From Samaria he charted an apparent spread of the teachings of Simon through the ancient "knowers" into the teachings of Valentinus and other, contemporary Gnostic sects. René Guénon founded the gnostic review, La Gnose in 1909, before moving to a more Perennialist position, and founding his Traditionalist School. [28], Within early Christianity, the teachings of Paul and John may have been a starting point for Gnostic ideas, with a growing emphasis on the opposition between flesh and spirit, the value of charisma, and the disqualification of the Jewish law. [96] Later Sethian texts continue to interact with Platonism. [126] In the west, the teachings of the school moved into Syria, Northern Arabia, Egypt and North Africa. Brill 1978, sfn error: no target: CITEREFVerardi1997 (, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Clare Goodrick-Clarke, sfn error: no target: CITEREFPerkins1987 (, sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFDillon2016 (, sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFBroek2013 (, Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (SCM Press, London, 1987). Their baptismal ritual removed the consequences of sin, and led to a regeneration by which natural death, which was caused by these angels, was overcome. Persian Gnosticism possesses more dualist tendencies, reflecting a strong influence from the beliefs of the Persian Zurvanist Zoroastrians. [note 24] In the Valentinian myths, the creation of a flawed materiality is not due to any moral failing on the part of the Demiurge, but due to the fact that he is less perfect than the superior entities from which he emanated. [179], Collection of religious ideas and systems among early Christian and Jewish sects, Traditional approaches – Gnosticism as Christian heresy, In Plato's dialogue between Young Socrates and the Foreigner in his. He uses Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge's sociological theory on traditional religion, sects and cults. Viewing material existence as flawed or evil, Gnostic cosmogony generally presents a distinction between a supreme, hidden God and a malevolent lesser divinity (sometimes associated with the Yahweh of the Old Testament)[2] who is responsible for creating the material universe. The author of the Testament of Solomon held Christ to be a particularly effective "thwarting" angel in the exorcism of demons. [126], The Mandaeans are Semites and speak a dialect of Eastern Aramaic known as Mandaic. [79] Especially the Gospel of Thomas has a significant amount of parallel sayings. E.J. [40][note 16] The influence of Buddhism in any sense on either the gnostikos Valentinus (c. 170) or the Nag Hammadi texts (3rd century) is not supported by modern scholarship, although Elaine Pagels (1979) called it a "possibility".[44]. to the thing the art represents. "[80], The prologue of the Gospel of John describes the incarnated Logos, the light that came to earth, in the person of Jesus. It was, however, almost exclusively limited to Egypt, though according to Sulpicius Severus it seems to have found an entrance into Spain through a certain Mark from Memphis. [173], According to Dillon, the texts from Nag Hammadi made clear that this definition was limited, and that they are "better classified by movements (such as Valentinian), mythological similarity (Sethian), or similar tropes (presence of a Demiurge). [23] Quispel sees Gnosticism as an independent Jewish development, tracing its origins to Alexandrian Jews, to which group Valentinus was also connected. Hans Jonas discerned two main currents of Gnosticism, namely Syrian-Egyptian, and Persian, which includes Manicheanism and Mandaeanism. Fifty-two copies of ancient writings, called the Gnostic gospels were found in … The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library after 1945 has had a huge effect on Gnosticism since World War II. The pseudepigraphical Christian text Ascension of Isaiah identifies Jesus with angel Christology: [The Lord Christ is commissioned by the Father] And I heard the voice of the Most High, the father of my LORD as he said to my LORD Christ who will be called Jesus, 'Go out and descend through all the heavens...