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What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King

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  • queenmab7777
    Greetings, I ve been lurking for a while and wondered if anyone here has read the above book. I have read Pagels, Hoeller etc, and am keen to understand the
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 7 7:53 AM
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      Greetings,

      I've been lurking for a while and wondered if anyone here has read the
      above book.

      I have read Pagels, Hoeller etc, and am keen to
      understand the origins of Gnosticism (and Christianity.) My budget
      is tight at the moment, so would this be worth the investment?

      Thanks in advance for any viewpoints

      Shoshanna
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Shoshanna, welcome to the conversation. Yes, I have read this book. You didn t mention specifically which books you had read by Dr Pagels, so I don t know
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 7 5:46 PM
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        Hey Shoshanna, welcome to the conversation.

        Yes, I have read this book. You didn't mention specifically which
        books you had read by Dr Pagels, so I don't know the full range of
        material that you are familiar with. Most of her popular works
        are... well... for a popular audience, but some are academic in
        nature as well. Hoeller is writing for a more specific audience, but
        still generally not an academic one. What I can tell you about this
        book by Dr King is that it is extremely different in function from
        the other two authors, in that it is very academic. It is important
        in that it expresses something about the history that many people
        are not aware of outside the academic community.

        I should warn you though, this book is not about the history of
        Gnosticism, it is about the history of the category "Gnosticism" and
        how it has been used and abused over time by various people who had
        agendas with the word.

        If you are into a heavy read, there is a LOT of good material in the
        book, including the most recent academic deconstruction of old
        misunderstandings about what "Gnosticism" is (a continuation of Dr
        Williams' work "Rethinking Gnosticism", which also may be a slightly
        easier read). If, on the other hand, you would like a boiled down
        version I would be happy to write up a quick summery for you here on
        the forum.

        PMCV

        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, queenmab7777 <no_reply@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Greetings,
        >
        > I've been lurking for a while and wondered if anyone here has read
        the
        > above book.
        >
        > I have read Pagels, Hoeller etc, and am keen to
        > understand the origins of Gnosticism (and Christianity.) My budget
        > is tight at the moment, so would this be worth the investment?
        >
        > Thanks in advance for any viewpoints
        >
        > Shoshanna
        >
      • Mike Leavitt
        Hello pmcvflag ... Karen King was one of my son s Professors at Occidental College. She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a lot
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 7 6:16 PM
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          Hello pmcvflag

          On 02/08/06, you wrote:

          > Hey Shoshanna, welcome to the conversation.
          >
          > Yes, I have read this book. You didn't mention specifically which
          > books you had read by Dr Pagels, so I don't know the full range of
          > material that you are familiar with. Most of her popular works
          > are... well... for a popular audience, but some are academic in
          > nature as well. Hoeller is writing for a more specific audience, but
          > still generally not an academic one. What I can tell you about this
          > book by Dr King is that it is extremely different in function from
          > the other two authors, in that it is very academic. It is important
          > in that it expresses something about the history that many people
          > are not aware of outside the academic community.
          >
          > I should warn you though, this book is not about the history of
          > Gnosticism, it is about the history of the category "Gnosticism" and
          > how it has been used and abused over time by various people who had
          > agendas with the word.
          >
          > If you are into a heavy read, there is a LOT of good material in the
          > book, including the most recent academic deconstruction of old
          > misunderstandings about what "Gnosticism" is (a continuation of Dr
          > Williams' work "Rethinking Gnosticism", which also may be a slightly
          > easier read). If, on the other hand, you would like a boiled down
          > version I would be happy to write up a quick summery for you here on
          > the forum.
          >
          > PMCV

          Karen King was one of my son's Professors at Occidental College. She
          was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a lot
          out of her classes.

