--- In email@example.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
For instance, some
> things that were not generally part of Jewish thinking.... Baptism
> #6 (though I don't know how well that has been established for the
> Essenes. One must remember that ablution in the "mikvah" was and is
> a common Jewish practice that has been confused with Baptism, but
> there are some important differences.), the focus on poverty and
> communal property, etc..
> While my first thought in dealing with the subject of the Christians
> and the Essenes was to go from this point to say we should also
> point out the differences, I think more importantly we have to move
> into the realm of Gnostic thinking. After all, even if we could link
> the Essenes with the Christians (let alone EQUATE the two as you
> suggested), it doesn't do anything for our comparison with
PMCV, your comments here reminded me of some commentary by Bentley
Layton in _The Gnostic Scriptures_ regarding classic Gnostic baptism
and its function. He even questions what relationship, if any,
Gnostic baptism had to the non-Gnostic Christian ceremony, and also
whether or not baptism was only metaphorical,... whether it took place
on earth or only in the spiritual realm. In any case, the Gnostics
did not appear to have considered the spiritual baptismal water to
involve only an earthly ritual washing to remove impurities or sin.
I'll type this section from his book and I welcome any comments from
you and others.
From _The Gnostic Scriptures_ by Bentley Layton, pages 19-20:
Like other Christians, the gnostics laid great stress on the
importance of baptism and made strong use of baptismal rhetoric when
speaking of salvation. To judge from the texts, gnostic baptism
marked a decisive step in the spiritual life of the gnostic, involving
renunciation, instruction, learning, and initiation into a
new "kinship" and a new state of life. Reception of gnostic baptism
was closely associated with reception of _gnosis_ and was believed to
enable the gnostic to overcome death.
Various stages of a gnostic baptismal ceremony are enumerated in FTh
[First Thought in Three Forms]: the candidate strips off "darkness,"
puts on a robe of light, is washed in the water of life, receives a
throne of glory and is glorified with glory of "the kinship," and
finally is raised to "the luminous place of . . . kinship." The
baptized is also said in EgG [The Holy Book of the Great Invisible
Spirit (The Egyptian Gospel)] to put on the name of Jesus, and
according to BJn [The Secret Book According to John] _gnosis_ is
received when the savior seals the candidate with "the light of the
water of the five seals." These five seals are mentioned in many
passages of gnostic scripture as having a very intimate connection
with _gnosis_, but what they consist of is never clearly explained.
EgG concludes with a lengthy, ecstatic baptismal invocation presumably
spoken by a recipient of gnostic baptism.
Yet despite the insistence on baptism in gnostic scripture, the
references to it are phrased in exaggerated poetic language, always
giving the impression that the ceremony takes place not on earth, but
only in the spiritual realm. For example, various aeons known from
gnostic myth take a leading role in the ceremony; the spiritual
baptismal water is even mythically personified, as are "the five
seals." It may seriously be asked, then, whether such references to
baptism are not mere metaphor, a mystical description of salvation by
acquaintance (such an equation is explicitly made at the end of RAd
[The Revelation of Adam] ). Was there also a physical gnostic rite of
baptism, and if so was it a once-for-all initiation into the kinship
of the gnostic church or a repeatable act of mystical enlightenment?
What was its relation, if any, to that baptism already received by
members of the non-gnostic church who then converted to gnostic
Christianity? No answer to these questions is given by the scriptures
themselves, apart from silence. But St. Epiphanius, a hostile and
not fully reliable fourth-century observer (EpA [Epiphanius. On the
Archontics] ), reports that the Archontics, a subdivision of the
gnostics, "curse and reject [non-gnostic] baptism, even though there
are some among them who have already been baptized [as orthodox
Christians]" because baptism is "alien and has been established in the
name of Sabaoth," i.e. the god of the Israel, who according to the
Archontics is the son of Satan. Furthermore, according to St.
Epiphanius, the Archontics believe that when the soul is saved
it "gets _gnosis_ and flees baptism of the [non-gnostic] church."
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
> I'm glad to hear that Layton didn't include TT *lol*. BTW, I justit
> thought I would also add an interesting note for the group (maybe
> will come up in the Essene conversation as well) that in additionto
> the sects you mention are attacked the treatment of John theBaptist
> is not very sympathetic either.Heh. Neither is the treatment of his mother, Elizabeth. The author
writes, "John was begotten by means of a womb worn with age."
> Less obvious, but possibly still significant....
> "It is through water and fire that the whole place is purified -
> visible by the visible, the hidden by the hidden. There are someone
> things hidden through those visible. There is water in water, there
> is fire in chrism."
> (side note.... considering the subject matter and the mention of
> of the rituals mentioned in other valentinian texts, along withThat's possible. Sure. Yet,... talking about "things hidden
> scribal errors elsewhere in Philip, one could reasonably wonder if
> the second use of the word "water" in this passage may not have
> originally been "baptism")
through those visible" preceding "water in water" compels me to draw
an immediate association of hidden water through visible water. I
don't know if that is any less meaningful than spelling it out.
Since "chrism" is mentioned, it even might be expected to think of
the water in terms of baptism. Chrism and water are mentioned as
*both* being necessary for baptism elsewhere in GPh:
"We are reborn by the holy spirit. And we are born by the anointed
(Christ) through two things. We are anointed by the spirit. When we
were born we were joined. No one can see himself in the water or in
a mirror without light. Nor, again, can you see by the light without
water or a mirror. For this reason it is necessary to baptize with
two things light and water. And light mean chrism."