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

Re: Apocryphon of John as Social Critique

Expand Messages
  • Steve
    ... Hi Bob. Sorry it took so long to reply. Technical Difficulties. I am very sorry, but the book I am referring to is not the New Testament book of Revelation
    Message 1 of 14 , May 13, 2006
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Bob Hope <taktani@...> wrote:
      >
      > Steve,
      >
      > I think you may have a point there.
      >
      > I was just at a lecture last night by a professor of
      > New Testament Greek that dealt with Revalation in a
      > contextual format.
      >
      > The fact that he knew his bible-times history and
      > sociolgy rather well kept it very interesting. He
      > gave us a list of prominent happenings during the time
      > John wrote Revelations. The Epistles to the 7 churches
      > it seems were written in phrasology that they would
      > recognize as part of their world at that point in
      > time. For instance, in the letter to Laodicea, he
      > refrenced the facts that at the time, Laodicea was a
      > major trade cross-roads in the Roman Empire and became
      > a very rich city as compared to Herodaetus (sp?),
      > which was known for its hot mineral springs and
      > Colloscia (sp?)which was known for its cold-water
      > spas. Also, Laodicea had to have its water carried in
      > via aquaduct, which allowed the mineral water to get
      > tepid and if you have ever swallowed hot-tub water,
      > you know how bad it tastes. This leading to the "you
      > are neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm and I spit it
      > out comments.
      >
      > In looking at the the other letters to the churches, I
      > noticed that it appears that each epistle mentions one
      > of Augustine's famouns "7 deadly sins". So in a way,
      > it could be construed as a "social commentary" on life
      > in Asia Minor at the time.
      >
      > Bob

      Hi Bob. Sorry it took so long to reply. Technical Difficulties. I
      am very sorry, but the book I am referring to is not the New
      Testament book of Revelation but the gnostic Apocryphon of John. The
      New Testament book of Revelation is not generally regarded as being
      gnostic. But thank you for your reply. -Steve W.
      >
      >


      >
    • lady_caritas
      ... oriented ... Recently, ... gnostic ... John, ... Say, Steve, I purchased Karen King s book a little while ago, and I finally got around to reading the
      Message 2 of 14 , May 13, 2006
        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello. My previous comments and inquiries have been largely
        oriented
        > toward interpretation of Valentinian and Sethian metaphysics.
        Recently,
        > I have been considering the socialogical motivations underlying
        gnostic
        > mythology. Professor King, in her book The Secret Revelation of
        John,
        > goes to some length in discussing the use of myth as covert social
        > critique. Does anyone here have any observations on this? -Steve W.
        >


        Say, Steve, I purchased Karen King's book a little while ago, and I
        finally got around to reading the introduction this morning. I'm
        curious to see how she expands on a few things included the
        overview.

        For instance, tweaking the demiurge into a more ignorant, malevolent
        Yaldabaoth can be seen as a polemic against the Jewish creator god.
        But she seems to read further a social critique of power relations
        *in* this world "couched in the language of cosmology and
        revelation."

        Also, I wonder if her comments (Intro – pages 6-7) about the ideas of
        the narrative in The Secret Revelation of John being "not so far
        removed from the version of the story adopted by other forms of
        Christianity" are a bit of a stretch. Even though she mentions that
        the story takes unfamiliar twists and turns, I would not find
        similar, for instance, the "Father" of this book to the "Father"
        adopted by more proto-orthodox Christian renderings.

        Then again, I need to read the main text. It looks very
        interesting.

        What's your take on social commentary in The Secret Book of John,
        Steve?

        Cari
      • Steve
        ... social ... W. ... malevolent ... god. ... of ... that ... Hi Cari. Sorry for the delays in response. Being a crazed ascetic, I don t own a computor and
        Message 3 of 14 , May 15, 2006
          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Hello. My previous comments and inquiries have been largely
          > oriented
          > > toward interpretation of Valentinian and Sethian metaphysics.
          > Recently,
          > > I have been considering the socialogical motivations underlying
          > gnostic
          > > mythology. Professor King, in her book The Secret Revelation of
          > John,
          > > goes to some length in discussing the use of myth as covert
          social
          > > critique. Does anyone here have any observations on this? -Steve
          W.
          > >
          >
          >
          > Say, Steve, I purchased Karen King's book a little while ago, and I
          > finally got around to reading the introduction this morning. I'm
          > curious to see how she expands on a few things included the
          > overview.
          >
          > For instance, tweaking the demiurge into a more ignorant,
          malevolent
          > Yaldabaoth can be seen as a polemic against the Jewish creator
          god.
          > But she seems to read further a social critique of power relations
          > *in* this world "couched in the language of cosmology and
          > revelation."
          >
          > Also, I wonder if her comments (Intro – pages 6-7) about the ideas
          of
          > the narrative in The Secret Revelation of John being "not so far
          > removed from the version of the story adopted by other forms of
          > Christianity" are a bit of a stretch. Even though she mentions
          that
          > the story takes unfamiliar twists and turns, I would not find
          > similar, for instance, the "Father" of this book to the "Father"
          > adopted by more proto-orthodox Christian renderings.
          >
          > Then again, I need to read the main text. It looks very
          > interesting.
          >
          > What's your take on social commentary in The Secret Book of John,
          > Steve?
          >
          > Cari

