The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
davidmartin
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by davidmartin »

it's also important to note that the sexual ascetism that was found in early christian 'gnosticism' was absorbed into Orthodox monasticism along with many other 'gnostic' ideas (e.g. aerial tollhouses) and practices. Though a monastic community may fall under the orthodox penumbra, in these early times there's not a lot of distinction between 'gnostics' and monastics.


yeah i think thats down to the lifestyle. if you're a regular joe, with wife, kids and job who happens to be a priest you're gonna be identified by your beliefs mostly. if you've taken the plunge to a true monastic lifestyle... you're living different from the world. that's what identifies you and beliefs can vary
maybe that's a superficial analysis, probably circling the issue without getting close to the actual differences.
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Geocalyx
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Geocalyx »

So further on the identity of Ialdabaoth, there was apparently also a Meroitic war god named Apedemak.
Randi Haaland, University of Bergen, Iron working in an Indian Ocean Context wrote: ... The most important centres in this area were the ancient cities of naqa and Musawwarat es Sufra. naqa is located 50km east of the nile, along the wadi awateib, which has flowing water during good seasons of rain and where cultivation can consequently be practiced. Westwards the site is connected to Wad ben naqa, which is situated closer to the nile and where evidence of large, vaulted storerooms with stocks of ivory and exotic goods have been recovered. The remains of cemeteries and several temples have been discovered at naqa, the best preserved of which is the lion Temple, dated to the 1st century ad, which was dedicated to Apedemak manifest as a lion god (Shinnie, 1967). The lion Temple provides at least five different representations of Apedemak: emerging from a lotus flower in the shape of the body of a snake (Fig. 6) ...
... also, I hear the mane on the pharaoh's headgear represents the sun, one of whose representations is the lion, while the pharaoh's beard is a snake's tail, so :scratch: On the other hand, there's this testimony:
Einar Thomassen, Tripartite Tractate wrote: It came to one of the aeons that he should undertake to grasp the inconceivability (of the Father) 20 and glorify it, as well as the ineffability of the Father; and it was a logos of oneness although it did not come from the union of the All. nor 25 from him who brought them forth --for he who brought forth the All is the Father.
For this aeon was one of those to whom was given wisdom, each one of whom pre-existed 30 in his thought. By the fact that he wills they are brought forth. Therefore he had received a nature of wisdom, so as to inquire into the hidden order, since he was an offspring of wisdom.
35 For the autonomous will which was produced with the All was a cause for this one to do //76// what he wished with nothing restraining him. For the intention of this logos was good 5 because he had rushed forward in order to glorify the Father, although he had undertaken something which was beyond his power, since he wished to bring forth one who was perfect, by a 10 union, in which he did not share and without anybody having told him to it.
For this aeon was last when he [brought] them forth in their mutual 15 assistance, and he was youngest of age. And before he had yet brought forth anything to the glory of the will in the union of the All, he acted high-20mindedly, out of an overflowing love, (and) rushed forwards towards that which is situated within the sphere of the perfect glory. For it is not without the will of the Father 25 that this logos was produced. nor was it without it that he should rush forward, but on the contrary the Father had brought him forth for those things which he knows must of necessity 30 take place--for the Father and the All withdrew from him. in order that the boundary which the Father had fixed should become firm; for 35 it is not out of the dwelling of the unattainability, but by the will //77//of the Father--and also in order that the things which took place should take place for an economy which should take place (which ought not to have taken place [?]) 5 in the manifestation of the Pleroma.
Because of this it is not right to condemn the movement which is the logos, but it is right that we should speak of the movement of the logos as a cause 10 of an economy which has been ordained to take place. For on the one hand the logos did beget himself as a perfect single one, to the glory of the Father, who had willed him and was content with him.
15 On the other hand, those things which he desired to grasp [and] attain he brought forth as shadows [and] likenesses and imitations, because he could not bear the vision of [the] light. but looked at 20 [the] depths.
So one person ("aeon" in NHC means an actually existing being, be it an era of time or a person) undertook a task to "grasp" everything about the Father. He was of his own will, which means he was approved by the Father, even his task did not come from the union of the All. He did indeed accomplish much, but in the end, his business is only an imitation, since he looked downward (to control the physical world).

