5840Re: [GTh] Gnosticism
- Aug 3, 2003--- In email@example.com, Scott Rhodes <flinch@f...> wrote:
> ... In other words, prior to that date, what we call (Christian)Used initially as an adjective, the word gnwstiko&v appears in
> gnosticism at least (whatever that really means, I guess) was simply
> considered part of "greater Christianity" in "the litterature".
> Hello Maurice
> 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:
Plato's Politicus wherein the sciences are divided into two parts,
"practical" science (praktikh\ e0pisth/mh) and "gnostic" science
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
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
4. See Morton SMITH, "The History of the Term Gnostikos", in B.
LAYTON (ed.), The Rediscovery of Gnosticism II, Leiden 1981, p.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
I find this an extremely interesting and useful bit of
information. If Guillaumont is correct, then his finding and his
reasoning does a number of things.
1) It rationalizes the term "gnosticism" somewhat beyond its unclear
and varied "root system" (Zen Bouddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Greek
philosophy, Zoroastrianism, etc.) ... and explains it as a a sort of
"religious philosophy" as opposed to a strict "secular religion" ...
2) It confirms that Irenaeus originally used the term as applying to
individuals and their innermost beliefs and interpretations, and not
necessarily as applying exclusively to "sects" or "communities" ...
3) It generally supports the idea (as expressed in the "Secret Mark"
letter of Clement of Alexandria to Theodore, for example,) that
gospels could indeed have been written for more than one single
viz ... "a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being
perfected ... to the stories already written he added yet others and,
... (yet one which would) lead the hearers into the innermost
sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils."
4) It gives new light to the squabbles of the apostles and the
disciples as exemplified in the Gospel of Mary, in the preamble to
which James M Robinson in his rendition suggests :
" ... Peter and the other disciples acknowledge Mary's spiritual
calibre and superiority and yet they challenge her when she describes
her own gnostic experiences. This confrontation between Mary and Peter
is well documented in many gnostic Scriptures. Mary exposes the small
mindedness and superficiality of Peter and Andrew who find it
difficult to comprehend, let alone accept, the deeper spiritual
understanding that Mary has acquired through her personal experience
and closer relationship with Christ. Indeed Peter and Andrew seem to
prefer the very thing against which Christ warned them - a religion
based on arbitrary ideas (in this case represented by Peter's male
chauvinism and Andrew's ignorance). And yet many of their ideas have
shaped modern Christianity while, paradoxically, Mary Magdelene's
spirituality, which here seems more consistent with the teachings of
Christ, is unheard of today."
5) ... and it seems to confirm Jesus' words in Thomas #62 wherein he
is quoted as saying:
" ... "It is to those [who are worthy of My] mysteries that I tell My
mysteries" ... meaning in a sense that "There are truths ... and then
there are truths!"
Good quote, Scott, and many thanks !
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