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Re: Gnosticism and Darwin

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  • lady_caritas
    ... Hello, Gich. I just did a search on the group message board search engine and found a thread from about 2 ½ years ago touching on evolution. With all
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi All!
      > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
      > Gich


      Hello, Gich. I just did a search on the group message board search
      engine and found a thread from about 2 ½ years ago touching
      on "evolution." With all our new members since then, we might want
      to readdress this subject if people are interested.

      If you're interested in reviewing some of the old thread, it starts
      with post #6508 [and I repeat it in #6509 since I had forgotten to
      include a subject title ;-) ]. If you scroll to the bottom of that
      post page I link below, you'll see continuing posts of the thread
      listed. And it continues past those listed in that one post, too.
      Just keep checking the bottom of other posts in the thread for more
      follow-up posts.

      This thread took some curves here and there, so some posts might be
      more on target or interesting to you than others.

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/message/6508

      So, regardless of past discussion, please feel free to rehash
      information and bring some welcome, fresh ideas to the table. None
      of us want to be tied to *all* our ideas and opinions from years ago
      anyway. It sometimes can be excruciating reading old stuff we
      wrote. LOL ;-)


      Cari
    • Raven Skydancer
      Hi Gich; I asked my inner being, my God Self within me, whom I call High Self, and the answer was, YES , to your question... The Gnostic Gospels were not meant
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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        Hi Gich; I asked my inner being, my God Self within me, whom I call
        High Self, and the answer was,"YES", to your question... The Gnostic
        Gospels were not meant to be a comentary on the 'origen of
        species'... nor was Darwin necessarily right about everything, or
        maybe... anything. Smile

        Namaste, Sky

        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi All!
        > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
        > Gich
      • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
        hi gich... i d say maybe there s a place. how noncommittal is that? but i m not sure what you mean, is there a place? are you asking if, like Rumi,
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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          hi gich...  i'd say maybe there's a place.  how noncommittal is that?
          but i'm not sure what you mean, "is there a place?"  are you asking
          if, like Rumi, ancient Gnostics somehow alluded to some form of
          natural selection/evolution?  if so, i'm not aware of any such
          allusion.  if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic
          can find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say
          absolutely yes.  if you're asking if we can anachronistically impose
          evolutionary theory upon Gnosticism, i suppose it would depend
          on the creativity of the one imposing it, though i don't know what
          would motivate someone to do that.
           
          it looks to me as though the earliest forms of Gnostic thought
          simply wouldn't be interested in evolution, not because its
          particularly objectionable in light of any dogma, but because it
          would require too much attention to the flesh and things of this
          world to reasonably imagine a Gnostic to develop such a theory.
           
          the only exception i can think of might be a propagandist angle
          where they might say, "see, our bodies are abhorrent because
          we are descended from filthy apes and the muck of the sea."  a
          somewhat dubious, imo, carrot to place in front of the cart of
          spiritual liberation.
           
          your friend,
           
          Crispin Sainte III 
          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           
          Thanks Cari!

          I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find a
          straightforward answer to my question:

          Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?

          Yes?

          No?

          Maybe?
          Gich
        • Raven Skydancer
          Hi Cary; You wrote; It sometimes can be excruciating reading old stuff we wrote.LOL ;-) In looking back on some of the old stuff I have written in times
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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            Hi Cary; You wrote; "It sometimes can be excruciating reading old
            stuff we wrote.LOL ;-)"

            In looking back on some of the old stuff I have written in times
            past, it's not only "excruciating", some of it is down right
            embarrassing... Wink

            Namaste, Sky



            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
            wrote:
            >
            > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...>
            wrote:
            > >
            > > Hi All!
            > > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
            > > Gich
            >
            >
            > Hello, Gich. I just did a search on the group message board search
            > engine and found a thread from about 2 ½ years ago touching
            > on "evolution." With all our new members since then, we might want
            > to readdress this subject if people are interested.
            >
            > If you're interested in reviewing some of the old thread, it starts
            > with post #6508 [and I repeat it in #6509 since I had forgotten to
            > include a subject title ;-) ]. If you scroll to the bottom of that
            > post page I link below, you'll see continuing posts of the thread
            > listed. And it continues past those listed in that one post, too.
            > Just keep checking the bottom of other posts in the thread for more
            > follow-up posts.
            >
            > This thread took some curves here and there, so some posts might be
            > more on target or interesting to you than others.
            >
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/message/6508
            >
            > So, regardless of past discussion, please feel free to rehash
            > information and bring some welcome, fresh ideas to the table. None
            > of us want to be tied to *all* our ideas and opinions from years
            ago
            > anyway. It sometimes can be excruciating reading old stuff we
            > wrote. LOL ;-)
            >
            >
            > Cari
          • Mike Leavitt
            Hello gich ... Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the Gnostics? Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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              Hello gich