          Hi Cari. Sorry for the delays in response. Being a crazed ascetic,
          I don't own a computor and have to post from the local library ( A
          friend who is dismayed at my life-style keeps me on her account so
          that I can get e-mails from her. ). IMO, the key to understanding the
          social critique in The Secret Book of John is the idea of
          macrocosm/microcosm and the belief that the material world mirrors
          spiritual realities. From this point of view, all oppressive power
          structures on earth, including the Roman Empire, were and are
          reflections of the Demiurge and his Archons.
          The author of The Secret Book of John plays-off themes from both
          Genesis and The Timaeus. Professor King points out that the author of
          The Secret Book of John presupposes the idea that the "problem", the
          rupture in the Great Chain of Being which results in the birth of the
          Demiurge, is the result of a feminine aspect of a lower
          syzygy "stepping out of line", as it were, and acting apart from the
          will of her consort, thereby disrupting the natural harmony of the
          spiritual hierarchy. This is not, in principle, far different from
          blaming Eve for the Fall, as per the proto-orthodox position. I do
          agree with you that King stretches this a bit. However, there still
          seems to be a bit of sexist bias in The Secret Book of John. The very
          idea that the female (Sophia) half of the divine Syzygy screws things
          up by acting apart from her male counterpart is not terribly
          complimentary to women! Let me know what you think about King's book
          when you finish it. I don't entirely agree with her conclusions, but
          she certainly makes a persuasive case. -Steve W.
          >
        • lady_caritas
          ... ascetic, ... the ... of ... the ... the ... the ... very ... things ... book ... but ... Dear crazed ascetic ~ Delays in response ? Nah. In fact, I
          Message 4 of 14 , May 15, 2006
            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi Cari. Sorry for the delays in response. Being a crazed
            ascetic,
            > I don't own a computor and have to post from the local library ( A
            > friend who is dismayed at my life-style keeps me on her account so
            > that I can get e-mails from her. ). IMO, the key to understanding
            the
            > social critique in The Secret Book of John is the idea of
            > macrocosm/microcosm and the belief that the material world mirrors
            > spiritual realities. From this point of view, all oppressive power
            > structures on earth, including the Roman Empire, were and are
            > reflections of the Demiurge and his Archons.
            > The author of The Secret Book of John plays-off themes from both
            > Genesis and The Timaeus. Professor King points out that the author
            of
            > The Secret Book of John presupposes the idea that the "problem",
            the
            > rupture in the Great Chain of Being which results in the birth of
            the
            > Demiurge, is the result of a feminine aspect of a lower
            > syzygy "stepping out of line", as it were, and acting apart from
            the
            > will of her consort, thereby disrupting the natural harmony of the
            > spiritual hierarchy. This is not, in principle, far different from
            > blaming Eve for the Fall, as per the proto-orthodox position. I do
            > agree with you that King stretches this a bit. However, there still
            > seems to be a bit of sexist bias in The Secret Book of John. The
            very
            > idea that the female (Sophia) half of the divine Syzygy screws
            things
            > up by acting apart from her male counterpart is not terribly
            > complimentary to women! Let me know what you think about King's
            book
            > when you finish it. I don't entirely agree with her conclusions,
            but
            > she certainly makes a persuasive case. -Steve W.
            > >
            >


            Dear "crazed ascetic" ~

            "Delays in response"? Nah. In fact, I can't even give you an idea
            when I'll finish the book. But when I do, I'll be back with
            comments, for sure. *lol*

            Ah, poor Sophia gets a bad rep? Well, if the "male counterpart" were
            doing his job as attentive equal partner, perhaps he'd have been on
            top of things. Eh, maybe he was out drinking with his buddies,
            instead of nipping the problem in the bud. Couldn't blame Sophia for
            wandering a bit in that case. One should never underestimate the
            female will. ;-)

