By Michael Allen Williams
Such a lot a person attracted to such subject matters as production mythology, Jungian thought, or the assumption of "secret teachings" in historical Judaism and Christianity has came across "gnosticism" compelling. but the time period "gnosticism," which frequently connotes a unmarried rebellious move opposed to the present religions of past due antiquity, supplies the misunderstanding of a monolithic non secular phenomenon. right here Michael Williams demanding situations the validity of the commonly invoked class of old "gnosticism" and the methods it's been defined. proposing such recognized writings and pursuits because the Apocryphon of John and Valentinian Christianity, Williams uncovers the similarities and variations between a few significant traditions greatly labeled as gnostic. He presents an eloquent, systematic argument for a extra actual option to speak about those interpretive approaches.
The glossy build "gnosticism" isn't really justified via any old self-definition, and lots of of the main usually mentioned spiritual beneficial properties that supposedly outline gnosticism phenomenologically turn into questionable. Exploring the pattern units of "gnostic" teachings, Williams refutes generalizations touching on asceticism and libertinism, attitudes towards the physique and the created international, and alleged gains of protest, parasitism, and elitism. He sketches a clean version for figuring out old ideas on extra "mainstream" Judaism and Christianity, a version that's educated by way of smooth study on dynamics in new non secular pursuits and is free of the fake stereotypes from which the class "gnosticism" has been constructed.
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Extra info for Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category
Having created the cosmos, the demiurge fashioned the earthly human being, not from the dry earth, but from ﬂuid matter into which he breathed the psychical element. The human originated “after the image and likeness” (Gen. ” For that reason the latter’s essence was called a “living spirit” (Gen. 2:7), since with Achamoth it had originated as a spiritual emanation. According to Ptolemy, only later was the human clothed in perceptible ﬂesh, or the “garment of skin” (Gen. 3:21). But when the demiurge breathed the psychical element into the human, he also unknowingly breathed in something else, the spiritual human.
Not only does the Invisible Spirit transcend all of the usual attributes invoked in the description of God or gods, but strictly speaking the Spirit belongs to a unique category beyond even “divinity” itself. In other words, only God can truly imagine his/her own Perfection. The ﬁrst half of the myth in Ap. John attempts to portray the Invisible Spirit’s act of doing just that. ” Besides being the “First Thought” or “Image” of the Invisible Spirit, Barbelo is introduced as having several other titles or attributes, each of which pertains to some aspect of this entity’s role in the myth: Providence; the First Human; triple-male; triple-power; triple-name; androgynous.
Naas therefore causes the cruciﬁxion of Jesus. However, Jesus yields the spirit up to the Father, Elohim (cf. Luke 23:46), ascending to be with the Good, while the soul and body belonging to Eden are left behind. ”28 According to Hippolytus, Justin’s Baruch included allegorical interpretations of several other mythological and scriptural motifs in terms of the central characters of this myth. Thus the Good is equated with the fertility god Priapus. 29 But this judgment has in fact been based largely on a reading of Justin’s myth in terms of rather monolithic modern constructions about what “the gnostic” viewpoint was.
Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category by Michael Allen Williams