Re: Evryone loves conspirecy
- --- In email@example.com, gnosticaww <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> The popularity of a genre such as "Devinci Code", "The BibleWell put. Maybe I'm still suffering from a Jonas hangover, but I
> Code" and "The Holy Blood, Holy Grail" etc. ect is that people in
> general are not satisfied with the general answer to realities
> around them. People feel that something is not being told that
> some how there is a big conspirecy . People are cynical about
> things especially told by *authority* whether that authority is
> church or government. Thing is not really seemed to be. People
> sense that something is not right but they just can't put a finger
> on it. For example, it is 40 years after the Kennedy assasination
> yet doubt of people concerning it is greater. Some how people
> feel that government is not telling everything.
> And this doubt and feeling that that something is not right paved
> the way for the Biblical Demurgic thinking.
can't help but see ties between "gnostic" revivalism and a sense of
alienation and world-skepticism that permeates broad cross-sections
of our modern society. Let's face it, the 20th century stank by most
standards! We may have accomplished a good deal in the way of
material gains, democracy, and human rights, but only at the cost of
hundreds of millions of lives lost to war and genocide. For a good
forty years the world faced a daily risk of self-extermination. Then
add on top of that globalization - the first time since Alexander and
Rome that a culture (read: Americanism/Europeanism) has supplanted
indigenous customs and trappings with such vigor. Put all the
resultant emotions together, and you have a context quite akin to
that world-alienation in which gnostic movements first took root.
Yet I suspect a big difference between the acosmism of the later-
Hellenistic world and that of our own: its point of cultural &
linguistic origin. World-skepticism flourished in the later-
Hellenistic world because Near-eastern cultures though (or
because) ruled by pro-cosmic Rome and a Romanized, pro-cosmic ruling
class were still characterized at a popular level by their
dualistic, acosmic tendencies. Christianity, Zorastrianism,
Manicheaesm, and other world religions of the time grew out of
fundamentally Near Eastern origins, world-skeptical outlooks, and
with the eventual exception of Christianity, Near Eastern languages.
And aside from Valentinianism, it seems that most "gnostic" movements
also have Syrian, Egyptian, or Anatolian roots.
But in our own day can't it be said that acosmic speculation and
knowledge-based soteriologies are reviving "from the West" as opposed
to "from the East"? Granted, West and East have different meanings
than they did in later-hellenistic days, but the comparison still
highlights an issue that's been bothering me about contemporary
readings of Nag Hammadi and other gnostic literature, and gnostic
revivalism in general. Since occidental pens so dominate
contemporary assessments (academic, theological, and popular) of the
source material, our hermeneutics are surely inhibited by more than
our "modern" outlook. There's seems a more profound,
assumption that later-hellenistic gnosticism can be
a lost chapter in the history of our own (Western) philosophical and
religious dialogues any rate, it's not the first time
that complain in a post.
Besides, even if I'm right and today's scholars and gnostic
are not only modernizing, but also Westernizing, an antique, Near
Eastern movement, who am I to complain? As I might say to a friend
who installs modern plumbing in an old Victorian painted lady, I
rather like what you've done with the place! Extreme dualism and
acosmism can be truly dangerous when implemented on a societal
scale. Both the neo-gnostics and those scholars whose hermaneutics
seek to raise gnostic views for consideration by main line Christians
seem unanimous in watering down those aspects of the religion that
could be construed as anti-social (PMCV: if you're reading this
this is what I really meant to say a few weeks back about Pagels).
To bring this rather rambling post back to the comments by gnosticaww
that prompted it, I don't think the popularity of Dan Brown's
Vinchi Code is any accident. If it were just Catholic Church
conspiracy theories that sold books, keep in mind that Angels &
Daemons (his earlier, IMO far superior thriller) put up paltry sales
ere he started writing about the "Holy Family" and gnostic
Dan Brown hit on a nerve, and for better or worse, I suspect that
Christian Gnosticism is a movement that's here to stay a
as far as I'm concerned, that should focus more on generating its
wisdom than leaning too heavily on Near Eastern mystery texts from
2nd through 5th Centuries.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Thomas Norush II <tjnii@y...>
> Hello Cari;Gospel of Thomas. And to be honest, I am not sure why the Church
> To this point the only thing that I have read at any length is the
would choose to catagorize this as a heresy.
>Thomas, as Gerry pointed out, it becomes a matter of view, doesn't
it? Does heresy constitute merely opinions that are different,
freely chosen,... or are they something false, even evil?
> Maybe as I read more of what is available I will be able todiscover such, but to this point, the Gospel of Thomas seems pretty
inline with Church teaching. Mind you there are some things that
would cause quite the conversation, but on the whole nothing that
struck me as "heresy" in the evil terms that I have heard it.
>It may appear to be "inline" in some respects. In fact, in _The
Gnostic Scriptures_ (which I highly recommend), Bentley Layton has
cross-references for many, but not all, sayings to similar verses in
Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And, whether or not _The Gospel of Thomas_
was originally "Gnostic" or proto-Gnostic has been debated.
Nonetheless, upon further inspection there are some major differences
when compared to orthodox doctrine. How *any* of the sayings might
be construed could vary from an orthodox interpretation when one
considers heterodox elements. As Bentley Layton comments in the
introduction to GTh (page 376):
"Historical framework is irrelevant to the message of GTh, for the
salvation that it proclaims is not the future reign of god on earth,
to be ushered in by a messiah, but rather the recognition of one's
true nature and acquaintance with oneself, leading to immediate
repose and rendering `death' (i.e. the realm of human affairs)
trivial. `The kingdom is inside of you. . . . When you become
acquainted with yourselves . . . you will understand that it is you
who are children of the living father.' Jesus' suffering, death, and
resurrection are not discussed in GTh; his role here is purely that
of a teacher of wisdom. GTh is thus a Christian gospel in which the
crucifixion of Jesus has no importance."
Self-acquaintance is definitely a Gnostic theme. Consider, Thomas,
how dangerous, how threatening that approach would be to *any*
political mechanism. How does one maintain hierarchical control when
people are relying on their own experience, rather than on outside,
dogmatic intermediaries? In the past, the governmental decisions
were inextricably entrenched with religious considerations.
> The Council of Trent I believe put it together in its current formand in theory there was a great deal of work for them to choose from
before they Canonized the current Bible. What was left out and more
importantly Why? If Thomas was around and available at that point,
why wasn't it included in the Bible?
>You might be interested in a recent book by Elaine Pagels, _Beyond
Belief_, that recounts this process, bringing in her ideas about _The
Gospel of Thomas_ specifically.
> Gnostic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, all offer me a chance to readwhat was available at the time. The chance to answer big questions
for myself and maybe pass this on to others. Maybe Gnosticism is
another step in the process for me. Not sure yet. Need to read and
study more on the subjects.
>Thomas, I would recommend some suggestions in our "links" section:
You might find the collection of introductory articles helpful. The
Gnosis Archive at
http://gnosis.org/ provides lots of information articles, book
suggestions, lectures, in addition to online source material, such as
The Nag Hammadi Library. I would also recommend the book, _The Nag
Hammadi Library_, by James M Robinson.
> Thank you for your response. I look forward to any insight you mayoffer or conversation that it brought about.
>Feel free to come back with comments and questions, Thomas, as you
pursue your own queries.