Re: [Gnosticism2] anti-Semeticism in ancient Gnostic literature
- 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
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.
Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews
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.