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Understanding Gnosticism; or, a quest for accurate knowledge

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posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 11:48 AM
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I ran across something which may be of interest to some people who are reaching out for ancient sources of spirituality. I was searching titles on Amazon for books relating to early Egyptian Christianity and found something I was unfamiliar with, so did a little checking, and found where you can get the four volumes (put into a single file) of the Philokalia for free, at archive where you can read it on-line, or do what I did, which is download the PDF version to read on your PC, and also download the Kindle version, to put on your Kindle device. You can also buy the Kindle version on Amazon, where you can have them load it on your Kindle device by wifi.
What the Philokalia is, are the ancient writings of the desert fathers, who were the original monks who lived in monasteries, or were recluses, or hermits, out in the North African or Palestinian deserts, back in the second, through the sixth centuries, originally written in Greek, these being monks of the Eastern Orthodox variety, and now translated for the first time in English, seeing how probably previously anyone who was interested in this sort of thing would already be reading Greek and did not really need a translation. But the draw for these books is that this is very old, authentic Christianity, and by reading enough of it, you get the same sort of understanding as you may have gotten by being a Gnostic initiate back in very ancient times, as in the first century AD.
The literal translation of the word used to describe these books, Philokalia, is the love of what is beautiful.
edit on 6-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 04:51 PM
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Originally posted by jmdewey60
I ran across something which may be of interest to some people who are reaching out for ancient sources of spirituality. I was searching titles on Amazon for books relating to early Egyptian Christianity and found something I was unfamiliar with, so did a little checking, and found where you can get the four volumes (put into a single file) of the Philokalia for free, at archive where you can read it on-line, or do what I did, which is download the PDF version to read on your PC, and also download the Kindle version, to put on your Kindle device. You can also buy the Kindle version on Amazon, where you can have them load it on your Kindle device by wifi.
What the Philokalia is, are the ancient writings of the desert fathers, who were the original monks who lived in monasteries, or were recluses, or hermits, out in the North African or Palestinian deserts, back in the second, through the sixth centuries, originally written in Greek, these being monks of the Eastern Orthodox variety, and now translated for the first time in English, seeing how probably previously anyone who was interested in this sort of thing would already be reading Greek and did not really need a translation. But the draw for these books is that this is very old, authentic Christianity, and by reading enough of it, you get the same sort of understanding as you may have gotten by being a Gnostic initiate back in very ancient times, as in the first century AD.
The literal translation of the word used to describe these books, Philokalia, is the love of what is beautiful.
edit on 6-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)


Do you detect any gnostic influences in the monks of Egypt or the Coptics?
edit on 6-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 06:54 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 



Do you detect any gnostic influences in the monks of Egypt or the Coptics?

I know you aren't asking me, but I can answer this.....Yes.

From Egypt to Kashmir (and everywhere in between), there were gnostics (the Essenes), whose practices mirrored the Egyptian traditions in many ways. The Coptics were the earliest and most familiar folks that knew Jesus Christ. I whole-heartedly suggest you look into it (even though you didn't ask me).



posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 07:47 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 

Do you detect any gnostic influences in the monks of Egypt or the Coptics?

I have to guess that this is the motivation for this publication, where this work has been around in its current form since the thirteenth century, being a compilation of much earlier writings, but is just now being translated into English, probably because of the great upsurge in interest in everything Gnostic which is currently underway.
If you read the introduction, you see the editors of this edition making claims for the Gnostic content in it. From what I have read so far what it looks like are the practical aspects of the application of Gnosticism, without all the speculative type talk, which had been edited out long ago by the imposers of orthodoxy, while knowledgeable people can see that it bears all the evidence for being Gnostic in source.
I think an argument can be made that much of original Christianity was very much Gnostic, in one way or another.
edit on 6-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 08:05 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



I think an argument can be made that much of original Christianity was very much Gnostic, in one way or another.

Amen to that, brother!
I know the book is pedestrian compared to the stuff you buy and peruse/read/study,
but,
for everyone else, I suggest
The Fifth Gospel by Haisnann (sp?) and Levi.



posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 06:01 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by cloudyday
 



Do you detect any gnostic influences in the monks of Egypt or the Coptics?

I know you aren't asking me, but I can answer this.....Yes.

From Egypt to Kashmir (and everywhere in between), there were gnostics (the Essenes), whose practices mirrored the Egyptian traditions in many ways. The Coptics were the earliest and most familiar folks that knew Jesus Christ. I whole-heartedly suggest you look into it (even though you didn't ask me).



Thanks, that's what I suspected. It's like dinosaurs became birds instead of going extinct. I haven't read much about Gnosticism, but the little I have read might as well have come from a modern Orthodox website.
edit on 7-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 10 2012 @ 05:12 PM
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I finished reading the book I was posting about earlier, by Pearson
"Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity"
I think I need some theme music to go with my opinion, based on this book, of what the situation was in the late second century regarding Gnosticism.