My :ugeek: thesis is that whoever this is, it is the same person as Apocryphon of John's Ialdabaoth, except from a different viewing angle.

These people could have named names and laid the blame, but they instead ... drew mythological parallels and turned events into a timeless fable..?
davidmartin
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by davidmartin »

Geocalyx i think fundamentally this myth seeks to explain the origin of Christian orthodoxy from a 'gnostic' perspective, given these folks really did think they were the 'real church', that is what they thought. So here we see the split in the 'gnostics'. This guy wants to explain the imperfect orthodoxy as a necessary part of the divine economy, against others who wanted to condemn it outright as a fabrication (eg Sethians). I suspect it is Paul who plays the role, or who is hinted at here
And few if any will agree with me on this i am sure
Anyway, this Valentinian perspective fits what the church fathers complained of, that the Valentinians considered them lessor Christians - below, merely physical compared to the spiritual ones
So it looks like nonsense at first but actually this is the means of communication to those in the mystery, they knew what these things meant
But yeah - also i think they believed the myth worked timelessly so to explain the origin of the church and of the universe was essentially the same thing to them. One myth to rule them all if you like
that's my belief on this stuff anyway for what it's worth!
The 'spiritual gnostics' were of course very divided among themselves as you may suspect already!!

I should add one thing - the myth making is a long way from what i think the spiritual origins of Christianity were - they went off in this extreme direction and i don't know why they thought it so important, neglecting practical matters and meeting the spiritual needs of the world around them, but then maybe that was how all the mystery cults worked i guess its same thing as political ideologies today that obsess over correct belief but fail to actually achieve practical results because they are so inward looking. I still sympathize with gnostics, i've no axe to grind, i'm not taking sides here
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Geocalyx
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Geocalyx »

Sorry for bumping a second page topic, I still kind of have my hands full.
Geocalyx i think fundamentally this myth seeks to explain the origin of Christian orthodoxy from a 'gnostic' perspective, given these folks really did think they were the 'real church', that is what they thought.
They did thing they were a proper ekklesia, yes. But there are two ways to read ἐκκλησία - the Church reading was "church", while the Pagan reading was "people's assembly". Evidence (emphasis on mind, reflection, self-examination and piety towards things that "actually exist") points towards the latter.

Yes, they thought they had the right to rule themselves. In that sense, they did think they were "the real Church".
So here we see the split in the 'gnostics'. This guy wants to explain the imperfect orthodoxy as a necessary part of the divine economy, against others who wanted to condemn it outright as a fabrication (eg Sethians).
Split? Division? Animosity "between opposing gnostic groups"?

Yet these "divisive" texts are found in a single unifying collection. Whoever compiled such a collection, be it Basilidean or Valentinian or Orthodox, was definitely not a dogmatic man!
I suspect it is Paul who plays the role, or who is hinted at here
So you recognize the takeover of the Highest described here, since you mentioned the founder of the Church?
Because, name aside, I recognize "the founder of Christianity" in those paragraphs, too.
Anyway, this Valentinian perspective fits what the church fathers complained of, that the Valentinians considered them lessor Christians - below, merely physical compared to the spiritual ones
True. There must've been a reason for "Valentinians" to consider them as such, though. Who would willingly make a state religion its enemy, and why?
So it looks like nonsense at first but actually this is the means of communication to those in the mystery, they knew what these things meant
But yeah - also i think they believed the myth worked timelessly so to explain the origin of the church and of the universe was essentially the same thing to them. One myth to rule them all if you like
I agree. The mystery being "state Jesus is false", I'd add; myth being "beware the usurpers of mind".
The 'spiritual gnostics' were of course very divided among themselves as you may suspect already!!
My sole point here is that they as gnostics weren't divided at all. The NHL was means to getting pagan philosophers to agree with one and another and unite, countering the new reality which outlawed their former philosophies.

The label 'gnostic' was a reaction of the new Law to point out all their differences and divide them again.
davidmartin
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by davidmartin »

Geocalyx wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:26 am
Split? Division? Animosity "between opposing gnostic groups"?

