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Re: Priscillian

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  • Unknown
    Oh, I just had something that popped up in the course of my meanderings, and like I said, I just thought I d get your take on the matter (or anybody else s,
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 12, 2009
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      Oh, I just had something that popped up in the course of my meanderings, and like I said,
      I just thought I'd get your take on the matter (or anybody else's, for that matter), since
      you've tended to be the line judge for issues like this here, and you've been a good one at
      that, which is a good thing given this group's focus.

      As you know, I use some different sets of measuring sticks, some etic and some emic, and
      more often than not, I toss 'em all out anyways as irrelevant (given my focus). Thing is, for
      the most part, my frameworks aren't exactly apposite or consonant with your stated
      objectives (not that they're anathema), and this group is valuable in its own right.

      In other words, I'm perfectly content to continuing lurking here.

      Besides, the only book I own on the subject is Chadwick's, which I've read along with
      snatches of various articles and other assorted bits and pieces. I thought maybe you'd
      encounter some other stuff, whether in your formal or informal research. But whatever
      your background, I'd say your take on Priscillian (per your yardstick) fits what I know, from
      direct lines of transmission to the generally ascetic and apotropaic orientation, not to
      mention a dollop of an old-fashioned Augustinian condemnation (talk about Manichaean
      street cred, you know?), so forth and so on, and of course, most telling of all, being strung
      up in the end for black magic, always a sure sign of enlightenment.

      But then, hey, the only good Gnostic is a dead Gnostic, as all good Gnostics should know.

      At any rate, I didn't anticipate any big surprises. But you never know what you never know.

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
      >
      > >>>Hey Karl, as the go-to guy for ancient Gnostic street cred, I'm
      > curious where you place the quirky and unapologetically mendacious
      > Priscillian and his crew on your charts? He's a bit of a hybrid, and
      > I'm thinkin' he's probably a little too Manichaean for your tastes
      > to make the official PMCV Gnostic cut list. But hey, ya' never know,
      > and I'd love to hear your take.<<<
      >
      > Booya, J-dawg. Das 'cause we be in da crib, yo.
      >
      > Seriously, though.... As you know, the line I have sometimes tried
      > to illustrate (based on the work of better historians than myself)
      > between Mani's teachings and the very closely related movement
      > of "Gnosticism" is very specific. It may even be what most people
      > here would call a "technicality" (albeit, an important one IMO). The
      > cosmology of Priscillian does sound Manichaean to me, but that isn't
      > the point. I think I would have to know much more about the
      > soteriology, and frankly I just haven't made that intimate study in
      > this case.
      >
      > Maybe you or others here have some thoughts?
      >
      > PMCV
      >
    • lady_caritas
      ... meanderings, and like I said, ... that matter), since ... you ve been a good one at ... and some emic, and ... my focus). Thing is, for ... your stated ...
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 13, 2009
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        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Unknown" <hey_market@...> wrote:
        >
        > Oh, I just had something that popped up in the course of my meanderings, and like I said,
        > I just thought I'd get your take on the matter (or anybody else's, for that matter), since
        > you've tended to be the line judge for issues like this here, and you've been a good one at
        > that, which is a good thing given this group's focus.
        >
        > As you know, I use some different sets of measuring sticks, some etic and some emic, and
        > more often than not, I toss 'em all out anyways as irrelevant (given my focus). Thing is, for
        > the most part, my frameworks aren't exactly apposite or consonant with your stated
        > objectives (not that they're anathema), and this group is valuable in its own right.
        >
        > In other words, I'm perfectly content to continuing lurking here.
        >
        > Besides, the only book I own on the subject is Chadwick's, which I've read along with
        > snatches of various articles and other assorted bits and pieces. I thought maybe you'd
        > encounter some other stuff, whether in your formal or informal research. But whatever
        > your background, I'd say your take on Priscillian (per your yardstick) fits what I know, from
        > direct lines of transmission to the generally ascetic and apotropaic orientation, not to
        > mention a dollop of an old-fashioned Augustinian condemnation (talk about Manichaean
        > street cred, you know?), so forth and so on, and of course, most telling of all, being strung
        > up in the end for black magic, always a sure sign of enlightenment.
        >
        > But then, hey, the only good Gnostic is a dead Gnostic, as all good Gnostics should know.
        >
        > At any rate, I didn't anticipate any big surprises. But you never know what you never know.
        >
        > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag no_reply@ wrote:
        > >
        > > >>>Hey Karl, as the go-to guy for ancient Gnostic street cred, I'm
        > > curious where you place the quirky and unapologetically mendacious
        > > Priscillian and his crew on your charts? He's a bit of a hybrid, and
        > > I'm thinkin' he's probably a little too Manichaean for your tastes
        > > to make the official PMCV Gnostic cut list. But hey, ya' never know,
        > > and I'd love to hear your take.<<<
        > >
        > > Booya, J-dawg. Das 'cause we be in da crib, yo.
        > >
        > > Seriously, though.... As you know, the line I have sometimes tried
        > > to illustrate (based on the work of better historians than myself)
        > > between Mani's teachings and the very closely related movement
        > > of "Gnosticism" is very specific. It may even be what most people
        > > here would call a "technicality" (albeit, an important one IMO). The
        > > cosmology of Priscillian does sound Manichaean to me, but that isn't
        > > the point. I think I would have to know much more about the
        > > soteriology, and frankly I just haven't made that intimate study in
        > > this case.
        > >
        > > Maybe you or others here have some thoughts?
        > >
        > > PMCV
        > >
        >

