Re: Scholarship on the Terms: Gnosis vs. Gnostic
- I too try to unite rather than seperate, and I too look to what we
all, Gnostic (if you call yourself that), Christian, Muslim, Sufi,
Buddhist- I believe all paths to be different roads to the same
However, I have to support Cari, whose research in this is probably
more in scope than Wikipedia, and I have noticed that religions who
ascribe to the same core will fight more vehemently over
translations than they will over completely different beliefs.
Hence the anamosity between the suni and the shite, the catholic and
the protestant- need I cite more examples? I suspect this existed
with the ancient Gnostics as well. Sometimes we are less tolerant
of someone who believes as we do but doesn't agree with us than
someone with different views altogether, as seems to be the reality
for other beliefs or religions.
Also, and I could be wrong in this (I personally always TRY to leave
myself open to the 'possibility') but I doubt if the ancients
called themselves 'gnostic' anymore than the ancient Vikings called
themselves Vikings. They called themselves the Northmen, and only
thier enemies called them Vikings. I wonder if since a great deal
of the info we have on the ancient Gnostics was written by thier
enemies, we must be careful what can be gleaned from that.
And although the Gnostics might not have elaborated on themselves as
much, there IS much on how they defined Gnosis.
Knowledge in itself is taken for granted nowdays, in our age
of 'instant information'. Perhaps because of this fact the
definition of knowledge as we know it has undergone a change, and we
do not appreciate knowledge for itself. I have found in my personal
life that all bigotry, prejudice and chavenism is due to ignorance-
ignorance for what it is like to walk in another's shoes. Once one
has taken that journey, ignorance dies and true understanding takes
place. We are well educated in today's world, we talk openly and
without the fear of retribution for our beliefs, which existed in
the world before, and which I feel is the reason gnostism was
exclusified by the elite was because the common man as it were
couldn't buck conventional religion without fear, much like the guy
in the fancy car gets by with infractions because he can afford the
high-priced lawyer to get him out, while the person in the beat-up
pinto gets reamed because he can't afford the same representation,
and the officer issuing citations is well aware of that. The rich
and powerful have never been under the same rules as the rest of us,
and I'm sure that was as true then as it is now.
I would really do some serious research before one takes up cudgels
in this group.*LOL*
Love and peas
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, lady_caritas <no_reply@...>
> --- In email@example.com, "George" <historynow2002@>
> > I thought this would be helpful in comprehending the
> > confusions that we encounter on this list:
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism
> > "[At the 1966 Messina conference]....it had been decided
> > that 'Gnosticism' would become a historically-specific term,
> > restricted to mean the Gnostic movements prevalent in the 3rd
> > century, while 'gnosis' would be an universal term, denoting
> > a system of knowledge retained 'for a privileged élite'."
> > "However, this effort towards providing clarity in fact created
> > more conceptual confusion, as the historical term 'Gnosticism'
> > was an entirely modern construction, while the new universal
> > term 'gnosis' was a historical term: 'something was being
> > called "gnosticism" that the ancient theologians had
> > called "gnosis" ..."
> > "[A] concept of gnosis had been created by Messina that was
> > unusable in a historical sense' (Markschies, Gnosis: Anfast-
> > Introduction, 14-15). In antiquity, all agreed that knowledge
> > was centrally important to life, but few were agreed as to what
> > exactly constituted knowledge; the unitary conception that the
> > Messina proposal presupposed did not exist."
> > "These flaws have meant that the problems concerning an exact
> > definition of Gnosticism persist. It remains current convention
> > to use 'Gnosticism' in a historical sense, and 'gnosis'
> > universally."
> > "Leaving aside the issues with the latter noted above, the usage
> > of 'Gnosticism' to designate a category of religions in the 3rd
> > century has recently been questioned as well."
> > "Of note is the work of Michael Allen Williams in Rethinking
> > Gnosticism: An Argument for the Dismantling of a Dubious
> > Category, in which the author examines the terms by which
> > gnosticism as a category is defined, and then closely compares
> > these suppositions with the contents of actual Gnostic texts
> > (the newly-recovered Nag Hammadi library was of central
> > importance to his thesis)."
> > [END OF QUOTE]
> > Conclusion? Could those ancient sects we would call gnostic
> > have agreed to what was core of Gnosticism? I doubt it.
> > Shouldn't we stop using the word "Gnostic" as a reference to
> > the ancient groups at all? There were groups who pursued
> > gnosis. In fact, they were all rivals in their attempt to
> > define gnosis.
> > I would suggest that calling this or that ancient group
> > "gnostic" is intended as a restrictive term when in fact
> > the term would encompass most of Christianity, and much
> > of mystic Judaism.
> > Regards,
> > George
> George, as I have sat here watching your conversation with PMCV
> unfold, I have to admit that I am absolutely amazed how you keep
> forwarding to some kind of "one-size-fits-most" Gnostic theory.before
> Would it be possible to come to some kind of common ground of
> understanding regarding categories, definitions, and functions
> dismissing them or changing them outright?confusing
> PMCV has taken the time to answer your recent points in two posts
> regarding this subject:
> Not that it is a requirement,... but do you intend to respond
> directly to all his points, too?
> Just wondering, because I find this adjunct post of yours
> in light of current conversation regarding this subject of
> terminology and categories.
> Anyway, I'm climbing back up to the peanut gallery...