              On 03/06/05, you wrote:

              >
              >
              > Thanks Cari!
              >
              > I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find a
              > straightforward answer to my question:
              >
              > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
              >
              > Yes?
              >
              > No?
              >
              > Maybe?
              > Gich

              Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the Gnostics?

              Regards
              --
              Mike Leavitt ac998@...
            • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
              hi Gich... You wrote: Hi Crispin. You write if you re asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can find a place for the Theory of evolution, then i
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                hi Gich...

                 

                You wrote:

                 

                Hi Crispin.

                You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can

                find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say  absolutely

                yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit within'; 'the

                inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner spark', is

                divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if only we

                can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner

                spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will be

                saved. 

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings.  i don't have the

                references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out

                here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as though

                the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every

                "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;"  that some Gnostics

                seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive clubbut

                that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and their actual

                meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated.  it may have been an

                insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have the

                capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess it;

                whether or not they desire or seek it.

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort on our

                part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a spiritual side

                (an 'inner spark') to our existence.

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                sounds logical. 

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive man

                fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that beings

                only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all. 

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                maybe all matter contains this "inner spark":  humans, apes, toads,

                rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the divine as

                opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution.  and let me say

                right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject Genesis

                and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including all

                Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that evolution

                could be a tool of an intelligent designer.

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in

                implanting it because the beings in question would never become

                sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort required

                to acquire the esoteric gnosis. 

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're saying. 

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner spark'.

                So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God decide

                that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting the

                'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this. 

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did not

                decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.  maybe it

                (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to perceive

                and/or exploit it was not. 

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts of the

                world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others

                not.  

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well. 

                 

                Gish wrote:

                 

                Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree to be

                rewarded with this 'inner spark'? 

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not believe all

                humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as much

                as dumb luck.  perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who only

                imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional perhaps. 

                i really don't know the answer to your question.  i would like to believe

                all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and that all

                relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to

                develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and

                awareness through some process that strips us of our social/cultural

                conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and dislikes

                seem to carry little weight with reality. 

                 

                my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after my

                accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely

                mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i

                have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our spirits can

                survive, consciousness intact,  outside of the physical body (for a while

                at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't assume it).  

                so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way

                connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me, probably

                everything else.  the all?

                 

                Gich wrote:

                 

                It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark' implanted

                into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;

                and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible. 

                 

                Gich

                 

                crispin replies:

                 

                i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see the

                word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking

                historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we

                speaking about current "Gnostic" thought.  my guess, concerning the

                ancients, would still be yes though.  using sophistry, wit, creativity,

                etc., they would have adapted.  We see this happening time and

                time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever

                investigated.  even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or die.  as

                to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've

                already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of

                propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of matter),

                but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the highest

                ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies. 

                as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i  would imagine its

                pretty much the same.  i know i don't have any personal or

                emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately came

                to be.  i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that they

                might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i see

                that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as well.  i

                just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.

                 

                your friend,

                 

                Crispin Glover III

                 

              • pamela661
                In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from apes to humans. In
                Message 7 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                  In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember
                  correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from
                  apes to humans. In other words, I thought the "trail" was somewhat
                  incomplete - hence the theory of "the missing link". Sooooo,
                  theoretically, Darwin's theory is still that - a theory. Gnostism,
                  in my experience is simply a spiritual theory on the ways of
                  spiritual existence - which by the way is open to change as new
                  information is learned or discovered. I feel that the point of
                  being gnostic is to serve the idea of what I feel is truly right
                  theologically, while leaving room for change if and when I feel my
                  beliefs need to given any new experience or information I find. I
                  guess what I'm getting at after all this rambling is that no one can
                  say yea or nay to your question but you. What do you feel is
                  right? Or perhaps maybe that is something you can explore to serve
                  your god. All in all, I feel it is the journey or the search for
                  knowledge that is important, not just the answers. I hope this
                  helps a little.
                • lady_caritas
                  There is much to address here, but I ll just bring up a few points to focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too. As far as historical
                  Message 8 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                    There is much to address here, but I'll just bring up a few points to
                    focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too.