            Cari
          • Steve
            ... were ... for ... LOL! I can picture poor Sophie trying to get his attention at the kitchen table about a new project she had in mind while he buried his
            Message 5 of 14 , May 16, 2006
              >
              >
              >
              > Dear "crazed ascetic" ~
              >
              > "Delays in response"? Nah. In fact, I can't even give you an idea
              > when I'll finish the book. But when I do, I'll be back with
              > comments, for sure. *lol*
              >
              > Ah, poor Sophia gets a bad rep? Well, if the "male counterpart"
              were
              > doing his job as attentive equal partner, perhaps he'd have been on
              > top of things. Eh, maybe he was out drinking with his buddies,
              > instead of nipping the problem in the bud. Couldn't blame Sophia
              for
              > wandering a bit in that case. One should never underestimate the
              > female will. ;-)
              >
              > Cari

              LOL! I can picture poor Sophie trying to get his attention at the
              kitchen table about a new project she had in mind while he buried his
              face in the newspaper! "Eh? Did you say something, dear? Well, I
              guess I'll be off to the pub to see the lads. Don't wait up." Serves
              him right, I guess. -Steve W.
              >
            • lady_caritas
              ... Steve ... I ... relations ... ideas ... ascetic, ... the ... of ... the ... the ... the ... very ... things ... book ... but ... Steve, sorry I m late
              Message 6 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@...> wrote:
                >
                > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@> wrote:
                > >
                > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@>
                wrote:
                > > >
                > > > Hello. My previous comments and inquiries have been largely
                > > oriented
                > > > toward interpretation of Valentinian and Sethian metaphysics.
                > > Recently,
                > > > I have been considering the socialogical motivations underlying
                > > gnostic
                > > > mythology. Professor King, in her book The Secret Revelation of
                > > John,
                > > > goes to some length in discussing the use of myth as covert
                > social
                > > > critique. Does anyone here have any observations on this? -
                Steve
                > W.
                > > >
                > >
                > >
                > > Say, Steve, I purchased Karen King's book a little while ago, and
                I
                > > finally got around to reading the introduction this morning. I'm
                > > curious to see how she expands on a few things included the
                > > overview.
                > >
                > > For instance, tweaking the demiurge into a more ignorant,
                > malevolent
                > > Yaldabaoth can be seen as a polemic against the Jewish creator
                > god.
                > > But she seems to read further a social critique of power
                relations
                > > *in* this world "couched in the language of cosmology and
                > > revelation."
                > >
                > > Also, I wonder if her comments (Intro – pages 6-7) about the
                ideas
                > of
                > > the narrative in The Secret Revelation of John being "not so far
                > > removed from the version of the story adopted by other forms of
                > > Christianity" are a bit of a stretch. Even though she mentions
                > that
                > > the story takes unfamiliar twists and turns, I would not find
                > > similar, for instance, the "Father" of this book to the "Father"
                > > adopted by more proto-orthodox Christian renderings.
                > >
                > > Then again, I need to read the main text. It looks very
                > > interesting.
                > >
                > > What's your take on social commentary in The Secret Book of John,
                > > Steve?
                > >
                > > Cari
                >
                > Hi Cari. Sorry for the delays in response. Being a crazed
                ascetic,
                > I don't own a computor and have to post from the local library ( A
                > friend who is dismayed at my life-style keeps me on her account so
                > that I can get e-mails from her. ). IMO, the key to understanding
                the
                > social critique in The Secret Book of John is the idea of
                > macrocosm/microcosm and the belief that the material world mirrors
                > spiritual realities. From this point of view, all oppressive power
                > structures on earth, including the Roman Empire, were and are
                > reflections of the Demiurge and his Archons.
                > The author of The Secret Book of John plays-off themes from both
                > Genesis and The Timaeus. Professor King points out that the author
                of
                > The Secret Book of John presupposes the idea that the "problem",
                the
                > rupture in the Great Chain of Being which results in the birth of
                the
                > Demiurge, is the result of a feminine aspect of a lower
                > syzygy "stepping out of line", as it were, and acting apart from
                the
                > will of her consort, thereby disrupting the natural harmony of the
                > spiritual hierarchy. This is not, in principle, far different from
                > blaming Eve for the Fall, as per the proto-orthodox position. I do
                > agree with you that King stretches this a bit. However, there still
                > seems to be a bit of sexist bias in The Secret Book of John. The
                very
                > idea that the female (Sophia) half of the divine Syzygy screws
                things
                > up by acting apart from her male counterpart is not terribly
                > complimentary to women! Let me know what you think about King's
                book
                > when you finish it. I don't entirely agree with her conclusions,
                but
                > she certainly makes a persuasive case. -Steve W.
                > >
                >


                Steve, sorry I'm late getting back to you here. It's been a bit busy
                around here, but I finally did have a chance to pick up Karen King's
                book (_The Secret Revelation of John_) again this past week and was
                able to finish Part I. I thought I'd offer a few comments before
                going on to Part II since I was intrigued by some of her
                observations.

