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Identifying Gnostic Texts

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GThos In Response To: Andrew Smith On: Identifying Gnostic Texts From: Bruce ANDREW: Why not describe the sources and thought processes through which we
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 19 8:01 PM
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      To: GThos
      In Response To: Andrew Smith
      On: Identifying Gnostic Texts
      From: Bruce

      ANDREW: Why not describe the sources and thought processes through which we
      come to identify the Gnostics?

      BRUCE: Because it is only the second most interesting question. I like
      firsts.

      ANDREW: 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
      Gnosticism.

      BRUCE: Scholarship has also identified texts which combine Sethian and
      Valentinian features, along with features of a sometimes distinguished third
      group, the Barbelo Gnostics. Plus Hermetic, plus anti-Valentinian, plus
      Pauline, and so on. This is a fine start. But what next? I would think it
      would be useful to examine the Sethian/Valantinian overlap texts: are they A
      with a B tinge, or originally B with an A overlay? In some such way, the
      basket might be usefully sorted out. Bearing in mind that any sequences, or
      directionalities, that can be plausibly established are precious results.

      ANDREW: 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.

      BRUCE: Some of the texts classified as Sethian have Seth in their titles, or
      mentioned within. That seems fairly sound; in any case, it is a lead worth
      following. Abandoning for the moment the term Gnostic, and accepting that we
      have a group of texts internally identified in this way as Sethian, and for
      the moment eliminating those which seem to have strong admixtures of
      Valentinian or other positions, what is their probable sequence in time?

      Just curious.

      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Bob Schacht
      ... For the Sethians, we have among other works, we have Turner s Sethian Gnosticism which, conveniently, is on the web at
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 19 9:40 PM
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        At 08:01 PM 9/19/2011, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
        To: GThos
        In Response To: Andrew Smith
        On: Identifying Gnostic Texts
        From: Bruce

        ....ANDREW: 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
        Gnosticism.

        ...

        ANDREW: 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.

        BRUCE: Some of the texts classified as Sethian have Seth in their titles, or
        mentioned within. That seems fairly sound; in any case, it is a lead worth
        following. Abandoning for the moment the term Gnostic, and accepting that we
        have a group of texts internally identified in this way as Sethian, and for
        the moment eliminating those which seem to have strong admixtures of
        Valentinian or other positions, what is their probable sequence in time?

        Once again, the Wikipedia, this time on Sethianism:
        The Sethians were a Christian Gnostic sect who may date their existence to before Christianity. [1] Their influence spread throughout the Mediterranean into the later systems of the Basilideans and the Valentinians [ citation needed]. Their thinking, though it is predominantly Judaic in foundation, is arguably strongly influenced by Platonism. Sethians are so called for their veneration of the biblical Seth, third son of Adam and Eve, who is depicted in their myths of creation as a divine incarnation; consequently, the offspring or 'posterity' of Seth are held to comprise a superior elect within human society.

        For the Sethians, we have among other works, we have Turner's Sethian Gnosticism which, conveniently, is on the web at
        http://jdt.unl.edu/lithist.html:

        SETHIAN GNOSTICISM: A LITERARY HISTORY

        Part III is devoted to the chronology of its development, which should satisfy your questions about "their probable sequence in time."

        So, Bruce, Mr. Google, and yea verily even the Wikipedia, are your friends.

        Bob Schacht
        Northern Arizona University
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: GThos In Response To: Bob Schacht On: Sethian Gnosticism From: Bruce Thanks to Bob for the reference to John Turner s online piece Sethian Gnosticism. It
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 20 4:34 AM
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          To: GThos

          In Response To: Bob Schacht

          On: Sethian Gnosticism

          From: Bruce

           

          Thanks to Bob for the reference to John Turner’s online piece “Sethian Gnosticism.” It is a serious effort, though regrettably not presented in a serious way. For instance, if I were to cite it, what is its year of publication? And its 21-page printout length has no divisions, so I can’t refer to page numbers. As for publisher, the only one indicated is the web host, and we all know how fugitive web sites are (I recall seeing a figure of 18 months for the median life of a URL). I had to go to the author’s home page, and read his bibliography (fortunately provided there) to discover that it is his chapter from a 1986 book (Hedrick et al ed, Nag Hammadi: Gnosticism and Early Christianity, Hendrickson 1986, p55-86). And no, the pages of the chapter don’t correspond to the pages of my printout, not that there is any reason that they should. But if I want to cite it, I will have to get hold of the book to find the page numbers. This is not the way to do online versions.

