Philo's guide to decoding the Hebrew Bible

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Forum Monk
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Post by Forum Monk » Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:18 pm

Ishtar wrote:But in the case of this discussion, it is more important to talk about the institution of the Church and the Law then - 2,000 years ago - because that is what grabbed the political agenda under Constantine and set about eradicating the Gnostics – to hide its own roots, so to speak.
Ok. Let's bear in mind, the institutional church did not really begin until the 4th century, well after the death of the apostles and Paul and their influence. So what emerged under Constantine was quite far removed from the original traditions. For this reason, it is fortuituous, in my opinion, that you have quoted Romans, as I feel it was Paul's "The Doctrines of Christianity" course 101. So for the time being, let's discuss the beliefs prior to Constantine.
Monk, Paul makes it very clear in that verse to the Romans (1:11) that he is not talking about actual Greeks or actual barbarians. He even spells it out for them:
“I am a debtor, both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians: both to the Wise and the unwise.”
To the Wise and the unwise.
(actually Rom 1:14)
The colon does not exist in the greek so the linkage between greeks/barbarians = wise/unwise may be not be intended by Paul. In fact, many translations do not include the colon and thus imply linkage. But really it doesn't matter all that much as Paul spends the next half chapter or so explaining in detail the attributes of the foolish or barbarians as he may have called them. They are basically those who were considered uncivilized and worshipped no God. (today we would call them Minimalists - ooooohh bad joke, sorry Min.:wink:)

Conversely it is well understood by christian scholars, that Paul's use of the term "Greeks" pretty much encompassed the non-jewish civilized world. At least that portion where Paul had contact. And so it is throughout the book of Romans he constantly shows contrasts or parallels between jews and greeks who may also be seen as gentiles (i.e. the non-jews). Being a former Pharisee, Paul's distinction between wise and unwise may be the distinction between the follower of God and non-follower but more likely between the educated and uneducated (as he was supposedly a learned man in jewish service). So is this how gnostics made a distinction between wise and unwise? I think there are similarities in thought but one can not draw any conclusions on the strength of this single passage.
This is nothing to do with Law. His use of the word ‘wise’ relates to ‘wisdom’ which is the ‘wisdom of God’, which he would have written in the original Greek as ‘Sophia’.
I agree about the law. I regret mentioning the law since it threw you off. I was making a broader point in support of KBs posts but really it is irrelevent to this discussion for the time being. As for saying Paul's use of the word wise relates to the "wisdon of god", I disagree completely. It refers to the wisdom of men and probably more specifically their allusion of being wise by virtue of their knowledge, education and philosophies.
The OT apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, which was written around the same time, talks about Sophia in the Gnostic sense, as the one who sits at the right hand of God.
This is blasphemous to both jews and christians and so once again illustrates the profound differences in the beliefs. If the Book of Wisdom claimed she sat at God's right hand, it is clear why it is not included in the approved christian canon.

Romans is probably one of the most important works in establishing the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith and it is worth noting it does not dwell on the church or the conduct of the church or any rituals. Beginning in the third chapter and continuing for several chapters Paul drives home the principle of justification (salvation) through faith. Not wisdom, not the law and not works.

Rom 3:
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested...
even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe...
justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith
Where then is boasting? It is excluded By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.


Here Paul clearly tells the reader, that God's righteousness is displayed in Jesus' shed blood that all who have faith in his rightousness may be saved to the exclusion of the law (obeying a set of rules) and exclusion of works (doing good things or earning the gift by some behaviour or discipline).

There is nothing gnostic about this teaching.

Ishtar
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Post by Ishtar » Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:43 pm

I am so thrilled, Monk. We have become real Biblical scholars now that we are arguing over a colon! Surely we are true pedants now!

:lol:

Look, punctuation aside, your whole post only shows the difficulties about proving anything, one way or the other, with Paul, as I pointed out in a previous post, and that Theodotus, the 2nd century Christian writer also comments on (just so’s you know I’m in good company!). And that is .... Paul taught in both ways, as did the Greeks and as did all the mystery teachers. There was one story for the masses (the godman who died on the cross) and another for the initiates (about the inner christ as a form of consciousness attained through secret initiation).

