I'll take your points individually:
You are mixing up ‘is’ and ‘were’ here, which makes it confusing.Forum Monk wrote: If we go into this, it can get pretty deep and complex. A lot of people think that the christian religion is outward ritual, rules of conduct, fear and trembling, icons and symbolism. But its not, that's the institution which is one day a week and really has very little to do with the day to day lives of individuals on a personal level. Christianity thrives on a personal level that is not touched by one's circumstances, place and time. It is really what KB frequently mentions and in reference to his "primitive christians" who were not bound to the "law".
What Christianity is today is a development from the time we’re talking about 2,000 years ago. So how people practise it now is not so relevant, particularly as they have a lot more freedom about how the practise it since the separation of Church and State and the so-called Enlightenment.
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.
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:Forum Monk wrote: There are many dualisms and Paul addresses them in his writings. He often differentiates greeks and barbarians and jews.
“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.
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’.
Just as he says in 1 Corinthians 2:7
“But we speak of the wisdom of God [Sophia] in a mystery, ever the hidden wisdom, which ordained before the world unto our glory.”
If the wisdom is hidden, it cannot be the Law.
The use of the word ‘Sophia’ had a very particular meaning at the time that Paul was writing. 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. The introduction in my King James Bible says this:
So Paul was writing at the exact same time and, imo and the opinion of many, using the word ‘Sophia’ in the same way.
Another feature of the book [Wisdom of Solomon], which was highly valued and used by the early Church Fathers in expounding the doctrine of the Logos (the Word of God incarnate in Christ) is the description in chapters 7 to 10 of Wisdom considered not as a gift or a quality, but rather an almost personal being, as the activity of God personified, as one that 'sitteth by the throne of God" and called by the names 'Word of God' and 'Holy Spirit. '
I agree. But I didn’t say that it was exclusive to the gnostics, so I’m not sure where you’re going with this. I was merely pointing out a problem.Forum Monk wrote: The very nature of spiritual/physical is dualistic. So the gnostics have not exclusivity with dualistic philosophy and so if one addresses a dualistic topic he is not by default, gnostic.
Ishtar wrote: I think the only way forward is for you to find examples of where he is purported to be criticising the Gnostics, and see if they stand up to scrutiny.
Me too ... although in my case, I believe he was a part of it. But the early Church Fathers (a hundred or so years later) in letters other than the agreed seven – in other words, the forgeries - do have Paul attacking Gnosticism. So they obviously saw Gnosticism as a threat, enough to forge letters on his behalf.Forum Monk wrote: I can't comply because at the time Paul was writing, the gnostic sects were not the threat some may think they were. I am willing to bet Paul simply saw it as another school of greek philosophy.
OK, Monk, I totally accept your reasons for withdrawing – which I assume you are? So unless anyone else wants to add anything on Paul, let’s leave him here and I’ll concentrate on the rest of my case of which Paul was just a small part.Forum Monk wrote: Edit to add: btw I am hardly a religious scholar, and have no religious training apart from childhood Sunday school. I am not sure if I can properly address any of the really deep teachings of christianity. I don't feel qualified and may end up confusing people.