Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Two DeConick Blog Entries

Expand Messages
  • Michael Grondin
    I haven t been reading blogs regularly lately, but I was browsing April DeConick s this evening and came across two recent items of personal interest. One was
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 21 12:21 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      I haven't been reading blogs regularly lately, but I was browsing
      April DeConick's this evening and came across two recent items
      of personal interest. One was a short note of April 6th on the new
      periodical "The Gnostic" that was the subject of some discussion
      on our list recently. April's note can be accessed with the label:

      http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/search/label/Gnosticism

      Frankly, I'm disappointed and rather mystified that April didn't
      mention my article. Perhaps it falls under the category of what
      she calls "other articles of interest", but I would have appreciated
      a more specific mention, since she knows who I am. Ah, well ...

      The second item I found interesting was her mention of the
      gematria-value of 'Abrasax' (viz., 365), in two blog entries -
      April 7th and 8th - which can be accessed with the label:

      http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/search/label/Ask%20April

      What's interesting to me about this is that 365 is also the sum of
      the 14 factors of 210, viz., the four prime factors (other than one)
      2, 3, 5, 7, and the 10 composite factors 6, 10, 14, 15, 21, 30, 35,
      42, 70, and 105 (a "factor" of a number n being a number other
      than 1 and n itself that evenly divides n.) I'm inclined to think that
      the originators of Coptic Thomas would have been familiar with the
      made-up name 'Abraxas'. What's intriguing, I think, is that if they
      did, what would they likely have made of its numeric connection
      with the sum of the factors of the holy name?

      Cheers,
      Mike Grondin
    • Michael Grondin
      ... Having given my own question some thought, I d like to propose a tentative answer to it. Briefly put, it s that Abrasax/Abraxas was associated with fate,
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 22 11:49 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        > I'm inclined to think that the originators of Coptic Thomas would
        > have been familiar with the made-up name 'Abraxas'. What's
        > intriguing, I think, is that if they did, what would they likely have
        > made of its numeric connection with the sum of the factors of
        > the holy name?

        Having given my own question some thought, I'd like to propose
        a tentative answer to it. Briefly put, it's that Abrasax/Abraxas was
        associated with fate, and that Jesus (IS) came to break the bonds
        of fate. Or so it says in the Apocryphon of John, a work with which
        the originators of Coptic Thomas were intimately familiar.

        Now admittedly, the name Abrasax doesn't appear in ApocJn.
        The word translated 'fate' there is '$IMARMEN2' ('Simarmenh',
        according to Don's transliteration, I believe). I've so far been
        unable to determine if this was a Greek or Coptic word. The
        point is, however, that Abrasax was associated with fate.

        Here is some of what April DeConick wrote recently:
        "Abrasax is the astral lord who rules the celestial spheres...
        He would be the one most powerful in controlling your fate. ...
        he is a "demon" in the sense that he is a capricious very powerful
        power in the skies who controls your fate, ruling the entire universe."

        In the system of Basilides, there were 365 heavens, and so the
        character Abrasax, the numeric value of whose name was 365,
        was designated as the ruler of the heavens. I believe that the
        originators of ApocJn were familiar with Basilides' system, altho
        they had their own. Still, in their own, fate was a huge force to
        be overcome.

        In ApocJn, there are three references to "fate" - all in a single
        paragraph on p.121 of NHL. The passage actually starts at the
        bottom of p.120, however, where John asks Jesus, "Where
        did the counterfeit spirit come from?" According to the story
        that follows, the Chief Ruler (a bad guy in the whole story) came
        to recognize that the "offspring of the perfect race" (apparently
        Sethians) were greater than him in their thinking. Naturally (being
        a jealous god), "he wanted to seize their thought":

        "He [the Chief Ruler] made a plan with his authorities, which are
        his powers, and they committed adultery with Sophia [Wisdom]
        and bitter *fate* was begotten through them, which is the last of
        the changeable bonds. ... And it is harder and stronger than she
        with whom the gods united [Sophia?] and the angels and the
        demons and all the generations until this day. For from that *fate*
        came forth every sin and injustice and blasphemy and the chain
        of forgetfulness and ignorance and every severe command and
        serious sins and great fears. [!] And thus the whole of creation
        was made blind in order that they may not know God who is
        above all of them. And because of the chain of forgetfulness,
        their sins were hidden. For they are bound with measures and
        times and moments, since it (fate) is lord over everything."

        Obviously, this is a very strong statement about the role of fate.
        Although it isn't itself the "counterfeit spirit", everything bad in
        both conventional and gnostic thinking is credited to it. And it's
        that that's ultimately responsible for the "prison" that Jesus
        comes to help folks break out of. Or so the story goes.

        If the _gematria-value_ of 'IS' and 'Abraxas' had been the same,
        the general rules of gematria would have demanded that they be
        considered either the same or complementary to each other.
        But that isn't the case here. Altho the g-value of 'Abraxas' is 365,
        it's not the g-value of 'IS' that's 365, but rather the sum of the
        factors of it's g-value. That provides a rationale for its being
        related to 'Abraxas', but in an opposing way. Thus, as I suggest,
        'IS' was likely seen by the Copts in question as the divine force
        that opposed fate, and sought to break the bonds represented
        in the Basilidean system as the 365 heavens of Abrasax/Abraxas.

        Mike Grondin
        Mt. Clemens, MI
      • Michael Grondin
        One last note on this subject before we move on. In the blog entry cited earlier, DeConick wrote as follows: In Greek numerology each letter is associated
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 30 11:45 PM
        • 0 Attachment
          One last note on this subject before we move on. In the blog
          entry cited earlier, DeConick wrote as follows:

          "In Greek numerology each letter is associated with a number."

          My comment on this statement was as follows:

          "It was the number-system itself, not numerology per se.
          ... Hebrew had a very similar number-system .... Thus,
          both supported similar numerologies, or gematrias."

          I understand numerology as "1. divination by numbers [or]
          2. the study of the occult meaning of numbers" (OAD).
          Given this definition, I don't think there's any question but that
          numerology is possible whether or not the numerologist's own
          language happens to use its alphabet to represent numbers.
          Greek and Hebrew did have such a system, however, and it's a
          short step from that to gematria (which has to do with calculating
          numeric values for names and words).

          Now I assume that A.D. simply made a mistake in wording
          her statement. That's not uncommon when one is writing
          rather hastily. What I wonder about, though, is whether students
          of biblical studies are as well-versed in the number-systems of
          Greek and Hebrew as they are in the languages. I would hope so,
          but not having been so trained myself, I have no personal knowledge
          to draw on to answer that question. I get the impression, however,
          that biblical scholars aren't too keen to discuss issues that might
          involve numerology or numerical symbolism. I could be wrong, of
          course, but if that is the case, then I think there's a danger there of
          what might be called 'covert reverse anachronism', i.e., a failure to
          "inject" or take account of something that was important to folks in
          the time and place under study (because it isn't important in our
          day and age?) In particular, if we ignore the Greek and Hebrew
          number-systems and the gematria that followed almost inexorably
          from them, we're missing a lot, IMO.

          Cheers,
          Mike G.
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.