So yes, for that reason you are right that: "there is nothing Gnostic about that teaching" that you quote at the end of your post. Paul does talk about redemption through the blood of Jesus – although nowhere does he recount the ‘historical’ story of Jesus, so we can never be sure that Paul thought Jesus actually lived. On the other hand, I can and have shown quotes where Paul’s use of the word ‘wisdom’ and even ‘hidden wisdom’ shows that he understands the gnostic use of the term.

So if we are going to trade quote for quote, this will go on for a very long time and we will get nowhere. As I said, to prove your point, you will need to show that Paul is actually anti Gnostic.

That he propagates Gnostic teachings is not without doubt.

In Colossians 1:25, Paul writes: “The secret is this: Christ is in you.”

This mirrors Jesus's saying that the kingdom of heaven was not in the sky, or not somewhere you go after death, or not something that will arrive on earth in a lowering down from the skies at some future apocalypse. No, Luke's Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is already within man:

Luke 17 (KJV)
”And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Even within the nasty old Pharisees.

This is the heart of the Gnostic experience.

You point out that having a woman sitting at the throne of God would be blasphemous to Jews and Christians. Of course I know that. Otherwise, why chuck out the story? But blasphemous when? That’s the issue ...as yesterday’s tenet of faith can very quickly become tomorrow’s blasphemy. This is obvious in this case, because in order for the Jews to exclude The Wisdom of Solomon from their approved texts, it must have been in there at one time – when it was acceptable...otherwise, there would have been nothing to exclude. And that is the point that I’m trying to make – that Jewish Gnostics were influential in shaping the Judaic faith – that the metaphorical language of the gnostics was at the original fountainhead of the Old Testament texts before they decided to turn them into literal history.

You say, “Conversely it is well understood by christian scholars, that Paul's use of the term "Greeks" pretty much encompassed the non-jewish civilized world. At least that portion where Paul had contact.”

The pivotal word there is ‘Christian’. What Christians have come to understand about their own religion often involves believing and having faith in what they are taught to believe, and not to apply their own critical thinking. Biblical scholars are usually taught in theology colleges that are run by their churches and not in secular institutions.

You say you believe that when Paul says ‘wisdom of God’ he means ‘wisdom of men’ .....why? I would have thought that wisdom of God is very clear. It’s God’s wisdom, not man’s.

You say that Paul means the ‘wisdom of man’ that comes from “their knowledge, education and philosophies” – well, we didn’t need a Jesus to die on a cross for us to attain all that. And many people have plenty of knowledge that comes from education and philosophies, but they don’t have the wisdom of God – and sometimes, no wisdom at all. So it must mean something more.

Within the Greek, the language Paul wrote in (and, in those days, probably even thought in) wisdom meant Sophia — as she is shown in the contemporary Wisdom of Solomon that was later considered to be ‘blasphemy’. Even the introduction to the Apocrypha in my King James Bible recognises that the wisdom of God was Sophia, a being (or goddess) - and not just a good university education in the classics!

:D

Ishtar
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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:47 am

Forum Monk wrote: So what you are saying is this:
1. gnostics existed but were not known as gnostics in the 1st century
2. this group had a story very similar to the christian story
3. so this group was known as gnostic christians even though i just said they were not known as gnostics.
:?
OK, let's make it easy for you my Christian brother. Let's call them what you know them as - heretics and blasphemers who will spend the rest of eternity wailing and gnashing their knackers ... or something like that! There, is that better?
Ishtar wrote: Therefore, the Jews would never trust a religion that portrayed their Yahweh in such a bad light - when in fact, their own religion already does!
Forum Monk wrote: That is your assessment - not a jewish one. :wink:
It was a joke - and a rather good one I thought!
Forum Monk wrote: Your bolded quote:
The Apostles' Creed, drawn up in the first or second century, emphasizes the true Humanity, including the material body, of Jesus, since that is the point that the heretics of the time (Gnostics, Marcionites, and later Manicheans) denied.