        Hey, hey_, PMCV, and anyone else following this conversation, I really wish I could somehow channel Valentinus, Mani, Priscillian, and few gazillion others.  ;-)  When it comes to the category of "Gnosticism", how far does the umbrella reach? 

        It appears that groups or schools we categorize as Sethian and Valentinian emphasize Gnosis in their soteriology.  When we see other groups with rigorous ascetic practices such as the Priscillianists, should we assume that they put more emphasis on praxis as a primary route to salvation?  Or is this only one fundamental method to engage or prepare themselves for more esoteric endeavors? 

        I found the following, albeit written with a bias: 

        The foundation of the doctrines of the Priscillianists was Gnostic-Manichaean Dualism, a belief in the existence of two kingdoms, one of Light and one of Darkness. Angels and the souls of men were said to be severed from the substance of the Deity. Human souls were intended to conquer the Kingdom of Darkness, but fell and were imprisoned in material bodies. Thus both kingdoms were represented in man, and hence a conflict symbolized on the side of Light by the Twelve Patriarchs, heavenly spirits, who corresponded to certain of man's powers, and, on the side of Darkness, by the Signs of the Zodiac, the symbols of matter and the lower kingdom. The salvation of man consists in liberation from the domination of matter. The twelve heavenly spirits having failed to accomplish their release, the Saviour came in a heavenly body which appeared to be like that of other men, and through His doctrine and His apparent death released the souls of the men from the influence of the material.

        These doctrines could be harmonized with the teaching of Scripture only by a strange system of exegesis, in which the liberal sense was entirely rejected, and an equally strange theory of personal inspiration. The Old Testament was received, but the narrative of creation was rejected. Several of the apocryphal Scriptures were acknowledged to be genuine and inspired. The ethical side of the Dualism of Priscillian with its low concept of nature gave rise to an indecent system of asceticism as well as to some peculiar liturgical observances, such as fasting on Sundays and on Christmas Day. Because their doctrines were esoteric and exoteric, and because it was believed that men in general could not understand the higher paths, the Priscillianists, or at least those of them who were enlightened, were permitted to tell lies for the sake of a holy end. It was because this doctrine was likely to be a scandal even to the faithful that Augustine wrote his famous work, "De mendacio".

        http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/priscill.htm

        If this is accurate that the "enlightened" ones admitted to lying, if necessary, to protect the inner sanctum of their esoteric pursuits, one wonders how much we can discern of the esoteric by way of their exoteric doctrine.  How is one "liberated from the domination of matter"?  Surely, other groups might not be entirely forthright regarding esoteric matters, largely because they were considered to be obscure or even dangerous to the untrained or unenlightened mind or heart.  I wonder, though, how outright devious the Priscillians might have been.  *lol*

        Can anyone versed on this subject further elucidate the Priscillian esoteric and/or exoteric doctrines? 

        Also, anyone feel free to chime in with any more comments or questions.  Here is a link with some info for anyone interested.  I haven't finished going through it myself ~

        http://search.nationmaster.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?query=priscillian

        Cari

         

      • Mark
        If I might ask a rather sophmoric question, who first used the term Gnostic to refer to a person, group, or doctrine? Was it a believer, or was it a
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 14, 2009
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          If I might ask a rather sophmoric question, who first used the
          term "Gnostic" to refer to a person, group, or doctrine? Was it
          a "believer," or was it a "critic"? The emic/etic comment from
          Unknown, plus this repeated question of "where to draw the line," are
          the stimuli for this question.

