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Re: Anthropomorphic mistakes

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  • lady_caritas
    ... Pagels ... at ... purpose ... In reference to your Post #8566, I d agree that one might not want to rely solely on one author as authoritative, but I don t
    Message 1 of 97 , Nov 5, 2003
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > Understand, Pneumen, that it was not my intent to be condecending
      > with my suggestion to step back for a moment... I simply meant to
      > point out that some of your assurtions are... well, not always
      > SEEMING to be consistant with observable critical destinctions. I
      > mearly meant that perhaps it would be a good idea to leave Dr
      > (who is not always such a critical source) behind and take a look
      > something a bit better corroborated and less popular in it's
      > (some have even said "sensatinalist").

      In reference to your Post #8566, I'd agree that one might not want to
      rely solely on one author as authoritative, but I don't see a need to
      leave Dr. Pagels behind, PMCV. :-) To her credit I found her books
      about Valentinian exegesis of Paul and John to be geared to an
      informed audience and quite scholarly.

      Pagels offers a look at early Christianity with information and a
      perspective that are new to many people in her general audience, and
      I believe that lots of people can relate to her personal
      experiences. In _Beyond Belief_ she includes many pages of notes
      mentioning source materials that those inclined can pursue. On page
      29, Pagels self-effacingly admits that she has grown in her
      understanding of the Nag Hammadi discovered writings: "As we shall
      see in the following chapters, we are now beginning to understand
      these `gospels' much better than we did when I first wrote about them
      twenty years ago."

      Actually _Beyond Belief_ offers much to corroborate some of your
      excellent points, PMCV. You already do mention her relating the
      differences between John and Thomas and how "she considers John to
      have been written for the purpose of gaining political (Church
      politics.. not secular government) ground over Thomas." I'll give a
      few more examples below.

      First, _Beyond Belief_ is not a book about Gnosticism; it's a book
      about early Christianity. In fact I appreciate that she chooses to
      refrain from using the generic term, "Gnostic," very often and
      instead refers to various people's teachings, like Thomas, Marcus or
      Valentinus. The word "heretics" is more often seen as a name used by
      Irenaueus when mentioning groups that differed from his vision of
      correct scriptural interpretation. So, as you note, "Valintinians
      did not view themselves as a different movement, there was no such
      thing as the `orthodox church' for them to try to reconcile
      with `Gnosticism' (a term that they probably never used either).
      Valintinians simply considered themselves good Christians who were
      participating in something a bit deeper than the as yet uninitiated
      other Christians." Schism was perpetuated by church fathers such as

      As you also point out, PMCV, "Two rungs on a ladder would be a better
      description than two sides of the coin." On page 163, Pagels
      writes, "While Irenaeus sought to clarify basic convictions about God
      and Jesus Christ in theological statements that would become the
      framework of the fourth-century creeds, Valentinian Christians
      accorded such theological propositions a much less important role.
      Instead of regarding these as the essential and certain basis for
      spiritual understanding -- and instead of rejecting them -- they
      treated them as elementary teachings and emphasized instead what
      Irenaeus mentions only in passing -- how far God surpasses human
      comprehension." (In my view, beliefs such as atonement theology and
      full literal acceptance of Jesus, a man, as God incarnate don't speak
      to this incomprehensible Unknown.)

      As far as Jung goes, there is an interesting letter from Jungian
      scholar Stephan A. Hoeller in the second issue of _Gnosis_ magazine
      (Spring/Summer 1986), page 4. Dr. Hoeller addresses a couple of
      other letters in the "Forum" questioning the emphasis of Gnosticism
      in the first issue. He begins his response, "The mounting interest
      in Gnosticism evinced by scholars and the public is due less to
      romantic fascination with a philosophy of radical world-denying
      dualism than it is to certain imbalances and repressions in
      traditional Western spirituality, which shortcomings Gnosticism is
      uniquely suited to rectify."

      IOW, Hoeller doesn't see "Gnostic and Orthodox Christianity as two
      sides of the same coin." He talks about rectifying imbalances of
      traditional Western spirituality, not "reconciling" beliefs. In
      fact, he uses an example of two sides of a coin; however, in this
      case he is referring to his character being shaped *both* by his
      study of Gnosticism and by his involvement in the work of C.G. Jung.
      I know there are those (*ahem*) who, at this point, might be gritting
      their teeth, ready to emit warnings about psychologizing
      Gnosticism. ;-)

      But consider...

      I personally don't believe Gnosticism should at all be relegated
      solely as a branch of psychology. However, the ancient Gnostics
      recognized that we *interpret* the unknowable through images. And,
      Hoeller comments on this, *not* saying that Gnosticism is psychology,
      but rather that there is a psychological *orientation* ~ "It was
      Jung's view, as it is of numerous experts on Gnosticism, such as H.
      C. Puech, G. Quispel and others, that Gnosticism differs from almost
      all other religions in that its orientation is psychological rather
      than theological and metaphysical. Its basis is personal spiritual
      experience that -- unlike in most traditions -- is not turned into
      belief and commandment but into myth. This myth in turn becomes a
      stimulus for similarly toned personal spiritual experience." Hoeller
      further states later in his letter, "Like their latter day exponent,
      Jung, the Gnostics were practical and empirical technicians of the
      spirit, and not quibblers over philosophic maxims and theological
      dogma. It also goes without saying that a Gnostic process of
      personal alchemy has no need or use for a traditional `guru'-like
      teacher, although it may utilize myth and ritual for its purposes."

      Whether or not one agrees with *anything* Hoeller believes or Jung
      states, I don't see Jung talking about a reconciliation of disparate
      viewpoints so much as Gnosticism, in his words, providing "a bridge
      to a more living appreciation of Christian tradition." (_Collected
      Writings_, Vol. 11, par. 444).

      This could also be a point of contention. Any thoughts here?

    • Terje Bergersen
      ... As far as I can see, Walter Bauer is considered somewhat of a pioneer in the investigative genre of Early Christian scholarship - especially with the
      Message 97 of 97 , Nov 17, 2003
        > Interesting to hear it put that way - I haven't read Bauer (yet), so
        > Gnostic Gospels felt like an historian exploring new ground. Based
        > on her bibliography and notes, I at least had a sense that Pagels was
        > leaning on Bauer.

        As far as I can see, Walter Bauer is considered somewhat of a pioneer
        in the investigative genre of "Early Christian" scholarship - especially
        with the Comittee to which Pagels belonged (the Coptic Gnostic Library
        Comittee of scholars).

        Anyways, I was just butting in to inform the readers of this list
        that they can make their own mind up, without much trouble and without
        parting with money - Bauer`s chief work is online

        Walter Bauer: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity


        Pax Pleromae

        Terje Dahl Bergersen
        Deacon,Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
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