[GTh] Re: Parallels between GTh and Paul
- --- In email@example.com, "jmgcormier" <cobby@...> wrote:
> I must ask why you divided your references into 5 distinct timeperiods, (actually ending long after Paul's death c. 64 C.E.) and why
you chose the time periods you did. For example, why bother to have a
"period #2" if there are no references to "gnosis" or "knowledge"
during that time period ?
I went with time periods that seemed to arise naturally from the dates
of composition presented by White in From Jesus To Christianity. Here
are his dates for the texts in question:
1Co 1:5 53-54 CE
Php 3:8 55-56 CE
2Co 4:6 55-57/58 CE
Ro 11:33 58-59 CE
Col 2:3 70-80 or 85-95 CE
Eph 3:19 85-95 CE
1Ti 6:20 c.120s-130s CE
There is a natural border at 59 CE, the date of Paul's last authentic
text. I would suggest that division is essential to make when
discussing Paul's attitude on any subject. The next period which
suggests itself is 70-95 CE. This covers Colossians (regardless of
whether the early or late date is correct) and also Ephesians. That
leaves one remaining period for 1Ti (c.120-c.140 CE), and two periods
for which no text exists (60-69 CE, and 96-119 CE). I would argue it
is important to consider periods for which no text exists, since the
question can be asked: why is there no Pauline text addressing gnosis
during those periods?
> Am I to thus presume that you embrace some sort of a theory orbelief that Paul's faith or "knowledge legacy" (as recorded) evolved
from some sort of a logical starting point and ended up being "full
blown" or appreciably more mature by the end of the fifth time period
... and possibly that the evolution of his thoughts on "gnosis" thus
logically flows from "gnosis is bad without qualification" to "gnosis
is good without qualification" ?
Well, I would not argue that! I think what happened is that Gnosticism
was not an issue for Paul - probably because there was no such thing
before the second century. Pre- or Proto-Gnosticism (including early
Thomas) was not opposed by proto-orthodoxy for at least two reasons:
proto-orthodoxy was not yet distinct from proto-Gnosticism, and
proto-orthodox leaders were not yet powerful enough to exclude
believers. This could not happen until the period 140-180, when
actions by Marcion and Valentinus forced the issue with proto-orthodox
bishops. Emerging proto-orthodoxy did not clearly stand out from the
numerous and highly diverse Christian communities until after the
Jewish revolts of 112-115 CE and 132-135 CE.
> Jordan Stratford has already pointed out correctly (Post # 8166)that the word "knowledge" has more than one meaning strictly
speaking ("let us be cautious not to confuse "gnosis" with "episteme").
I think Jordan is saying the Greek term 'gnosis' should not be
confused with 'epistome.' I would certainly agree, as the apparent
condemnation of Gnosticism in 1Ti 6:20 refers to "so-called knowledge
> Coming back to the above point of simply searching out the incidenceof "gnosis" and "knowledge" in Paul, then, why not, perhaps more
productively search out the incidence of the words "light",
"darkness", "raised from the dead" and other gnostic like expressions
.. (including my own favorite pervasively used by Paul viz "in Jesus"
or "in Him" - c.f. Thomas logion 3 "the kingdom is inside of you"
which occurs no less than 165 times in his letters alone) and which
probably denotes a much greater leaning towards gnosticism than his
use of the sole words "gnosis" or "knowledge"? This might better tell
us if Paul had a genuine leaning towards gnosticism whatever that
word may truly have meant at the time of his writings!
I chose to explore 'gnosis' in the Pauline tradition because 1Ti 6:20
(which uses the term specifically) is often cited as evidence that
Paul opposed Gnostic teachings. If true then one would have to ask why
Paul otherwise employs the term 'gnosis' favorably. The answer, of
course, is that Paul never condemned 'gnosis.' 1Ti is a very late
attempt to put words in Paul's mouth that he certainly never would
I think Pagels concludes Paul was sympathetic to Gnostic or
Proto-Gnostic ideas. I am eager to get a copy of her book, Gnostic
Paul, to see how she treats this.