Yet these "divisive" texts are found in a single unifying collection. Whoever compiled such a collection, be it Basilidean or Valentinian or Orthodox, was definitely not a dogmatic man!
i think yes to the compiler not being dogmatic
For splits among 'gnostics' there's bunches of sources for this, i find it interesting
Like the Valentinians split into eastern and western branches apparently over a theological disagreement over the function of a certain aeon
The Sethians didn't get on with the Valentinians and vice versa
One Valentinian text hammers Sethians for attributing evil to the demiurge, i'm pretty sure the Sethians responded in kind (See The Apocryphon of Peter)
Definitely not one united 'gnostic' front which may have contributed to their difficulties



So you recognize the takeover of the Highest described here, since you mentioned the founder of the Church?
Because, name aside, I recognize "the founder of Christianity" in those paragraphs, too.
This is my personal belief only i just recon that originally the myth was describing historical events, so who else but Paul would fit the role of nemesis to gnostics. I'm not too comfortable with him being 'the founder' but i know what you mean, he made a big impact for sure and my guess is a few decades later he wound up as a character in the myth. It's testament to his influence that gnostic texts openly bash Yahweh and the patriarchs and so on but never explicitly Paul. I think they still hoped to co-opt him to their movement and used his words as proofs so could hardly then whack him openly.
True. There must've been a reason for "Valentinians" to consider them as such, though. Who would willingly make a state religion its enemy, and why?
ah, that's just spiritual elitism i think. But that particular complaint dates to 2nd century long before state religion times
I agree. The mystery being "state Jesus is false", I'd add; myth being "beware the usurpers of mind".
hmm, well possibly. a revealer Jesus vs a saviour Jesus maybe for some. Mind vs soul for most
Jewish philosophy was quite different with a more organic approach
My sole point here is that they as gnostics weren't divided at all. The NHL was means to getting pagan philosophers to agree with one and another and unite, countering the new reality which outlawed their former philosophies.

The label 'gnostic' was a reaction of the new Law to point out all their differences and divide them again.
that could be true at the time of Julian especially.. it could be part of that counter movement. interesting
however for sure the gnostics were very divided earlier having said that the situation wasn't much different over in orthodox circles... but it's easier to unite when the emperor is demanding it!
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Geocalyx
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Geocalyx »

But that's just it, while the gnostics described from history do indeed sound divided, the NHC texts, after looking past their superficial differences (example: never is the "sethian myth of creation" the same twice) - are all about the same thing in the end.

Here's the theosophian "Gnostic Key": it's political writings.

I find this very difficult to articulate properly, but bear with me.

The Christian texts, individually, are religious texts. The Holy Bible, as compiled, though, is ultimately a political text, inasmuch as it controls one's daily life and becomes a Constitution of a prosperous Christian nation. The political part is derived from the teaching ultimately presented in all of the texts, which regardless of all the differences they might feature, do indeed carry on a common thread of thought.

The NHC texts, individually, are anti-religious texts. ... can you see where I am going with this? What happens when one reads the NHC the way a pious man would read the Bible, looking for a common thread of thought and not historical errors and such? Well it turns out to be a political text.

The reaction in NHC is against an exclusive state power, not against Christianity by itself. That's why I think it's about Constantine; Orthodox Christianity did not have an exclusive position before him, at least not in Egypt. It also correlates with codices' guessed age.

These gnostics spoken of were probably dead themselves by the time these books were written. Regardless of what was said in the past, by the time these anthologies were physically made - the people doing this either weren't involved at all in theological arguments or have learned to look past them, because ... yeah, the books are certainly more about using your mind to help your community than they are about proper descriptions of Sabaoth's chariots.

... and btw Paul is made fun of. I pray to Apostle Paul! GIMME!!
davidmartin
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by davidmartin »

How about this, the NHC texts are 'world denying' which is kind of being political. If you deny the world one logical conclusion is to deny the legality of political authorities. That may get silly when a gnostic benefits from the world (ie can buy food to live). i guess i see a world denying outlook embedded in the NHC texts that goes very far in that direction
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Geocalyx
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Geocalyx »

Of course they are. They are denying the world imposed on them by an external figure.

