         
                        mychael
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