Quick Introduction to Gnosticism

Quick Introduction to Gnosticism

Gnosticism, broadly construed, recognizes two deities: Salvation, under Gnosticism, does not require forgiveness of sins or necessarily entail any type of physical sacrament; it instead consists primarily of acquiring secret knowledge, or gnosis. Despite the fervor that characterizes these anti-gnostic polemics, it appears, based on recent discoveries, that these church fathers were charitable in their treatments. The most heralded of these recent discoveries contains the Nag Hammadi collection of Coptic documents, “discovered by a happy accident” in Upper Egypt toward the end of Despite recent popular and scholarly infatuation with the “gospels” of the Nag Hammadi collection, their textual inferiority demonstrates that they are not to be accorded the status reserved for the canonical gospels of the Bible. Gnostic Gospels – What Are They? To date, the Gnostic gospels are comprised of the following: The Gospel of Philip The Gospel of Philip appears to be, despite its name, actually a “collection of excerpts mainly from a Christian Gnostic sacramental catechesis.

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Elaine Pagels , born in , has taught at Barnard College, Columbia University after she received her doctorate from Harvard University in and chaired the department of religion at Barnard from She joined the Princeton faculty in as a professor of early Christian history, shortly after receiving a MacArthur Fellowship. She has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity, and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity and writes about the theological shifts and battles within earlier Christianity.

This book is a provocative study of the gnostic gospels and the world of early Christianity as revealed through the Nag Hammadi texts. In the introduction of the book we find out that in December an Arab peasant made an astonishing archeological discovery in Upper Egypt. Rumors obscured the circumstances of this find—perhaps because the discovery was accidental, and its sale on the black market illegal.

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April DeConick, in The Gnostic New Age, sees the influence of Egyptian mysteries on Greek-speaking Jewish pilgrims, who learned of a Transcendent God who could be contacted by rituals, who was higher than the angels and demons who demanded worship from mortals. This resonated with those who questioned the justice of the God as depicted in the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing, locates the receptive culture among the Samaritans, who claimed descent from the northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh the two sons of Joseph , as well as the tribe of Benjamin.

They viewed their religion as the original form of Judaism, preserved by those who were not taken into captivity by the Babylonians in B. If someone had asked the early Gnostic teachers about the origins of their philosophy, they would very likely have answered that it was revealed by divine messengers who came from the supernal aeons to bring liberating truth to humanity. And among the revealers Simon was born in Gitta, Samaria—a circumstance that identifies him as a sort of heretic by birth, for the Samaratins were long known as followers of a heterodox form of Judaism, which rejected the Temple in Jerusalem Thomas was the founder of Christianity in India and was originally buried there, according to the Syrian Orthodox Church his remains were later removed to Edessa, now in Turkey, where the Gnostic leader Bardaisan had been the spiritual advisor to the king of the first Christian state in the second century.

The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Elaine Pagels explored how this mystical tradition is relevant to our challenges today. By the fourth century, the Catholic faction had triumphed with the blessing of the Emperor Constantine and the Gnostics faded away in their original homeland. History, Tradition, Scriptures, Influence, similar groups emerged in Europe centuries later and may have influenced Catharism, a mass movement in southern France starting in the 12th century.

Gnostic Gospels

Download eBook For all those readers curious to read the actual texts of the Gnostic Gospels, here is the definitive collection of all the Gnostic Gospels and Gospel—like texts. He includes his latest translations of not only the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Mary, but other texts such as the Secret Book of John, which some scholars regard as the second part of the New Testament Gospel of John.

The material is largely from the discovery at Nag Hammadi, freshly translated and introduced, but also includes texts found elsewhere. The texts, especially taken together, present an image of Jesus as the ultimate wisdom teacher, a kind of mysterious Jewish Zen master, who scandalized listeners by his radical egalitarianism regarding women, slaves, the poor, the marginalized as of equal status, or more, with establishment male believers and his insistence on living the message, spiritual experience, vs.

This book provides the definitive next book for those looking for expert presentation of the alternative Gnostic stream of Christianity, in which there is no talk of crucifixion and Mary Magdalene is presented as the disciple that Jesus loved best. All of his research on the Nag Hammadi texts is having an incredible impact on our knowledge of early Christian history——it is virtually redefining it.