          Regards
          --
          Mike Leavitt ac998_@_lafn._org remove -'s
        • pmcvflag
          Hey Mike ... She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a lot out of her classes.
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 8 8:23 PM
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            Hey Mike

            >>>>Karen King was one of my son's Professors at Occidental College.
            She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a
            lot out of her classes.<<<

            Hey, very impressive. Your son had a teacher that was a little better
            known on the common front than my own primary teacher in the subject
            (who specialized in Manichaism and NT translation, rather than
            Gnosticism specifically, though that was a secondary specialization)
            Don't know exactly what that means... but I certainly envy the
            education that I cannot continue at this point. Recently I keep
            thinking I will write her and try to get some kind of idea of where
            she will go next.... but her work has been VERY critical (in a good
            way) so far as I have seen.

            Off the point a little, she has been accused of the kind of feminist
            political preconceptions that Dr Pagels sometimes is accused of
            showing. Honestly, as I have become more familiar with her work, I
            have not seen it at all (though yes I HAVE seen it in Dr Pagels). On
            the contrary, her critical abilities have seemed more truly open (and
            critical... even CLASSICAL) than almost any other academic source I
            have read (and I am not unfamiliar with the genre).

            I am assuming this son was Thomas... whom I wish would stop in and
            talk with us more often. :) I would actually love to discuss the topic
            of academic vs personal communication with a person who has had
            both... like your son. I know my own communication could use some work
            in joining the two ;) That could be a topic all to itself.

            PMCV
          • queenmab7777
            Hi PCMV, Thanks for your comments! Yes I d love to read your boiled down version when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King interviewed recently
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 9 6:07 AM
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              Hi PCMV,

              Thanks for your comments! Yes I'd love to read your 'boiled down
              version' when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King
              interviewed recently and she had some interesting things to say, but
              perhaps I'll hold off ordering that book for now.

              Yes, I've run across Williams's 'Rethinking gnosticism' and I think
              maybe he has a point. When you consider that those ancient groups
              didn't call themselves Gnostics anyway, it's no surprise that the "g"
              word has led to some confusion...

              I have read Pagels's mass-market titles, plus "Gnostic Paul", BTW.

              S.


              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
              >
              > Hey Shoshanna, welcome to the conversation.
              >
              > Yes, I have read this book. You didn't mention specifically which
              > books you had read by Dr Pagels, so I don't know the full range of
              > material that you are familiar with. Most of her popular works
              > are... well... for a popular audience, but some are academic in
              > nature as well. Hoeller is writing for a more specific audience, but
              > still generally not an academic one. What I can tell you about this
              > book by Dr King is that it is extremely different in function from
              > the other two authors, in that it is very academic. It is important
              > in that it expresses something about the history that many people
              > are not aware of outside the academic community.
              >
              > I should warn you though, this book is not about the history of
              > Gnosticism, it is about the history of the category "Gnosticism" and
              > how it has been used and abused over time by various people who had
              > agendas with the word.
              >
              > If you are into a heavy read, there is a LOT of good material in the
              > book, including the most recent academic deconstruction of old
              > misunderstandings about what "Gnosticism" is (a continuation of Dr
              > Williams' work "Rethinking Gnsticism", which also may be a slightly
              > easier read). If, on the other hand, you would like a boiled down
              > version I would be happy to write up a quick summery for you here on
              > the forum.
              >
              > PMCV
              >
              > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, queenmab7777 <no_reply@>
              > wrote:
              > >
              > > Greetings,
              > >
              > > I've been lurking for a while and wondered if anyone here has read
              > the
              > > above book.
              > >
              > > I have read Pagels, Hoeller etc, and am keen to
              > > understand the origins of Gnosticism (and Christianity.) My budget
              > > is tight at the moment, so would this be worth the investment?
              > >
              > > Thanks in advance for any viewpoints
              > >
              > > Shoshanna
              > >
              >
            • Mike Leavitt
              Hello pmcvflag ... Yes it was Thomas. This exchange may break him loose. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998_@_lafn._org remove - s
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 9 7:41 AM
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                Hello pmcvflag

                On 02/09/06, you wrote:

