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Re: Baptism

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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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