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Understanding Gnosticism; or, a quest for accurate knowledge

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posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 10:35 PM
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I pulled out one of my old Gnostic books, and when I say Gnostic, I mean it about the people who are called that, and not a book by Gnostics. Here's one I bought probably in early 19 85 and may indicate the sort of thing available on them, back then. I typed in the title and author and sure enough, you can read it on Internet Archive.
Archive
That is the link to the flip page version to read on line.
You look at when it was written, and it is in the 1800's (the book coming from a lecture series given in 1868) as in before Nag Hammadi, so it is based a lot on what the early Church Fathers had to say, which is polemical in nature.
On page xxiv of the Preface (by the very famous theologian, J. B. Lightfoot) is brought up a (to them) recent discovery of Hippolytus. There is a Wikipedia page on him, a Saint, it seems, who wrote a book against heresies back around 231 AD. en.wikipedia.org...
These books were lost but discovered in 1842 and published in 1851. I think Lightfoot is saying that Mansel's was the first good treatment of the information that comes from that new information which had up till then been written in English.
You find in the introductory matter that Mansel was actually a professor of the ancient philosophies, and not of theology, so is well suited for writing about the Gnostics in a philosophical way.
As a little note on Lightfoot, he was someone who people who knew him worshiped as if he was God Himself.
On page 11, Mansel quotes a German historian who said you could sum up the Gnostic's motto with, "Men are saved, not by the historical, but by the metaphysical."
Now if you read something like this book I am attempting to write on in my Anankē thread, Paul and the Stoics, you could develop a pretty good argument that Paul taught the same thing, where the Historical is in a way the proof of salvation but not the salvation itself. (to people like Acragon, ignore Acts, it can't be trusted for theology or real history, for that matter)
edit on 23-2-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 10:49 PM
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reply to post by lonewolf19792000
 


Not my cup of tea is all i'm going to say. Whatever floats your boat. Got tired of circular arguments so i'm sticking to 1 liners from now on.

Hey there, lonewolf. I'm glad you dropped by....
and....
that's a 2-liner.

Don't want to join the expedition? Okay...but thanks anyway for your input!

Can you at least explain to us why you reject this cup of tea? On what basis does it fail (for you)?



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:32 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



You look at when it was written, and it is in the 1800's (the book coming from a lecture series given in 1868) as in before Nag Hammadi, so it is based a lot on what the early Church Fathers had to say, which is polemical in nature.

Just finished the intro. Seems to be a very worthwhile read (and guy), thanks for the link....
excuse me, but, I'm reading.....



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:40 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



(to people like Acragon, ignore Acts, it can't be trusted for theology or real history, for that matter)

What? What Acts are you talking about here?
The Gnostic Gospels (from my so-far research) contain Acts of a lot of guys.....
please clarify.



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:57 PM
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reply to post by EnochWasRight
 



The other texts do not agree with the Bible or with each other. You can find parts and some books that are very related by context, but the overall scope of the Gnostic texts represent false leads toward answers that are already provided in the Bible. There is great value in knowing these perspectives, but nothing about the Gospel changes. Jesus is still the center of salvation and the way to life beyond this realm of existence.

False leads? And you know this...how?

Answers that are 'already provided'?....you know this indisputably... because....why?

I agree there is great value in knowing these perspectives, but I disagree that 'nothing about the Gospel changes.'
Jesus may very well be the 'center of salvation and the way'; and the pages already linked do not dispute this....

The other texts do not agree with the Bible or with each other

Much of the Bible does not agree with itself, either.

As far as the other texts not agreeing, so what?

I prefer to look at all the texts; the old, the new, the translated, the omitted, the adulterated, the abstrusified (was that a spontaneous new word invention? I love it when that happens!....abstruded? abstrued?), the 'next' translation....
if it's all the same to you, I'll take my time,

but I appreciate your suggestion that it will perhaps be 'wasted' if I don't take your word for it, Ed.
I'll decide that for myself.