                > Hey Mike
                >
                >>>>> Karen King was one of my son's Professors at Occidental College.
                > She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a
                > lot out of her classes.<<<
                >
                > Hey, very impressive. Your son had a teacher that was a little
                > better known on the common front than my own primary teacher in the
                > subject (who specialized in Manichaism and NT translation, rather
                > than Gnosticism specifically, though that was a secondary
                > specialization) Don't know exactly what that means... but I
                > certainly envy the education that I cannot continue at this point.
                > Recently I keep thinking I will write her and try to get some kind
                > of idea of where she will go next.... but her work has been VERY
                > critical (in a good way) so far as I have seen.
                >
                > Off the point a little, she has been accused of the kind of feminist
                > political preconceptions that Dr Pagels sometimes is accused of
                > showing. Honestly, as I have become more familiar with her work, I
                > have not seen it at all (though yes I HAVE seen it in Dr Pagels). On
                > the contrary, her critical abilities have seemed more truly open
                > (and critical... even CLASSICAL) than almost any other academic
                > source I have read (and I am not unfamiliar with the genre).
                >
                > I am assuming this son was Thomas... whom I wish would stop in and
                > talk with us more often. :) I would actually love to discuss the
                > topic of academic vs personal communication with a person who has
                > had both... like your son. I know my own communication could use
                > some work in joining the two ;) That could be a topic all to itself.
                >
                > PMCV

                Yes it was Thomas. This exchange may break him loose.

                Regards
                --
                Mike Leavitt ac998_@_lafn._org remove -'s
              • Gerry
                ... I m glad that you and Shoshanna have spoken up here. Frankly, I have seen why King often gets the rap of feminist activist, but I m thinking it s only
                Message 7 of 13 , Feb 9 8:27 AM
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                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:

                  >
                  > [ . . . ]
                  >
                  > Off the point a little, she has been accused of the kind of feminist
                  > political preconceptions that Dr Pagels sometimes is accused of
                  > showing. Honestly, as I have become more familiar with her work, I
                  > have not seen it at all (though yes I HAVE seen it in Dr Pagels). On
                  > the contrary, her critical abilities have seemed more truly open (and
                  > critical... even CLASSICAL) than almost any other academic source I
                  > have read (and I am not unfamiliar with the genre).
                  >

                   

                  I'm glad that you and Shoshanna have spoken up here.  Frankly, I have seen why King often gets the rap of "feminist activist," but I'm thinking it's only because I subject myself to more of those productions that are geared toward popular consumption.  From A&E to History Channel, as well as network specials dealing with everything from the life of Christ to the Da Vinci Code, King is one of the talking heads I have often seen speaking about what those early texts actually say.  From conversations you and I have had regarding other "documentaries," I'm fully inclined to believe that he appearance and comments in those programs were somewhat manipulated.  In fact, I wouldn't at all be surprised to learn that some of those "appearances" were merely the use of what has now become "stock footage" by other producers who wish to appeal to similar popular markets.

                  Per your recommendation, I did enjoy King's A Revelation of the Unknowable God, and I noticed that The Secret Revelation to John is out this month.  There doesn't appear to be a transcription of the Coptic text in that latter one, but it will be interesting to see how she handles the translation, given the different sources.  It may prove another good resource.

                  More on her later, but I'd really like to track down one of her quotes before I start assembling the various commentaries I have in mind.