It was an imposed monarchical bishopric over Alexandria, later backed up by civil imperial force which came close to ending Gnosticism.
The practitioners of gnostic Christianity understood there were different levels that people approached Christian scripture, purely materialistically, or on a more intellectual level, or on a spiritual level. Those in the minority, who could discern the spiritual significance of scripture would of course believe they were free to interpret it as they were directed by the spirit.
The anti-gnostic hierarchy would violently object to such an idea, keeping to themselves a monopoly of interpretation among the professional class clerics, and were more than willing to step up their resistance to religious freedom to the point of carrying out literal violence on those who would not submit to worldly authority.
edit on 10-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 10 2012 @ 06:40 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



The anti-gnostic hierarchy would violently object to such an idea, keeping to themselves a monopoly of interpretation among the professional class clerics, and were more that willing to step up their resistance to religious freedom to the point of carrying out literal violence on those who would not submit to worldly authority.


Bravo! Voila!

Hey, dewey, I totally recommend you read this book by Robert Wright The Evolution of God. It's fairly thick, but wow, is it easy reading, and gets to the bones of the issues!



posted on Mar, 10 2012 @ 06:51 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


I was in the grocery store yesterday and there was a table set up with bargain books on it and you had me digging through the pile to see if they had a copy of that book in there. No luck, but I think it is a good book for anyone to read and for you specifically in order to discuss this (issues regarding religion) with some authority.

I wanted to made some additional commentary based on my reading, and this is something brought out by someone such as this author who is a professor on this very subject and keeping to strict academic standards of scholarship, and only going with what can be backed up at least by good argument, if not absolute proof.
There is a tragedy almost beyond comprehension perpetrated against humanity that was done by the institution revered by millions today in that, despite what we have today as relics of this flowering of knowledge in ancient times, all the actual writings of those great minds have been destroyed and we are left with only commentary, basically, of the original work by them.
edit on 10-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 10 2012 @ 06:54 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



I think it is a good book for anyone to read and for you specifically in order to discuss this (issues regarding religion) with some authority.

So.......
I'm starting to sound like I have some authority?
Naaahh.....that's impossible......


I'm trying.
I sure do read a lot....

I mentioned to my husband today that I was surprised that I was starting to learn the Bible more from participating here!



posted on Mar, 10 2012 @ 09:09 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



this is very old, authentic Christianity, and by reading enough of it, you get the same sort of understanding as you may have gotten by being a Gnostic initiate back in very ancient times, as in the first century AD.
The literal translation of the word used to describe these books, Philokalia, is the love of what is beautiful.

This statement is beautiful all by itself.
Thanks so much, dewey, for participating in this thread......(which was predicted to die early)......
maybe we're getting some info out there that can help others!



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 11:38 AM
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I got this book in the mail Monday (three days ago),
Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity, by Markus Bockmuehl,
and I am looking at the subject index for Gnosticism.
There are a couple page numbers listed so I should see what it is discussing:
The Teleioi, which jumps out at me in relation to the Stoics.
Those would be those who have advanced in the knowledge.
The verse being examined would be in the NIV,
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
1 Corinthians 2:6
Sophian, is the Greek word, also a Stoic term, is here translated, wisdom.
τελείοις, is here translated, the mature.
The Gnostics, as well as the Stoics, both used these terms that come from Platonism.
Bockmuehl quotes Ulrich Wilckens as someone who has debunked the earlier popular-among-scholars view that Paul meant these terms to be understood in a Gnostic way, according to the type of Gnosticism that would have been in current practice in Corinth. The argument against the earlier way of interpreting Paul is new evidence regarding the discipline involved in becoming a Gnostic Teleioi, and something Paul would be expected (according to Wilckens) to have thrown into this description (but did not), if he did mean it in an initiatory type system way.

as a note: it is not as easy as you may think, to write a post like this.
This is about the worse sort of book to understand, out there, among highly technical, almost indecipherable theological type books, in case anyone might think this sounds like a fun book to read.
edit on 15-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:04 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 


Interesting! Is this book worth acquiring for someone not quite as deep into the issues as yourself? (Like, me, for example)...Is it so advanced that it's like teaching a first grader about calculus?

The Robert Wright book is a real page-turner, let me tell ya....witty, brilliantly done, and ties all the loose ends together beautifully so far...I'm halfway through it.

He just mentioned Philo, saying that "he's the go-to guy" for those who want to get to the bottom of things...
I intend to explore him next....

I see that in your previous post, which I quoted in my last, you mention Philokalia....which was ...from what I can tell...a term used for more than one book. One was written by the Greek Orthodox Origen (who I'm looking into soon as well), this other one is by Sts Nikodemus and Makarios, two monks of the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Philokalia (Gk. Ïιλοκαλία, "love of the beautiful") is an anthology of texts that were written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by mostly monastic writers of the Christian hesychast tradition. It was compiled by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, two monks of the Greek Orthodox Church, and first published in 1782. The book is a principal spiritual text for all the Eastern Orthodox Churchesâin the last century its popularity has spread to include Western Christians, due to the growing interest in contemplative prayer.