I contend that the "Bible" does not provide all the answers. I believe, to the depths of my existence, that there are things left out of the common man's Bible (...just as the would-be guru is not taught the correct pitch and volume in which to speak the mantras that connect a human to the divine....and are thereby able to interact with "it".....until he is deemed utterly worthy and ready) and have been, since its inception.

Those are the things I want to learn. But hey, welcome aboard! I'm pretty jazzed that we've got as many interested and participating so far!



posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:58 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



(to people like Akragon, ignore Acts, it can't be trusted for theology or real history, for that matter)


Oi... i don't ignore acts...

I don't ignore anything... I simply submit to the fact that the 4 gospels are all one needs to understand Jesus...

Why ye pickin on me?

edit on 23-2-2012 by Akragon because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:02 AM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 



Great topic! i just started really thinking about all of this recently and was planning to start researching soon.

Let's go!!! Thanks for chiming in. I think it's fascinating and def worth researching and learning more about.
What is your prior exposure to it? How far along are you?



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:05 AM
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reply to post by Akragon
 



I simply submit to the fact that the 4 gospels are all one needs to understand Jesus...

Wait.
What?
I thought you were encouraging me to look further into this 'system' of theology/philosophy. Now you're saying it's not necessary?
Okay, now I'm getting a mixed signal here (again).



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:11 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by Akragon
 



I simply submit to the fact that the 4 gospels are all one needs to understand Jesus...

Wait.
What?
I thought you were encouraging me to look further into this 'system' of theology/philosophy. Now you're saying it's not necessary?
Okay, now I'm getting a mixed signal here (again).


Its a basic solid foundation... The four give you what you need to understand him... It makes it easier to see what is truth and what is not... Compare his words to any scripture and the truth usually comes out... and that includes the rest of the bible... remember only one man was "the truth, the life, and the way"

Gnostic scripture is differnent then the bible though... its more metiphysical then the bible is...




posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:12 AM
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reply to post by autowrench
 



By the time I got to them, I had discovered the "Old Time Religion," Wicca.

Hey there! Thanks for joining in!
Yeah, as you know, the "Old Time Religion" was my favored approach some 15-20 years ago. I had already heard of the Gnostics, and perused the Urantia Book, and was still 'forming' my own appreciation...(obviously I still am).


It's such a huge subject....
there's no end to the matter; it can be studied forever! I was talking to my daughter today; her friend told her he remembered his last lifetime (as a French basket-weaver), and she was happily surprised, and told me that reincarnation was the 'first thing she believed...that made sense to her'.

It was probably before her 'memory' kicked in that I had suggested this to her and her brother.
But, the point is, that there is just SO MUCH to be learned, ONE lifetime is simply not enough.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by Akragon
 



Gnostic scripture is differnent then the bible though... its more metiphysical then the bible is...

Yes, precisely. Which is why I'm attracted to it. Life-long fascination with the metaphysical studies....
anything less just doesn't cut it for me.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:10 AM
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Another book I bought back then is "Gnosticism: a source book of heretical writings from the early Christian period" by Robert McQueen Grant.
Inside the book you see the original copyright is 1917.
Seems Harper renewed the copyright in 1961 so it is not in the public domain, so no flip-pages on-line for this one.
My copy is a very nicely bound hardcover book which is apparently a bit scarce and would probably cost $50 now to buy in the perfect sort of condition mine is in.
The idea I had was to show what sorts of things were available before the Nag Hammadi finds were deciphered and published.

Paperback editions followed in 1981 and 1984, from E.J. Brill and Harper respectively. A third, completely revised edition was published in 1988.
I can tell you something about Brill because I own some books published by them in the Netherlands and they are very expensive, so I would have to imagine they would be like $300 each, where they really publish for libraries and have no concern for the average reader.
The point being, before 1988, people had things like the book this post is about, which I should describe. It is an anthology of what scholars could find among other writers.
Originally published under the auspices of the Committee on the History of Religion of the American Council of Learned Societies.
Simon Magus the Samaritan magician is in Acts, and the editor derives some description of this figure's acts from Hippolytus, who I mentioned in my last post, and Irenaeus, and the Clementine Homilies. There seems to be some story line about Simon having a woman with him who was channeling the Helen of the Trojan war epic.
Menander is supposedly Simon's successor. Apparently the problem with them was that they believed (according to what we are told) that they were some sort of Christ where people could be baptized into them to be insured a resurrection.
It looks like what Grant is doing is combing through whatever sources he can find any references to people he can possibly identify as Gnostics and creating a sort of synthesis of it without breaking it down much to show where he is getting any of it from.
He does bring up something significant in the