Pretty much exactly what i said. The creed rejected a number of heretical ideas including gnostics, but was not specifically targeted to gnosticism.


Talk about angels dancing on the head of a pin! Popelane, I hope you're paying attention here. This is just the sort of quagmire I was talking about.

:lol:

Monk, just what do you hope to achieve with this nit-picking? Is it a delaying tactic? I've often wondered if that's why Christian pedants do that - argue over colons and such like. It puts off the dreadful day when the whole tottering artifice comes collapsing around their ears like the fragile house of cards that it is, built on sand.

Image
From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, another writer with a Platonist or Gnostic view of reality.

`Why, there they are!' said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts on the table. `Nothing can be clearer than THAT. Then again--"BEFORE SHE HAD THIS FIT--" you never had fits, my dear, I think?' he said to the Queen.

`Never!' said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)

`Then the words don't FIT you,' said the King, looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.

`It's a pun!' the King added in an offended tone, and everybody laughed, `Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!'

`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won't!' said Alice.

`Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

`Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) `You're nothing but a pack of cards!'

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.

Ishtar
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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:22 am

Minimalist wrote: Just a gut feeling here that 4th century christian writers, suddenly seeking evidence for the existence of their jesus latched onto anything that remotely helped their case. But if you take the words in the context of which they are written there really seems to be a lot less here than the christian apologists claim. We have a man named "James" with a brother named Jesus who seems to have been a high priest accused of unspecified crimes who was arrested and, perhaps, although it doesn't actually say it, executed by stoning. I don't see anything in there that suggests that "James" was running another church.
Min, your points are all well made and I accept them. It is widely accepted now that James wasn't the brother of Jesus Christ, but that these Gnostic sects used the term 'brother of Jesus' in the same way that the word 'brother' is used among communities of monks nowadays. So we can decouple him from a supposed living Jesus, if that’s of any help. And I also take your point about ‘christ’ referring to the anointed. It was a word also widely used among the Gnostics. So I suggest we treat James as a red herring ... at least for now.

However, back to the Ebionites and according to A F J Klijn, there were three Jewish/Christian gospels circulating in the 2nd century - The Gospel of the Ebionites (east of the Jordan) The Gospel According to the Nazerenes (Syria) and The Gospel of the Hebrews (Egypt).

Iranaeus in the mid 2nd century in his Against Heresies (1.26) refers to the Ebionites as Gnostics.

Eusebius records c. 300 CE that when the Christian Literalist Melito of Sardis went to Jerusalem in the second century to find the original Christians, he found “that they had all become Ebionite heretics.” I would suggest that this is Eusebius’s interpretation based on the belief of the historicity of a Jesus who had attracted a band of followers in Jerusalem. The group Melito found had probably had always been Ebionites.

On the Gospel of the Ebionites, the only evidence we have of it is in the writings of an early Christian writer, Epiphanus.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/g ... nites.html

Information on Gospel of the Ebionites

In The Other Gospels, Cameron makes the following observations: "The Gospel of the Ebionites (Gos. Eb.) is a gospel harmony preserved in a few quotations in the writings of Epiphanius (a church writer who lived at the end of the fourth century C.E.). The original title of this gospel is unknown.

The designation customary today is based on the fact that this was the gospel probably used by the Ebionites, a group of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians who were prominent throughout the second and third centuries. Epiphanius incorrectly entitles this the 'Hebrew' gospel, and alleges that it is an abridged, truncated version of the Gospel of Matthew. Whereas the Gospel of the Ebionites is indeed closely related to Matthew, examination of the extant fragments reveals that much of the text is a harmony, composed in Greek, of the Gospels Matthew and Luke (and, probably, the Gospel of Mark as well). Although Irenaeus (late in the second century) attests to the existence of this gospel, we are dependent solely upon the quotations given by Epiphanius for our knowledge of the contents of the text."