[31], The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work considered as canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. In the Apocryphon of John, this god is good in that it bestows goodness. Gnostic writings flourished among certain Christian groups in the Mediterranean world until about the second century, when the Fathers of the early Church denounced them as heresy. Are There Secret Writings About Jesus? [verification needed]. The original writings were written in Syriac Aramaic, in a unique Manichaean script. [134] Muslim theologists countered this accusation by the example of a repeating sinner, who says: "I laid, and I repent";[135] this would prove that good can also result out of evil. These movements are considered by most to be religions in their own right, and are not emanations from Christianity or Judaism. [10][note 7][note 8][note 9] The term "Gnosticism" does not appear in ancient sources,[12][note 10] and was first coined in the 17th century by Henry More in a commentary on the seven letters of the Book of Revelation, where More used the term "Gnosticisme" to describe the heresy in Thyatira. He rejected the Old Testament, and followed a limited Christian canon, which included only a redacted version of Luke, and ten edited letters of Paul. [4]It is now generally believed that the evidence suggests that Gnosticism was a Jewish movement which subsequently reacted to Christianity or that Gnosticism emerged directly in reaction t… According to Mosheim, Jewish thought took Gnostic elements and used them against Greek philosophy. The Nag Hammadi library (less accurately known as the Gnostic Gospels) are a collection of Coptic Christian and philosophical writings discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi, Egypt.The papyrus itself is generally dated to the 3 rd or 4 th century CE at the time of burial, though each individual codex has different dates of original composition.. [125], According to Kurt Rudolph, the decline of Manichaeism that occurred in Persia in the 5th century was too late to prevent the spread of the movement into the east and the west. Here is a partial list of the Gnostic Gospels, along with an approximate date during which each was composed: 1. The Elchasaites, or at least Christians influenced by them, paired the male Christ with the female Holy Spirit, envisioning both as two gigantic angels. like and subscribe According to Layton, texts which refer to this myth can be called "classical Gnostic". [168], In the late 1980s scholars voiced concerns about the broadness of "Gnosticism" as a meaningful category. Some Valentinian Gnostics supposed that Christ took on an angelic nature and that he might be the Saviour of angels. In some Islamic schools[which?] [176] The early church heresiologists created an interpretive definition of Gnosticism, and modern scholarship followed this example and created a categorical definition. "[81] The Johannine material reveals debates about the redeemer myth. [note 18] God is the high source of the pleroma, the region of light. To one degree or another, the Gnostic Gospels reflect these teachings. Returning in 242, he joined the court of Shapur I, to whom he dedicated his only work written in Persian, known as the Shabuhragan. [170], According to the Westar Institute's Fall 2014 Christianity Seminar Report on Gnosticism, there actually is no group that possesses all of the usually-attributed features. Excerpt from: The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. The title, "The Gospel of Thomas," is found at the end of the text. It does not appear in ancient sources at all", Pearson: "As Bentley Layton points out, the term Gnosticism was first coined by, This occurs in the context of Irenaeus' work. Significant amounts of original Mandaean Scripture, written in Mandaean Aramaic, survive in the modern era. There was a renewed interest in Gnosticism after the 1945 discovery of Egypt's Nag Hammadi library, a collection of rare early Christian and Gnostic texts, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John. Thomas? [133] According to Islam, both good and evil come from one God, a position especially opposed by the Manichaeans. For instance, every sect of Christianity on which we have any information on this point, believed in a separate Logos who created the universe at God’s behest. Proponents of the view that Paul was actually a gnostic, such as Elaine Pagels, view the reference in Colossians as a term that has to be interpreted in a gnostic sense. "[166] Dillon further notes that the Messian-definition "also excluded pre-Christian Gnosticism and later developments, such as the Mandaeans and the Manichaeans."[166]. In, Smith, Richard. [note 28] There is evidence for Manicheans in Rome and Dalmatia in the 4th century, and also in Gaul and Spain. Dillon notes that Gnosticism raises questions about the development of early Christianity. He founded his school in Rome. [note 30] Hippolytus (170–235) wrote the ten-volume Refutation Against all Heresies, of which eight have been unearthed. [8] The use of gnostikos in relation to heresy originates with interpreters of Irenaeus. [153] Jules Doinel "re-established" a Gnostic church in France in 1890, which altered its form as it passed through various direct successors (Fabre des Essarts as Tau Synésius and Joanny Bricaud as Tau Jean II most notably), and, though small, is still active today. [172], This definition has now been abandoned. [note 32], Prior to the discovery of Nag Hammadi, the Gnostic movements were largely perceived through the lens of the early church heresiologists. [87] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have expanded upon this idea of Paul as a gnostic teacher;[88] although their premise that Jesus was invented by early Christians based on an alleged Greco-Roman mystery cult has been dismissed by scholars. According to Hippolytus, Simonianism is an earlier form of the Valentinian doctrine.