By David Brakke

Who have been the Gnostics? and the way did the Gnostic move impact the improvement of Christianity in antiquity? Is it real that the Church rejected Gnosticism? This publication deals an illuminating dialogue of contemporary scholarly debates over the concept that of “Gnosticism” and the character of early Christian range. Acknowledging that the class “Gnosticism” is defective and needs to be reformed, David Brakke argues for a extra cautious method of amassing proof for the traditional Christian circulate often called the Gnostic institution of idea. He exhibits how Gnostic delusion and formality addressed easy human matters approximately alienation and which means, provided a message of salvation in Jesus, and supplied a fashion for individuals to regain wisdom of God, the final word resource in their being. instead of depicting the Gnostics as heretics or because the losers within the struggle to outline Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, during which different Christians not just rejected their principles but in addition tailored and reworked them. This ebook will problem students to imagine in information methods, however it additionally presents an available advent to the Gnostics and their fellow early Christians. (20110701)

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Extra info for The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity

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The term “gnostic”—gnostikos in Greek—provides an opportunity for such a project because it was a positive term in antiquity (and remained so even after Irenaeus and other heresiologists had written works disparaging “Gnostics”). It is unlikely that Irenaeus introduced such an affirmative word as a label for Christians that he believed to be wrong and demonically inspired; rather, “Gnostic” must have already been circulating as a term of self-praise. Before Irenaeus wrote in 180 ce, the adjective gnostikos (having to do with gnosis) was not applied to people but to capacities, intellectual activities, or mental operations: a “gnostic” activity or capacity was one that led to or supplied gnosis, that is, knowledge that was not merely practical but theoretical, immediate, even intuitive.

Meyer concedes that not all Gnostic texts will fully conform to his definition, and it is not clear how committed he is to imaging a single “religious tradition” as a continuous social entity. For him, “Gnostic religion” appears to mean “a Gnostic type of religion or spirituality,” not a single religious tradition that developed over decades or centuries like Christianity or Judaism. His difference with Marjanen can be seen in how each treats The Gospel According to Thomas. 38 Imagining “Gnosticism” and Early Christianities As different as their individual proposals are, Markschies, Marjanen, and Meyer all seek to retain a typologically constructed “Gnosticism” (or “Gnostic religion” in Meyer’s case) that scholars understand to be an interpretive or heuristically useful category, not a single ancient religion.

Unlike Clement, Irenaeus did not respond by adopting the epithet “gnostic” in some way for his own form of Christianity, but instead he derided the name as fallacious in the case of the Gnostic school of thought, and he repeated it sarcastically in reference to others. 1, 5). In this latter remark, although he is still using “Gnostics” to refer to a specific group, Irenaeus likens “gnostic” to “perfect,” suggesting that the term can be used also as a more generally positive adjective, as Clement did.

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