5839Re: [GTh] Gnosticism
- Aug 2, 2003... In other words, prior to that date, what we call (Christian)
gnosticism at least (whatever that really means, I guess) was simply
considered part of "greater Christianity" in "the litterature".
Here's a related bit of background info from Guillaumont's intro. to
Evagrius Ponticus' Gnostikos (Sources Chrétiennes 356).... pardon my
translation from the French:
Used initially as an adjective, the word gnwstiko&v appears in Plato's
Politicus wherein the sciences are divided into two parts, "practical"
science (praktikh\ e0pisth/mh) and "gnostic" science (gnwsrikh\ e0pisth/mh).
Whereas "gnostic" appears specific to the Platonic and Pythagorean
tradition4, it is almost foreign in Aristotle and the Stoics who prefer to
oppose praktiko/v, to qewrhtiko/v.
The substantive use of the word appears with those whom we still call the
"gnostics", members of philosophical and religious sects of 2nd and 3rd
centuries. According to Ireneaus it was initially only used for those who
called themselves "gnostic", though the term was soon extended to all the
sects who claimed to have the preeminent science, the "gnosis". It was also
Irenaeus who gave the word its initial pejorative connotation, in Against
Heresies he designated a "pseudo-gnosis", (yendw/nmov gnw~siv), for the
practitioners of a "gnosis misnomer".
Clement of Alexandria is responsible for eventually giving gnwstiko/v ("a
gnostic") its status of respect in Christian literature. Clement
distinguished heretical "gnostics" from the "true gnostic" as he described
the Christian who, by practicing the virtues and the study, attains a
certain spiritual knowledge that is not found among the simple faithful but
is nevertheless consistent with the principles of the faith.
"Gnostic" is rare in Origen, who preferred the word te9leioi, or "perfects",
to indicate this same category of Christians, but it was through Evagrius
that "gnostic" found currency in monastic literature. For Evagrius "gnostic"
is an offspring whose direct filiation is to Clement.
4. See Morton SMITH, "The History of the Term Gnostikos", in B. LAYTON
(ed.), The Rediscovery of Gnosticism II, Leiden 1981, p. 796-817.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>