Gnostics and Other Heretics And yet there is a theme; the way I connect text that we think of as gnostic is the sense that the divine is to be discovered by some kind of interior search, and.

Proto-Gnosticism in Colossae and Hymenaeus and Philetus The philosophy of Gnosticism existed before Christianity, dating back to the last centuries before Christ, as a philosophy incorporating the Greek philosophy of Plato and others along with the Persian philosophy of Zoroaster. It did not take long after the Hellenistic world was exposed to Christianity for many groups of Gnostics to begin to incorporate Christ into their philosophy. The first such example may have been in the church of Colossae, to which Paul writes the following in Colossians 2: Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: Many Gnostic groups, following after the dualism of flesh and spirit of Plato, accepted the idea of Christ but not that He came to Earth in the form of a man.

They believed that He came in the appearance of a man, what we would call today a hologram, but could not have possibly humiliated Himself to the point of becoming human. We see, however, that Paul affirms this very thing, here and also in other places, especially Philippians 2: But shun profane babblings: It could very well be that Hymenaeus and Philetus accepted this belief and left the faith for a form of Gnosticism.

This is made evident by the large number of references to the bodily existence of Jesus John 1:

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Information on the Gospel of Truth S. The date and place of composition remain obscure. Although the work was composed in Greek before it was translated into Coptic, whether it was written in Egypt or elsewhere is uncertain. Allusions to documents known from the NT, such as Matthew Tuckett and certain Pauline Epistles Menard , place the date well into the 2d century, a period that harmonizes with the rising influence of Valentinus.

Nov 18,  · The Gnostic Gospels. Page 1 of 3 (1, 2, 3): The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library and the Gnostic Gospels in the Egyptian desert in the late s has shed new light on the early followers of Jesus.

Gnostic Images of the Feminine Kathleen Damiani The purpose of this paper is to examine the feminine imagery used in the newly discovered gnostic gospels, called The Nag Hammadi Library abbreviated as NHL , and to raise questions concerning the effect of the repression of this imagery by the traditional Church called here orthodox. The first part will deal with a brief overview of Gnosticism, a definition of terms, and a short history of the find at Nag Hammadi.

The second section will explore ways in which feminine imagery is associated with divinity and cosmology, drawing on selected passages from the NHL. The third section will describe the role of Sophia in the gnostic controversy. The fourth section will concern itself with gnostic theory and its bearing on the social and ecclesiastical role of women. The paper concludes with a number of questions arising from the research.

There has been a growing interest around the world in Gnosticism, a religion that influenced the origins of the Christian Church. Investigation into its extant literature has led to greater understanding of the roots of Christianity as well as to a wealth of questions regarding the evolution and source of its rich cosmogonic imagery.

Overview of Gnosticism, The Nag Hammadi Manuscripts Few primary sources of information on Gnosticism were available before the twentieth century. The early Christian Church waged fierce campaigns against what they considered to be dangerous heresies of Gnosticism. The Church fathers were successful in destroying almost every written trace of Gnostic teaching.

Nag Hammadi library

Masters of Learning Iraniologists have found the problem of the Magi to be one of the most compelling, as well as one of the most difficult, in the history of the ancient world. Iraniologists consider the problem of the Magi to be one of the most compelling, as well as one of the most difficult, in the history of the ancient world. I maintain that the problem can be elucidated, although not entirely solved, by distinguishing the Magians who remained committed to education and enlightenment from those who became involved in statecraft and social management —those later to be known as the Illuminati.

The Parsi word zoatar is the origin of the Greek word soter, “savior.

Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, “having knowledge”, from γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation of the highest God, trapping the divine spark within.

The page manuscript, written in Coptic, purportedly surfaced in Geneva in and has only been translated now. We asked Legionary Father Thomas D. Williams, dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, to comment on the relevance of the discovery. What is the “Gospel of Judas”? Though the manuscript still must be authenticated, it likely represents a fourth- or fifth-century text, and is a copy of an earlier document produced by a Gnostic sect called the Cainites.

