<< Nice assortment, Tony. Would you care to comment further on any of
Thank you. Certainly I will comment further. But first let me clarify:
<< Also, do you have any problem reconciling _The Testimony of Truth_
with Valentinian selections on your list? >>
Haw haw haw! Sorry, my occasion for laughter out loud is noting that I
somehow misread "Testimonium" as "Evangelium." So my revised list should be:
The GOSPEL of Truth
The Hymn of the Pearl
The Odes of Solomon
Epistle of Ptolemy to Flora
The Gospel of Philip
The Gospel of Thomas
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians
A more self-consistent list, no?
In retrospect I am forced to add:
The Exegesis on the Soul
The Thunder, Perfect Mind
On the whole this set of texts defines what I consider the core of Christian
Gnosticism. A few notables are missing; but in considering Christian gnosis
specifically I'd have to presume that one is already familiar with the four
core gospels and the Pauline epistles (minus the dreadful so-called pastoral
trio of course).
What makes me focus on these texts specifically is not the "detail" of their
content but their perhaps deceptive simplicity. They can be read in a
straightforward way, but they also have enough esoteric content to express
the mystical teachings of Gnosticism.
One thing that characterizes the above collection of texts is an attitude
that traditional religious rites and observances are useless in
"guaranteeing" that one will achieve a state of harmony with the divine.
I would also say that they describe a cosmic state of affairs much more
complex than the teaching of "dualism" typically associated with Gnosticism
in general. (Hymn of the Pearl notwithstanding.) In fact I would go so far
as to say that dualism is irrelevant from the Valentinian point of view. The
Valentinian school is less dualistic even than "mainstream" Christianity.
The Epistle to Flora is a good introduction to the Valentinian hermeneutic.
It is not flawless, but it draws you in, and it is easy to read without
familiarity with the more esoteric underpinnings of Valentinian teaching.
What this text and the Gospel of Truth imply, is that the underlying
conclusions and principles of Valentinian thought can be expressed wholly in
the milieu of traditional Christian terminology. They demonstrate why
heresiologists were so threatened by Valentinianism. However they constitute
a polemic not only against the hierarchical elitism of the mainstream church
but also the esoteric monopoly of the Gnostic cults.
The Odes of Solomon might be the most concise and accurate mystical text ever
written -- except of course the Tao Te Ching.
The Gospel of Philip is the only one among the above texts that is generally
unapproachable without some scholarly understanding of Gnosticism and without
some experience in esoteric philosophy. But its hints at the practices of
Gnostic Christianity as a cult are invaluable from the point of view of
Renewal Gnosticism: http://members.aol.com/AJRoberti/rg/index.htm
Gulf Coast Gnostics: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GCGnostics/
"The Tao that is coded in words is dead. The teachings of the Tao are so
precious and important that they cannot be revealed in the written word."