The Gospel of the Ebionites omits the infancy narratives. The gospel presents both John the Baptist and Jesus as vegetarians, and Jesus says that he has come to abolish sacrifices. Cameron says, "Together with the sayings about the passover, this intimates a polemic against the Jewish Temple."

This indicates that the Gospel of the Ebionites, like the Gospel of Matthew, addresses the issue of "Jewish identity after the destruction of the Temple." The solution offered to this problem is "to believe in Jesus, the true interpreter of the Law." Cameron suggests that the Gospel of the Ebionites was written in the mid-second century in Syria or Palestine.
And you can read the text of Epiphanius by clicking on this link:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... nites.html

Several scholars also believe that the Ebionites were at the root of Islam. The 19th century German theologian Alfred von Harnack said that Islam was a “transformation on Arab soil of a Jewish religion that had itself been transformed by Gnostic Judaeo-Christianity."

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:06 am

So yes, for that reason you are right that: "there is nothing Gnostic about that teaching" that you quote at the end of your post. Paul does talk about redemption through the blood of Jesus – although nowhere does he recount the ‘historical’ story of Jesus, so we can never be sure that Paul thought Jesus actually lived. On the other hand, I can and have shown quotes where Paul’s use of the word ‘wisdom’ and even ‘hidden wisdom’ shows that he understands the gnostic use of the term.
Paul's many references to what Jesus Christ has done, show that Paul believes he lived at one time; and his many references to what Christ will do, indicates he believes Christ is still living and because of many references to Christ in eternity, he believes Christ will live forever. As for the historical accounts of Jesus' life, such as the Sermon on the Mount, the miracles, the transfiguration, the trial, etc,, Paul witnessed none of it and so wisely chooses not to speak of it as it would only be hearsay testimony. I said this in a previous post.

This is obvious in this case, because in order for the Jews to exclude The Wisdom of Solomon from their approved texts, it must have been in there at one time – when it was acceptable...otherwise, there would have been nothing to exclude. And that is the point that I’m trying to make – that Jewish Gnostics were influential in shaping the Judaic faith – that the metaphorical language of the gnostics was at the original fountainhead of the Old Testament texts before they decided to turn them into literal history.
The foundations of the Jewish faith were well established by the 6th century BCE (being ultra-conservative here out of sensitivity to the atheists) so it is unlikely the gnostics were all that influential. As for the inclusion of the Wisdom of Solomon, it is debatable and your statement is circular reasoning. The Talmud asserts that the Tanakh was canonized by 450BCE. However some think this is jewish wishful thinking (I don't but there is little evidence). The Tanakh is organized into three sections; the Torah which are the first five Mosaic books, the Nevi'im which are basically the historical and prophetic books and finally the Ketuvim, which are the poems, post exhilic history and wisdom books. (See details here). The Book of Wisdom would have been in the Ketuvim but there is no evidence it ever was. Sometime around 70CE after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple by the Romans, Jewish leaders organized the Council of Jamnia which effectively put the final stamp on the authorized canon of the Tanakh and included a curse on the "Minim" which probably included christians, gnostics and nazerenes (See the Jewish Encyclopedia)
Perhaps the gnostics and christians who were known to converse with the Jewish rabbis in the 1st century were beginning to exert an influence and so the Council of Jamnia was a response to that as well an attempt to preserve jewish heritage after the Roman slaughter. So I would conclude that though the book may have been known, there is no evidence it was ever accepted universally as part of the canon.
You say you believe that when Paul says ‘wisdom of God’ he means ‘wisdom of men’ .....why? I would have thought that wisdom of God is very clear. It’s God’s wisdom, not man’s.
True if Paul had said the "Wisdom of God" but no where in the context of our discussion, did he and no where in Romans does he, except a single verse in the 11th chapter.

The discussion about "the secret knowledge", hidden wisdom, etc. is important and touches very deeply into christian theology. I need to address it separately (and carefully, I think).


