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[Gnosticism2] Re: Gnostic claims to Paul of Tarsus (fwd)

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  • Mike Leavitt
    Hello *** Begin of forwarded message *** i think i may understand why you characterize the question of whether or not Paul set up gnostic communities as well
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2005
      hi Mike...  you wrote:
      All I can say is that Valentinus claimed the Apistolic Succession from
      Paul via an intermediate teacher.  True?  Who knows.  Also, while
      none of the quotes come to mind, well over 30 years ago I came up
      with twenty some quotes from him that truely sounded Gnostic for a
      lecture. Did Paul set up gnostic communities as well as orthodox
      ones, at the time things were so much in flux, the question is
      meaningless.  Do I think Paul was a gnostic, no, but he was as you
      say, influenced by them (probably the Sethians).  Everyone goes to
      Paul, because his writings are the earliest in the New Testament, and
      too much emphasis is laid on him, and the Hyde part of him is as
      un-Gnostic as you can get.

      Mike Leavitt 
      my lovely wife appreciates your Jekel and Hyde analogy and reminds
      me that Paul was, self admittedly, trying to be "all things to all men."
      and in the process of being "all things to all men" Paul is shown to
      be a fraud at most, a liar at the very least: his desire to be perceived
      as coming from a Pharisaic family background (Romans 11:2) (which
      is further exacerbated in Acts 22:3, which ridiculously claims
      Saul/Paul was a student in the Pharisee academy of Gamaliel) is
      patently absurd.  yet why claim it if it weren't so?  probably because
      during this period such a claim leant itself to high honor amongst
      Jew and gentile alike in both the Parthian and Roman empires.  the
      Pharisees were renowned as a "group who upheld religious ideals in
      the face of tyranny, supported leniency and mercy in the application of
      laws, and championed the rights of the poor against the oppression of
      the rich... Maccoby."  (my wife's NIV bible has a table, smack dab in
      the middle of Matthew, describing four Jewish sects, and points six
      and seven under "Pharisees" read, respectively: "They were
      champions of human equality" and "The emphasis of their teaching
      was ethical rather than theological.").  many a gentile, by the way, was
      converting to the Jewish religion at this time, and they were not
      expected to live under the same law as those who were born Jews, but
      rather were held only to what were called the Noahide laws, which
      were few in number, yet their observance would still reserve a place for
      the convert in the world to come.  that a man of Saul/Paul's alleged
      background would partake in a witch hunt pursuing after the followers
      of the Jesus movement under the auspices of the High Priest (read
      Sadducees) is extremely dubious (not to mention how he fails to explain
      how he obtained authority to make arrests extending far beyond the
      High Priest's jurisdiction).  this would be like Ted Kennedy traveling
      across the United States willingly and enthusiastically engaging in a
      smear campaign against Democrats under the direction of Bush
      henchman Carl Rove... only much worse.  Paul even bungles the
      Torah and appears to be familiar only with the Greek Septuagint: a
      Pharisaic student who can't read Hebrew?
      i can't begin to tell you what Saul/Paul's true motivations were, and
      i'm not going to speculate right now, but i find him, ultimately,
      despicable.  he looks to me to be a direct contributor, through his
      misrepresentations and lies, to inconceivable carnage and terror
      throughout the subsequent centuries.  not that this was his intention,
      but perhaps the ripples of "being all things to all men" and the
      deceptions employed to be so, contributes to the tsunami of torture,
      destruction, murder and mayhem that, in the saddest of ironies,
      would consume Jew and Gnostic alike.
      i think i may understand why you characterize the question of whether
      or not "Paul set up gnostic communities as well as orthodox ones, at
      the time things were so much in flux" as meaningless, but let me
      point out that there's a current Gnostic school of thought that believes
      Christianity was originally a Jewish hybrid of Mediterranean Mystery
      religions, so the question certainly wouldn't be meaningless to this
      school of thought, especially those who have an affinity to the book
      The Jesus Mysteries and its follow-up volume. i think this school of
      thought would tell us that Paul's writings represent only the "outer
      mysteries," the initial mythology, that precedes, and is preparatory
      to, the hidden inner mysteries where the true work and initiation really
      begin.  while i don't find this school of thought necessarily mistaken,
      i do think they skate on thin ice and fly on the wings of much faith.
      your friend,
      Crispin Sainte III
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