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Essenes

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  • Tom Saunders
    Hi Andrew, On the other hand Josephus was not an Essene himself and was writing for a non-Jewish Greek speaking readership. This may mean that some of what he
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 19, 2004
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      Hi Andrew,

      "On the other hand Josephus was not an Essene himself
      and was writing for a non-Jewish Greek speaking
      readership. This may mean that some of what he says
      about the ideas of the Essenes ends up sounding a little
      more Greek and a little less Hebrew than was really
      the case."

      That certainly may be the case. What I am after here is to try and place the concepts of pre-Christian ideas of Gnosticism within the boundaries of secular Judaism. The description......"they held that their bodies were corruptible, and the matter composing them is not lasting, but souls are immortal and live forever, and proceeding from the most subtle ether having been drawn into bodies as into prisons by some natural longing," might be a key to that understanding.

      I am aware of the Platonic and Hellenistic relationships to the concepts of Christian Gnosis and their influence according to Karen King, "Gospel of Mary Magdala," and Ehrman, "Lost Christianities." But, are there legitimate secular Jewish roots to the ideas? I think Ehrman is correct in his assumption that the Nag Hammadi texts relate a pre-existing concept about the process of Gnosis that the writers of these texts seemed to understand. Could it be a realization of combined ideas from pre-existing notions of Gnosis from multiple sources, like some of the notions of the Essenes?

      Sincerely,

      Tom Saunders



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    • Steve
      ... place the concepts of pre-Christian ideas of Gnosticism within the boundaries of secular Judaism. ................................................. Could
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 20, 2004
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        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Saunders" <tom@c...>

        > That certainly may be the case. What I am after here is to try and
        place the concepts of pre-Christian ideas of Gnosticism within the
        boundaries of secular Judaism.
        ................................................. Could it be a
        realization of combined ideas from pre-existing notions of Gnosis from
        multiple sources, like some of the notions of the Essenes?
        >
        > Sincerely,
        >
        > Tom Saunders
        >

        Tom,

        I don't recall where I read it but if I remember correctly, Philo
        mentions some Jewish folks in Alexandria who were called "Therapeutae"
        who seemed to have a mixture of Jewish and gnostic conceptions. The
        brief mention of them, where ever it was, was tantalizing.

        Steve
      • Tom Saunders
        Thank you Steve, Philo mentions some Jewish folks in Alexandria who were called Therapeutae This Philo source to the Therapeutae is probably where Szekely
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 21, 2004
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          Thank you Steve,

          "Philo mentions some Jewish folks in Alexandria who were called "Therapeutae"

          This Philo source to the Therapeutae is probably where Szekely got his notion that Essenes adapted to Gnostic Christianity. Of course there is no telling what he made up and what could actually be valid, unless his contentions are traced and corrected. One of the things to try and clarify is if the Essenes actually practiced a form of Gnosticism that influenced the historic Jesus.

          Clement and others who use references to the Old Testament are either convoluting their perception to conform to Gnostic dogma of the time, or there are actual ties in Gnostic understanding to both the old (Jewish understanding) and that of the new Christian Gnosticism. If Essenes did prescribe to a form of Gnosticism then the adaptation to Christian Gnosticism might have been easy for some. It would also explain the pre-existing 'understanding' that Ehrman refers to in "Lost Christianities." He contends that the Gnostic texts are written for someone who has cultivated an understanding of Gnosticism.

          Tom Saunders
          Platter, OK



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        • jmgcormier
          ... snip, snip, snip ... ... What I am after here is to try and place the concepts of pre-Christian ideas of Gnosticism within the boundaries of secular
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 21, 2004
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            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Saunders" <tom@c...> wrote:

            snip, snip, snip ...


            ... What I am after here is to try and place the concepts of
            pre-Christian ideas of Gnosticism within the boundaries of secular
            Judaism ...

            Sincerely,

            Tom Saunders

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

            Hello Tom "et alia" ...

            I really had to stop and re-read your above sentence several times
            to correctly grasp it. I understand what you are saying, although are
            we not a bit tainted by concepts of history when we try to define
            "pre-Christian" as a period .... indeed during the first few hundred
            years after Jesus' death were "Christians" not almost exclusively
            practising "Jews" who happened to have a (though serious) curiosity
            about Jesus's teachings, or again "Jews" who were prepared to emulate
            him in certain ways ?

            If not, at what precise date might have "Christians" (as we understand
            the term) come to exist? Keep in mind that Judaism was "tolerated" in
            the Roman Empire long before "Christianity" was ... at the time of
            Constantine's death in the 4th century. So, how are we to define the
            start of the Christian era ... immediately after Jesus' death, or at
            the dawn of the fourth century.