And they have every right to "deny this world". Remember Egypt was defeated by Rome and in 325 the Emperor basically forbade even thinking differently. Public assemblies were eliminated and became churches even in word, for example. The whole world shifted for these folks. Everything was suddenly different. Logos meant something else. Ekklesia meant something else. Ish now meant Iesus, Khs meant a guy on a cross etc. No wonder they called it "imitation".

Btw this is apparently the brains of the same society that in the same century later on invoked as a benevolent deity the guy they heard was once persecuting Christians ... in their common household spells and such.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Leucius Charinus »

DCHindley wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 9:12 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:38 pm
DCHindley wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:21 pmHere's a PDF version.
File received! Thanks. I am adding the Greek text now.
This great thing that has just been done can be found here:

(Hindley, David C) Analysis of Plato Republic Bk IX (588a-589b) NHL & 2 Translations (2013-02-16).pdf


The original file had to do with the parallels between the Coptic translation of Plato's Republic and the Gospel of Thomas (several sayings), so for those who get into this kind of thing, here is Ben's updated file. The Greek is the edition preserved on www.Perseus.org.
Note to DCH (and Ben)

A great thing indeed!!!

I do note the bolded bits in the resultant parallel English translation and have now found some comments about them in the file. As it turns out I looked at this stuff in March 2009 (and afterwards) and wrote up my findings. I did not include the Greek but you guys seem to have sorted that out pretty well.

I am not sure whether we ever discussed this but if you are interested I am up to discussing this Plato extract. The bolded bits you have in your comparison file appear to coincide with the bits that I highlighted as different between the Coptic and the Greek. Most scholars refer to the Coptic extract as "an inept" or "a poor man's" translation of the Greek however I am inclined to view it as some form of purposeful hidden message which remains to be elucidated. Again your bolded parts (differences) are I think critical.

ETA1: ... possible parallels in the Gospel of Thomas? Have you looked at this Martijn Linssen?

ETA 2: From the pdf:
On the other hand, it appears to me that the Coptic translator captured much of the sense, with the major divergences marked with bold. In these cases, he seems to have reversed either the meaning or the tense of verbs. The other passages, however, seem to not notice these oddities, and returns right away to following the sense of the Greek.

Or do they serve to highlight some contemporary problems in the "Republic" when the Nag Hammadi Library was being assembled in the 4th century?

I was inclined to suggest the latter.
Here are my notes and findings:

http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/Plato ... ammadi.htm
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DCHindley
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by DCHindley »

Hi Pete,

I posted this on another thread recently:
Looks like you had made use of the comparative tables I had posted long ago on this, and possibly other materials/sources posted by Ben Smith and others, but my posts at the time were there to comment on the issue of interpretation in translation, hence the side by sides from several modern (well, 19th century) translations of the passage in Plato. They were all quite different from one another, making the Coptic translation in NHL not seem so bizarre, although many/most modern scholars can't help calling it inept or biased towards one of the "Gnostic" belief systems.

At that time I had simmered the driving issue to be the Coptic translator's concern over the way that a person's soul is multi-partite and great care is needed for the rational parts to govern the wilder elements. There was little or no influence that I detected from gnostic systems that interpreted the Judean God as somehow an inferior copy of the true godhead. We moderns, including most critics, want to compartmentalize this NHL stuff in a way that marginalizes them as inferior to the "correct" Christian POV we all grew up with, regardless of whether we believed the Christian POV or not. For a version of this way of marginalizing so-called gnostic texts (on steroids) see Simone Petrement's A Separate God: The Christian origins of Gnosticism (French 1984, English translation 1990).

I was also probably thinking this illustrated another issue, the post modern realization that all historical evidence is interpreted in light of the present reality, and consequently all relative (that is, opinion about what probably actually happened interpreted through the lens of our modern experiences). In other words, there is no "right" answer. Rather than be alarmed by this, I embrace it as part of the art of developing historical "explanations."
Give me a little time to digest the links you provided. We are doing a little babysitting (on steroids) later today (a 3 y/o with special needs and a newborn), and printing some images to use on posters for a "buddy walk" supporting individuals with Down's syndrome, which might take a bite out of my time.

DCH
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