                    As far as historical Gnosticism is concerned, the ultimate ineffable
                    Unknown (or unengendered father, etc.) doesn't decide, reward, have a
                    point of view,... is basically, in fact, beyond existence and any
                    human conception. (A message board search might direct you to past
                    discussion of this apophatic theology.)

                    So, I suppose I wonder what is meant in this discussion by the
                    term "god"? The various Gnostic mythologies show this world to be an
                    abortion, as a result of the fall of Sophia, from whom spiritual
                    sparks fall. Now, depending on the mythology, the demiurge, who is
                    the artisan, creator of our world, either can be viewed as very
                    negative (the sparks become trapped in the material prison) or even
                    more positive (Valentinianism, where creation is viewed as a tool, a
                    vessel to aid the maturing spiritual fruit). In any case, Gnosis
                    destroys "lack," and the material world is deficient.

                    Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
                    mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
                    black and white literal approach. Likewise the spirit isn't
                    physical, so even though the theory of evolution wasn't around for
                    those ancients, I don't see it as incompatible in describing
                    biological occurrences, whether as part of a physical prison or an
                    accommodating vessel.

                    Cari

                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Tsharpmin7@a... wrote:
                    >
                    > hi Gich...
                    > You wrote:
                    > Hi Crispin.
                    > You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic
                    can
                    > find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say
                    absolutely
                    > yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit
                    within';
                    > 'the
                    > inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner
                    spark', is
                    > divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if
                    only we
                    > can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner
                    > spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will
                    be
                    > saved.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings. i don't have
                    the
                    > references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out
                    > here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as
                    though
                    > the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every
                    > "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;" that some Gnostics
                    > seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive club.
                    but
                    > that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and
                    their actual
                    > meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated. it may have been
                    an
                    > insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have
                    the
                    > capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess
                    it;
                    > whether or not they desire or seek it.
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort
                    on our
                    > part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a
                    spiritual side
                    > (an 'inner spark') to our existence.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > sounds logical.
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive
                    man
                    > fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that
                    beings
                    > only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > maybe all matter contains this "inner spark": humans, apes,
                    toads,
                    > rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the
                    divine as
                    > opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution. and let me
                    say
                    > right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject
                    Genesis
                    > and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including
                    all
                    > Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that
                    evolution
                    > could be a tool of an intelligent designer.
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in
                    > implanting it because the beings in question would never become
                    > sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort
                    required
                    > to acquire the esoteric gnosis.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're
                    saying.
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner
                    spark'.
                    > So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God
                    decide
                    > that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting
                    the
                    > 'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did
                    not
                    > decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.
                    maybe it
                    > (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to
                    perceive
                    > and/or exploit it was not.
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts
                    of the
                    > world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others
                    > not.
                    > crispin replies:
                    > i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well.
                    > Gish wrote:
                    > Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree
                    to be
                    > rewarded with this 'inner spark'?
                    > crispin replies:
                    > as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not
                    believe all
                    > humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as
                    much
                    > as dumb luck. perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who
                    only
                    > imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional
                    perhaps.
                    > i really don't know the answer to your question. i would like to
                    believe
                    > all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and
                    that all
                    > relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to
                    > develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and
                    > awareness through some process that strips us of our
                    social/cultural
                    > conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and
                    dislikes
                    > seem to carry little weight with reality.
                    > my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after
                    my
                    > accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely
                    > mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i
                    > have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our
                    spirits can
                    > survive, consciousness intact, outside of the physical body (for
                    a while
                    > at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't
                    assume it).
                    > so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way
                    > connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me,
                    probably
                    > everything else. the all?
                    > Gich wrote:
                    > It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark'
                    implanted
                    > into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;
                    > and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible.
                    > Gich
                    > crispin replies:
                    > i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see
                    the
                    > word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking
                    > historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we
                    > speaking about current "Gnostic" thought. my guess, concerning
                    the
                    > ancients, would still be yes though. using sophistry, wit,
                    creativity,
                    > etc., they would have adapted. We see this happening time and
                    > time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever
                    > investigated. even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or
                    die. as
                    > to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've
                    > already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of
                    > propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of
                    matter),
                    > but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the
                    highest
                    > ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies.
                    > as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i would imagine
                    its
                    > pretty much the same. i know i don't have any personal or
                    > emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately
                    came
                    > to be. i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that
                    they
                    > might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i
                    see
                    > that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as
                    well. i
                    > just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.
                    > your friend,
                    > Crispin Glover III
                  • pmcvflag
                    Hey Mike.... ... Gnostics?
                    Message 9 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                      Hey Mike....

