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Re: [GTh] Two DeConick Blog Entries

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  • 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 1 of 3 , Apr 22, 2009
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      > 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 2 of 3 , Apr 30, 2009
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        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.
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