Papyrus Berolinensis 8502, is a Coptic manuscript from the 5th century AD, unearthed in Akhmim, Egypt. In Cairo, in January 1896
en.wikipedia.org...
which contains the Gospel of Mary and the Apocryphon of John, which may have been all that had been translated from the papyrus at the time this book was written, that was clearly identified as being Gnostic.
Apparently this book was revised to mention Nag Hammadi codices which were unknown at the time of the earliest edition.
What this looks like is a careful sort of condensation from the ancient Christian writer's attempt to accurately describe the beliefs of the Gnostics, where it saves the non-specialist reader the trouble of slogging through otherwise uninteresting material to get at the important parts.
edit on 24-2-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:30 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

What Acts are you talking about here?

The Acts of the Apostles, in the New Testament.
Akragon is always criticizing Paul but he is always quoting Acts, which I think was written by Paul's enemies, to make him look like he was more in line with Judaism or the Jewish slanted version of Christianity. You get the impression that Paul was radical, but actually he is very tamed-down, as far as his theology goes (according to Acts), and it makes him out as this maniacal sort of person in action. So it transfers his radical-ness away from where it really lied, and put it onto something really unrelated.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:31 AM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 



Menander is supposedly Simon's successor. Apparently the problem with them was that they believed (according to what we are told) that they were some sort of Christ where people could be baptized into them to be insured a resurrection.

Kinda like the televangelists, and the guy on Religulous who insists he is the reincarnation of Christ?

Well, I think there have certainly been very good representatives of Christ's message since he died; and also that it's possible that we have 'missed' identifying the other avatars as described in the opening posts to the thread.
Hadn't heard of Simon Magus before, though. Thanks!

One of the things about gnosticism that I'm finding intriguing is the idea that there have been several of these individuals, who have, in terms of soul-learning, 'graduated' if you will, but choose to come back and help.

Again, this is a concept I came up with as a preteen, with no prior suggestion of it. It just made sense to me....
we keep coming back until we get it; then, we have the choice to stay in the exquisite peace with the Divine Essence, or to return, selflessly, to help.

That seems to me the profound reality.

Evolutionary forces alone are insufficient, however, to bring about spiritual freedom. Humans are caught in a predicament consisting of physical existence combined with ignorance of their true origins, their essential nature and their ultimate destiny. To be liberated from this predicament, human beings require help, although they must also contribute their own efforts.

From earliest times Messengers of the Light have come forth from the True God in order to assist humans in their quest for Gnosis. Only a few of these salvific figures are mentioned in Gnostic scripture; some of the most important are Seth (the third Son of Adam), Jesus, and the Prophet Mani. The majority of Gnostics always looked to Jesus as the principal savior figure (the Soter).


Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance -- whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities -- is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.

The Gnostic concept of salvation, like other Gnostic concepts, is a subtle one. On the one hand, Gnostic salvation may easily be mistaken for an unmediated individual experience, a sort of spiritual do-it-yourself project. Gnostics hold that the potential for Gnosis, and thus, of salvation is present in every man and woman, and that salvation is not vicarious but individual. At the same time, they also acknowledge that Gnosis and salvation can be, indeed must be, stimulated and facilitated in order to effectively arise within consciousness. This stimulation is supplied by Messengers of Light who, in addition to their teachings, establish salvific mysteries (sacraments) which can be administered by apostles of the Messengers and their successors.