                      >>>"Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
                      Gnostics?"<<<

                      Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
                      all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
                      instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
                      completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
                      true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
                      notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
                      bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

                      Gich...

                      >>>"I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find
                      a straightforward answer to my question:

                      Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?"<<<

                      I know you want a "straightforward" answer, but I think it may be
                      there more than it looks. When Cari points out a couple posts back
                      that we have to remember the destinction between the Demiurge and
                      the trou source, and to remember that much of what we are talking
                      about is metephor, it brings to the front that to some extent your
                      question sort of goes against the point of evolutionary theory and
                      the point of Gnosticism. What I mean is, it is as if you asked "is
                      there any place for solor power homes in psychology?"

                      I could say yes, or no, or maybe, but the larger question is why are
                      we trying to compare solor power with theories on how the mind
                      works? The two areas neither confirm or deny the accuracy of the
                      other.

                      The physical means by which humans came into existance isn't really
                      something that Gnosticism gives much attention to. If it was
                      evolution, or some kind of "god", it is still just the physical
                      world which is the realm of the Demiurge, not the Source. Remember,
                      Gnostics don't believe we were created by the real spiritual
                      unknowable source, and it was not "God" who gave us spirit.

                      So, just as you can believe in psychology AND in solor power, I see
                      absolutely no reason you could not believe in evolution and Gnosis.
                      Perhaps one might even argue that in comming to understand the
                      physical mechanics of our origin one could come to know the limits
                      of that physical existance... just as the advancement technology
                      such as solor power and the like could give us additional leisure to
                      explore our psychology.

                      PMCV
                    • Mike Leavitt
                      Hello pmcvflag ... My mind is going, I should have remembered that. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
                      Message 10 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                        Hello pmcvflag

                        On 03/08/05, you wrote:

                        >
                        >
                        > Hey Mike....
                        >
                        >>>> "Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
                        > Gnostics?"<<<
                        >
                        > Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
                        > all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
                        > instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
                        > completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
                        > true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
                        > notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
                        > bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

                        My mind is going, I should have remembered that.

                        Regards
                        --
                        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                      • pmcvflag
                        Hey Gich You wrote..... ... I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled
                        Message 11 of 20 , Mar 8, 2005
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                          Hey Gich

                          You wrote.....

                          >>>"Hey PMCV

                          I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when
                          trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled thinking
                          and incorrect conclusions. I'm afraid your 'solar power -
                          psychology' analogy does not help me at all.

                          When you write '.... to some extent your question sort of goes
                          against the point of evolutionary theory and the point of
                          Gnosticism' I'm afraid I don't agree. You seem to view the two
                          topics as completely disjoint but In my attempts to understand the
                          gnostic idea of the 'inner spark' the theory of evolution looms
                          large. Perhaps my other post on this subject clarifies my
                          confusion."<<<

                          I completely agree with you that analogies are an imperfect medium.
                          Unfortunately they are sometimes what we have to fall back on when
                          something gets difficult to explain. In fact, allegory, metephor,
                          analogy, parable, these are all core methodologies in traditional
                          Gnostic texts. Which means, without dealing with these methods we
                          cannot hope to understand the Gnostic texts as they were intended to
                          be understood. Our only other recourse is to take them literally.
                          Are you taking them literally when you read them?

                          However, understanding then that I did not make my point very well,
                          may I point out that Cari and Crispin also answered you saying the
                          same thing that I did only in different ways. Perhaps they were a
                          bit more clear.... I don't know because you didn't respond to either
                          of them. I can only go by your answer to me.