The document paints Judas Iscariot in a positive light, and describes him as obeying a divine ordinance in handing over Jesus to the authorities for the salvation of the world. It may well be a copy of the “Gospel of Judas” referred to by St. Irenaeus of Lyons in his work “Against the Heresies,” written around A.

Download [PDF] The Gnostic Bible Free Online

Within a century Alexandria burgeoned into the greatest Greek city of its time. Alexandria soon became home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Pharos, a gargantuan foot lighthouse like no other of any era in our entire history. Above all else, however, Alexandria was most famous as a nerve center of knowledge, arts, and science, and housed one of the most magnificent and important libraries in recorded history. This famed library, of over a half million ancient scrolls, in addition contained priceless scriptures of gnostic Ariosophy dating back, it was claimed, to Atlantean times.

Scholars and priests from all over the world were said to have come to Alexandria to study the old papyri of the ancients.

The gnostic gospels were named after the Greek word gnosis which means “knowledge” and is often used in Greek philosophy in a manner more consistent with the English “enlightenment”. Some scholars continue to maintain traditional dating for the emergence of .

What is the Nag Hammadi library? Nag Hammadi is a town in northern Egypt where a collection of ancient writings was discovered in The collection of writings has since been titled the Nag Hammadi library, or the Nag Hammadi scrolls, or the Nag Hammadi codices. The Nag Hammadi library is frequently pointed to as an example of ” lost books of the Bible.

The Nag Hammadi library was supposedly the result of faithful efforts of Gnostic monks to save the truth about Jesus Christ from the persecution of non-Gnostic Christians. The Nag Hammadi scrolls include works known as the gospel of Truth, the gospel of Philip , the apocryphon of John, the apocalypse of Adam, and the acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles. The most famous Nag Hammadi scroll is the only known complete copy of the gospel of Thomas.

So, what are we to make of the Nag Hammadi library? Should some or all of the scrolls be in the Bible? First, the Nag Hammadi scrolls are forgeries. The Apostle Philip did not write the gospel of Philip. The Apostle Peter did not write the acts of Peter. The gospel of Thomas was not written by the Apostle Thomas.

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Read Gnostic Gospels, Part 1 First Gnostic Gospels – The Gospel of Thomas Although the Gnostic gospels considered up to this point are important and available for much fruitful research, by far the majority of the scholarly and popular energies have been directed toward The Gospel of Thomas. In one sense, the term “gospel” is misapplied here as well, for there is no narrative element to the loose collection of sayings that constitute The Gospel of Thomas.

For clearly even these briefest of treatments of the Gnostic gospels are enough to show the sharp disagreement, even contradiction, between the Jesus of the canon and the Jesus of Nag Hammadi. In light of this difficulty, it seems appropriate to examine briefly the reliability of the canonical gospels, and then compare their status with that of the Gnostic gospels.

Are the Gnostic Gospels Reliable?

Question: “What is Christian Gnosticism?” Answer: There is actually no such thing as Christian Gnosticism, because true Christianity and Gnosticism are mutually exclusive systems of belief. The principles of Gnosticism contradict what it means to be a Christian. Therefore, while some forms of.

The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. Many conceptions about Jesus now current and credible in New Age circles are rooted in a movement of spiritual protest which, until recently, was the concern only of the specialized scholar or the occultist. This ancient movement — Gnosticism — provides much of the form and color for the New Age portrait of Jesus as the illumined Illuminator: Many essentially Gnostic notions received wide attention through the sagacious persona of the recently deceased Joseph Campbell in the television series and best-selling book, The Power of Myth.

Calling someone a Gnostic can make the person either blush, beam, or fume. Whether used as an epithet for heresy or spiritual snobbery, or as a compliment for spiritual knowledge and esotericism, Gnosticism remains a cornucopia of controversy. This is doubly so when Gnosticism is brought into a discussion of Jesus of Nazareth. That is a contradiction in terms. Heresy is not orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is the heresy. The Gnostics were edged out of mainstream Christianity for political purposes by the end of the third century.

The knowledge sought is not strictly intellectual, but mystical; not merely a detached knowledge of or about something, but a knowing by acquaintance or participation. This gnosis is the inner and esoteric mystical knowledge of ultimate reality.

Dr. Michael Heiser: Gnosticism Lecture (Full)