When did gnosticism originate? [this file was edited and abridged] Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 12:47:13 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Stevan DaviesClick here to go one level up in the directory.
Cc: email@example.com Subject: Re: Origins of Gnostic Xianity When did gnosticism originate? Was it originally a Jewish tradition, before becoming also a Christian one? I think so. Certainly there is substantial amount of NT evidence that some sort of gnostic ideas were popular in Christian milieu at the time of NT composition. This evidence is scattered widely in different texts, but especially in the epistles, and in Revelation. Also, it seems that early versions of GJn had many gnostic elements that were "tidied up" later. Some remain still in our text. The Logos prologue has been linked with gnostic writings quite conclusively. I wrote about this before a while back. There's one very common misconception to see gnostics as "world-hating", or anti-cosmic. This is certainly not true for all such thinkers. While some gnostics did believe that the material world was created by an evil Demiurge, this was not accepted by all groups. In regard to various gnostic creation myths, Williams' book is very enlightening. On p. 18ff he gives the creation myth according to Justin the Gnostic's BARUCH (as it is given to us by Hippolytus the heresiologist). In this account of creation, a malevolent demiurge did not create the world. The world was created, according to Justin, as a result of the happy marriage of heaven and earth. "Thus the myth conveys the notion that the creation in which humans dwell was orignally a benign and bright affair, resulting from what originally was a completely proper and presumably happy marriage." (p. 20) The evil originated, according to Justin, because Elohim and Eden, the original happy couple, were separated in a rather complicated way. This is quite a complex myth, as most "gnostic" myths are, but it does not stress the role of evil demiurges. Best regards, Yuri. Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- http://www.io.org/~yuku It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith