Re: Gnostic Baptism
- Hey Cari
>>>PMCV, your comments here reminded me of some commentary by BentleyLayton 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
I still have not ever gotton around to reading Layton.
Anyway, I think your point brings back so many of the issues that no
one else seems to really want to comment on or explore. Issues of
meaning, ritual, and just what we can tell about them from the
evidence we do have.
I have to admit, though I agree with Layton that there seems to have
been an important metaphorical intent I feel like he has not delt
with some important textual evidences and that has allowed him to
maybe take it a bit overly far.
For instance, I read the parts of Testemony of Truth that are
arguing against Baptism to be talking about a physical ritual, and I
think the author is actually being pretty direct in that intent. In
that sense we do have a Christian group (or person) that ONLY sees
valid Baptism as a metaphor, but the author is making that point at
the expense of people he observes using a physical ritual. Some of
these groups the author is trying to level the polemic toward are
Gnostics of various forms.
To be fair, the author does read allegorical intents into the other
baptisms as well, including that of John the Baptist, but that in no
way implies lack of physicality in this case. Of course, since I'm
not so sure the author of TT qualifies as a Gnostic this could imply
quite a range of views both between Gnostics and non-Gnostic
Christians, which I know is something both you and I have mentioned
in this forum many a time.
- --- 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."