Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism
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Presents a readable and appealing introduction to what otherwise might seem an inaccessible religion of late antiquity.
crisis and un der external pressure. In their ideology also, despite all the clear differences, there are certain points of agreement:.both communities cherish a dualistic way of thinking and stand in hostility over against the world, they hope for a redemption either through an eschatological and apocalyptic victory of the “sons of light” over darkness or through the liberation of the % soul, the divine spark, to the kingdom of light beyond this world. We shall see that there are also
f. as the new document The Three Pillars of Seth expresses it.* She has at the same time also however bisexual features ; she is “the first male virgin aeon” . * For the gnostics bisexuality is an ’ N H C V I I 5 ,I 2 1 ,2 0 f . expression of perfection ; it is only the earthly creation which leads to a separation of the original divine unity, which holds for the whole Pleroma. The uncontrolled “passion” of Sophia is also a violation of this unity ; it has accordingly fateful conse quences for
are you crying up to God? Why do you importune the holy spirit?” Norea said : “Who are you?” —the archons of unrighteousness had de parted from her — He said: I am Elelëth (i. e. “goddess”), the wisdom, the great angel, who stands before the holy spirit. I have been sent to speak with you and to rescue you out of the hands of these lawless ones. And i shall teach you about your root (origin)”.” The text now* begins a narrative in the first person in which Norea herself portrays the supernatural
prototypes of those which subsequently take place in the histor ical earthly realm in relation to Jesus of Nazareth. “Redemp tion”, “crucifixion” and “resurrection” are for Gnosis largely understood as symbolic incidents of cosmic significance and ac cordingly were subjected to entirely new interpretations which often become visible only on a closer inspection. This was one of the facts which demonstrated the danger of the gnostic teach ings for an orthodox Christian understanding. Irenaeus
flesh” in order to adapt himself to earthly conditions, but this happens for him, as the authorita tive representative of the “unworldly” higher world, only for a time and in terms of external appearance (which however is plain and comprehensible only to those of insight). For this rea son Gnosis has to attain to a new interpretation of the Christian theology of suffering and the Cross. This however came out in very different ways and may extend from a radically docetic to an almost completely