                  Gerry

                • Thomas Leavitt
                  ... PMCV, I m basically a lurker here... email already consumes way too much of my time as it is. I really enjoyed my two years pursuing a Religious Studies
                  Message 8 of 13 , Feb 9 1:42 PM
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                    On Thu, 2006-02-09 at 19:40 +0000, gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com wrote:
                    > Message: 4
                    > Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006 04:23:51 -0000
                    > From: pmcvflag
                    > Subject: Re: What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King
                    >
                    > Hey Mike
                    >
                    > >>>>Karen King was one of my son's Professors at Occidental College.
                    > She was fascinated at meeting a 2nd generation neo-gnostic. He got a
                    > lot out of her classes.<<<
                    >
                    > Hey, very impressive. Your son had a teacher that was a little better
                    > known on the common front than my own primary teacher in the subject
                    > (who specialized in Manichaism and NT translation, rather than
                    > Gnosticism specifically, though that was a secondary specialization)
                    > Don't know exactly what that means... but I certainly envy the
                    > education that I cannot continue at this point. Recently I keep
                    > thinking I will write her and try to get some kind of idea of where
                    > she will go next.... but her work has been VERY critical (in a good
                    > way) so far as I have seen.
                    >
                    > Off the point a little, she has been accused of the kind of feminist
                    > political preconceptions that Dr Pagels sometimes is accused of
                    > showing. Honestly, as I have become more familiar with her work, I
                    > have not seen it at all (though yes I HAVE seen it in Dr Pagels). On
                    > the contrary, her critical abilities have seemed more truly open (and
                    > critical... even CLASSICAL) than almost any other academic source I
                    > have read (and I am not unfamiliar with the genre).
                    >
                    > I am assuming this son was Thomas... whom I wish would stop in and
                    > talk with us more often. :) I would actually love to discuss the
                    > topic
                    > of academic vs personal communication with a person who has had
                    > both... like your son. I know my own communication could use some
                    > work
                    > in joining the two ;) That could be a topic all to itself.
                    >
                    > PMCV

                    PMCV,

                    I'm basically a lurker here... email already consumes way too much of
                    my time as it is.

                    I really enjoyed my two years pursuing a "Religious Studies" degree at
                    Occidental - I had some really great professors; Burton Mack, of the
                    Claremont School of Theology, was a guest professor my first year there,
                    and we studied the Lost Gospel of Mark and early Christian history in a
                    lot of detail. Wonderful experience for a first year student.

                    I wound up in the Senior seminar in my second year; taught by Karen
                    King, just five or six students... unfortunately, that somewhat
                    coincided with my decision to leave school... and somewhat precipitated
                    it. In my view, to have an effective working knowledge of the field and
                    do original work, you need to know French, German and English (at a
                    minimum) for modern work, and Coptic, Latin, Greek, and Aramaic (at a
                    minimum) to be able to read and study materials in the original
                    language. Learning languages is not one of my strengths, so I realized
                    that an academic career in that direction wasn't a good idea.

                    Keeping in mind that Karen King was fifteen years less advanced in her
                    career track, she never struck me as having a "political" bias
                    ("feminist" or otherwise)... it seemed very logical to me that she, as a
                    woman and an academic, would be interested in what quite honestly had
                    been a rather neglected area: women's roles, etc. ... not to mention
                    that the higher level of participation and authority and mythological
                    significance given women by certain Gnostic traditions (and most modern
                    ones, as well) relative to "orthodox" tradition, is a logical and
                    interesting thing for any academic to pursue (especially a female one).
                    At that point, her body of written work was relatively limited (she left
                    Oxy for Harvard Divinity school several years after I was there), but
                    she struck me as someone very deeply grounded in the original works and
                    their context, and not the type of academic to make wild extrapolations
                    or play down aspects of a work that didn't forward her positions.

                    I honestly didn't take anywhere near enough of the advantage I had, to
                    interact with her or the other professors (typical college
                    distractions). She and the other professors I took classes with were
                    quite intrigued by my perspective and history. I was already fairly well
                    read in many of the materials, my own readings, readings from my dad's
                    libraries, and of course weekly exposure to Stephan Hoeller's lectures,
                    which gave me quite an advantage.

                    On the other hand, I haven't had the time or money to keep up on the
                    explosion of literature over the last few years... I'm not sure if I've
                    even read much of Karen King's work.

                    I'd love to return to school again at some point in the future and
                    study this at my leisure, without economic pressure driving the decision
                    making process, and with the benefit of the experience I've gained since
                    then. Perhaps after I retire, whenever that happens.

