Saturday, March 03, 2007

What is Gnosticism?

One man's attempt to answer our recurring question.

3 comments:

truepeers said...

I quoted this bit from Bertonneau in the comments to the previous post. But it also applies well to the post linked here:

"All of Gnosticism in its textual aspect is like Revelation on steroids. In Order and History, Volume IV, Voegelin indeed denies that Gnosticism can be grasped as stemming from Christianity, as scholarship frequently claims, and he discusses the phenomenon in these terms: "Syncretistic spiritualism . . . must be recognized as a symbolic form sui generis. In the multicivilizational empire it arises from the cultural area of less-differentiated consciousness as a means of coping with the problem of universal humanity in resistance to an unsatisfactory ecumenic order." A twenty-first-century academic publisher would probably have refused Voegelin’s manuscript outright for that one phrase, "the cultural area of less-differentiated consciousness." It is amusing to imagine the boiling off of ideological steam and the archly phrased but entirely predictable letter of rejection to the author. But [Voegelin] never subscribed to cultural relativism, only to the latitudinarianism required by the search for truth."

dag said...

One of our long-term friends asks me frequently for a defintion of Gnosticism. Over the past few weeks as I find a few minuutes here and there I write down a basic synopsis of classical and middle period Gnositicsm. I'm not nearly done yet. When I do finish I hope to post it as a revised work here. It'll be many, many pages long, and I won't really be writing more than what Peers has above. However, I do hope that our readers will bear with the repetition for the sake of some further clarity.

When I post my essay on Gnosticism I hope to cover only the barest of its historical religious aspects rather than its contemporary political and philosophical values as Voegelin does in his inimitable fashion. Even so, I won't go into much detail beyond what is easily distinguishable from many of the many essays dealing with Gnosticism here and elsewhere already. It is a highly sisgnificant approach to reality, and one that gives us good ground for critique; but Voegelin is a drag to read on a Saturday evening, what with the disco ball flashing in my eyes and the babe on the dance floor winking at me....

truepeers said...

Disco Dag: the mind reels...

Still, I look forward to the essay :)