                          Maybe it is simply a matter of us talking about different things.
                          Let me then ask you a question that may help me to understand
                          exactly where you are coming from with your question. Can you point
                          out any specific Gnostic texts that in your view either seem to
                          imply or deny the possibility of physical evolution? I mean, is
                          there something in the text that made this seem important to
                          reconcile physical evolution with spiritual evolution?

                          Let me point out, again just for context, that the Gnostic texts
                          really don't deal with physicality so much other than to simply deny
                          that physicality is so serious in the spectrum of spiritual
                          existance.

                          Since the Gnostic story of how the "inner spark" came to be part of
                          our human existance is not necessarily meant to be taken at face
                          value (and we can't assume that all people actually have this
                          spark), we are really left with a problem as to how to compare it to
                          something that IS literal... i.e., evolution. The only way to do
                          that would be to try and make the Gnostic cosmogeny literal as well.

                          So, as you can see part of the reason it may look like you are not
                          getting a straight answer may be simply that we are not on the same
                          page in our subject matter. What are your observations on this
                          possibility?

                          PMCV
                        • eyeambetty
                          Hello Cari, ... it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like myself
                          Message 12 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                            Hello Cari,


                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                            wrote:

                            > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
                            > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
                            > black and white literal approach.


                            it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                            something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                            myself to Gnosticism.
                            i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of myth
                            for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                            myths.
                            i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The History
                            of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've read
                            thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                            under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:

                            "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                            phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                            influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                            Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious traditions
                            of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                            transform them, endowing them with new meanings. And if it is true
                            that Gnostic myths are myths in their own right because they are the
                            basis of the realities of this world, because of their particular
                            narrative form, the structure of their underlying thought and their
                            characteristic richness and varied symbolic value, it is equally true
                            that their content is not unrelated to history. In other words, as
                            structural analysis has shown, myth as the manifistation of primitive
                            thought posseses an independent form of expression, which prevents it
                            from being reduced to the level of a mere mirror of reality or an
                            aetiological explanation. At the same time, above all in literate
                            societies, it cannot be attributed solely to a combinatory mechanism
                            endowed with a particular logic removed from the influence of
                            historical changes. Gnostic myth thus no longer relates the
                            activities of gods separate from humankind , but only those of that
                            original Anthropos(human being), from whom individual anthropos, or
                            humans are descended through fragmentation, and dispersal. The change
                            of emphasis is decisive and betrays the centrality that reflection on
                            humankind has acquired.

                            In this respect Gnostic myth has only one predecessor: ancient
                            Orphism. This was a religion of the book, inspired by holy scriptures
                            from which it derived its doctrines and purificatory practices. These
                            scriptures contain and transmit a mythical story of Dionysus'
                            assasination by the Titans- in a form that reverses the view of
                            traditional mythology of the type recorded by Hesiod. If the mythical
                            account in the "Theogony" develops, as it does, from the indistinct
                            to the distinct, from the void to the full, from chaos to cosmos,
                            from atemporality to the affirmation of a chronos, or time, the
                            Orphic myth is inspired by a contrasting aim to explain, to justify
                            itself and at the same time to establish the passage from an initial
                            ontological plenitude to the existential void of the present. In this
                            way the Orphics seem to condemn the traditonal mythical structures
                            that are used to affirm the primacy of existence and to guarantee
                            hierarchies and equilibrium between humankind and gods, and
                            consequently within humankind itself."

                            "Gnostic mythology also adopts this reverse perspective as the result
                            of its own radical dualism. It is now a matter of understanding,
                            intuiting and reliving the origianl drama, the initial situation that
                            provoked the rise, the establishment and triumph of evil, an evil
                            that now has acquired an ontological toughness and substance. This
                            cosmos is incurable and must be rejected. Myth thus acquires the
                            functions of salvation. It describes the way of salvation, reminding
                            the Gnostic of his true origins and showing him how to escape from
                            the cosmos. But above all, like all myth, that of the Gnostics is
                            essentially a story of origins: there lies the key of all that one
                            thinks one possesses. But the 'origins' of the cosmos coincide with
                            the pouring forth of Being, a Being that is the Anthropos, for the
                            human has now become the predicate of the divine. The manifestation
                            of God to himself: this is at the heart of the myth, that seeks
                            access, like all theosophy, to the mystery of that first throb of
                            Being, that initial moment, that original conflagration from which
                            the pleromatic universe would emerge.