                    Regards,
                    Thomas Leavitt

                    This is an interesting and provacative discussion of Mack's work, which
                    I haven't seen mentioned much...

                    http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/review1.htm
                  • Mike Leavitt
                    Hello Thomas ... Obviously the author of the reveiew has never heard of Alvin Boyd Kuhn or Gerald Massey who based their whole canon on the fact that Jesus
                    Message 9 of 13 , Feb 9 6:34 PM
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                      Hello Thomas

                      >
                      > This is an interesting and provacative discussion of Mack's work,
                      > which I haven't seen mentioned much...
                      >
                      > http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/review1.htm

                      Obviously the author of the reveiew has never heard of Alvin Boyd Kuhn
                      or Gerald Massey who based their whole canon on the fact that Jesus
                      never lived, but his story was just a retelling of the dying god, in
                      orthodox redaction.

                      Regards
                      --
                      Mike Leavitt ac998_@_lafn._org remove -'s
                    • pmcvflag
                      Hey Gerry ... activist, but I m thinking it s only because I subject myself to more of those productions that are geared toward popular consumption.
                      Message 10 of 13 , Feb 11 6:05 PM
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                        Hey Gerry

                        >>>Frankly, I have seen why King often gets the rap of "feminist
                        activist," but I'm thinking it's only because I subject myself to
                        more of those productions that are geared toward popular
                        consumption.<<<

                        You definately got me there, Gerry, I have not actually seen her
                        (have no idea what she looks like) so I don't know how she comes
                        across on a more direct medium.

                        I did try to watch one of those History Channel programs recently,
                        on Mary, but I turned it off part way through. The narrator or
                        perhaps some historian would mention in 10 seconds that there was no
                        real evidence for something, and then the narrator and some author
                        would spend the next 15 or 20 minuts dealing with it as if it were
                        proven fact. I don't remember the History channel being like that
                        before.

                        I do think sometimes scholors are more willing to throw in personal
                        ideas for these kinds of things, unfortunately... but also, as you
                        mentioned, the seem to get misused sometimes as well. I think it
                        could really be hard to tell.

                        >>>Per your recommendation, I did enjoy King's A Revelation of the
                        Unknowable God, and I noticed that The Secret Revelation to John is
                        out this month. There doesn't appear to be a transcription of the
                        Coptic text in that latter one, but it will be interesting to see
                        how she handles the translation, given the different sources. It
                        may prove another good resource.<<<

                        Yeah, I was thinking of checking that one out also. Too bad it won't
                        have the Coptic, but I do hope it will at least have a good outline
                        of the differences in the versions. Logan does it somewhat
                        in "Gnostic Truth" but not fully enough IMO.

                        PMCV
                      • pmcvflag
                        Hey Thomas ... much of my time as it is.
                        Message 11 of 13 , Feb 11 6:56 PM
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                          Hey Thomas


                          >>>I'm basically a lurker here... email already consumes way too
                          much of my time as it is.<<<

                          I can more than sympathize there.

                          >>>Keeping in mind that Karen King was fifteen years less advanced
                          in her career track, she never struck me as having a "political" bias
                          ("feminist" or otherwise)... it seemed very logical to me that she,
                          as a woman and an academic, would be interested in what quite
                          honestly had been a rather neglected area: women's roles, etc. ...<<<

                          I do think some personal interest in a subject is quite ok for a
                          scholar... even religious interest... so long as it is kept in
                          critical perspective. It does seem rational that she could express
                          an interest in the subject without crossing any lines.

