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5831Re: Gnosticism

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  • jmgcormier
    Aug 1, 2003
      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Mike McLafferty"
      <mikemclafferty@c...> wrote:

      (snip, snip, snip)


      Wade replied:

      The proponent of this idea is Karen King and a
      detailed discussion of it can be found in her 2003
      book <What is Gnosticism?>.

      I haven't read King yet, but Michael Allen Williams went further in
      his essential book, _Rethinking "Gnosticism": an argument for
      dismantling a dubious category_, Princeton: 1996, (0-691-01127-3):

      "...there is a long-standing tradition in scholarship of treating
      the self-designation *gnostikos* as a natural point of departure for
      deciphering self-definition in all of the sources normally classified
      by typological construct as 'gnostic.' The first embarrassment to this
      approach, as it turns out, is that we apparently do not have direct
      evidence of a single so-called gnostic writer using the
      self-designation *gnostikos*!"

      Williams does acknowledge Origen's *Contra Celsum* (c3 CE) as
      showing (5.61-62) that "Origen was aware of 'gnostic' as some kind of
      self-designation and yet does not himself employ it
      heresiologically."

      (Williams suggests as an alternative to 'gnosticism' the phrase
      'biblical demiurgical traditions.')

      ------------------------------------------------------

      Hmmmmm ! and Wow !

      This sort of brings a new form of sanity to the difficulty some of us
      (myself) have in hastely qualifying Thomas as "essentially Gnostic".
      After all, while Thomas does talk of "duality" and "the light", he
      dosen't even hint at concepts such as the demiurge, archons, etc. etc.

      Could it be that at the time of the very early church (pre canon)
      there was more marveling at what Jesus said and did than there was at
      the doctrine he preached, and accordingly the Christian belief system
      had very few limitations or credo requirements? Leaving to one side
      for a moment the idea of "inheriting the Kingdom of God" as an
      enticement, I have a difficult time imagining anyone wanting to become
      a "follower" of Jesus for any reason other than experiencing his
      miracles and perhaps listening to his parabolic wisdom ... most
      certainly I can't imagine anyone wanting to follow him for his
      knowledge of (or his association with) Gnosticism ... (not in Judea
      anyways).

      As a moot comparison, I am trying to designate the concept or "ism" of
      "oneness of, and oneness with, the universe" preached by Theillard de
      Chardin in recent years, (and largely rejected by the Church) but I
      find no way of designating it other than to think of it as being part
      of "a less popular aspect" of (nontheless) "Christianity". Perhaps the
      same was true in the early Church of what we call "Gnosticism".

      ---------------------------------------------------


      Kurt Rudolph in his influential book _Gnosis_ said, "Only in the
      eighteenth century was the form 'gnosticism' created out of ['gnosis']
      through the medium of French..."

      (I do understand a distinction between 'gnosticism' and 'gnostic,'
      and have no reason to doubt King's c11 etymology. Just thought I'd
      contribute.)

      --------------------------------------------------

      Well, a good contribution indeed. I really owe a lot to you, David and
      Wade for your (most appreciated) "pearls" (no gnostic pun intended) of
      wisdom !


      Regards,

      Maurice Cormier
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