                            And this manifestation can only take place through the medium of the
                            imperfect narrative that pertains to the era of myth.
                            As "Geschichte", or history, a sucession of archetypal events that
                            proceed from plenitude to deficiency in order to establish and
                            thereby explain it, this divine self-manifestation cannot be
                            described in logical and discursive terms. In the heart of the
                            individual Gnostic it takes shape as an individual process, which is,
                            however, at the same time a moment in a more general process and thus
                            in that same manifestation of God to himself. the mythological
                            narrative form is thus the only channel, the necessary bridge between
                            Being and its becoming.

                            On the screen of imaginary myth of the Gnostic thus projects divine
                            events and exiles that to the modern interpreter can appear only as
                            stages in the search for a new identity, the attempt to refashion a
                            different basis for a conception of the individual in crisis, to
                            which the underlying logos of the Gnostic mythos is striving to
                            restore to its origianl and archetypal unity.

                            Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                            transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected mythology.
                            Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                            gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                            penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                            same mystery of humankind."

                            i hope this might be helpful to some...

                            take care, betty
                          • lady_caritas
                            ... is ... a ... myth ... History ... read ... traditions ... [...] ... mythology. ... Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to our
                            Message 13 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > Hello Cari,
                              >
                              >
                              > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                              > wrote:
                              >
                              > > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this
                              is
                              > > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit
                              a
                              > > black and white literal approach.
                              >
                              >
                              > it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                              > something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                              > myself to Gnosticism.
                              > i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of
                              myth
                              > for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                              > myths.
                              > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                              History
                              > of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've
                              read
                              > thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                              > under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:
                              >
                              > "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                              > phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                              > influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                              > Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious
                              traditions
                              > of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                              > transform them, endowing them with new meanings.
                              >
                              [...]

                              > Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                              > transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected
                              mythology.
                              > Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                              > gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                              > penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                              > same mystery of humankind."
                              >
                              > i hope this might be helpful to some...
                              >
                              > take care, betty


                              Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to
                              our discussion.

                              It also further emphasizes that various "pre-existing material"
                              didn't force or determine some kind of experience in eclectic,
                              shallow fashion, but rather was employed in original manner as a
                              means of expression for a very unique, profound human understanding.


                              Cari
                            • Gerry
                              ... That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the Net, I end up wishing
                              Message 14 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                                wrote:
                                > [...]
                                >
                                > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                                > History of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books
                                > i've read thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful....





                                That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I
                                see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the
                                Net, I end up wishing I had a copy of it right in front of me (so I
                                could hit someone over the head with it, if nothing else!). Now
                                you've piqued my curiosity even further.

                                And I still haven't managed to get a copy of Mead's _Fragments of a
                                Faith Forgotten_. I did locate one recently at a bookseller's in
                                Richmond and have tried to talk myself into the drive up there to
                                check out the condition of it. I may wait a while longer; I've also
                                noticed that Dover is coming out with a new edition (in just a couple
                                days) on his "Pistis Sophia," so I may be able to maximize my spree
                                if I wait a bit.

                                Gerry
                              • pmcvflag
                                Hey Gich I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no idea how accurate it may or may not be. I ll limit my observations to dealing with
                                Message 15 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                  Hey Gich

                                  I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no
                                  idea how accurate it may or may not be. I'll limit my observations
                                  to dealing with your observations... if that is ok.

                                  >>"I am taking literally the idea of 'the inner spark', 'the divine
                                  within'. It seems to me to be a fundamental part gnosticism."<<

                                  I think we would all agree here, Gich, that this is something meant
                                  to be taken literally. However, it does not follow that the method
                                  by which it comes into the individual is meant literally. BTW, I
                                  also thought I would point out that this spiritual aspect to the
                                  human pneumatic is not always described as being "within". On the
                                  contrary, it is sometimes talked about as something out there,
                                  above, that we can ascend to or connect with. Consider the many
                                  passages dealing with the "consort" or sometimes the "twin". This is
                                  the spiritual spark, but it obviously is not described in these
                                  cases as being an "inner spark".