[106]. [note 1] Plato's use of "learned" is fairly typical of Classical texts. Gnosticism became the first group to be declared heretical. J. M. Robinson, "Jesus: From Easter to Valentinus (Or to the Apostles' Creed)", Understanding Jewish History: Texts and Commentaries by, Schenke, Hans Martin. Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.[3]. Orthodox theologians often attempt to define God through a series of explicit positive statements: he is omniscient, omnipotent, and truly benevolent. [47] The inferiority of the demiurge's creation may be compared to the technical inferiority of a work of art, painting, sculpture, etc. "[33], The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule ("history of religions school", 19th century) had a profound influence on the study of Gnosticism. [71][92], The Persian Schools, which appeared in the western Persian province of Babylonia (in particular, within the Sassanid province of Asuristan), and whose writings were originally produced in the Aramaic dialects spoken in Babylonia at the time, are representative of what is believed to be among the oldest of the Gnostic thought forms. Reconstructions were attempted from the records of the heresiologists, but these were necessarily coloured by the motivation behind the source accounts. Pre-Christian Gnosticism in the Nag Hammadi Texts? The site includes the Gnostic Society Library with the complete Nag Hammadi Library and Scriptures, and a large collection of other primary Gnostic scriptures and documents.A vast collection of materials and audio lectures dealing with Gnosis and Gnosticism, both … Here, in 762, Manicheanism became the state religion of the Uyghur Empire. The various emanations of God are called æons. As Christianity developed and became more popular, so did Gnosticism, with both proto-orthodox Christian and Gnostic Christian groups often existing in the same places. Gnosticism used a number of religious texts that are preserved, in part or whole, in ancient manuscripts, or lost but mentioned critically in Patristic writings. [132], Ginan, which literally translates to gnosis, refers to a collection of literature that is respected by the Ismailis. In the 1880s Gnostic connections with neo-Platonism were proposed. While some scholars in the middle of the 20th century tried to assume an influence between the Cathar "gnostics" and the origins of the Kabbalah, this assumption has proved to be an incorrect generalization not substantiated by any original texts. Mary Magdalene is respected as a Gnostic leader, and is considered superior to the twelve apostles by some gnostic texts, such as the Gospel of Mary. [citation needed], Gnostics tended toward asceticism, especially in their sexual and dietary practice. [159] Though the original language of composition was probably Greek, the various codices contained in the collection were written in Coptic. [59] The demiurge typically creates a group of co-actors named archons who preside over the material realm and, in some cases, present obstacles to the soul seeking ascent from it. In the end, the kingdom of light will prevail over darkness. This understanding of the transmission of Gnostic ideas, despite Irenaeus' certain antagonistic bias, is often utilized today, though it has been criticized. The Christian ecclesia (i. e. congregation, church) was of Jewish–Christian origin, but also attracted Greek members, and various strand of thought were available, such as "Judaic apocalypticism, speculation on divine wisdom, Greek philosophy, and Hellenistic mystery religions."[29]. Pleroma is also used in the general Greek language, and is used by the Greek Orthodox church in this general form, since the word appears in the Epistle to the Colossians. In normative early Christianity the Church administered and prescribed the correct behaviour for Christians, while in Gnosticism it was the internalised motivation that was important. The so-called "Codex XIII" is not a codex, but rather the text of Trimorphic Protennoia, written on "eight leaves removed from a thirteenth book in late antiquity and tucked inside the front cover of the sixth." The influence of Manicheanism was attacked by imperial elects and polemical writings, but the religion remained prevalent until the 6th century, and still exerted influence in the emergence of the Paulicians, Bogomils and Cathari in the Middle Ages, until it was ultimately stamped out by the Catholic Church. 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