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Essene vs. Gnostic Views on Afterlife

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  • George
    At this site, there is a brief (if not quite perfect) comparison of the Essenes vs. Gnostics: www.near-death.com/religion.html Essenes: In stark contrast to
    Message 1 of 170 , Apr 22, 2003
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      At this site, there is a brief (if not quite perfect)
      comparison of the Essenes vs. Gnostics:

      www.near-death.com/religion.html

      Essenes:
      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:
      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
      technically "Jewish").

      I know.... I have a lot to prove here... but this is my working
      scenario (to prove or disprove).

      George
    • Wayne
      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.
      Message 170 of 170 , Jun 5, 2003
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        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 gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pessy@c... wrote:
        > > lady_caritas writes:
        > >
        > > > contained in this line, "Within the present world, (reputedly)
        > there
        > > > is good and there is evil, (but) the world's goods are not
        > (really)
        > > > good, and its evils not (really) evil." IOW, "reputedly"
        > > > or "allegedly" or "so they say" makes me wonder. Would this
        be
        > a
        > > > Valentinian recounting a more literal, traditional notion of
        the
        > > > opposites, "good" and "evil," in comparison to a conception of
        > the
        > > > world not being (really) black and white? Or OTOH might this
        be
        > a
        > > > heresiologist relating a view secondhand or rather a novice
        > entering
        > > > an initiation process or even a Valentinian not entirely
        > convinced or
        > > > in agreement about the concepts of good and evil? Regardless,
        I
        > > > think we can at least glean some Valentinian ideas from this
        > passage,
        > > > as it speaks to hylic, psychic, and pneumatic natures, and it
        > > > certainly reiterates a common theme of resurrection now in
        this
        > > > lifetime, not waiting for some later time.
        > >
        > >
        > > no, it just merans that the world is evil, and good is out of the
        > world,
        > > whereas Zoroastrians see good and bad residing in the world.
        > >
        > >
        > > Klaus Schilling
        >
        >
        > Klaus, I suppose that is also a very likely interpretation. (My
        last
        > sentence of that paragraph was referring not only to the line just
        > 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
        thought
        > when no direct mention is made of them and we don't even know the
        > original source or context of this whole passage. And, where does
        > the passage say that this world is only "evil," as you interpret?
        Or
        > do you think it is implied somehow?
        >
        > Also, considering your interpretation of that line, how does that
        fit
        > within the context of the remainder of the passage, with the author
        > defining the "midpoint" -- "**after** this world" -- as "evil"?
        >
        >
        > Cari
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