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RE: Gnosticism RE: [GTh] McGrath Review in RBL

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Sep 15, 2011
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      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 2 of 13 , Sep 18, 2011
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        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 3 of 13 , Sep 18, 2011
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          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 4 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
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            --- "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 5 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
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              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 6 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
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                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 7 of 13 , Sep 19, 2011
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                  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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