Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: What Is Gnosticism? by Karen King

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 13 , Feb 7, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      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 2 of 13 , Feb 7, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        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 3 of 13 , Feb 8, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          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 4 of 13 , Feb 9, 2006
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 13 , Feb 9, 2006
            • 0 Attachment
              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 6 of 13 , Feb 9, 2006
              • 0 Attachment


                --- 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 7 of 13 , Feb 9, 2006
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 13 , Feb 9, 2006
                  • 0 Attachment
                    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 9 of 13 , Feb 11, 2006
                    • 0 Attachment
                      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 10 of 13 , Feb 11, 2006
                      • 0 Attachment
                        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 11 of 13 , Feb 11, 2006
                        • 0 Attachment
                          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 12 of 13 , Feb 15, 2006
                          • 0 Attachment
                            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
                            >
                          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.