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One the most daunting problems posed by the Gnostic Coptic materials is the question of origins. Who wrote these documents, and where did the authors came from? It is exasperating to delve into this material with no concrete idea of its human origin in cultural, historical, or geographic terms.
Even assuming that the Egyptian codices are translations of “original writings” by Gnostics who belonged to cults scattered around Egypt and the Near East, we are left in bafflement as to where the Gnostic movement originated in the first place.
In his elegant little book on the Gnostics, Jacques Lacarriere asserts that Gnosis was a path of illumination based upon ancient star-wisdom.
The Jewish historian Josephus says that the Children of Seth were widely revered as celestial seers who “discovered the sciences of the heavenly bodies and their patterns” (Antiquities, I.68-72).
All through the Near East and into Europa, the astronomer-priests of the Magian Order was known in late times as "Chaldeans," a rather misleading nickname. This term is a derivation of the Sumerian Kasdim, related to the Hebrew Chesed (a sepiroth of the Tree of Life) and Chassidim, "the pious," an ultra-conservative sect linked to the Zaddikim.
The tendency of Biblical editing is to conflate Chaldean motifs with the Magian Order, conferring legitimacy on the patriarchs by way of association. Abraham's father, Terah, was a priest of the temple of the lunar god, Sin, in the city of Ur. There is a great deal of astro-mythological lore encoded in the Old Testament — evidence of Magian and Sethian influences. And, of course, the Magi figure vividly in the New Testament fable of the birth of the savior.
A hundred years ago, half a century before the Nag Hammadi find, scholars working on the Berlin, Askew and Ahkmin codices, and the paraphrases of Gnostic teaching found in the polemics of the Church Fathers (that is, the dossier of the prosecution), took a deep interest in the pre-Christian origins of the movement.
When Doresse published The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics: (this link is a review of it) in 1958, there was still some debate over where the Gnostic movement originated. Amazingly, Doresse, a Catholic archeologist who was overtly hostile to the Gnostics, was the only post-Nag Hammadi scholar to cite what the Gnostics themselves had to say about the sources of their movement.
And thereby hangs a long and tangled tale.
“Children of Seth” is the legendary name that Gnostics assigned to a sacred lineage of phosters, or revealers. The name Seth occurs in the Bible, in Genesis 4:25: “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son, and called his name Seth. For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Adam slew.”
Significantly, this is the only time it occurs. Seth belongs to “another seed,” a lineage set apart from the Judeo-Christian narrative of “sacred history.” From the inception of their story, Gnostics are situated outside the conventional narrative of Western spiritual life.
By the Sethians' own account, a tradition of secret knowledge concerning divine matters was transmitted from remote times by a succession of men and women who had mastered the illuminist method, Gnosis. The Revealers were an elite corps operating within a unique cultural and spiritual complex that emerged in prehistoric Iran: the Magian Order (MAY-gee-un).
German scholars such as Gustav Widengren, Richard Reitzenstein, and M. H. Schraeder, who are largely ignored today, delved deeply into the prehistoric roots of Iranian religion known as Zurvan.
This is the germ of the doctrine of cosmic duality attributed to the Persian prophet, Zoroaster, and spread throughout the world by the members of his religious order, the Magi. Reitzenstein in particular intuited that Gnostic ideas were influenced by Persian duality, or Zurvanism, but he was unable to work out how. No one since his time has done any better. The investigation is complicated by the remoteness of Iranian religion, dating to the 6th millennium BCE.
This knowledge is not something that can be put into words like other sciences; but after long-continued intercourse between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of the subject, suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, it is born in the soul and straightway nourishes itself.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
But again, Gnostic teachings, always claim a path of "illumination" through Secret knowledge not revealed to the rest...
Something that starts leading to other "interesting" facets of those beliefs in general.
I would say it came down through Adam, Seth, and finally to Enoch, who refined it, and also refined the Mazzaroth. So Enoch might be considered the first gnostic, hence his popularity with the secret societies. Just my little farthing, fwiw.
I guess it depends on which tradition one wants to adhere to. I would say it came down through Adam, Seth, and finally to Enoch, who refined it, and also refined the Mazzaroth.
All of the bible stories are gnostic allegorical and metaphoric lessons about ourselves, our purpose, our goals and our future. IMHO, of course.
windwordAll of the bible stories are gnostic allegorical and metaphoric lessons about ourselves, our purpose, our goals and our future. IMHO, of course.
BeaversThis makes me think you haven't read most of the Old Testament?
Gnosticism (to me) first meant Masonic religion, so I looked into and it was just mystery within mystery, designed to keep those intrigued enough, intrigued.
Then I heard it meant Crowley, so I looked into it and he just wanted an excuse to rape and kill little boys.
BeaversMore recently I heard it meant the missing gospels of Jesus, so I looked into it and Thomas had a parable for everything, that meant nothing, and once again just seemed to create mystery within mystery, with no actual answers to anything.