Gershom Scholem: Conclusion, Ineffable God: The Jewish (rather than Platonic) Roots of Gnosticism

This is a series on the relationship between Greek philosophy and gnostic literature. To start with the first post, please go here. Here are my concluding thoughts on the extent to which Platonism influenced gnosticism and, secondarily, whether Judaism is actually the more likely origin. Famed Jewish historian Gershom Scholem argued for a link between early... Continue Reading →

Philo, Part IV of Ineffable God: The Jewish (rather than Platonic) Roots of Gnosticism

Philo's work is somewhat enigmatic. For instance, he uses Plato's theory of Ideas in De specialibus legibus I.329 to explain how the Hebrew God made the cosmos: "God created the universe, but without being personally involved in this task, because he, being perfectly blessed, could not enter into contract with indefinite and confused matter. He made use of... Continue Reading →

Valentinus was a Christian, not a “Gnostic”: Exploration of the history shaped by the “Orthodoxy vs Heresy” Dichotomy

In this series, I will look at the historical figure Valentinus (2nd c, CE), whose life work demonstrates an important intersection of second century, CE, Western thought: Hellenistic trends in Judaism and Christianity in Alexandria, "gnostic" influences from Syria and Palestine, a classical education in Greek philosophy and highly sophisticated Christian theology. He is remembered,... Continue Reading →

Self-reflection as Creation in Apocryphon of John

Apocryphon of John contains one of the most complete and detailed narrations of a gnostic cosmogony, explaining how the invisible and visible realms emanated from the original monad in a highly sophisticated narrative. The tractate takes the form of the popular "apocryphal acts of the apostles," after the Greek "romances", pseudepigrapha attributed to the disciple John,... Continue Reading →

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