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RE: [GTh] McGrath Review in RBL

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GThos In Response To: Judy Redman On: Gnostic From: Bruce I was interested in Judy s comments on this undoubtedly problematic term, and I like her sense
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 15, 2011

      To: GThos

      In Response To: Judy Redman

      On: Gnostic

      From: Bruce

       

      I was interested in Judy’s comments on this undoubtedly problematic term, and I like her sense that we should, at least at the beginning, allow the Gnostics to define themselves.

       

      As one who does not know the relevant literature at all well, I would like to ask: What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional? Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic text?

       

      I have to think that things had been long underway by the time of Irenaeus.

       

      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst

       

       

    • Bob Schacht
      ... What about Jewish gnosticism? You should take a look at the article on Gnosticism in the Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Gnosticism as well
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 15, 2011
        At 03:35 PM 9/15/2011, E Bruce Brooks wrote:


        To: GThos
        In Response To: Judy Redman
        On: Gnostic
        From: Bruce
         
        I was interested in Judy�s comments on this undoubtedly problematic term, and I like her sense that we should, at least at the beginning, allow the Gnostics to define themselves.
         
        As one who does not know the relevant literature at all well, I would like to ask: What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional? Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic text?
         
        I have to think that things had been long underway by the time of Irenaeus.

        What about Jewish gnosticism?
        You should take a look at the article on Gnosticism in the Wikipedia
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Gnosticism as well as
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism_and_Gnosticism.

        In particular, you might want to look at Philo of Alexandria.

        Bob Schacht
        Northern Arizona University

      • Judy Redman
        Bob asks: What about Jewish Gnosticism? and this is, of course, a very good question. In the circles to which I was referring (which are not what you d call
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 15, 2011

          Bob asks:

           

          What about Jewish Gnosticism?

           

          and this is, of course, a very good question. In the circles to which I was referring (which are not what you’d call well informed) Gnosticism is viewed as a Christian heresy which teaches that you get into heaven by knowing stuff rather than by faith in Christ –there is no knowledge of Jewish Gnosticism at all. J  I would therefore be very happy with a succinct way of explaining the complexities of Gnosticism to the politely interested so their eyes don’t glaze over during a short lecture on gnostic cosmologies. J

           

          Judy

           

          --

          Judy Redman
          PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
          University of New England
          Armidale 2351 Australia
          ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
          mob: 0437 044 579
          web: 
           http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
          email: 
           jredman2@...
           

           

          From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bob Schacht
          Sent: Friday, 16 September 2011 8:51 AM
          To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Gnosticism RE: [GTh] McGrath Review in RBL

           

           

          At 03:35 PM 9/15/2011, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

          To: GThos
          In Response To: Judy Redman
          On: Gnostic
          From: Bruce
           
          I was interested in Judy’s comments on this undoubtedly problematic term, and I like her sense that we should, at least at the beginning, allow the Gnostics to define themselves.
           
          As one who does not know the relevant literature at all well, I would like to ask: What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional? Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic text?
           
          I have to think that things had been long underway by the time of Irenaeus.


          What about Jewish gnosticism?
          You should take a look at the article on Gnosticism in the Wikipedia
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Gnosticism as well as
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism_and_Gnosticism.

          In particular, you might want to look at Philo of Alexandria.

          Bob Schacht
          Northern Arizona University

        • Bob Schacht
          ... You want over-simplification? OK, I m good at that. Gnosticism evolved from the work of Plato into something called Middle and Neo- Platonism. Plotinus,
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 15, 2011
            At 07:06 PM 9/15/2011, Judy Redman wrote:


            Bob asks:
             
            What about Jewish Gnosticism?
             
            and this is, of course, a very good question. In the circles to which I was referring (which are not what you’d call well informed) Gnosticism is viewed as a Christian heresy which teaches that you get into heaven by knowing stuff rather than by faith in Christ –there is no knowledge of Jewish Gnosticism at all. J  I would therefore be very happy with a succinct way of explaining the complexities of Gnosticism to the politely interested so their eyes don’t glaze over during a short lecture on gnostic cosmologies. J
             

            You want over-simplification? OK, I'm good at that.
            Gnosticism evolved from the work of Plato into something called "Middle" and "Neo-"Platonism. Plotinus, and Philo of Alexandria, are examples. Gnosticism of the Sethian type seems to have evolved from Middle and Neo-platonism in the pre-Christian era. The Nag Hammadi texts are one of the best surviving Gnostic libraries. In a religious context, to be 'Gnostic' should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine. Gnosis refers to intimate personal knowledge and insight from experience. When the Septuagint became available, it was frequently consulted by Jewish gnostics.

            OK, maybe I'm not so good at that. Most of the above was filched from various articles on Gnosticism and related subjects in the Wikipedia.