                          >>>>At that point, her body of written work was relatively limited
                          (she left Oxy for Harvard Divinity school several years after I was
                          there), but she struck me as someone very deeply grounded in the
                          original works and their context, and not the type of academic to
                          make wild extrapolations or play down aspects of a work that didn't
                          forward her positions. I honestly didn't take anywhere near enough
                          of the advantage I had, to interact with her or the other professors
                          (typical college distractions). She and the other professors I took
                          classes with were quite intrigued by my perspective and history. I
                          was already fairly well read in many of the materials, my own
                          readings, readings from my dad's libraries, and of course weekly
                          exposure to Stephan Hoeller's lectures, which gave me quite an
                          advantage.<<<<

                          This is actually what I thought would be interesting to hear your
                          take on, actually. Of course, I understand that 15 years ago the
                          critical deconstruction of previous historical thought had not yet
                          taken full effect, and in fact some of the "Gnostic" lingo had not
                          been delt with in such a way that would cause it to be as much a
                          barrier.... I don't know. Anyway, I was wondering if in spite of the
                          interest your profs had in your prior introduction to the materials,
                          if you also came across any difficulties rethinking the words you
                          were used to in one context to how they were used in another
                          (practical to academic, or the other way around).

                          It has become so common today to think there is some kind of fight
                          between an academic perspective and a practical one... and sometimes
                          it seems that this is simply because of resistance to new historical
                          discoveries rather than a genuine dichotomy. However, the even
                          larger gap, it has seemed to me, is one of word usage and the
                          implications it has on textual criticism/interpretation.

                          PMCV
                        • pmcvflag
                          Shoshanna ... version when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King interviewed recently and she had some interesting things to say, but perhaps I ll
                          Message 12 of 13 , Feb 11 7:24 PM
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                            Shoshanna

                            >>>Thanks for your comments! Yes I'd love to read your 'boiled down
                            version' when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King
                            interviewed recently and she had some interesting things to say, but
                            perhaps I'll hold off ordering that book for now.

                            Yes, I've run across Williams's 'Rethinking gnosticism' and I think
                            maybe he has a point. When you consider that those ancient groups
                            didn't call themselves Gnostics anyway, it's no surprise that the "g"
                            word has led to some confusion...<<<

                            Well, actually since you have already read Williams, you have the
                            basics of Dr King's book as well. It really is an expansion of the
                            same idea. She is a bit more concise... nails the lid on the coffin
                            so to speak.... and leaves less gaps and questions than Williams
                            does. She does not deal with questions of exactly what we can infer
                            about the historical people themselves, so much as how bias has
                            formed the word "Gnosticism" itself.

                            For instance, she talks about the first known uses of the word in
                            history (in the 1700s) and how they were used primarily for polemic.
                            Inspired by the early heresiologists, these later usages assumed a
                            sort of categorization that even the early heresiologists had not
                            quite actually stated (except for the general one of "heretic").

                            From that she then moves into modern academic usage, and how it was
                            different, but effected, by the early sources, and then the later
                            categorization. She goes especially into the effect that the German
                            scholars and Existentialist philosophers like Harnack and Jonas
                            (respectively) had in coining the category. She pretty conclusively
                            demonstrates exactly how their biases caused them to pick attributes
                            for the category of "Gnosticism" that are actually worse than
                            questionable, but sometimes simply not demonstrated at all in the
                            texts (or even in some cases by the heresiologists). Origins such
                            as "the Hellenization of Christianity" imply a Eusebian paradigm,
                            and a fall from a previous truth, and was intruduced with exactly
                            that polemic intent in mind. The supposed "negative world view" was
                            certainly an aspect of Existentialism, helping to imply the
                            antiquity of that school, while the "antisemitism" certainly had
                            more to do with a falling out with the former philosophical bent
                            than anything demonstrated cohesively amongst the historical
                            Gnostics.

                            By the time we get to the long list of attributes of the category
                            of "Gnosticism", we find hardly anything that seems to have been
                            applied as a genuine critical attribute that would hold up to modern
                            historical analysis... but instead simply religious and
                            philosophical agendas attempting to use the ancient people to
                            forward modern ideas. Quite a soap opera actually.

                            Unlike Dr Williams, though, Dr King does not feel that discarding
                            the category altogether is the only way... though she does say she
                            is uncomfortable with the term. She doesn't accept Williams'
                            term "Biblical Demiurgy", but doesn't offer any new ways of dealing
                            with the subject either.