:D

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:58 am

Forum Monk wrote: Paul's many references to what Jesus Christ has done, show that Paul believes he lived at one time; and his many references to what Christ will do, indicates he believes Christ is still living and because of many references to Christ in eternity, he believes Christ will live forever. As for the historical accounts of Jesus' life, such as the Sermon on the Mount, the miracles, the transfiguration, the trial, etc,, Paul witnessed none of it and so wisely chooses not to speak of it as it would only be hearsay testimony. I said this in a previous post.
That's just your opinion. I'm not saying 'just' in that your opinion has no value. It has value, but just as much as the person's who puts a Gnostic interpretation on why Paul omitted to mention the historical details of Jesus’s life. The fact is, the earliest Christian that can be attested, Justin Martyr (c 100 CE) does not mention any of these four gospels in any of his prolific writings. So at the time Paul lived (if he lived), he probably didn’t even know these stories. Thus he was teaching about a Jesus who lived in an abstract time and place.

Do you not find it interesting that the only books in which Paul criticises Gnostics are those that are proved to have been forgeries? Does not that one fact in itself make you wonder why a Christian church supposed to be following the ten commandments felt the need to lie, and not just a small white lie, but to propagate a huge lie by twisting the words of someone they were promoting as a saint?
Forum Monk wrote: So I would conclude that though the book may have been known, there is no evidence it was ever accepted universally as part of the canon.
The justification for putting books in the apocrypha was that they only existed in Greek and were not extant as Hebrew texts. I can understand that, and that rationale works for all of them – except when you get to The Wisdom of Solomon which was extant in Hebrew...so what could have been the justification for relegating it? To suppress the female goddess Sophia?

In 431 CE a Christian council met at Ephesus, previously the chief site for the worship of Sophia, and bestowed the titles of the ousted goddess on Mary, Jesus’s mother. They took the titles of Queen of Heaven and Theotokos from Sophia and gave them to Mary, a much lesser figure as the mother of the Son of God, a timid virgin who been granted this enormous grace but was no figure of substance in herself, apart from that. She didn't achieve any great spiritual feats. She just gave birth. This is how they dumbed down the female goddess.
You say you believe that when Paul says ‘wisdom of God’ he means ‘wisdom of men’ .....why? I would have thought that wisdom of God is very clear. It’s God’s wisdom, not man’s.
Forum Monk wrote: True if Paul had said the "Wisdom of God" but nowhere in the context of our discussion, did he and nowhere in Romans does he, except a single verse in the 11th chapter.
First of all, your final clause renders your middle one redundant, and your first statement is plainly untrue.... otherwise, why would we be discussing it? You may have spelled it wrongly, but you brought it up, here:
Forum Monk wrote: As for saying Paul's use of the word wise relates to the "wisdon of god", I disagree completely. It refers to the wisdom of men and probably more specifically their allusion of being wise by virtue of their knowledge, education and philosophies.
This passage from 1 Corinthians totally supports my view in my last post that the ‘wisdom of God’ is not the ‘wisdom of man gained through “knowledge, education and philosophies” –as you say above.

1 Corinthians: 1

19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

22 Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek wisdom;

23 But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

24 But to who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (In other words, Christ and Sophia are one, just as the Gnostic Jew Philo of Alexandra taught).
Last edited by Ishtar on Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by seeker » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:00 am

Forum Monk wrote:
Ishtar wrote:Monk, you are again switching the argument to the present in saying "There is no such thing as a gnostic Christian or Jew".
... They were known by the name of their group and although these groups had varying but similar beliefs, one thing they all had in common was an initiation and an allegorical initiation story very much like the story of Jesus. That is what is meant by Gnostic Jews or Gnostic Christians and it is a valid term. So to say they didn't exist is not true.
So what you are saying is this:
1. gnostics existed but were not known as gnostics in the 1st century
2. this group had a story very similar to the christian story
3. so this group was known as gnostic christians even though i just said they were not known as gnostics.
:?
I think I can help you on this point FM.