           

          As for Google and Wiki, which Bob recommends in general, the Net is wondrous fast, and very full of stuff, some of it good, some of it self-puffery, some of it more enthusiastic than anything else. The trouble with our topic is that it attracts a lot of enthusiasts. It is very easy to find statements on the Net about the origins of Sethianism that differ in date by a century and a half. Some think it originated with Jesus; Turner thinks it goes back to the 01c, and was “a non-Christian baptismal sect,” and was “gradually Christianized in the late 1c” (elsewhere attributed to the 2c). And was later estranged from Christianity again. Somewhere in here, I feel a need to slow down and consult more evidence than the article provides. It would also help to know people’s chronology, especially of such texts as Hebrews (a propos Melchizedek) and gJohn. I find that both vary, in the pronouncements of the apparently competent, over something like a 50-year span. When one is trying to fix priorities, 50 years is a lot.

           

          Anyway, nice at least to have these things to think about. Other suggestions always welcome.

           

          E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts at Amherst

           

           

        • sarban
          Hi Bob I commented in an earlier post about my problems with Turner s dating for Zostrianos and Allogenes. (Which Brakke follows) IMO they are post-Plotinian.
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 20 11:45 AM
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            Hi Bob
             
            I commented in an earlier post about my problems with Turner's dating for Zostrianos and Allogenes. (Which Brakke follows)
            IMO they are post-Plotinian.  
             
            Andrew Criddle
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:40 AM
            Subject: Re: [GTh] Identifying Gnostic Texts

            <SNIP>
             
            For the Sethians, we have among other works, we have Turner's Sethian Gnosticism which, conveniently, is on the web at
            http://jdt.unl.edu/lithist.html:

            SETHIAN GNOSTICISM: A LITERARY HISTORY

            Part III is devoted to the chronology of its development, which should satisfy your questions about "their probable sequence in time."

            So, Bruce, Mr. Google, and yea verily even the Wikipedia, are your friends.

            Bob Schacht
            Northern Arizona University

          • Bob Schacht
            ... Thanks! Can you point us to your comment by providing the Date, or the Subject, or the URL, to help us find it? And can you also point us to a better
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 20 1:48 PM
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              At 11:45 AM 9/20/2011, sarban wrote:


              Hi Bob
               
              I commented in an earlier post about my problems with Turner's dating for Zostrianos and Allogenes. (Which Brakke follows)
              IMO they are post-Plotinian.

               
              Andrew Criddle

              Thanks! Can you point us to your comment by providing the Date, or the Subject, or the URL, to help us find it?
              And can you also point us to a better dating framework?

              Bob Schacht
              Northern Arizona University

               
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Bob Schacht
              To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:40 AM
              Subject: Re: [GTh] Identifying Gnostic Texts

              <SNIP>
               
              For the Sethians, we have among other works, we have Turner's Sethian Gnosticism which, conveniently, is on the web at
              http://jdt.unl.edu/lithist.html:

              SETHIAN GNOSTICISM: A LITERARY HISTORY



              Part III is devoted to the chronology of its development, which should satisfy your questions about "their probable sequence in time."

              So, Bruce, Mr. Google, and yea verily even the Wikipedia, are your friends.

              Bob Schacht
              Northern Arizona University



            • sarban
              Hi Bob See my posts Neoplatonism and Gnosticism 1 to 6 at http://hypotyposeis.org/weblog/2009/07 (These posts are heavily based on the work of Ruth Majercik)
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 21 11:35 AM
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                Hi Bob
                 
                See my posts Neoplatonism and Gnosticism 1 to 6 at
                 
                (These posts are heavily based on the work of Ruth Majercik)
                 
                Andrew Criddle
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:48 PM
                Subject: Re: [GTh] Identifying Gnostic Texts

                 

                At 11:45 AM 9/20/2011, sarban wrote:


                Hi Bob
                 
                I commented in an earlier post about my problems with Turner's dating for Zostrianos and Allogenes. (Which Brakke follows)
                IMO they are post-Plotinian.

                 
                Andrew Criddle

                Thanks! Can you point us to your comment by providing the Date, or the Subject, or the URL, to help us find it?
                And can you also point us to a better dating framework?

                Bob Schacht
                Northern Arizona University



                 
                 
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