Essene vs. Gnostic Views on Afterlife
- At this site, there is a brief (if not quite perfect)
comparison of the Essenes vs. Gnostics:
In stark contrast to other forms of Judaism and to early Christianity,
the Essene sect believed in the notion of an immortal soul. In their
very un-Jewish antagonism toward the flesh, as well as in certain of
their notions of soul, they appear to have been influenced by In stark
contrast to other forms of Judaism and to early Christianity, the
Essene sect believed in the notion of an immortal soul. In their very
un-Jewish antagonism toward the flesh, as well as in certain of
their notions of soul, they appear to have been influenced by
Gnosticism, or by one of the other Neoplatonic mystery religions of
the Hellenistic period. Their beliefs about the soul and the afterlife
were described by Josephus in "The Jewish War":
"It is indeed their unshakable conviction that bodies are corruptible
and the material composing them impermanent, whereas souls remain
immortal forever. Coming forth from the most rarefied ether, they are
trapped in the prison house of the body as if drawn down by one of
nature's spells; but once freed from the bonds of the flesh, as if
released after years of slavery, they rejoice and soar aloft. Teaching
the same doctrine as the sons of Greece, they declare that for the
good souls there waits a home beyond the ocean, a place troubled by
neither rain nor snow nor heart, but refreshed by the zephyr that
blows ever gentle from the ocean. Bad souls they consign to a
darksome, stormy abyss, full of punishments that know no end."
Gnosticism was primarily a movement and school of thought prominent in
the Hellenistic Mediterranean world and influenced paganism, Judaism,
and Christianity. Its core teachings were that this world, and
especially the human body, were the products of an evil deity -
the Demiurge - who had trapped human souls in the physical world. Our
true home is the absolute spirit (the "pleroma"), and hence we should
reject the pleasures of the flesh as a way of escaping this prison.
Unlike Christianity, in which one is saved by faith, in this school of
thought one was saved by proper intellectual insight, or "gnosis"
(Greek for "knowledge"). Gnosticism in its original sense died out
before the Western Middle Ages, although the term continued to be used
to refer to any deviations the Church deemed excessively
world-denying, or that seemed to stress mental insight over faith as
the essential mode of salvation.
Although many mystery religions and other religious movements in
antiquity emphasized a dualism between the body and the soul, none
went to the extreme of Gnosticism. Rather than yearning for
immortality in this life, the Gnostics viewed living in this world as
a kind of hell. Like the southern Asian religions, which may have
influenced this school of thought, Gnosticism saw human beings as
trapped in a cycle of reincarnation and believed that even suicide
could not release one from bondage to the flesh.
[A "Recent" Exemplar of Gnostic Thought]
The Cathars believed the universe consists of two coexisting sphere:
the kingdom of the good God, who is spiritual and suprasensible and
who created the invisible heaven, its spirits, and the four elements;
and the kingdom of the evil god, Satan, who created the material world
and who, being unable to make the human soul, captured it from heaven
and imprisoned it in the material body. Thus, the fundamental aim of
their religious practice was to release the soul from the body by
freeing it from Satan's power and helping it to return to its original
place in heaven.
In marked contrast with orthodox Christian belief, bodily resurrection
was not viewed as part of the scheme of redemption. Rather, only the
destruction of the body and of all Satan's visible creation - which
is hell - was adequate to ensure salvation of the soul and its ascent
to heaven. The only way to do so was to receive the Cathars' unique
sacrament, the "consolamentum", which was administered by the laying
on of hands.
Individuals could come to recognize evil through a series of
reincarnations, and could eventually free their souls from Satan and
thereby become perfect. According to Catharism, at the end of time all
souls will be saved or damned, even though there were some differences
between the doctrine of the absolute dualists and that of the
mitigate dualists. For the former group, free will played no part in
salvation, and in the end the material world would fall apart after
all souls had departed. For the latter, Satan would be captured,
and the proper order of all things would be reestablished.