          Thanks,
          Mark

          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Unknown" <hey_market@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Oh, I just had something that popped up in the course of my
          > meanderings, and like I said,
          > > I just thought I'd get your take on the matter (or anybody
          else's, for
          > that matter), since
          > > you've tended to be the line judge for issues like this here, and
          > you've been a good one at
          > > that, which is a good thing given this group's focus.
          > >
          > > As you know, I use some different sets of measuring sticks, some
          etic
          > and some emic, and
          > > more often than not, I toss 'em all out anyways as irrelevant
          (given
          > my focus). Thing is, for
          > > the most part, my frameworks aren't exactly apposite or consonant
          with
          > your stated
          > > objectives (not that they're anathema), and this group is
          valuable in
          > its own right.
          > >
          > > In other words, I'm perfectly content to continuing lurking here.
          > >
          > > Besides, the only book I own on the subject is Chadwick's, which
          I've
          > read along with
          > > snatches of various articles and other assorted bits and pieces. I
          > thought maybe you'd
          > > encounter some other stuff, whether in your formal or informal
          > research. But whatever
          > > your background, I'd say your take on Priscillian (per your
          yardstick)
          > fits what I know, from
          > > direct lines of transmission to the generally ascetic and
          apotropaic
          > orientation, not to
          > > mention a dollop of an old-fashioned Augustinian condemnation
          (talk
          > about Manichaean
          > > street cred, you know?), so forth and so on, and of course, most
          > telling of all, being strung
          > > up in the end for black magic, always a sure sign of
          enlightenment.
          > >
          > > But then, hey, the only good Gnostic is a dead Gnostic, as all
          good
          > Gnostics should know.
          > >
          > > At any rate, I didn't anticipate any big surprises. But you never
          know
          > what you never know.
          > >
          > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag no_reply@ wrote:
          > > >
          > > > >>>Hey Karl, as the go-to guy for ancient Gnostic street cred,
          I'm
          > > > curious where you place the quirky and unapologetically
          mendacious
          > > > Priscillian and his crew on your charts? He's a bit of a
          hybrid, and
          > > > I'm thinkin' he's probably a little too Manichaean for your
          tastes
          > > > to make the official PMCV Gnostic cut list. But hey, ya' never
          know,
          > > > and I'd love to hear your take.<<<
          > > >
          > > > Booya, J-dawg. Das 'cause we be in da crib, yo.
          > > >
          > > > Seriously, though.... As you know, the line I have sometimes
          tried
          > > > to illustrate (based on the work of better historians than
          myself)
          > > > between Mani's teachings and the very closely related movement
          > > > of "Gnosticism" is very specific. It may even be what most
          people
          > > > here would call a "technicality" (albeit, an important one
          IMO). The
          > > > cosmology of Priscillian does sound Manichaean to me, but that
          isn't
          > > > the point. I think I would have to know much more about the
          > > > soteriology, and frankly I just haven't made that intimate
          study in
          > > > this case.
          > > >
          > > > Maybe you or others here have some thoughts?
          > > >
          > > > PMCV
          > > >
          > >
          >
          >
          > Hey, hey_, PMCV, and anyone else following this conversation, I
          really
          > wish I could somehow channel Valentinus, Mani, Priscillian, and few
          > gazillion others. ;-) When it comes to the category of
          > "Gnosticism", how far does the umbrella reach?
          >
          >
          >
          > It appears that groups or schools we categorize as Sethian and
          > Valentinian emphasize Gnosis in their soteriology. When we see
          other
          > groups with rigorous ascetic practices such as the Priscillianists,
          > should we assume that they put more emphasis on praxis as a primary
          > route to salvation? Or is this only one fundamental method to
          engage or
          > prepare themselves for more esoteric endeavors?
          >
          >
          >
          > I found the following, albeit written with a bias:
          >
          > The foundation of the doctrines of the Priscillianists was
          > Gnostic-Manichaean Dualism, a belief in the existence of two
          kingdoms,
          > one of Light and one of Darkness. Angels and the souls of men were
          said
          > to be severed from the substance of the Deity. Human souls were
          intended
          > to conquer the Kingdom of Darkness, but fell and were imprisoned in
          > material bodies. Thus both kingdoms were represented in man, and
          hence a
          > conflict symbolized on the side of Light by the Twelve Patriarchs,
          > heavenly spirits, who corresponded to certain of man's powers, and,
          on
          > the side of Darkness, by the Signs of the Zodiac, the symbols of
          matter
          > and the lower kingdom. The salvation of man consists in liberation
          from
          > the domination of matter. The twelve heavenly spirits having failed
          to
          > accomplish their release, the Saviour came in a heavenly body which
          > appeared to be like that of other men, and through His doctrine and
          His
          > apparent death released the souls of the men from the influence of
          the
          > material.
          >
          > These doctrines could be harmonized with the teaching of Scripture
          only
          > by a strange system of exegesis, in which the liberal sense was
          entirely
          > rejected, and an equally strange theory of personal inspiration.
          The Old
          > Testament was received, but the narrative of creation was rejected.
          > Several of the apocryphal Scriptures were acknowledged to be
          genuine and
          > inspired. The ethical side of the Dualism of Priscillian with its
          low
          > concept of nature gave rise to an indecent system of asceticism as
          well
          > as to some peculiar liturgical observances, such as fasting on
          Sundays
          > and on Christmas Day. Because their doctrines were esoteric and
          > exoteric, and because it was believed that men in general could not
          > understand the higher paths, the Priscillianists, or at least those
          of
          > them who were enlightened, were permitted to tell lies for the sake
          of a
          > holy end. It was because this doctrine was likely to be a scandal
          even
          > to the faithful that Augustine wrote his famous work, "De mendacio".
          >
          > http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/priscill.htm
          > <http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/priscill.htm>
          >
          >
          >
          > If this is accurate that the "enlightened" ones admitted to
          > lying, if necessary, to protect the inner sanctum of their esoteric
          > pursuits, one wonders how much we can discern of the esoteric by
          way of
          > their exoteric doctrine. How is one "liberated from the domination
          > of matter"? Surely, other groups might not be entirely forthright
          > regarding esoteric matters, largely because they were considered to
          be
          > obscure or even dangerous to the untrained or unenlightened mind or
          > heart. I wonder, though, how outright devious the Priscillians
          might
          > have been. *lol*
          >
          >
          >
          > Can anyone versed on this subject further elucidate the Priscillian
          > esoteric and/or exoteric doctrines?
          >
          >
          >
          > Also, anyone feel free to chime in with any more comments or
          questions.
          > Here is a link with some info for anyone interested. I haven't
          > finished going through it myself ~
          >
          >
          >
          > http://search.nationmaster.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?query=priscillian
          > <http://search.nationmaster.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?
          query=priscillian>
          >
          >
          >
          > Cari
          >
        • lady_caritas
          ... Hi, Mark. Not at all a sophomoric question! Birger A. Pearson addresses this nicely in his recent book, Ancient Gnosticism: Tradition and Literature.
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 15, 2009
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            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Mark" <larockpitts@...> wrote:
            >
            > If I might ask a rather sophmoric question, who first used the
            > term "Gnostic" to refer to a person, group, or doctrine? Was it
            > a "believer," or was it a "critic"? The emic/etic comment from
            > Unknown, plus this repeated question of "where to draw the line," are
            > the stimuli for this question.
            >
            > Thanks,
            > Mark
            >