                She manages to not only poke holes but also tear gashes into some
                popular misconceptions about these Sethians, IMO. At the very, very
                least, she challenges the reader by taking a broad view within a full
                context of society of that time. These Sethians were not body-
                hating, psychologically alienated, existential nomads full of
                despair, not in touch with this world. In fact, as you note,
                Steve, "the key to understanding the social critique in The Secret
                Book of John is the idea of macrocosm/microcosm and the belief that
                the material world mirrors spiritual realities. From this point of
                view, all oppressive power structures on earth, including the Roman
                Empire, were and are reflections of the Demiurge and his Archons."
                And what might seem socially unacceptable to a modern audience as
                some sexist elements within the myth could be just a reflection of a
                particular society and culture and philosophy.

                Even though other Christians of the era were writing disguised social
                critique, their god of Moses was not the god of the Sethians. In
                fact, Dr. King notes (p. 171):

                "I would suggest rather that a text like the _Secret Revelation of
                John_ was rejected not because it was too `otherworldly,' but because
                it was too utopian in its aspirations and too unremitting in its
                critique of violence and injustice. It is impossible that such a
                radical and uncompromising portrait of ruling power in the world
                below could ever have been compatible with radical shift in the
                political condition of Christianity from persecuted sect to imperial
                favor, such as was established after the Emperor Constantine
                converted to Christianity in the fourth century. In an oration given
                at the celebration of Constantine's tricennalia, the church historian
                Eusebius extravagantly praised the emperor's sovereignty as a mirror
                of God's heaven monarchy. Such a theology could never have squared
                with Christ's revelation in the _Secret Revelation of John_."

                Yet, Karen King also disagrees with a notion of existential
                alienation (p. 172). She says,

                "As I note above, this positioning of self as other is usually
                interpreted as an expression of existential alienation. But by
                locating the powerful spiritual self outside the dominant system, the
                _Secret Revelation of John_ affords it a critical perspective on the
                violence and unjust practices of the lower, imitation world."

                And, if you don't mind my further quoting, she turns any
                interpretation of a negative outlook on its head in her final words
                of Part I (p. 173):

                "The spirituality of the _Secret Revelation of John_ is grounded in
                the insistence that evil is essentially the consequence of unjust and
                malicious power relations in the lower world; realizing this truth is
                the necessary first step in the process of spiritual formation along
                the path toward salvation. This linkage of social critique with
                spirituality is a central religious insight of the _Secret Revelation
                of John_. Religion, however transcendent or otherworldly in its
                conceptuality, is immediately and irrevocably tied to the social and
                material conditions of existence, to justice and human well-being.
                One may not tend the one without attention to the other. The
                attractiveness of Christ's revelation in the _Secret Revelation of
                John_ lies in its articulation of hope for relief from suffering and
                injustice, its desire for spiritual perfection, and its depiction of
                unalloyed goodness, justice, and well-being as the ultimate end of
                all human beings. The crux of this theology is justice. Its theme
                is hope."

                Steve, Dr. King also addresses the importance of the human body in a
                way that could be surprising to some readers. I'll start a new post,
                though.

                Cari
              • lady_caritas
                Okay,... to continue from my previous post #12506 – In reading Part I of Karen King s _The Secret Revelation of John_, I was blown away by her Chapter 4,
                Message 7 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                  Okay,... to continue from my previous post #12506 –

                  In reading Part I of Karen King's _The Secret Revelation of John_, I
                  was blown away by her Chapter 4, "The Solution: Salvation." I'll
                  probably just include a few quotes of hers again because she
                  expresses herself better than I could paraphrase in some cases.

                  Dr. King highlights the idea that for the Sethians the human being is
                  not all material, that the body is not evil, and that by
                  understanding it, one can control demonic influences for healing.
                  Also, her discussion of sex is particularly challenging to some
                  modern views about these Sethians. She also confirms that salvation
                  is not just a matter of mystical experience.

