Originally posted by leejohnbarnes
Now then lets see if the Gnosis has been posted here .
Ok then lets play your game, the way you want it played .
" I am sorry.
I do not know the Gnosis.
Meh, okay, close enough to admitting that you lied. You've taken the first step on a long road, Grasshopper. Sorry, wrong paradigm there, but you
get the picture
No matter what philosophy one follows, all learning begins with the humble statement of "I don't know."
Again, you need to remember that Gnosticism is a derivation of the philosophical musings of Plato, the roots of which are largely to be found in his
"Theory of Forms". Neoplatonism makes some inroads into the theology of the Western Church, mostly through Augustine of Hippo (though he post dates
both Constantine and the fall of Rome, so the elements of Platonism that exist in the Church are theological, rather than scriptural,) but the Eastern
Orthodox Church is largely bereft of it.
But the key thing to remember is that Jews (Jesus, the Apostles, Paul, along with all the rest, Jewish Christian or not) and Greeks (Gentiles, whether
Christian converts or not) were, in their search for truth, fundamentally looking for different things. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians:
For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to
those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Where are signs found? In the workings of the world and the behaviours of God. Where is wisdom found? Outside the workings of the world. Plato
differentiated between the intelligible world and the sensible world -- the first holds things that you can only think about, while the second holds
things that you can sense, with your eyes, ears, and other senses.
Think about a tree, picture it in your mind. Unless you've a fondness for a certain tree, or you happen to be looking at one, what you're visioning
in your mind is an idealized tree, the "form" of a tree, not anything that actually exists. You're peering into the intelligible world. Now go
outside and look at a tree. It doesn't look anything like your idealized tree -- maybe there's a broken branch here, a knot there, the tree isn't
uniform, maybe it's got some rot here, and so on. Moreover, this tree will eventually DIE. But the form of the tree in the intelligible world?
Perfect, eternal, will never die -- even if every tree was to vanish from the sensible world, the idealized tree in the intelligible world would still
The obvious conclusion that can be drawn from this, particularly if one is already partial to the notion of dualism, is that the intelligible world is
good, and the sensible world is bad. Flaws, death, rot, decay, these are all aspects of the sensible world, and we are all subject to them. It's a
good answer to the problem of evil, and there are aspects of the Theory of Forms that are tough to dispute. Though Augustine was not a dualist, he
incorporated a bit of Plato into Christian theology by acknowledging the intelligible world, but stating that when we look into it, we are seeing into
the mind of God, which is an amazing concept, if it were the case.
For some of these wisdom seeking Greeks, the question arose, "If our souls are eternal (as Plato taught,) then they must have originated in the
intelligible world, so how do we get back? How do we excise ourselves from this evil, death ridden sensible world?" The answer should be obvious --
you do so by obtaining wisdom. God doesn't save you, Christ doesn't save you, you save yourself.
Now the Gnostics took those notions and built a system of myth around it -- not all Greeks were Gnostics, of course. Very few of them were, in fact,
intentionally, because at its heart, Gnosticism is an elitist faith. You had to understand philosophy, obviously, and not just this simple overview
that I've given you, you needed to really, really get it. So you needed a few things for that -- intelligence, lots of time (and thus, money) to
study, think and meditate, and, most importantly, a Gnostic teacher that you would hire to walk you through things and deliver the details that you
couldn't sort out, as well as the secret stuff that only was passed on from master to student -- never written down or handed off to just anybody.
I'll spare you the details of the mythology, you can find them in the Nag Hammadi texts, but one key thing to understand is that the Supreme One of
the Gnostics (the Pleroma) is an incomprehensible God, who exists only in the intelligible world, and who sends out "emanations" which become lesser
divine beings. So you've got, not simply polytheism, but you have this sort of hierarchy of gods, quite similar (not surprisingly,) to the Greek and
Roman religions. One of these lesser beings took it upon himself to make copies of the forms in the intelligible world, and thus created the flawed
sensible world that we find ourselves in today. This explains, as I said, evil, death, decay and imperfection.
You can clearly see the inherent problem that comes up when you try to reconcile Judaism, and a Christ who is Jewish, with Gnosticism -- on pretty
much every level, they are at loggerheads. Jews believe that, apart from God, the sensible world is all that there is. They are non-dualists, so
evil represents, not the antithesis of good, but the lack of it. They are monotheists, and believe that God gave us the Law (Torah Law) in order to
live as his people, and look for signs from God which indicate that we are. The most fundamental problem of Gnostic Christianity is that -- even if
you think it's all made up, by appropriating the person of Christ, you're really trying to put a square peg in a round hole, and it just doesn't
Further, the Gnostics believed that other emanations came into the sensible world, which they referred to as "Divine Sparks", and this was the
eternal soul that the enlightened human beings had within them. In a very real sense, to the Gnostics, these bodies that we have are spiritual
prisons that the soul has been forced into, and from which we strive to escape ("we" being the empirical we, but as I said before, the Gnostics
viewed the vast majority of humanity as lacking the spark and, thus, worthless.) Death, it seems obvious, brings that escape. But to prevent the
"pollution" of the intelligible world by the sensible world, a group of lesser divine beings, called Archons, were stationed at the exits and they
cast back to Earth any sparks that haven't attained the wisdom that shows they've been purified (the soul is then reincarnated into another bodily
My personal belief, and it seems to be borne out by the historical facts, as we trace the development of Gnostic Christianity, is that Paul's
conversion of the Greek Gentiles of the Eastern Mediterranean resulted in the entry into the proto-Orthodox Church of some who were simply inclined
toward Gnosticism (because, remember, this "seeking of wisdom" was pretty much drummed into the heads of the Greeks from an early age) and others
who were full blown followers, because an early Christian "strategy" was to focus on converting women, with the belief that their polytheistic
husbands would follow them into the church, because the love of their wives trumped the wishy-washy attachment to the Roman gods that existed at that
Once convinced that Jesus really was something special, some of these who still held on to their Gnosticism ignored pretty much everything that was
known about Christ, and came up with the fairly brilliant notion that Jesus must have been one of these lesser divine beings that were emanations from
the Supreme One, and that his mission must have been to bring the secret knowledge that would allow the Gnostics to get past the Archons and finally
escape the sensible world.
That, my young pupil, is the gnosis. First, and foremost, the knowledge of the true dualistic nature of reality, the soul, and your relationship to
the intelligible world. Secondly, the very specific knowledge of what you will need to say to the Archons to get past them -- the passwords,
effectively. As far as receiving the passwords goes, however, you're going to need to spend those previously mentioned years in study, meditation
and reflection before you even begin to approach the level of enlightenment that will allow me to tell you.
In other words, Gnosticism is a religious system that says you can save yourself, but only after years of sitting at my feet, listening to me
jabbering on about weird science-fictiony kinds of things that seem like pure speculation. A bit similar to other systems in existence today (
cough… Scientology… cough…
Good luck on your journey, Grasshopper.