            Hi, Mark.  Not at all a sophomoric question!  Birger A. Pearson addresses this nicely in his recent book, Ancient Gnosticism: Tradition and Literature.  Not all the groups we moderns label as "Gnostic" referred to themselves with this name.  However, Irenaeus (Against Heresies) did refer to a group who called themselves "Gnostikoi".  And the Greek "gnostikos" goes back to Plato.  I was able to find a section from Dr. Pearson's book online. 

            More here:

             http://books.google.com/books?id=QPvQUPMtFgQC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=term+gnostic&source=web&ots=2_ClmgIdHx&sig=XmSGHUP_5wx-JJIscth4HTXwLwY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA9,M1

            Hope this helps.

            Cari

             

          • Mark
            Cari, Thanks for this reference. I may have to put Pearson s book on my to read list. So it seems that at least one group self-identified (emic) as
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 15, 2009
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              Cari,

              Thanks for this reference. I may have to put Pearson's book on my to
              read list. So it seems that at least one group self-identified (emic)
              as "Gnostics"--according to Irenaeus (etic), a critic. This in turn
              suggests that most other historical groups/writings that are today
              called "Gnostic" are subject to the interpreter's categories (etic),
              which, of course, can be debated. In such a situation "where to draw
              the line" can determine academic careers.

