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Sethian and Cainite: Defining Terms

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  • ulcgblt
    Hello Well Esteemed Members of the Gnosticism2 Yahoo group, Sethian and. Cainite: Defining Terms From what I understand from the term Sethian, is that this is
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 12, 2006
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      Hello Well Esteemed Members of the Gnosticism2 Yahoo group,

      Sethian and. Cainite: Defining Terms

      From what I understand from the term Sethian, is that this is a adjective used to describe Gnosticism with a Cosmology and Christology that claims Seth as an ancestor and Savior  like Christ.   This is a great oversimplification of the complexity of this term, and nuanced details are provided by John D. Turner in his work...

      SETHIAN GNOSTICISM: A LITERARY HISTORY   http://jdt.unl.edu/lithist.html

      Cainite* seems to be a charge leveled by Origen, Tertullian, Epiphanius of Salamis, Hippolytus and Irenaeus against certain Gnostics "who were known to worship Cain  as the first victim of the Demiurge Jehovah, the Old Testament God, who was identified by many groups of gnostics as evil. They venerated Cain, on the basis that by creating murder Cain allowed men to deny it, and thus have a greater chance at redemption from Original Sin." (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cainites

      Questions:

      Does anyone have any ideas on what would differentiate a Sethian Gnostic from a Cainite, is it a matter of heresy being in the "eye of the beholder"? 

      Would Church Fathers often misunderstand a Sethian Gnostic Christian for a Cainite? 

      Why do Sethian Gnostics seem to have a longer span of influence than the Cainites? 

      Is the "Gospel of Judas" a Cainite ancient text or a Sethian Gnostic one?  Why?

      Less importantly: Should have Seth killed Cain over all this name calling?:D

      *Cainite in this context should not be confused with the Vampire lore sometimes called the Cainite Myth or Cainite Heresy, nor should they be confused with Kenites "a tribe of the ancient Levant possibly a branch of the Midianite nation" (see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenites)  Nor should it be confused with the anti-Semitic slur used by the radical "Christian Indentity Movement". 

      These are ideas about to be discussed at the Gospel of Judas Book Club Yahoo group.  Those interested are invited to join.  I welcome your comments here or in the Gospel of Judas Book Club Yahoo group.  Click below to join if you wish.

      Thank you for considering joining.

      Rev.  R. P. Orso D.D. 

      Click here to join gospelofjudas
      Click to join gospelofjudas

    • pmcvflag
      Rev. R. P. Orso D.D. We also talk about Judas here... but I think it could be important to point out some historical issues in your post. ... From what I
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 12, 2006
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        Rev. R. P. Orso D.D.

        We also talk about Judas here... but I think it could be important
        to point out some historical issues in your post.

        >>>Sethian and. Cainite: Defining Terms

        From what I understand from the term Sethian, is that this is a
        adjective used to describe Gnosticism with a Cosmology and
        Christology that claims Seth as an ancestor and Savior like
        Christ. This is a great oversimplification of the complexity of
        this term, and nuanced details are provided by John D. Turner in his
        work...<<<

        The term "Sethian" is used in two ways. One is the name of a
        specific sect mentioned by heresiologists, and the other is one of
        the two basic categories of Gnosticism. The latter was taken based
        on the attributes of the former. The second category is Valentinain,
        which was likewise also a sect. I have actually had some issues with
        the practice of naming the categories after sects because I think it
        creates some confusion.

        In our files section you can find this brief outline of the two
        forms...

        SETHIAN
        non Christian (Using inverse Jewish mythology)
        Demiurge is negative
        revelation in primordial times (Seth or Adam)
        Soteriology given by Seth
        Heavy emphasis on cosmos (detailed cosmologies)
        Baptism is emphasized in initiation

        VALINTINIAN
        Christian
        Demiurge isn't negative (ambivalence)
        Revelation now (new adam, creation, reality, comes with Christ)
        Soteriology given by Christ/Logos (which isn't always the same as
        Jesus)
        Little interest in Cosmos
        Bridal Chamber is the higher initiation (baptism being a lesser
        emphasis in the text)

        >>>Cainite* seems to be a charge leveled by Origen, Tertullian,
        Epiphanius of Salamis, Hippolytus and Irenaeus against certain
        Gnostics "who were known to worship Cain as the first victim of the
        Demiurge Jehovah, the Old Testament God, who was identified by many
        groups of gnostics as evil. They venerated Cain, on the basis that
        by creating murder Cain allowed men to deny it, and thus have a
        greater chance at redemption from Original Sin." (see
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cainites)<<<

        The accounts of the Cainites seems to have originated with Irenaeus.
        The other accounts are dependant on this one, with some flavor being
        added each time.

        >>>Questions:

        Does anyone have any ideas on what would differentiate a Sethian
        Gnostic from a Cainite, is it a matter of heresy being in the "eye
        of the beholder"?<<<

        There is reason to believe that the "Cainites" never actually
        existed, and that Irenaeus was simply splicing together his
        observations of this Sethian text, with some urban legends common to
        his time, and labeling it "Cainite". On the off chance there really
        was a branch of Sethianism that refered to itself as "Cainites",
        they almost certainly did not look much like the accounts of the
        heresiologists.

        >>>Would Church Fathers often misunderstand a Sethian Gnostic
        Christian for a Cainite?<<<

        Dr Williams, in "Rethinking Gnosticism" pretty convincingly argues
        for that scenario.

        >>>Why do Sethian Gnostics seem to have a longer span of influence
        than the Cainites?<<<

        I suppose we would have to further deal with whether the Cainites
        even existed in order to answer that question fully.

        >>>Is the "Gospel of Judas" a Cainite ancient text or a Sethian
        Gnostic one? Why?<<<

        Even if the Cainites did exist, they seem to fit the "Sethian"
        category, which is what scholars mean when they clasify a text.

        >>>*Cainite in this context should not be confused with the Vampire
        lore sometimes called the Cainite Myth or Cainite Heresy, nor should
        they be confused with Kenites "a tribe of the ancient Levant
        possibly a branch of the Midianite nation" (see
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenites) Nor should it be confused
        with the anti-Semitic slur used by the radical "Christian Indentity
        Movement".<<<

        I don't think you have any worry that people here will make these
        mistakes. Many of us have been dealing with Gnostic history for a
        good number of years now. ;)

        PMCV
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