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6553Re: A core Thomas set

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  • Karl
    Nov 1, 2004
      Hey Andrew and Michael

      I had also wanted to talk about the specific passage of Michael's
      post that Andrew singles out...

      >>>"After an extensive survey of the issues, Smith provides his own
      conclusions: first, that an early second-century dating for
      Gnosticism is most consistent with the historical details of the
      period; and second, that Egypt following the Jewish Revolt under
      Trajan (115-117 CE) provides a ripe context for Gnosticism's most
      unique and definitive innovation, the rejection of the cosmos and
      the Creator God of the Jews.He argues that individuals closely
      connected with Judaism- whether Jews, Jewish Christians, or gentile
      God-fearers-may have responded to the rebellion by rejecting the
      God and religion that inspired this apocalyptic and messianic
      ferment."No longer Jews," they were now free to follow a higher God
      and way of life."<<<

      It is an interesting theory. I feel there are some questions that
      would need to be dealt with to make this theory viable, since I have
      not read this book it is possible they are dealt with already.

      For one; while it is true that some specific sects of "Gnosticism"
      demonstrate this kind of negativity towards the cosmos and a turning
      of the Genesis myth on it's head, it is not true of all Gnosticism.
      Not only do I find the charge of "dualism" questionable, but I think
      that the charge of extreme negativity in the Gnostic view of the
      cosmos as a specifically defining attribute of the category has been
      put to rest (one example of a deconstruction of this notion would be
      in Williams, who we mentioned just a few posts ago).

      Consider some of the Valentinian texts, or perhaps the semi-
      Valentinian Tripartite Tractate. The view presented here has more in
      common with Philo than with Sethian texts.

      That brings me to my second point. It is an historical fact that
      demiurgic speculation predates the events that are presented as the
      turning point in this theory. Philo is the perfect example. Merkabah
      speculation does not have the negative view that Sethians do, but as
      I already pointed out it is not something we find in all Gnostic
      sects either.

      While outside the Jewish spectrum, we do even see the negative slant
      within a related cosmology. Take Moderatus the neo-Pythagorian, for
      instance, it is a short step to compare cosmologies, and all one
      need to do is put one of the many neo-Platonic outlines in the lingo
      of Judaism, just as Philo does, but with the negative slantÂ… and the
      skip is fairly seamless.

      I am not saying this is what happened, but we certainly don't need
      an event to explain Gnosticism when all the pieces where right there
      to be used. We should be careful not to add extra variables for no
      other purpose than to attempt to apply a date.

      Also, I am concerned with the fact that our early examples
      of "Gnosticism" are so close to the date in question that it gives
      little time for development.

      I am a little skeptical, but not denying the theory.

      Karl Nygren
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