The various texts were chosen because of their shared teachings on the way to self-perfection, illumination, and purification, with a strong emphasis on inward prayer. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in "the practise of the contemplative life", though the Philokalia has been used widely by lay Christians. The works were individually known in Greek-reading Christian monastic culture before their inclusion in The Philokalia, but the collection resulted in a much wider readership due to its translation into several languages, including a seven-volume translation into Russian (Dobrotolyubie) by St. Theophan the Recluse in the nineteenth-century.

The full name of the text is The Philokalia of the Neptic Saints gathered from our Holy Theophoric Father, through which, by means of the philosophy of ascetic practice and contemplation, the intellect is purified, illumined, and made perfect. That title distinguishes it from many other books of monastic spirituality that are also titled Philokalia (or Philocalia), and also gives emphasis to the Greek nepsis, or "watchfulness". The other notable book titled Philokalia is an anthology of the writings of the third-century theologian Origen.
www.archive.org...

I can't help noticing how things are all coming together so serendipitously.....or....miraculously?....or.....timely? Or, just because I'm paying attention and moving along with my studies.

I certainly know it's distracting me from my housework!!
edit on 15-3-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:10 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity, by Markus Bockmuehl,
...
I c/p this and Googled. The first result shows it was published in 1989, and copies run about $65 for a paperback!

Then I Googled it again, and see there is a 2009 edition for $27-and-change.
Is this an updated revision? Or is it the 1989 work just reprinted?



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:18 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

I have two versions of the Works of Philo of Alexandria, also known as Philo the Jew.
I have the book I bought years ago, and the kindle version, which makes it easy to copy and paste lines from it without having to look at a book and type, if you want to quote him.
www.amazon.com...
Plus you can book-mark pages and add notes, with the kindle version.

See my note I added to my last post, where I do not recommend this book on Revelation and Mystery as light reading. It's an expensive book and I would not want anyone to waste their money and I recommend reading the introduction on googlebooks, where it is easy reading, but once it gets into the body of the text, I doubt most people would ever get past the first page.

I was talking about the one by Sts Nikodemus and Makarios.
I thought I posted a link where you can download the PDF files for free. This is where the Kindle device comes in handy because you can read PDF file with it. Printing books cost money and that is all you would be paying for, if you wanted a paper book. Download the PDF and read it some before committing to buying it.

You don't have to have a Kindle device to read Kindle books, you download an application you run on your desk-top to copy and paste. I have my books on both, for things like that, copying and reading footnotes.
edit on 15-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:23 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 


Doh... yeah.
I edited my post to c/p Philokalia-The Complete Text
and remove the question about the Philokalia being his work.

I meant Philo of Alexandria is the guy Robert Wright recommends as a good source.



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:28 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



I have two versions of the Works of Philo of Alexandria, also known as Philo the Jew.
I have the book I bought years ago, and the kindle version, which makes it easy to copy and paste lines from it without having to look at a book and type, if you want to quote him.
www.amazon.com...
Plus you can book-mark pages and add notes, with the kindle version.

Heh.
I just looked at that link, and the review.....


I don't own a kindle, and frankly, as we've discussed, I fear that one day electronic reading devices will fail to work and paper books will be very scarce and valuable for the future archaeologists and historians. For this same reason I've got hundreds of old National Geographics in my living room....I did "recycle" a few of them, but now I regret it. I'm keeping them, for posterity's sake.

Your point about having to type from the book in front of you is a very good one, however. That is a pain....



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:35 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



Plus you can book-mark pages and add notes, with the kindle version.

I make a practice of dogearing pages and writing in notes as I go with this kind of book....old habit...
for a while I was averse to writing in my books...like they were sacred...but I've recovered from that and now, although I wouldn't lend my marked up ones to someone, I can still in my mind's eye "see" the page, the underscores, the notes...

plus, some books I read aloud to my husband, and silently to myself, and he's usually way behind where I am...

this is SO off-topic, though.

Anyway, yes, Philo the Jew. I have a little trouble with Aristotle, Plato, Dante and those guys....I love philosophy, but I have to go VERY s l o w l y, and re-read sentences and passages over and over to comprehend them...
how does Philo read?



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 12:54 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

how does Philo read?

Super storyteller.
Takes the Old Testament and retells the whole thing that makes it interesting,
Why his stuff is still around.



posted on Mar, 15 2012 @ 09:28 PM
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I was talking about this book on Revelation and Mystery, and I was looking at what it might have to say about Gnosticism. It deals with it in only an indirect way but it does give as its main source for information of the relationship between Gnosticism and Jewish mysticism, the book, Mysticism in rabbinic Judaism: studies in the history of midrash, by Ira Chernus.
You can go to the Google Books page for it HERE
From there you can put in search terms like, Gnosticism, and it will bring up a section of short excerpts that show at least that the book mentions it.
You can link to the Amazon page which gives almost no information other than they will sell you a copy for $127.93, used, or if that one gets sold there is one for $144.
The idea I get is that it says that the difference between pre-Christian Gnosticism and Jewish mysticism is the use of Hebrew terminology instead of Greek.
edit on 15-3-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



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