            Cheers !

            Maurice Cormier
          • Tom Saunders
            Hi All, As to the question of mysticism and Gnosticism, I would contend that a great deal of Gnosticism could be considered a type of mysticism. Consider the
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 22, 2004
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              Hi All,

              As to the question of mysticism and Gnosticism, I would contend that a great deal of Gnosticism could be considered a type of mysticism. Consider the following:

              The goal of mysticism is direct experiential communion with God. In this experience the mystic no longer exists as a separate individual but becomes one with Oneness. This vision can only arise when the mystic realizes that the ego-self is only an illusionary veil that masks the true divine Self, and that this Self is God, the being of all beings, the one true Self of All existence. God is not something 'other' but is our shared essential identity. Communion with God is experienced as freedom from suffering the separation of solitary confinement with the mortal self, and the blissful liberation into the expansive, all embracing nature of God. The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God." "Basil of Caesarea, Asia Minor 359-79"
              This description seems to fit both the perimeters of Gnosticism and what Basil calls mysticism. I am sorry that I do not have the exact source of the above yet. I got the quote from a friend and have asked about its source. If anyone knows I would appreciate the reference.

              Tom Saunders

              Platter, OK



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            • Tom Saunders
              Hi Maurice, So, how are we to define the start of the Christian era ... immediately after Jesus death, or at the dawn of the fourth century? I would put it
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 22, 2004
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                Hi Maurice,

                'So, how are we to define the
                start of the Christian era ... immediately after Jesus' death, or at
                the dawn of the fourth century?"


                I would put it at the dawn of the first Christian apokatastasis, described in Pistis Sophia. Karen King puts the work in the third century but I don't think it can be that late. There are several things that indicate to me that the work is very early (it's folksy style); and it has two fundamental purposes. One is to indicate those disciples known to have started Gnostic Christianity, and been handed 'special knowledge' by Jesus' teachings. The other is to indicate that Matthew, Thomas, and Phillip are bearers of that knowledge and wrote it down from the earliest time.

                As to a historical and archeological place of origin, the 'ground zero' would be the Apostle's Village, in Jerusalem. A connection to Essenes would show a propensity for some of the first converts to have been very literate. This suggests that there would have been scribes, who would have written some things down at the earliest part of the formation of the first Christian networks. Proto-Thomas & Matthew. Clement refers to Matthew and Paul, but would have had Pistis Sophia. If it was incorrect, in assuming the characters portrayed, and the texts written, it would have been an issue for the "Stromata," I'm sure.

                At this point Apostles were still alive and there would be no question to their rightful place as Christian Elders. But we know from Acts and other texts that communities had huge problems. Simply, not all new converts could grasp Plato's Republic, Philo, and related tenets of Gnosticism. From the earliest time of community, Gnostics and those that subscribed to the GThom and what it says it is, would probably be (a select) few. And like Ehrman suggests, among and amidst the 'others.'

                When the first Jewish convert could go through apolutrosis, in some form of cateshise of Gnostic training, then that is when I see the Christian era beginning, at least for the Gnostic. I am suggesting from the earliest times more than one Christianity developed. Not all of any large group could be expected to be equally adept at becoming enlightened. ( Pneumatic: One who identifies with the spirit (pneuma), beyond that of the physical (hylic) world and the intellect alone (psychic). The pneuma, described in the Gospel of Phillip as breath, refers to bonding with the internal spark (spinther) that came from and is drawn to reunite with the Father in some Gnostic schema. One who awakens it (the spinther) within the self does it through the process of gnosis.) And, apokatastasis, according to Haracleon.

                Regardless of the similarities in non-Christian concepts of Gnosis, the Christian era began when one reached Gnosis through Jesus. Other Christians didn't reach Gnosis.

                Tom Saunders
                Platter, OK













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              • jucci
                useful links The interdisciplinary seminar on the Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/ ... Elio Jucci SETH - Semitica
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 22, 2004
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                  useful links
                  "The interdisciplinary seminar on the Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian
                  Mysticism"
                  http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/


                  At 10.17 22/03/04 -0800, you wrote:
                  >Hi All,
                  >As to the question of mysticism and Gnosticism,

                  Elio Jucci

                  SETH - Semitica et Theologica
                  http://dobc.unipv.it/SETH/index.htm
                  http://lettere.unipv.it/SETH/religioni.htm
                  http://lettere.unipv.it/SETH/qumr_cav.htm
                  "Ex magno amoris incendio tantus uirtutis decor in animo crescit ..."
                  (Richard Rolle, Incendium Amoris)
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