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Re: The Gnostic Flavor of the 2nd Masada Speech

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  • Steve Wenninger
    ... Dear George; Well, yes, I do see where you are coming from on that. Its difficult to say whether gnosticism in its incipient forms was originally of Jewish
    Message 1 of 48 , Apr 1, 2003
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "George" <historynow2002@y...>
      wrote:
      > Steve,
      >
      > Part of the motivation for my wanting to explore
      > the "2nd Speech" at Masada is that it seems to share
      > a space in the "transitional" period during which
      > Gnostic thought appears to have emerged.
      >
      > Gnosticism came from somewhere. And I think there
      > is general agreement that it has its roots prior
      > to the rise of Christianity.
      >
      > And yet, Christianity was one of its "hotbeds" of
      > growth, suggesting that the matrix of gnostic or
      > proto-gnostic thought "communicated" with the early
      > schools of Christianity somehow.
      >
      > The key aspect that I find in the Sicarii speech
      > is the assumption of the worthlessness of a material
      > life.
      >
      > While you draw attention to the revolutionary aspect
      > of the Sicarii, to improve the mortal world, I do not
      > see these traits as mutually exclusive.
      >
      > The question to ask is:
      >
      > Were the Sicarii first revolutionaries who came upon
      > or invented a fixation on the afterlife?
      >
      > Or did the Sicarii emerge from a group that was fixated
      > on the afterlife, and became revolutionaries against all
      > those material corruptions (i.e., the Romans) who would
      > intefere with the world process of purification?
      >
      > I am exploring the ramifications of the *latter*
      > scenario.
      >
      > Hippolytus tells us that the Sicarii were one of the
      > four principle factions of the Essenes. And so it is
      > in the roots of the Essenes (prior to their first notice
      > around the time of the Maccabees or Hasmoneans) that I
      > am looking for the first traces of proto-Gnostic
      > thinking.
      >
      > Thoughts? Comments?
      >
      > George

      Dear George;
      Well, yes, I do see where you are coming from on that. Its
      difficult to say whether gnosticism in its incipient forms was
      originally of Jewish or of pagan origin. The DSS, of course, have
      their almost Zoroastrian dualism of light vs. Darkness, but I find
      it hard to associate the Gnostic hostility toward the Demiurge with
      the Essenes. Of course, we do have the semitic sect of the Mandaeans
      which trace their lineage back to John the Baptist, who, like the
      Dead Sea community, apparently saw himself in opposition to the
      Temple. But we also have several examples of pagan Gnostic works
      such as Eugnostos the Blessed being reworked as Christian documents,
      i.e. The Sophia of Jesus Christ. To be honest with you, I haven't
      yet been able to form a strong opinion one way or the other on this.
      What do you think; is Gnosticism to be seen as primarily Jewish or
      pagan in origin? Sincerely, Steve
      >
      >
      > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Wenninger"
      > <eugnostos2000@y...> wrote:
      > > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...>
      wrote:
      > > > Hello George
      > > >
      > > > On 31-Mar-03, you wrote:
      > > >
      > > > > Mike,
      > > > >
      > > > > Yes, I suppose Josephus can be untrustworthy.
      > > > > But we here, on this list, have the benefit of
      > > > > not having to worry about whether a mass suicide
      > > > > really happened or not.
      > > > >
      > > > > All we have to worry about is whether Josephus
      > > > > is likely to have made up, out of whole cloth, the
      > > > > theology he puts into the mouth of the chief
      > > > > Sicarii.
      > > > >
      > > > > You are going to have to do an awful lot of
      > > > > convincing to conclude that Josephus didn't at
      > > > > least *think* the Sicarii held these views.
      > > > >
      > > > > One "test" of the matter is to ask yourself
      > > > > how or why the Sicarii could be so willing to
      > > > > die for their cause (in places other than Masada).
      > > > >
      > > > > If you *do* agree that the Sicarii shared some
      > > > > of the martyr tendencies discussed in parts of the
      > > > > Maccabees, it becomes (suddenly) interesting to
      > > > > examine whether gnostic or proto-gnostic thinking
      > > > > is what helped make these behaviors possible.
      > > >
      > > > This is a good point. However Gnostics usually opposed
      marterdum,
      > > > and the Valentinians held the view, die if you must, but avoid
      it
      > > if
      > > > possible. None the less, one can see how some gnostic thought
      > > could
      > > > lead to this type of behavior.
      > > >
      > > > Regards
      > > > --
      > > > Mike Leavitt ac998@l..
      > >
      > > Dear Mike; You are quite right that the Gnostics did not
      glorify
      > > martyrdom. Their general contempt for the material world did not
      > > lend itself to programs of resistance to political powers with
      the
      > > aim of improving conditions on earth. The resistance fighters at
      > > Masada apparently believed that it was possible to overthrow the
      > > Romans with God's help.This does not strike me as terribly
      Gnostic.
      > > The docetic Gnostic view was that Jesus himself did not really
      > > suffer and die on the cross. -Steve
    • Mike Leavitt
      Hello lady_caritas ... Always, it is a limitation of the language, any language. And one can get so hung up in the history, one forgets about practice. My BA
      Message 48 of 48 , Apr 6, 2003
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        Hello lady_caritas

        On 06-Apr-03, you wrote:

        >> My Bishop makes good points here, but it just makes the historian's
        >> task more difficult, not less desirable, and it makes his goals
        >> more circumscribed, perhaps.
        >>
        >> Regards
        >> --
        >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
        >
        >
        > I would agree, Mike. Historians offer us contextual information for
        > our discussions.
        >
        > You also mention in Post #7467, "If we don't know where we came
        > from, we don't know where we are going. Gnosis may be now, but it is
        > not in a vacuum."
        >
        > Again, agreed, of course gnosis is not in a vacuum. We live in a
        > temporal world and gnosis is comprehended within that environment.
        >
        > I suppose my point was to say that your comment, "If we don't know
        > where we came from, we don't know where we are going," could be
        > viewed with more than one meaning.
        >
        >
        > Cari

        Always, it is a limitation of the language, any language. And one can
        get so hung up in the history, one forgets about practice. My BA was
        in Classical and Medieval History, my MA is in Psychology, so I guess
        that puts me squarely in both the historical and the practice camps,
        actually not a contradiction as I see it.

        Regards
        --
        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
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