[END OF CLIPS]
Naturally, these texts revisit the idea of which group
influenced the other. Did the Essenes get their view from
pre-existing gnostic communities? Or did gnosticism evolve
out of Essene communities.
MY CURRENT WORKING SCENARIO:
Since everyone needs a "starting place", in order to "test"
one's hypothesis, below is my "working scenario":
1) Gnosticism or proto-gnosticism had its roots in Egypt;
2) The Therapeautae were the result of contact between
a Jewish or Samaritan group of priests or levites and
Egyptian proto-gnostic views;
3) The Therapeautae developed a network of communities
all around Palestine (as indicated by the latter messianic
figure called "The Egyptian"... which shows a strong interest
in Palestine by Egyptian-based communities in general);
4) At the rise of the Maccabean conflict, the "Hasidim"
(with Egyptian ties to the Therapeutae), introduced gnostic
thinking into the ranks of the Maccabee zealots;
5) The gnostic views became "militarized" into a strict
sect that modern audiences call "Essene", but which were
in fact the Jewish/Judahite wing of a pan-Hebrew movement
of Essenes (i.e., Samaritan, Galilean and Damascus communities
of Essenes were not of the "House of Judah", and hence, not
I know.... I have a lot to prove here... but this is my working
scenario (to prove or disprove).
- The Middle region, when you separate the light from the darkness
you enter into the Twilight Zone, the World of the Imagination,
Freedom of Mind, Divine Will.
To Truly be Good you must be Free from the knowledge, from having
known, experienced wrong doing, you must be innocent.
Innocence exists only when there is no Evil, a long as Evil exist
Good is Evil and Evil is good, there is no innocence.
In between the Light and the Darkness, Parallel Universes, the Two
Worlds of Reality, One the World of Reality as seen in the light of
day, the Reality of the Moment, the Here and Now, Reality that exists
independent of our thoughts concerning it and the World of the
Imagination, the middle World, the World of Illusion, Sin; Reality as
seen in the Second light of the Sun, Moon Light, where thinly veiled
shadowy figures lurk in the Darkest corners of the Mind.
By the light of the Silvery Moon, Light that is separated out of the
Darkness, Twice light.
Illusion Trice Light, Reality hauled up out of the darkest depths of
the abyss, the imagination.
A Lie is the Truth, an Illusion is a Reality, Evil is Good, Good is
Evil, Good and Evil is Evil.
Yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, pessy@c... wrote:be
> > lady_caritas writes:
> > > contained in this line, "Within the present world, (reputedly)
> > > is good and there is evil, (but) the world's goods are not
> > > good, and its evils not (really) evil." IOW, "reputedly"
> > > or "allegedly" or "so they say" makes me wonder. Would this
> > > Valentinian recounting a more literal, traditional notion of
> > > opposites, "good" and "evil," in comparison to a conception ofbe
> > > world not being (really) black and white? Or OTOH might this
> > > heresiologist relating a view secondhand or rather a novice
> > > an initiation process or even a Valentinian not entirely
> convinced or
> > > in agreement about the concepts of good and evil? Regardless,
> > > think we can at least glean some Valentinian ideas from thisthis
> > > as it speaks to hylic, psychic, and pneumatic natures, and it
> > > certainly reiterates a common theme of resurrection now in
> > > lifetime, not waiting for some later time.last
> > no, it just merans that the world is evil, and good is out of the
> > whereas Zoroastrians see good and bad residing in the world.
> > Klaus Schilling
> Klaus, I suppose that is also a very likely interpretation. (My
> sentence of that paragraph was referring not only to the line justthought
> previously discussed about "good" and "evil," but to other comments
> in the GPh passage as a whole.) However, I guess my point was,
> perhaps we could only assume the line related to Zoroastrian
> when no direct mention is made of them and we don't even know theOr
> original source or context of this whole passage. And, where does
> the passage say that this world is only "evil," as you interpret?
> do you think it is implied somehow?fit
> Also, considering your interpretation of that line, how does that
> within the context of the remainder of the passage, with the author
> defining the "midpoint" -- "**after** this world" -- as "evil"?