            Bob Schacht
            Northern Arizona University
          • sarban
            Hi Judy I agree about the importance of the esoteric tradition in early Judaism. eg the Hekhalot material. However, if we wish to define Gnosticism more
            Message 5 of 13 , Sep 18, 2011
              Hi Judy
               
              I agree about the importance of the esoteric tradition in early Judaism. eg the Hekhalot material.
               
              However, if we wish to define Gnosticism more specifically than something like 'esoteric teachings about the divine realm', I'm not sure how far this type of esotericism can really be considered Gnosticism.
               
              Andrew Criddle 
              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011 3:06 AM
              Subject: RE: Gnosticism RE: [GTh] McGrath Review in RBL

               

              Bob asks:

              What about Jewish Gnosticism?

              and this is, of course, a very good question. In the circles to which I was referring (which are not what you’d call well informed) Gnosticism is viewed as a Christian heresy which teaches that you get into heaven by knowing stuff rather than by faith in Christ –there is no knowledge of Jewish Gnosticism at all. J  I would therefore be very happy with a succinct way of explaining the complexities of Gnosticism to the politely interested so their eyes don’t glaze over during a short lecture on gnostic cosmologies. J

              Judy

              --

              Judy Redman
              PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
              University of New England
              Armidale 2351 Australia
              ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
              mob: 0437 044 579
              web: 
               http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
              email: 
               jredman2@...
               

            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: GThos On: Definition of Gnostic From: Bruce I still like the idea of letting people define themselves. Let me therefore repeat an earlier question: What is
              Message 6 of 13 , Sep 18, 2011

                To: GThos

                On: Definition of Gnostic

                From: Bruce

                 

                I still like the idea of letting people define themselves. Let me therefore repeat an earlier question:

                 

                What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional? Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic text?

                 

                E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst

              • smithandp
                ... I don t think there is a Gnostic text in which there is a self- designation as Gnostic, or even as Valentinian. There are Sethian texts in which the seed
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
                  --- "E Bruce Brooks" <brooks@...> wrote:
                  > What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its
                  > derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional?
                  > Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic
                  > text?

                  I don't think there is a Gnostic text in which there is a self-
                  designation as Gnostic, or even as Valentinian. There are Sethian
                  texts in which "the seed of Seth" and similar terms are important. Identification of Gnostic writings depends on the extensive
                  similarities between these writings and the myths and doctrines
                  described by Irenaeus as Gnostic or Valentinian.

                  Best Wishes,

                  Andrew

                  Andrew Phillip Smith
                  Dublin, Ireland
                  http://www.andrewphillipsmith.com
                • smithandp
                  Why not describe the sources and thought processes through which we come to identify the Gnostics? Irenaeus refers to Gnostics, Valentinians, Sethians and
                  Message 8 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
                    Why not describe the sources and thought processes through which we come to identify the Gnostics? Irenaeus refers to Gnostics, Valentinians, Sethians and others. The Nag Hammadi library contains texts which may be grouped according to their features and which generally match Irenaeus' categories of Sethians and Valentinians (plus some less easily categorisable texts.) Historically scholarship has picked features more-or-less common to Sethians, Valentinians and other writings, groups and individuals described by Irenaeus or in the NHL and other codices and created the category of Gnostcism.

                    Brakke argues that Gnostic was a self-designation for the Sethians, based on analysis of Irenaeus' use of the term, but doesn't believe that the term should be applied to the Valentinians. Incidentally, no Valentinian text refers to itself as such, or even refers to Valentinus.

                    Best Wishes,

                    Andrew

                    Andrew Phillip Smith
                    Dublin, Ireland
                    http://www.andrewphillipsmith.com
                  • Stephen Carlson
                    While I am very much in favor of the principle of self-identification, we do have to recognize that we have a number of texts in the Nag Hammadi library about
                    Message 9 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
                      While I am very much in favor of the principle of self-identification, we do have to recognize that we have a number of texts in the Nag Hammadi library about which we have almost no (reliable) information as to which person or group of people produced, transmitted, and/or used them.  The only thing to go on is their contents.

                      Stephen
                      --
                      Stephen C. Carlson
                      Graduate Program in Religion
                      Duke University
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... What would be the result of applying this rule to the New Testament? Would any of it be considered Christian ? Bob Schacht Northern Arizona University
                      Message 10 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
                        At 08:43 AM 9/18/2011, E Bruce Brooks wrote:


                        To: GThos
                        On: Definition of Gnostic
                        From: Bruce
                         
                        I still like the idea of letting people define themselves. Let me therefore repeat an earlier question:
                         
                        What is the earliest text that uses the term gnosis or its derivatives in a way that seems to be theologically definitional? Or less carefully worded, what is the oldest self-labeled Gnostic text?

                        What would be the result of applying this rule to the New Testament? Would any of it be considered "Christian"?

                        Bob Schacht
                        Northern Arizona University
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