One needs also remember that knowledge of our true nature -- as well as other associated realizations -- are withheld from us by our very condition of earthly existence. The True God of transcendence is unknown in this world, in fact He is often called the Unknown Father. It is thus obvious that revelation from on High is needed to bring about salvation. The indwelling spark must be awakened from its terrestrial slumber by the saving knowledge that comes “from without”.

The Gnostic Worldview: A Brief Summary of Gnosticism

The last bit I emboldened means something to me from my upbringing as a baptized and confirmed Espiscopalian: the phrase "Love which Passeth Understanding"....(we'll ignore the "I'm not worthy"s here...)
we can't get it without help....it defies the human spectrum. Hence my interest in the metaphysical aspects of it.

edit on 24-2-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:35 AM
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Okay, team, I've got to sleep now...(a thing I love about life)....
but I'll look forward to checking in when I awaken!

Please, keep the comments and suggestions coming.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:40 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 



Have you read the Notovitch ms about St Issa, i.e. Jesus in India? I definitely do know he was St Issa....


i've read just about everything on that reluctant messenger site at one time or another...

Acutally i have a couple older threads on Issa..

The lost years

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Did Jesus Kill?

Im unsure if Issa was Jesus or not actually... but the Issa scripture is amazing...

He out reasons the buddha...




posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 01:58 AM
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reply to post by Akragon
 

. . . its more metiphysical then the bible is...

The Gospels aren't really Gospels, as weird as that may sound.
There is a book on that but I can't recommend anyone actually buying a copy, Gospel and the Gospels, because I am having a really hard time of it trying to read it. It is translated from German and it is a Tübingen thing where they are way ahead usually and so technical you have to sort of make a science of just understanding what they are talking about, as in looking up every other word.
From what I am looking at, there seems to be a single purpose to the canonical Gospels, and that is to completely condemn the sort of Judaism that was in and connected with Jerusalem. This means that every parable is about what is going to happen to them, even if it looks like it is teaching something completely different. So it is really not something specifically designed to be like a road map for your personal experience, rather a justification for what ended up happening to the city and the people in it, where the writers (of the Gospels) looked at that event, Jerusalem's fall, as the proof that Jesus was Lord and he was demonstrating his power in the judgment being carried out in the way that it all came down.

edit on 24-2-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 02:21 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

the True God of transcendence is unknown in this world, in fact He is often called the Unknown Father.
I just scratched the surface of the Grant book, but whoever wrote that (what you posted, and I re-posted above) probably lifted it (probably in pieces, selecting the best parts) straight out of that book (or whatever the soyrce was that Grant was drawing from) .
There's a lot to get out of Grant's book. One is the "Letter to Flora" which was a surviving Gnostic letter outside of the Nag Hammadi cache. en.wikipedia.org...
The actual text of the letter can be found at www.gnosis.org...

edit on 24-2-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 04:10 AM
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reply to post by Akragon
 


Wildtimes nailed it.



posted on Feb, 24 2012 @ 06:08 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


If you want a good extra-biblical read, consult 2 Esdras: LINK It is packed with confirmations of the signature articles below. Rebirth in the water is confirmed there. Jesus as the Son of God is there. Salvation by the narrow way is there.

Another very good read that is on the Gnostic side is Odes of Solomon. You're not going to find much that shows multiple ways from any of these texts, including the Gnostic texts.

The way is narrow and only goes through Christ. As I stated earlier, read a broadly as you like, the same message carries through these texts and the various wisdom traditions of the East. The Dhammapada even spells out the same story of a narrow way to Heaven. Before Christ, they knew the basic way, just not the name to call on to find life and salvation. The one law was known, but not narrowed down to one word. Love is what fulfills the law. Our rituals and our mantras will not get you closer to God than you already are. He's right here with you and knows your heart and mine.

The end of John explains:

John 2 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

The basic salvation message is to recognize Christ and believe. Come to the cross and repent. The third part is to know that Christ knows you better than you know yourself. Understanding this allows us to humble our hearts and seek Him from love and repentance. Nothing else is necessary. Believe and follow in love toward others. That's it. There is no need to make it more complicated. Truth is simple.



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