We tend to think of religion in modern terms and use modern labels to describe religious beliefs but 2000 years ago things were very different. A lot of older religions weren't really thought of in terms of the various sects within them but in broader terms, for example Zoroastrians were usually simply called Parsi (or whatever variation meant Persian in whatever language we happen to be talking about) because it was assumed that all Persians were Zoroastrians.

An important distinction arose when people began to believe in the idea of a Messiah, not the Jewish notion of an anointed king but the notion of a personal savior, Note that Messiah in Greek translates to Christos (Christ in English). This rise in Messianic belief probably is due to the seeding of Persian beliefs about a Shayosant (savior of mankind, more like the Christian version of a Messiah than the Jewish version) throughout the former Persian Empire (wich briefly included all of Greece and Egypt). Very likely these Messianists were lumped together (as I just did) without distinguishing all that much between what exact Messiah they believed in or exactly how they believed in that Messiah.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:09 am

Monk, this may help. It's an entry about Jewish Gnosticism from the Jewish Encyclopaedia:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view. ... id=280#937

Jewish Gnosticism.

Jewish gnosticism unquestionably antedates Christianity, for Biblical exegesis had already reached an age of five hundred years by the first century C.E. Judaism had been in close contact with Babylonian-Persian ideas for at least that length of time, and for nearly as long a period with Hellenistic ideas. Magic, also, which, as will be shown further on, was a not unimportant part of the doctrines and manifestations of gnosticism, largely occupied Jewish thinkers.

There is, in general, no circle of ideas to which elements of gnosticism have been traced, and with which the Jews were not acquainted. It is a noteworthy fact that heads of gnostic schools and founders of gnostic systems are designated as Jews by the Church Fathers. Some derive all heresies, including those of gnosticism, from Judaism (Hegesippus in Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." iv. 22; comp. Harnack, "Dogmengesch." 3d ed. i. 232, note 1). It must furthermore be noted that Hebrew words and names of God provide the skeleton for several gnostic systems.

Christians or Jews converted from paganism would have used as the foundation of their systems terms borrowed from the Greek or Syrian translations of the Bible. This fact proves at least that the principal elements of gnosticism were derived from Jewish speculation, while it does not preclude the possibility of new wine having been poured into old bottles.

Pre-Christian.

Cosmogonic-theological speculations, philosophemes on God and the world, constitute the substance of gnosis. They are based on the first sections of Genesis and Ezekiel, for which there are in Jewish speculation two well-established and therefore old terms: "Ma'aseh Bereshit" and "Ma'aseh Merkabah."

Doubtless Ben Sira was thinking of these speculations when he uttered the warning: "Seek not things that are too hard for thee, and search not out things that are above thy strength. The things that have been commanded thee, think thereupon; for thou hast no need of the things that are secret" (Ecclus. [Sirach] iii. 21-22, R. V.).

The terms here emphasized recur in the Talmud in the accounts of gnosis.

"There is no doubt that a Jewish gnosticism existed before a Christian or a Judæo-Christian gnosticism. As may be seen even in the apocalypses, since the second century B.C. gnostic thought was bound up with Judaism, which had accepted Babylonian and Syrian doctrines; but the relation of this Jewish gnosticism to Christian gnosticism may, perhaps, no longer be explained "(Harnack," "Geschichte der Altchristlichen Litteratur," p. 144).

The great age of Jewish gnosticism is further indicated by the authentic statement that Johanan b. Zakkai, who was born probably in the century before the common era, and was, according to Sukkah 28a, versed in that science, refers to an interdiction against "discussing the Creation before two pupils and the throne-chariot before one."

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Post by rich » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:51 am

Ishtar quoted Paul:
22 Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek wisdom;
Would that be the "gnostic" wisdom perhaps that the greeks sought????

(just bein' a brat - or instigator - or - ) :D
i'm not lookin' for who or what made the earth - just who got me dizzy by makin it spin

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:26 am

Iranaeus in the mid 2nd century in his Against Heresies (1.26) refers to the Ebionites as Gnostics.