                                  >>>"My problem regarding evolution is that I could not 'see' how sub-
                                  humans could possibly have a pneumatic component (inner spark) and
                                  so fit into the gnostic system. However I now think my difficulty
                                  has been resolved...."<<<

                                  I think I see what you mean there a bit better now. let me deal with
                                  this at the same time as what you say next....

                                  >>>"So ALL humans (whether sub- or not) possess the 'inner spark'
                                  but not ALL will be saved because salvation requires considerable
                                  personal spiritual effort (which presumably the sub-humans were
                                  never capable of) together with Divine intervention!!"<<<

                                  Ok, consider this passage for a minute....

                                  "For he who is ignorant, is deficient, and it is a great deficiency,
                                  since he lacks that which will make him perfect."

                                  While this particular text does talk about being called by
                                  the "Father" in much the way you describe, it by no means assumes
                                  that we all have that ability to gain Gnosis, or that spiritual
                                  spark.

                                  Anyway, what you said about the spark and "sub" humans would apply
                                  to animals and one celled organisms as well. By the reasoning you
                                  present you would not only have to worry about the spark in humans,
                                  but also the spark in animals, plants, even one celled algea in the
                                  ocean. When did this spark descend? At what point did we
                                  become "human" and were is the line between us and other animals?

                                  But what is the point of that? Why do proto-humans have to fit into
                                  the Gnostic system? Why do mushrooms need to be saved? Remember, one
                                  cannot find pnuematicism without first reaching the psychic level.
                                  It would seem to fit MORE into the notion of evolution to not assume
                                  that early people had yet attained this function.

                                  >>"So the Divine will choose!!"<<<

                                  In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                                  by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                                  Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                                  of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                                  The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                                  about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                                  word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                                  lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                                  situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                                  specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                                  lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                                  PMCV
                                • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
                                  hi PMCV... i m very much in the habit of using the divine yet i never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                    hi PMCV... i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                                    never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge."  when i use
                                    "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of  life,
                                    light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God.  since
                                    there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                                    which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than
                                    others, what are you suggesting we use as a source for our
                                    nomenclature here?  this looks like it could get pretty sticky
                                    without a sizable consensus amongst us.  i'm willing to seriously
                                    consider anything you have to offer.  i'm pretty flexible with this
                                    sort of thing.
                                     
                                    your friend,
                                     
                                    Crispin Sainte III
                                    _______________________________________________________
                                    _______________________________________________________
                                     
                                    In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                                    by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                                    Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                                    of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                                    The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                                    about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                                    word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                                    lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                                    situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                                    specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                                    lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                                    PMCV
                                  • pmcvflag
                                    Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little.... ... never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m generally
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                      Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little....

                                      >>>"i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                                      never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge." when i use
                                      "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of
                                      life, light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God."<<<

                                      The very point of the "Demiurge" is to point out a problem with what
                                      most people call "God". Jews, Christians, Muslems, even atheists...
                                      they all worship the Demiurge in one way or another. Animists, and
                                      various tribal religions the world over, some forms of Buddhism
                                      (though perhaps not other forms) and so on, many of them worship the
                                      Demiurge. Perception is a function of the Demiurge, as is life on
                                      this Earth.... at least according to the Gnostic sources. What most
                                      people the world over call "God" is, in fact, the Demiurge. Can you
                                      see where my confusion is coming from? At one moment you say you are
                                      not talking about the Demiurge, and in another moment you seem to
                                      say you are.

                                      In Gnosticism the "Source" is more than just "infinite"
                                      or "ineffable"... in fact there are three types of infinity... but
                                      the Gnostic source is truely apophatic.

                                      >>>"since there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                                      which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than others,
                                      what are you suggesting we use as a source for our nomenclature
                                      here? this looks like it could get pretty sticky without a sizable
                                      consensus amongst us. i'm willing to seriously consider anything
                                      you have to offer. i'm pretty flexible with this sort of thing."<<

                                      Ah, good point Crispin. I should have made my intent more clear. All
                                      I really meant to say is that we should make clear when we are
                                      talking about the First Father, the Second Father (Barbelo), the
                                      later Aeons (Sophia and Logos), or the Demiurge. Whether we wish to
                                      put a positive or negative spin on the Demiurge is really not so
                                      important, I only wish for us to all make clear when we are talking
                                      about one of these four basic forms of "Divine" at any particular
                                      moment so that we know which page we are on at that specific time.
                                      Since we are talking about Gnosticism, maybe we should use the
                                      language of Gnosticism rather than personal terms.... just so that
                                      we understand each other. See what I mean?

