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Re: Apocryphon of John as Social Critique

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  • 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 1 of 14 , May 13, 2006
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      --- 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 2 of 14 , May 15, 2006
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        --- 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 3 of 14 , May 15, 2006
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          --- 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 4 of 14 , May 16, 2006
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            >
            >
            >
            > 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 5 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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              --- 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 6 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                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 7 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                  ---


                  > >






                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  > 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 8 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                    --- 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 9 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                      --- 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 10 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                        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 11 of 14 , Jun 30, 2006
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                          --- 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
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