                  Near the beginning of her chapter 4 (p. 122) about "Salvation," she
                  quotes Hauschild, saying:

                  "Those who are saved in the _Apocryphon of John_ are `spirituals' not
                  because they possess a divine spirit by nature – that is the case for
                  everyone – but because an additional salvific Spirit has come over
                  them."

                  Apparently, according to these Sethians, all humanity will be saved
                  ultimately, except those who blaspheme the Spirit.

                  Later she says (p. 123), "The evil humanity must overcome is the
                  counterfeit spirit of the demonic powers; the body is only their
                  tool. That the body is not the locus of evil is shown by the fact
                  that it can be neutralized. Complete purification and salvation can
                  be achieved while still in the body."

                  And –

                  "The flesh does not have to serve the ends of the demons; while it is
                  not the focus of salvation, neither is it the locus of its ailments.
                  The battle for life is not fought between the Spirit and the body,
                  but between the true Spirit of Light and the counterfeit spirit of
                  the demons. Neither is the soul considered to be evil by nature, for
                  even after the creation of the psychic body of Adam we are told
                  that "he was naked of evil" (SrevJohn 18.17). The bodily self is
                  quite real and has quite real effects. The story of Adam's creation
                  shows how the human body – and materiality itself – comes into being
                  through the interplay of forces seeking to control the Spirit. In
                  that sense, the human body is the effect of a power struggle. It is
                  the battlefield between the opposing forces of the true Spirit and
                  the counterfeit spirit.

                  "Moreover, the body is an important – if not the most important –
                  site of revelation and the purveyor of true knowledge. The
                  centrality of this topic is emphasized by the fact that an extensive
                  portion of the _Secret Revelation of John_ is taken up with the
                  creation of the human body (almost a quarter of the longer version).
                  What is the truth which the body teaches? It is a map of the
                  substance and structure of reality with all its tensions and
                  conflicts. Simultaneously it is the territory on which the struggle
                  for truth is waged. To know the body is to grasp the truth of God,
                  the world, and everything. The body is therefore what is most real,
                  and yet it will dissolve back into the formlessness out of which it
                  derived. The suffering of the body and human experience of injustice
                  expose the truth of the world rulers' nature: malignant rulers and
                  false god who seek only to dominate that which is superior to them
                  through lies and violence."

                  And (p. 124) –

                  "The body is at once spiritual and material, divine and fallen,
                  immortal and mortal, perfect and flawed, pure and alloyed. As such,
                  it is both ally and weapon, for it is simultaneously the revelation
                  of the truth and rulers' tool of deception, suffering, and death. To
                  say that _The Secret Revelation of John_ considers the body to be
                  evil by nature misses the complexity of the text's presentation of
                  the human body as both map and territory, as both revelation and
                  battleground, as the soul's ally and the demiurgic weapon against
                  which it must struggle."

                  And, later in a discussion of sexuality (p. 129)–

                  "Could it be, then, that we misconstrue the radical asceticism of the
                  Secret Revelation of John when we read it as merely repressive of
                  sexuality? Could it be that it does not reject sexual intercourse
                  per se, but rather its distorted parody in lust, violence, and
                  deception? Does it propose a model of sexuality as spiritual
                  knowledge, patterned on likeness to divine creativity? Because Adam
                  and Eve's union in producing Seth works to correct Sophia's untimely
                  birthing Yaldabaoth, could it be that sex can be conceived as an act
                  of salvation? If this is the case – and I believe it is – we need to
                  reconsider entirely our notions of sexual renunciation as a marker of
                  this kind of dualistic theology."


                  King goes on to say (p. 130) that salvation is far from automatic,
                  though, and definitely not just "mystical experience." –

                  "People are potentially able to receive the Spirit of Life because
                  they were created in the divine image, but to perfect that image and
                  gain salvation requires the reception of revealed knowledge, study,
                  extirpation of the passions, purification from all evil, and rituals
                  of baptism and healing."

                  I'm curious what others might think about Dr. King's observations,
                  and also what the Sethians might have meant by "passions" since these
                  ancients could be viewed as quite passionate in their approach to
                  life, both mundane and spiritual.