                                      I have been absolutely beat down in other "Gnostic" groups for
                                      suggesting this, but I honestly think that it is simply logical
                                      (.....Logos) that we should use a common language to talk about
                                      these things. I think that the "Gnostic" language is the obvious one
                                      we should stick to here.

                                      PMCV
                                    • pmcvflag
                                      Hey Gich... ... Sorry to be picky but could you define apophatic ? Gich
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                                        Hey Gich...

                                        >>>"Hey PMCV
                                        Sorry to be picky but could you define "apophatic"?
                                        Gich"<<<

                                        Sure, the term "apophatic" refers to a theological understanding in
                                        which the divine source is so completely and absolutely infinite
                                        that it can not be described using any attributes. Instead it is
                                        described in a way known as the "via negativa", which is to say it
                                        is described in negatives. This is because anything you can talk
                                        about is a measurement. If we say "God is good" then we have given
                                        god an atribute, but Gnostics do not believe that the true spirit
                                        exists within the field of time, so it has no attributes that the
                                        mind can understand. This is why you will see in a number of Gnostic
                                        texts a long list dealing with what the true spirit is not. It looks
                                        something like this...

                                        "The source is not large, nor small, neither good nor evil, not
                                        light nor dark, itt does not think or will, nor see nor hear, nor
                                        have any thing that we can understand"

                                        Sometimes you will then see an aditional note that explains that we
                                        may call it "good" or talk about its "will" only because we need
                                        some kind of language to talk about it.

                                        This is what "apophatic theology" is.

                                        You also ask me to provide links to "Gnostic" groups that are not
                                        related in any way to traditional Gnostic thought. Here is one in
                                        specific for those here who feel they would better enjoy that kind
                                        of environment....

                                        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GnosticGathering/

                                        PMCV
                                      • pmcvflag
                                        Gich.... ... almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not that I m claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been able to
                                        Message 19 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                                          Gich....

                                          >>>"The righteous feel estrange­ment in the world!! Wow! This is
                                          almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not
                                          that I'm claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been
                                          able to discuss philosophy or religion with anybody until I
                                          discovered this gnostic cyber domain!"<<<

                                          Well, I don't know that I would call Gnosticism "Apocolyptic" as the
                                          word is commonly used, but I do think you would be interested to
                                          note that one of the Nag Hammadi books is actually called "The
                                          Stranger" or "The Alien". The Gnostics of old did not consider
                                          themselves to belong here in material existance.

                                          >>>"This implies that there are gnostic systems which DO NOT give
                                          prominence to the redeemer and his mission! I'm hoping this will be
                                          clarified later in the book but do you know what systems are
                                          referred to and, if so, I would appreciate your comments on these
                                          non-redeemer systems."<<<

                                          Even the Gnostics that DO give an important role to the "redeemer"
                                          or "Soter" do so primarily as an example. Gnostics did not believe
                                          Jesus died for our sins. The mission of the "redeemer" is our own
                                          mission, and everyone who gains Gnosis becomes that savior.

                                          However, as you point out there are Gnostic texts that really only
                                          mention this in passing. I believe what Harris is talking about here
                                          is Sethian Gnosticism. In this form it is Seth, not Jesus, that is
                                          given the role of bringing Gnosis into the world. Again, it is the
                                          teachings not the teacher, and usually Seth is not really much of a
                                          focus the way Jesus tends to be in the Christian texts.

                                          PMCV
                                        • janahooks
                                          ... important and you ... Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I ve had time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                          Message 20 of 20 , Mar 18, 2005
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                                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > Hey PMCV.
                                            >
                                            > In my studies the concept of the "divine twin" seems to be
                                            important and you
                                            > say something about this in this old posting.

                                            Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I've had
                                            time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                            contained in a link that Gerry put in the links section. I think it
                                            says *Valentinus and Valentinian tradition*. Last link on the page.
                                            jana
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