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Re: [Gnosticism2] anti-Semeticism in ancient Gnostic literature

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  • Thomas Leavitt
    The anti-Judiac elements of Christian Gnostic literature need to be understood in context... namely, that the authors of many of the original works (Orthodox
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 24 8:15 AM
      The anti-Judiac elements of Christian Gnostic literature need to be
      understood in context... namely, that the authors of many of the original
      works (Orthodox and Gnostic alike) saw themselves as Jews, attempting to
      reform the Jewish faith, and the diatribes recorded are against elements of
      orthodox Jewish practice that they disagreed with. It was only after Paul
      began proselytizing to the Gentiles that Christianity began to take form as
      a distinctly different religion, and even then, significant elements
      self-identified as Jewish for a substantial period afterwards - especially
      those associated with the church of James in Jerusalem. In fact, for a
      substantial period, Jewish Christians went to synagogue and continued the
      ways of their fathers and mothers (to one degree or another).

      With regards to the earliest Gnostic works, in particular, interpreting
      their anti-Judaic elements in a modern context is unfair to the original
      authors.

      I haven't read this book, but I'd bet, from the description, that it
      discusses how this original context lead the inheritors of the Christian
      tradition down some really unfortunate and evil paths.

      James Carroll
      Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395779278/rpcman

      That aside, Gnostics are under no obligation to interpret anything they've
      inherited in a literal fashion, and we're free to discard any elements we
      find offensive... and to add or construct our own myths as we see fit.

      When we speak of the Demiurge, the Archons and the rulers of this world, and
      the entire mythology, mystery and psychological drama surrounding them, we
      are under no obligation to relate it to the Old Testament and the Jewish
      God - this is a mythos, a conception of reality, that stands on its own. We
      are not slaves to history and literalism, as our orthodox bretheren and
      sisters are. Did Jesus manifest himself among the people of the Jews 2000
      and some odd years ago? The answer to that question is irrelevant... it is
      the psychic truth of the mythos, the compelling nature of the mystery that
      offers sanity among chaos and paradox and ludicrous demands to have faith in
      the ultimate justice and rationality of a world gone mad - it is those
      truths that matter.

      Gnostics can be Christian (as I am), they can be Jewish (as Harold Bloom
      is), they can be Muslim, they can be Manichean... our church honors all
      messengers of the light, while, as Christians, we place a special emphasis
      on the mythos of the Christos as the son of god.

      Gnostics disavow anti-Semetism as a manifestation of the essentially flawed
      nature of this world and human consciousness without Gnosis. As a Christian
      Gnostic, I believe I have more in common with my Jewish and neo-Pagan
      Gnostic compatriots than with orthodox Christians - form is not function,
      truth is in the essence of what is pursued, not the shell around it.

      Regards,
      Thomas Leavitt
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