              I am wondering: would all "drawing of lines" at least include the
              self-identified (emic) groups within the Gnostic camp? If so, then
              self-identification as a Gnostic trumps all etic attempts at
              grouping. If such is true for historical groups, then why not so for
              present day groups?

              Mark

              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Mark" <larockpitts@> wrote:
              > >
              > > If I might ask a rather sophmoric question, who first used the
              > > term "Gnostic" to refer to a person, group, or doctrine? Was it
              > > a "believer," or was it a "critic"? The emic/etic comment from
              > > Unknown, plus this repeated question of "where to draw the line,"
              are
              > > the stimuli for this question.
              > >
              > > Thanks,
              > > Mark
              > >
              >
              >
              > Hi, Mark. Not at all a sophomoric question! Birger A. Pearson
              > addresses this nicely in his recent book, Ancient Gnosticism:
              Tradition
              > and Literature. Not all the groups we moderns label as
              > "Gnostic" referred to themselves with this name. However,
              > Irenaeus (Against Heresies) did refer to a group who called
              themselves
              > "Gnostikoi". And the Greek "gnostikos" goes back to
              > Plato. I was able to find a section from Dr. Pearson's book online.
              >
              >
              >
              > More here:
              >
              >
              > http://books.google.com/books?
              id=QPvQUPMtFgQC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=term+gno\
              > stic&source=web&ots=2_ClmgIdHx&sig=XmSGHUP_5wx-
              JJIscth4HTXwLwY&hl=en&sa=\
              > X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA9,M1
              > <http://books.google.com/books?
              id=QPvQUPMtFgQC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=term+gn\
              > ostic&source=web&ots=2_ClmgIdHx&sig=XmSGHUP_5wx-
              JJIscth4HTXwLwY&hl=en&sa\
              > =X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA9,M1>
              >
              >
              >
              > Hope this helps.
              >
              >
              >
              > Cari
              >
            • lady_caritas
              ... to ... (emic) ... turn ... (etic), ... draw ... for ... Mark, are you referring to modern day Gnostic groups? Historically, scholars have found
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 19, 2009
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Mark" <larockpitts@...> wrote:
                >
                > Cari,
                >
                > Thanks for this reference. I may have to put Pearson's book on my
                to
                > read list. So it seems that at least one group self-identified
                (emic)
                > as "Gnostics"--according to Irenaeus (etic), a critic. This in
                turn
                > suggests that most other historical groups/writings that are today
                > called "Gnostic" are subject to the interpreter's categories
                (etic),
                > which, of course, can be debated. In such a situation "where to
                draw
                > the line" can determine academic careers.
                >
                > I am wondering: would all "drawing of lines" at least include the
                > self-identified (emic) groups within the Gnostic camp? If so, then
                > self-identification as a Gnostic trumps all etic attempts at
                > grouping. If such is true for historical groups, then why not so
                for
                > present day groups?
                >
                > Mark


                Mark, are you referring to modern day "Gnostic" groups?

                Historically, scholars have found commonalities among groups that
                they call Gnostic, regardless of self-designation, which category, as
                you say, is open to debate. And it's my understanding that self-
                identified historical Gnostics are included, but correct me if I'm
                wrong.

                When it comes to modern groups, we likely have many more individuals
                and groups self-designated as "Gnostic." Anyone can call themselves
                whatever they want, I suppose. But at some point definition or
                categorization is useful, if communication is desired, in order to
                avoid utter confusion, should every self-identified group or
                individual trump a generally accepted modern etic understanding (open
                to debate). Then again, do we even have such a general understanding
                of modern self-identification? I admit to being confused about
                contemporary usage. Is it enough to say that a modern Gnostic is one
                who has an "inner experience" or some kind of spiritual "knowing"?
                Why not call themselves a Christian or a Buddhist or a heretic or
                whatever instead of a Gnostic? Or do they have more than one self-
                designation? How do they define gnosis? What about their
                understanding of cosmology, cosmogony, soteriology, etc.? Having
                some kind of etic understanding of "Gnostic" doesn't determine whose
                spiritual path or knowledge is more accurate, but it helps for
                clarification; otherwise, the term becomes subject to only personal
                bias.

                And then whether or not a modern "Gnostic" claims a tie to those who
                called themselves Gnostics in the past, it behooves modern people to
                attempt some kind of valid understanding as to the historical
                Gnostic's position and not merely superimpose one's own understanding
                when comparing.

                Mark, please let me know if I don't understand the gist of what
                you're saying. Anyone else want to weigh in?

                Cari
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