I guess we have to take a look at who was Iranaeus c 180 AD. The title "Bishop of Lyon" sounds very impressive but given the fact that "christians" in the late 2d century were still a small and marginalized group...if any "group" with such a divergence of opinion (as you have correctly pointed out) could be considered a "group", what does it mean? Certainly Iranaeus was not some guy living in a mud hut in Gaul. He was educated and literate and thus likely to have been a leader for a group but it is hard to imagine that such a group would have had any great influence outside its immediate area. These people were essentially powerless.

There was no "church" in 180 for him to be a bishop of. Actual, documented, Roman persecution of christians solely for being christians, begins around 250. The indication is by that time they had grown numerous enough to be considered a problem or, conditions within the empire had deteriorated to the point where scapegoats needed to be found, or probably...a combination of both. In the mid- 3'd century the Romans suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the Parthians and picked up a plague which decimated the empire in the process. Things were not looking good. Only then does the shit hit the fan for the christians and it was not even a steady persecution as the emperors tended to have very short reigns.

So backing up 70 years Iranaeus is just a guy championing his vision of JC and his merry men at the expense of those "eastern" types. What would the effect of his writings have been on the gnostics? Probably a yawn. There was no one to enforce the rules until after Constantine created his church and Iranaeus was long dead by that point. This, in no way, changes the fact that these various groups and probably many, many more that Iranaeus did not take notice of, existed but it wasn't until much later that the decision was made to use Iranaeus' version as the basis for orthodoxy. In 180, there was no orthodoxy.

I agree about James the Just, most likely an assumed title like mother superior and holy father. These people are famous for that stuff. Don't tell you-know-who that he wasn't JC's blood brother though. The squealing would be too horrific to bear. There is an interesting side-light in Origen in which he either lies or is simply mistaken in attributing the fall of Jerusalem to the "murder" of James the Just.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:37 am

We have become real Biblical scholars now that we are arguing over a colon!

I'm just going to let that one 'pass', Ish.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:37 am

Ishtar wrote: First of all, your final clause renders your middle one redundant, and your first statement is plainly untrue.... otherwise, why would we be discussing it? You may have spelled it wrongly, but you brought it up, here:

This passage from 1 Corinthians totally supports my view in my last post that the ‘wisdom of God’ is not the ‘wisdom of man gained through “knowledge, education and philosophies” –as you say above.

1 Corinthians: 1

19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

22 Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek wisdom;

23 But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

24 But to who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (In other words, Christ and Sophia are one, just as the Gnostic Jew Philo of Alexandra taught).
I confess, this is a bit frustrating as plainly I am not communicating well. We were talking about Paul's writing in Romans, you quoted from Romans in the original post talking about Greeks and barbarians: wise and unwise. You claim it means the "wisdom of god" and when I show it doesn't it, you rebut with a quote from Corinthians. I will address the Corinthians later.

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:40 am

Ishtar wrote: Do you not find it interesting that the only books in which Paul criticises Gnostics are those that are proved to have been forgeries? Does not that one fact in itself make you wonder why a Christian church supposed to be following the ten commandments felt the need to lie, and not just a small white lie, but to propagate a huge lie by twisting the words of someone they were promoting as a saint?
We will address the so-called forgeries later. They are not "proven" to be forgeries.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:57 am

:lol:

Please let's not have a rule that we can only rebut an interpretation of something Paul said in one letter by only referring to content within that letter, and none of the other six agreed.

Paul is not going to say one thing to the Romans and then give the Corinthians a whole new story!

And I expect you're going to try and make a case for the amanuensis letters. I know the whole subject is a can of worms which is why I said let's just go for the "undisputed epistles" (or lesser disputed, should I say?) I have read through the debate on Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship ... d_epistles

But I'll wait and see what you have to say about it before drawing any more conclusions.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:58 am

Minimalist wrote:
We have become real Biblical scholars now that we are arguing over a colon!
I'm just going to let that one 'pass', Ish.
I second that motion, Min.

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