4108Apocalypticism, Gnosis and Thomas
- Oct 7, 2001The co-existence of apocalyptic and gnostic elements in GTh, to
the extent that they can be demonstrated to exist at all, are not
altogether contradictory of one another (in my opinion).
Gnosis and apocalypticism share a common objective; each seeks to
resolve the contradiction between ideal expectations and the
actuality of experience. Both emanate from a profound sense of
alienation. Each seeks deliverance from a fractured existence by
locating ultimate meaning somewhere outside the sphere of the
ordinary. A state of marginalization is their common heritage.
Their shared destiny is the eschaton.
There are, of course differences between the two, as well.
Apocalyptic expectations presuppose that deliverance from the
dissonant conditions of existence will derive from external
intervention. Ordinarily, that intervention will be initiated and
executed by some cosmic power, but, in its most radical
expression, the authority of cosmic forces will be delegated to
In contrast to apocalypticism, gnosis does not expect external
soteriological intervention. Instead, the resolution to the
crisis of existence originates and operates within the self and
within the community. Deliverance from alienation depends on
intensified modes of cognition through which one's essential
unity with what is "really real" is actualized.
The question is, where do any of the fundamental characteristics
of apocalypticism manifest themselves in GTh 11, 57.4, or 79? It
seems to me there are some vague allusions to eschatological
concerns but I see nothing that presupposes salvation via divine
inversion, conversion, or subversion of the conditions of
Humble Maine Woodsman
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