pre-Christian gnosticism Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 14:28:49 -0500 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com Subject: Re: pre-Christian gnosticism Dear James, I've asked you before to comment of the following quote from the highly respected George MacRae. For some reason you've neglected to do so. It makes me wonder how willing you are to consider evidence that is not in accord with your views... And you also chided someone else just recently for not citing sources. Here I cite sources for you, but unaccountably you are so slow to consider them... > ...George MacRae summarized links between "gnostic" Wisdom myths and > Jewish Wisdom speculation, and argued that "the familiarity which > Gnostic sources show towards details of Jewish thought is hardly one > that we could expect non-Jews to have." (p. 304) And it does seem to me as if the main subject of this discussion, viz. whether or not there were Jewish pre-Christian gnostics, is now fallen into the background. In order to bring it back to the foreground, here are some more quotes from Michael A. Williams, RETHINKING "GNOSTICISM": AN ARGUMENT FOR DISMANTLING A DUBIOUS CATEGORY, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1996. I think these quotes go some way to show that the ideas generally considered as "gnostic" emerged originally in Jewish pre-Christian circles. [begin quote] ...Jewish circles are among the more likely candidates for the earliest matrices of such [gnostic/demiurgic] myths. As many scholars have noted over the years, the preoccupation with Jewish Scripture that lies at the heart of most of these myths makes either Jews or Christians the most plausible possibilities. It has also been well-established that the mythic reinterpretation of Scripture in several instances reveals underlying puns that make sense only in Hebrew or Aramaic. Furthermore, numerous parallels have been identified between details in some of the demiurgical myths and traditions attested in extrabiblical Jewish traditions such as Jewish _haggadah_. The kind of parallels that are often involved make it very improbable that Jewish rabbis were borrowing from our demiurgical myths. For example, we find in Jewish rabbinic literature the tradition of the serpent's having intercourse with Eve and begetting Cain, parallel to the seduction of Eve by Ialdabaoth in _Ap. John_ ... As Guy Stroumsa has aptly noted, "it is easier to understand Gnostics attributing previously known legends about the serpent to the demiurge, than to imagine rabbis integrating scandalous Gnostic sayings about God the Creator into their own thought simply by transferring them to Satan or the serpent. It is thus reasonable to see in the Gnostic texts the radicalization of Jewish conceptions. (pp. 218-219) [end quote] So what about all this, James? Perhaps you will now consider at last these quotes, and how they go against your thesis. Yours as always, Yuri. Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku UPDATED Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. DickClick here to go one level up in the directory.