                  Cari
                • Steve
                  ... busy ... King s ... very ... full ... a ... social ... because ... imperial ... given ... historian ... mirror ... the ... the ... and ... is ... along ...
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                    ---


                    > >






                    > >
                    >
                    >
                    > Steve, sorry I'm late getting back to you here. It's been a bit
                    busy
                    > around here, but I finally did have a chance to pick up Karen
                    King's
                    > book (_The Secret Revelation of John_) again this past week and was
                    > able to finish Part I. I thought I'd offer a few comments before
                    > going on to Part II since I was intrigued by some of her
                    > observations.
                    >
                    > She manages to not only poke holes but also tear gashes into some
                    > popular misconceptions about these Sethians, IMO. At the very,
                    very
                    > least, she challenges the reader by taking a broad view within a
                    full
                    > context of society of that time. These Sethians were not body-
                    > hating, psychologically alienated, existential nomads full of
                    > despair, not in touch with this world. In fact, as you note,
                    > Steve, "the key to understanding the social critique in The Secret
                    > Book of John is the idea of macrocosm/microcosm and the belief that
                    > the material world mirrors spiritual realities. From this point of
                    > view, all oppressive power structures on earth, including the Roman
                    > Empire, were and are reflections of the Demiurge and his Archons."
                    > And what might seem socially unacceptable to a modern audience as
                    > some sexist elements within the myth could be just a reflection of
                    a
                    > particular society and culture and philosophy.
                    >
                    > Even though other Christians of the era were writing disguised
                    social
                    > critique, their god of Moses was not the god of the Sethians. In
                    > fact, Dr. King notes (p. 171):
                    >
                    > "I would suggest rather that a text like the _Secret Revelation of
                    > John_ was rejected not because it was too `otherworldly,' but
                    because
                    > it was too utopian in its aspirations and too unremitting in its
                    > critique of violence and injustice. It is impossible that such a
                    > radical and uncompromising portrait of ruling power in the world
                    > below could ever have been compatible with radical shift in the
                    > political condition of Christianity from persecuted sect to
                    imperial
                    > favor, such as was established after the Emperor Constantine
                    > converted to Christianity in the fourth century. In an oration
                    given
                    > at the celebration of Constantine's tricennalia, the church
                    historian
                    > Eusebius extravagantly praised the emperor's sovereignty as a
                    mirror
                    > of God's heaven monarchy. Such a theology could never have squared
                    > with Christ's revelation in the _Secret Revelation of John_."
                    >
                    > Yet, Karen King also disagrees with a notion of existential
                    > alienation (p. 172). She says,
                    >
                    > "As I note above, this positioning of self as other is usually
                    > interpreted as an expression of existential alienation. But by
                    > locating the powerful spiritual self outside the dominant system,
                    the
                    > _Secret Revelation of John_ affords it a critical perspective on
                    the
                    > violence and unjust practices of the lower, imitation world."
                    >
                    > And, if you don't mind my further quoting, she turns any
                    > interpretation of a negative outlook on its head in her final words
                    > of Part I (p. 173):
                    >
                    > "The spirituality of the _Secret Revelation of John_ is grounded in
                    > the insistence that evil is essentially the consequence of unjust
                    and
                    > malicious power relations in the lower world; realizing this truth
                    is
                    > the necessary first step in the process of spiritual formation
                    along
                    > the path toward salvation. This linkage of social critique with
                    > spirituality is a central religious insight of the _Secret
                    Revelation
                    > of John_. Religion, however transcendent or otherworldly in its
                    > conceptuality, is immediately and irrevocably tied to the social
                    and
                    > material conditions of existence, to justice and human well-being.
                    > One may not tend the one without attention to the other. The
                    > attractiveness of Christ's revelation in the _Secret Revelation of
                    > John_ lies in its articulation of hope for relief from suffering
                    and
                    > injustice, its desire for spiritual perfection, and its depiction
                    of
                    > unalloyed goodness, justice, and well-being as the ultimate end of
                    > all human beings. The crux of this theology is justice. Its theme
                    > is hope."
                    >
                    > Steve, Dr. King also addresses the importance of the human body in
                    a
                    > way that could be surprising to some readers. I'll start a new
                    post,
                    > though.
                    >
                    > Cari

                    Hi Cari. Yes, it was an eye-opener for me, also. Because we come
                    from a culture that tells stories of scientific explanation, we tend,
                    IMO, to see myth as being scientifically incorrect explanation. I no
                    longer think that the Sethians were telling stories of scientifically
                    correct or incorrect explanation. I think that they were trying to
                    expose a bad dream and offer in its place a nicer one. -Steve W.
                    >
                  • Steve
                    ... I ... is ... salvation ... not ... for ... can ... is ... ailments. ... for ... creation ... being ... is ... extensive ... version). ... struggle ...
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Okay,... to continue from my previous post #12506 –
                      >
                      > In reading Part I of Karen King's _The Secret Revelation of John_,
                      I
                      > was blown away by her Chapter 4, "The Solution: Salvation." I'll
                      > probably just include a few quotes of hers again because she
                      > expresses herself better than I could paraphrase in some cases.
                      >
                      > Dr. King highlights the idea that for the Sethians the human being
                      is
                      > not all material, that the body is not evil, and that by
                      > understanding it, one can control demonic influences for healing.
                      > Also, her discussion of sex is particularly challenging to some
                      > modern views about these Sethians. She also confirms that
                      salvation
                      > is not just a matter of mystical experience.
                      >
                      > Near the beginning of her chapter 4 (p. 122) about "Salvation," she
                      > quotes Hauschild, saying:
                      >
                      > "Those who are saved in the _Apocryphon of John_ are `spirituals'
                      not
                      > because they possess a divine spirit by nature – that is the case
                      for
                      > everyone – but because an additional salvific Spirit has come over
                      > them."
                      >
                      > Apparently, according to these Sethians, all humanity will be saved
                      > ultimately, except those who blaspheme the Spirit.
                      >
                      > Later she says (p. 123), "The evil humanity must overcome is the
                      > counterfeit spirit of the demonic powers; the body is only their
                      > tool. That the body is not the locus of evil is shown by the fact
                      > that it can be neutralized. Complete purification and salvation
                      can
                      > be achieved while still in the body."
                      >
                      > And –
                      >
                      > "The flesh does not have to serve the ends of the demons; while it
                      is
                      > not the focus of salvation, neither is it the locus of its
                      ailments.
                      > The battle for life is not fought between the Spirit and the body,
                      > but between the true Spirit of Light and the counterfeit spirit of
                      > the demons. Neither is the soul considered to be evil by nature,
                      for
                      > even after the creation of the psychic body of Adam we are told
                      > that "he was naked of evil" (SrevJohn 18.17). The bodily self is
                      > quite real and has quite real effects. The story of Adam's
                      creation
                      > shows how the human body – and materiality itself – comes into
                      being
                      > through the interplay of forces seeking to control the Spirit. In
                      > that sense, the human body is the effect of a power struggle. It
                      is
                      > the battlefield between the opposing forces of the true Spirit and
                      > the counterfeit spirit.
                      >
                      > "Moreover, the body is an important – if not the most important –
                      > site of revelation and the purveyor of true knowledge. The
                      > centrality of this topic is emphasized by the fact that an
                      extensive
                      > portion of the _Secret Revelation of John_ is taken up with the
                      > creation of the human body (almost a quarter of the longer
                      version).
                      > What is the truth which the body teaches? It is a map of the
                      > substance and structure of reality with all its tensions and
                      > conflicts. Simultaneously it is the territory on which the
                      struggle
                      > for truth is waged. To know the body is to grasp the truth of God,
                      > the world, and everything. The body is therefore what is most
                      real,
                      > and yet it will dissolve back into the formlessness out of which it
                      > derived. The suffering of the body and human experience of
                      injustice
                      > expose the truth of the world rulers' nature: malignant rulers and
                      > false god who seek only to dominate that which is superior to them
                      > through lies and violence."
                      >
                      > And (p. 124) –
                      >
                      > "The body is at once spiritual and material, divine and fallen,
                      > immortal and mortal, perfect and flawed, pure and alloyed. As
                      such,
                      > it is both ally and weapon, for it is simultaneously the revelation
                      > of the truth and rulers' tool of deception, suffering, and death.
                      To
                      > say that _The Secret Revelation of John_ considers the body to be
                      > evil by nature misses the complexity of the text's presentation of
                      > the human body as both map and territory, as both revelation and
                      > battleground, as the soul's ally and the demiurgic weapon against
                      > which it must struggle."
                      >
                      > And, later in a discussion of sexuality (p. 129)–
                      >
                      > "Could it be, then, that we misconstrue the radical asceticism of
                      the
                      > Secret Revelation of John when we read it as merely repressive of
                      > sexuality? Could it be that it does not reject sexual intercourse
                      > per se, but rather its distorted parody in lust, violence, and
                      > deception? Does it propose a model of sexuality as spiritual
                      > knowledge, patterned on likeness to divine creativity? Because
                      Adam
                      > and Eve's union in producing Seth works to correct Sophia's
                      untimely
                      > birthing Yaldabaoth, could it be that sex can be conceived as an
                      act
                      > of salvation? If this is the case – and I believe it is – we need
                      to
                      > reconsider entirely our notions of sexual renunciation as a marker
                      of
                      > this kind of dualistic theology."
                      >
                      >
                      > King goes on to say (p. 130) that salvation is far from automatic,
                      > though, and definitely not just "mystical experience." –
                      >
                      > "People are potentially able to receive the Spirit of Life because
                      > they were created in the divine image, but to perfect that image
                      and
                      > gain salvation requires the reception of revealed knowledge, study,
                      > extirpation of the passions, purification from all evil, and
                      rituals
                      > of baptism and healing."
                      >
                      > I'm curious what others might think about Dr. King's observations,
                      > and also what the Sethians might have meant by "passions" since
                      these
                      > ancients could be viewed as quite passionate in their approach to
                      > life, both mundane and spiritual.
                      >
                      > Cari
                      >
                      Hi again, Cari. In the Stoic understanding, which was very popular
                      at the time, the passions arise from inaccurate or distorted
                      understanding. We, now, tend to equate passion with emotion, but the
                      Stoics saw the passions as arising from mistaken views. -Steve W.
                    • lady_caritas
                      ... Steve, you bring up a very important point,... that of the importance of philosophy incorporated in religious thought. Passions would be thought of as
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <eugnostos2000@...> wrote:

                        > >
                        > Hi again, Cari. In the Stoic understanding, which was very popular
                        > at the time, the passions arise from inaccurate or distorted
                        > understanding. We, now, tend to equate passion with emotion, but the
                        > Stoics saw the passions as arising from mistaken views. -Steve W.
                        >

                        Steve, you bring up a very important point,... that of the importance
                        of philosophy incorporated in religious thought. Passions would be
                        thought of as disorders of the soul. IOW, not all of what we think of
                        as "emotions" would be included, but surely would be a component
                        of "lust, fear, delight, stress," by modern standards anyway.
                        Standards of reason and nature and virtue were very important in
                        considering these "passions."

                        http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/stoipass.htm

                        And you bring up a good point because we should consider a different
                        way of looking at "emotions" and "passions" when trying to interpret
                        practices and views we see in ancient writings.

                        Cari
                      • pmcvflag
                        Cari ... though, and definitely not just mystical experience.
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                          Cari

                          >>>King goes on to say (p. 130) that salvation is far from automatic,
                          though, and definitely not just "mystical experience."<<<

                          I sure am glad somebody with a wider readership finally pointed that
                          out. In most of the discussions here on the net it seems an
                          assumptions that "Gnosis" is not only a synonym for the mystical
                          experience for modern "Gnostics" of the more New Age type, but meant
                          exactly the same thing to the historical Gnostics as well. Suggesting
                          that this is not what the word meant in that context is often met with
                          unthinking hostility.

                          PMCV
                        • lady_caritas
                          ... Suggesting ... with ... Oh, you know, PMCV, I d better be very careful how I word things. Dr. King didn t say those exact words. I was just summarizing
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Cari
                            >
                            > >>>King goes on to say (p. 130) that salvation is far from automatic,
                            > though, and definitely not just "mystical experience."<<<
                            >
                            > I sure am glad somebody with a wider readership finally pointed that
                            > out. In most of the discussions here on the net it seems an
                            > assumptions that "Gnosis" is not only a synonym for the mystical
                            > experience for modern "Gnostics" of the more New Age type, but meant
                            > exactly the same thing to the historical Gnostics as well.
                            Suggesting
                            > that this is not what the word meant in that context is often met
                            with
                            > unthinking hostility.
                            >
                            > PMCV
                            >


                            Oh, you know, PMCV, I'd better be very careful how I word things. Dr.
                            King didn't say those exact words. I was just summarizing and noting
                            the fact that her list included more than "reception of revealed
                            knowledge." But she does plainly state a full list of items necessary
                            for salvation that goes beyond mystical experience. And certainly we
                            have seen the idea of things like "study" met with derision even right
                            on this board.

                            Her full paragraph (p. 129-130) reads:

                            "Salvation is, however, far from automatic, although all of humanity
                            will ultimately be saved, except apostates who blaspheme the Spirit.
                            People are potentially able to receive the Spirit of Life because they
                            were created in the divine image, but to perfect that image and gain
                            salvation requires the reception of revealed knowledge, study,
                            extirpation of the passions, purification from all evil, and rituals
                            of baptism and healing."

                            Cari
                          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.