Re: The "Second" Baptism
--- In email@example.com, "Mark" <larockpitts@...> wrote:
> In following up with some more reading related to my previous post on
> Valentinian Classification, I read Pagels' __Beyond Belief_. She
> spoke of the "second baptism" that was common among various Gnostic
> groups. She connected much of the problems, both political and
> theological, that existed between the developing "orthodox" groups
> and the various Gnostic groups as stemming from this second baptism.
> Has this been supported by other scholars in the field?
Mark, sure, there were obviously theological differences, one of these being apolutrosis. Redemption or ransom for many sects involved an inner process of gnosis that went beyond faith and a more literal approach taken by more proto-orthodox groups. A Valentinian would be released from the shackles of a judging demiurge to gain further acquaintance with an ultimate source. Those more interested in political authority might find the Valentinian esoteric, metaphorical, inner approach of self-acquaintance frustrating, elitist, even dangerous, hence all the polemics of the early church heresiologists, such as quoted from Irenaeus on page 137 of Pagels's Beyond Belief you referenced, which corroborates that apolutrosis was a source of contention. I would imagine that scholars would confirm this as one major difference. Also, reading The Testimony of Truth reminds us that there were even those who wrote polemics against both proto-orthodox and other Gnostics sects condemning the ritual practices of baptism altogether.
Redemption for a Valentinian involved a spiritual resurrection during earthly life, not a later bodily resurrection (Gospel of Philip, Treatise on Resurrection). Here is an allegory about baptism, ransom (redemption, apolutrosis), and bridal chamber from the Gospel of Philip (Bentley Layton's The Gnostic Scriptures):
"There were three offering places in Jerusalem: one opening to the west and called the holy; another open to the south and called the holy of the holy; the third open to the east and called the holy of holies, into which the high priest alone could enter. The holy building is baptism, the holy of the holy is ransom, the holy of holies is the bridal chamber. [Baptism] possesses resurrection [and] ransom; ransom is in the bridal chamber."
> Also, she reports that Ptolomy called this second baptism
> _apolutrosis_ ("redemption, release") (p. 138). Is this in any way
> connected to the Cathar's _consolamentum_ that Smoley discusses in
> his _Forbidden Faith_ (p.73-78)? The two appear to serve the same
> function, but with different names.
At most, I would find a resemblance between the two. We really don't have a lot of information about details of physical practice by Valentinians regarding apolutrosis except that, if used, they could have varied depending on the group. Even though I haven't read Smoley's Forbidden Faith, Mark, it is my understanding that in Consolamentum there was a very specific rite. The laying of hands on a believer's head was supposed to transmit energy, enabling the spirit to continue ascending safely to the Light. As far as function, one could debate whether this would seem to emphasize a strict ritual as fundamental in their Cathar soteriology, which might differ from Gnostic sects that placed more emphasis on gnosis through self-acquaintance as liberating and salvific.
> On a more personal note, I had a slight "homecoming" experience when
> I read of Pagel's _apolutrosis_, especially with its translation
> as "release." Some 20 years ago when working on an exegesis of Gen 2-
> 3, I had a mystical experience with Gen 3:7a, "Then the eyes of both
> of them were opened and they knew they were naked." Based on that
> experience and the interpretive line of thinking I was following that
> led up to that experience, I titled the paper "The Release" and
> argued that the general understanding of these chapters as "The Fall"
> is pejorative and misleading. I can trace much of my academic as
> well as spiritual undertakings since then back to that night. In
> some of the cosmological readings attributed to gnostic interpretors,
> I am finally finding some of my academic and spiritual undertakings
> coming together. It's rather fun to say the least.
So, did humans fall or were they victims or a consequence of a fallen situation and should we take all this more literally or rather metaphorically, etc.
Oh, yes, fun in the sense of release from a custom-made, pejorative guilt trip, to be sure, and fun finding other simpatico understandings. The Gnostics spent some time reinterpreting Genesis. :-)