THE BEGINNINGS OF GNOSTIC CHRISTIANITY

Gnosticism
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Movements: Gnosticism

Some scholars prefer to speak of "gnosis" when referring to first-century ideas that later developed into gnosticism, and to reserve the term "gnosticism" for the synthesis of these ideas into a coherent movement in the second century. Contemporary scholarship largely agrees that Gnosticism has Jewish Christian origins, originating in the late first century AD in nonrabbinical Jewish sects and early Christian sects.

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Many heads of gnostic schools were identified as Jewish Christians by Church Fathers, and Hebrew words and names of God were applied in some gnostic systems. This thesis is most notably put forward by Gershom Scholem — and Gilles Quispel — Scholem detected Jewish gnosis in the imagery of the merkavah , which can also be found in "Christian" Gnostic documents, for example the being "caught away" to the third heaven mentioned by Paul the Apostle. Many of the Nag Hammadi texts make reference to Judaism, in some cases with a violent rejection of the Jewish God. 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.

The mortal body belonged to the world of inferior, worldly powers the archons , and only the spirit or soul could be saved. The term gnostikos may have acquired a deeper significance here. Alexandria was of central importance for the birth of Gnosticism. The Christian ecclesia i.

Gnosticism: History of Study

This reached a critical point with the appearance of the aeon most distant from the origin, Sophia. Les origins du gnosticisme. Marcus was probably an Egyptian and a contemporary of Irenaeus. The contrast with John could not be greater. The Jewish tradition known as the kabbalah is a mysticism that is firmly grounded in Jewish monotheism.

This "true" angel Christology took many forms and may have appeared as early as the late First Century, if indeed this is the view opposed in the early chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Elchasaites , or at least Christians influenced by them, paired the male Christ with the female Holy Spirit, envisioning both as two gigantic angels.

Some Valentinian Gnostics supposed that Christ took on an angelic nature and that he might be the Saviour of angels. The author of the Testament of Solomon held Christ to be a particularly effective "thwarting" angel in the exorcism of demons. Finally, a possible exegetical tradition behind the Ascension of Isaiah and attested by Origen's Hebrew master, may witness to yet another angel Christology, as well as an angel Pneumatology.

The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work considered as canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. Jesus is identified with angel Christology in parable 5, when the author mentions a Son of God, as a virtuous man filled with a Holy "pre-existent spirit". In the s Gnostic connections with neo-Platonism were proposed. Early research into the origins of Gnosticism proposed Persian origins or influences, spreading to Europe and incorporating Jewish elements. Carsten Colpe b.

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In , at the Congress of Median, Buddhologist Edward Conze noted phenomenological commonalities between Mahayana Buddhism and Gnosticism, [35] in his paper Buddhism and Gnosis , following an early suggestion put forward by Isaac Jacob Schmidt. The Syrian—Egyptian traditions postulate a remote, supreme Godhead, the Monad. From this highest divinity emanate lower divine beings, known as Aeons.

The Demiurge , one of those Aeons, creates the physical world. Divine elements "fall" into the material realm, and are locked within human beings.

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This divine element returns to the divine realm when Gnosis, esoteric or intuitive knowledge of the divine element within, is obtained. Gnostic systems postulate a dualism between God and the world, [41] varying from the "radical dualist" systems of Manichaeism to the "mitigated dualism" of classic gnostic movements.

rantcanpobohor.tk Radical dualism, or absolute dualism, posits two co-equal divine forces, while in mitigated dualism one of the two principles is in some way inferior to the other. In qualified monism the second entity may be divine or semi-divine. Valentinian Gnosticism is a form of monism , expressed in terms previously used in a dualistic manner. Gnostics tended toward asceticism , especially in their sexual and dietary practice.

Evil world, secret knowledge, layered heavens

Gnosticism is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Hellenistic Judaism and. Gnosticism from AD church history timeline. Learn about historical christian events within church history!.

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. Ritualistic behaviour was not important unless it was based on a personal, internal motivation. Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora describes a general asceticism, based on the moral inclination of the individual.

In many Gnostic systems, God is known as the Monad , the One. According to Hippolytus, this view was inspired by the Pythagoreans , who called the first thing that came into existence the Monad , which begat the dyad, which begat the numbers, which begat the point , begetting lines , etc. The Sethian cosmogony as most famously contained in the Apocryphon "Secret book" of John describes an unknown God, very similar to the orthodox apophatic theology , but different from the orthodox teachings that this God is the creator of heaven and earth.

Orthodox theologians often attempt to define God through a series of explicit positive statements: he is omniscient , omnipotent , and truly benevolent. The Sethian hidden transcendent God is, by contrast, defined through negative theology : he is immovable, invisible, intangible, ineffable; commonly, "he" is seen as being hermaphroditic , a potent symbol for being, as it were, "all-containing".