                            Of course I DO have some of my own ideas about that... but you'll
                            have to wait for my book on the subject ;) *lol*

                            PMCV
                          • queenmab7777
                            Hey PMCV, Thanks for that! Seems those poor old ancient gnostics have almost been having a worse time of it from the scholars of the past century, than they
                            Message 13 of 13 , Feb 15 5:16 AM
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                              Hey PMCV,

                              Thanks for that! Seems those poor old ancient 'gnostics' have almost
                              been having a worse time of it from the scholars of the past century,
                              than they did from Irenaeus et al. :-P There is the history of
                              religion and then there is the history of the spin about the history
                              of religion. [Sigh]

                              Although the subject has a horrible kind of fascination. Sounds as
                              though your forthcoming book has all the makings of a cult classic!

                              S.


                              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Shoshanna
                              >
                              > >>>Thanks for your comments! Yes I'd love to read your 'boiled down
                              > version' when you have time to post it. :-) I saw Dr. King
                              > interviewed recently and she had some interesting things to say, but
                              > perhaps I'll hold off ordering that book for now.
                              >
                              > Yes, I've run across Williams's 'Rethinking gnosticism' and I think
                              > maybe he has a point. When you consider that those ancient groups
                              > didn't call themselves Gnostics anyway, it's no surprise that the "g"
                              > word has led to some confusion...<<<
                              >
                              > Well, actually since you have already read Williams, you have the
                              > basics of Dr King's book as well. It really is an expansion of the
                              > same idea. She is a bit more concise... nails the lid on the coffin
                              > so to speak.... and leaves less gaps and questions than Williams
                              > does. She does not deal with questions of exactly what we can infer
                              > about the historical people themselves, so much as how bias has
                              > formed the word "Gnosticism" itself.
                              >
                              > For instance, she talks about the first known uses of the word in
                              > history (in the 1700s) and how they were used primarily for polemic.
                              > Inspired by the early heresiologists, these later usages assumed a
                              > sort of categorization that even the early heresiologists had not
                              > quite actually stated (except for the general one of "heretic").
                              >
                              > From that she then moves into modern academic usage, and how it was
                              > different, but effected, by the early sources, and then the later
                              > categorization. She goes especially into the effect that the German
                              > scholars and Existentialist philosophers like Harnack and Jonas
                              > (respectively) had in coining the category. She pretty conclusively
                              > demonstrates exactly how their biases caused them to pick attributes
                              > for the category of "Gnosticism" that are actually worse than
                              > questionable, but sometimes simply not demonstrated at all in the
                              > texts (or even in some cases by the heresiologists). Origins such
                              > as "the Hellenization of Christianity" imply a Eusebian paradigm,
                              > and a fall from a previous truth, and was intruduced with exactly
                              > that polemic intent in mind. The supposed "negative world view" was
                              > certainly an aspect of Existentialism, helping to imply the
                              > antiquity of that school, while the "antisemitism" certainly had
                              > more to do with a falling out with the former philosophical bent
                              > than anything demonstrated cohesively amongst the historical
                              > Gnostics.
                              >
                              > By the time we get to the long list of attributes of the category
                              > of "Gnosticism", we find hardly anything that seems to have been
                              > applied as a genuine critical attribute that would hold up to modern
                              > historical analysis... but instead simply religious and
                              > philosophical agendas attempting to use the ancient people to
                              > forward modern ideas. Quite a soap opera actually.
                              >
                              > Unlike Dr Williams, though, Dr King does not feel that discarding
                              > the category altogether is the only way... though she does say she
                              > is uncomfortable with the term. She doesn't accept Williams'
                              > term "Biblical Demiurgy", but doesn't offer any new ways of dealing
                              > with the subject either.
                              >
                              > Of course I DO have some of my own ideas about that... but you'll
                              > have to wait for my book on the subject ;) *lol*
                              >
                              > PMCV
                              >
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