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In the Apocryphon of John, this god is good in that it bestows goodness. After the apophatic statements, the process of the Divine in action is used to describe the effect of such a god. The heavenly pleroma is the center of divine life, a region of light "above" the term is not to be understood spatially our world, occupied by spiritual beings such as aeons eternal beings and sometimes archons. Jesus is interpreted as an intermediary aeon who was sent from the pleroma, with whose aid humanity can recover the lost knowledge of the divine origins of humanity. The term is thus a central element of Gnostic cosmology.

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. 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. The Supreme Light or Consciousness descends through a series of stages, gradations, worlds, or hypostases, becoming progressively more material and embodied. In time it will turn around to return to the One epistrophe , retracing its steps through spiritual knowledge and contemplation.

In many Gnostic systems, the aeons are the various emanations of the superior God or Monad. The lowest regions of the pleroma are closest to the darkness; that is, the physical world [48]. In most if not all versions of the gnostic myth, Sophia births the demiurge, who in turn brings about the creation of materiality. The positive or negative depiction of materiality thus resides a great deal on mythic depictions of Sophia's actions.

She is occasionally referred to by the Hebrew equivalent of Achamoth this is a feature of Ptolemy's version of the Valentinian gnostic myth.

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Sophia , emanating without her partner, resulted in the production of the Demiurge Greek: lit. The demiurge is responsible for the creation of mankind; trapping elements of the pleroma stolen from Sophia inside human bodies. Other names or identifications are Ahriman , El , Satan , and Yahweh.

The demiurge creates the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity. In other cases it takes on a more ascetic tendency to view material existence negatively, which then becomes more extreme when materiality, including the human body, is perceived as evil and constrictive, a deliberate prison for its inhabitants. Moral judgements of the demiurge vary from group to group within the broad category of Gnosticism, viewing materiality as being inherently evil, or as merely flawed and as good as its passive constituent matter allows.

In late antiquity some variants of Gnosticism used the term archon to refer to several servants of the demiurge. According to Origen 's Contra Celsum , a sect called the Ophites posited the existence of seven archons, beginning with Iadabaoth or Ialdabaoth, who created the six that follow: Iao, Sabaoth , Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos, and Horaios.

Other Gnostic concepts are: [60]. Three periods can be discerned in the development of Gnosticism: [63]. During the first period, three types of tradition developed: [63].

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It continued to develop in the Mediterranean and Middle East before and during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, but decline also set in during the third century, due to a growing aversion from the Catholic Church, and the economic and cultural deterioration of the Roman Empire. Gnostic and pseudo-gnostic ideas became influential in some of the philosophies of various esoteric mystical movements of the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and North America, including some that explicitly identify themselves as revivals or even continuations of earlier gnostic groups.

Dillon notes that Gnosticism raises questions about the development of early Christianity. The Christian heresiologists, most notably Irenaeus , regarded Gnosticism as a Christian heresy. Initially, they were hard to distinguish from each other. According to Walter Bauer, "heresies" may well have been the original form of Christianity in many regions.

The Gnostic movements may contain information about the historical Jesus, since some texts preserve sayings which show similarities with canonical sayings. The prologue of the Gospel of John describes the incarnated Logos, the light that came to earth, in the person of Jesus. The similarities probably point to a relationship between gnostic ideas and the Johannine community.

Tertullian calls Paul "the apostle of the heretics", [77] because Paul's writings were attractive to gnostics, and interpreted in a gnostic way, while Jewish Christians found him to stray from the Jewish roots of Christianity.

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According to Clement of Alexandria , the disciples of Valentinus said that Valentinus was a student of a certain Theudas , who was a student of Paul, [80] and Elaine Pagels notes that Paul's epistles were interpreted by Valentinus in a gnostic way, and Paul could be considered a proto- gnostic as well as a proto- Catholic.

Syrian-Egyptian Gnosticism includes Sethianism , Valentinianism , Basilideans , Thomasine traditions, and Serpent Gnostics, as well as a number of other minor groups and writers. It depicts creation in a series of emanations from a primal monadic source, finally resulting in the creation of the material universe. These schools tend to view evil in terms of matter that is markedly inferior to goodness and lacking spiritual insight and goodness rather than as an equal force.

Gnosticism

Many of these movements used texts related to Christianity, with some identifying themselves as specifically Christian, though quite different from the Orthodox or Roman Catholic forms. Jesus and several of his apostles, such as Thomas the Apostle , claimed as the founder of the Thomasine form of Gnosticism , figure in many Gnostic 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. John the Evangelist is claimed as a Gnostic by some Gnostic interpreters, [88] as is even St.

Sethianism was one of the main currents of Gnosticism during the 2nd to 3rd centuries, and the prototype of Gnosticism as condemned by Irenaeus. Their main text is the Apocryphon of John , which does not contain Christian elements, [89] and is an amalgam of two earlier myths.