The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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mlinssen
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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by mlinssen »

MrMacSon wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 9:15 pm

SON OF ADAM OR SON OF NUT?

The foregoing survey and associated discussion has revealed that the two principal Seths – the Egyptian god and the son of Adam – maintain, for the most part, separate trajectories in the religious and magical literature of ancient Egypt, the Near East and the Mediterranean. This is remarkable. The Egyptian and Gnostic Seths are associated primarily with Egypt, so cross‑‑talk between two divine agents with similar names would be expected at least in documents or inscriptions from that country – yet this is hardly ever the case, and claims of overlap are invariably disputed.

Lloyd D. Graham "Which Seth?"
https://hcommons.org/deposits/objects/h ... NT/content


I think if the "Egyptian and Gnostic Seths are associated primarily with Egypt" yet hardly if ever overlap, and there is another Seth, the son of Adam, then that would seem to be three Seths, not two. But that doesn't really detract from the contribution Graham makes to understanding the history or the Seths.
The Gnostic Seth is the Egyptian Seth.
The Tanakh Seth would be irrelevant in Egypt of course
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MrMacSon
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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by MrMacSon »

mlinssen wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 9:17 am The Gnostic Seth is the Egyptian Seth.
The Tanakh Seth would be irrelevant in Egypt of course
It's not as simple as that

eg. From David Litwa, The Evil Creator (and in the following post)

Prior to the screenshots below was a short sub-section about the Egyptian Seth ("identified with the Phoenician storm god Baal - the theological cousin, so to speak, of YHWH in Judea") in which he said,


".. the Greeks had long identified [the Egyptian Seth] with Typhon, lord of chaos...more a monster than a god ..

".. it was logical for Greeks to identify Seth with Typhon and in scholarly literature his name regularly appears in hybrid form as "Seth-Typhon.

"Hellenized Egyptians capitalized on this ... malice seems to hae been the chief motive, and the translational practice was part of a large program of mythmaking ... YHWH became Seth for Egyptians when they revised their historical memory to oppose the perceived political and cultural threat posed by Jewish lore in Egypt."


LitwaEvilCreatorSeth1.png
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Last edited by MrMacSon on Fri May 13, 2022 4:31 pm, edited 14 times in total.
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MrMacSon
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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by MrMacSon »

LitwaEvilCreatorSeth4a.png
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MrMacSon
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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by MrMacSon »

Separate and, in fact, quite removed from all that immediately above (which seems to be mostly Hellenized Egyptian activity), is what we see in texts attributed to [Gnostic-]-Christian Sethians such as Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1), a text often dated to the early 3rd century (like the other so-called platonizing Sethian treatises), which, as the title suggests, is an ascent apocalypse written in the name of or about Zostrianos who Arnobius, a Christian writer around 300 CE, tells us was considered to be the grandfather of Zoroaster/Zarathustra ie. a pre-Mosaic/pre-Jewish entity.

As David Litwa said in the video LC posted upthread (and below), "the author is pretending to be a Persian sage who is living thousands of years before Jesus, so it wouldn't really be very logical for him to be mentioning Jesuses or Christ's left and right because, essentially, the life of Jesus hasn't happened yet and won't happen for another few thousand years.

"Yet Zostrianos has many Christian features eg. baptisms;* early Christian perceptions of Platonic daimones as demons; a reference to a being who 'suffers unsufferingly', a common way for Christians at some point in time to have referred to Jesus; and there's a coded reference to Jesus with the double mention of a figure called Yessus Mazareus Yessedekeus, a mystical name which apparently can be translated as 'Jesus of Nazareth the Just One'."

* Zostrianus is overwhelmingly positive about baptism as the primary means of transformation in the heavens. There's a reference to faith, hope and love that are associated with the first three luminaries and these are [likely reflected in] the three theological virtues that appear in 1 Corinthians 13 (so there's potentially a knowledge of Paul in Zostrianus).

Last edited by MrMacSon on Thu May 19, 2022 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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billd89
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Re: The Sethian Gnostics

Post by billd89 »

Christian Sethians are Sethians who adopted parts of the Christ myth (100-175 C.E.); Turner dates Sethian works to 125 AD, and generally speaking, he's a Late Dater.

Pre-Christian Sethians (who Josephus has told us about, those of the Sethrum/Syriad in Egypt) are probably the best candidate for that 'Sons of God' cult which Philo Judaeus (c.25 AD) is forever mentioning, with all their mystical trappings and controversy. They were numerous in the Diaspora, but esp. in Egypt. So he seeks to influence them; some have gone too far, become outright heretics.

The Sethrum had been settled by Phoenician Semites for +800 years; Sethian culture was ancient. Their rites of baptismal enlightenment may have been hundreds of years old and varied, by 100 AD.
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Re: The Sethian Gnostics

Post by MrMacSon »

billd89 wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 11:44 am
... Sethian culture was ancient. Their rites of baptismal enlightenment may have been hundreds of years old and varied, by 100 AD.

Christian Sethians are Sethians who adopted parts of the Christ myth (100-175 C.E.); Turner dates Sethian works to 125 AD, and generally speaking, he's a Late Dater.

Cheers. I web-searched for 'Sethrum Josephus' and the two most significant results on the first page were

1. Your recent post on the Jewish section of this forum viewtopic.php?p=137117#p137117 with a map showing Sethrum, and

2. this Wikipedia page, https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herakleopolis_Mikra, with reference to Σέθρον, Sethron; Heracleopolis Swarm, Heracleus, Heraclium, Sethrum in relation to Herakleopolis Mikra an ancient city located in Lower Egypt, the Nile Delta, and belonged to The Nomos of Sethroite (where Nomos = district/county/province). Clicking on The Nomos of Sethroite gives, when translated to English, "It received its Greek name during the Hellenistic period, the Ptolemy period, when it was named after its then capital. The name was used during the Greco-Roman period in Egypt ... The main god of Nomos was Horus.[9] Heru.[5] [which may or may not be accurate or pertinent depending on chronology]"

billd89 wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 11:44 am Pre-Christian Sethians (who Josephus has told us about, those of the Sethrum/Syriad in Egypt) are probably the best candidate for that 'Sons of God' cult which Philo Judaeus (c.25 AD) is forever mentioning, with all their mystical trappings and controversy. They were numerous in the Diaspora, but esp. in Egypt. So he* seeks to influence them; some have gone too far, become outright heretics.
Who sought to influence them? Philo?

As for Josephus, he mentions Seth in Antiquities 1.2.3 - 3.4, at least. A note (13), by Whiston, I presume, refers to the "Josephus’s mistake" wrt to the Pillars, "when he took Seth the son of Adam, for Seth or Sesostris King of Egypt, the erector of these Pillars in the land of Siriad, see Essay on the Old Testament, Appendix, pp. 159, 160."

- - - - - - -

for posterity

https://www.trismegistos.org/text/26562

and


Sesostris (Greek: Σέσωστρις), also transliterated as Sesoösis, or Sesonchosis, is the name of a legendary king of ancient Egypt who, according to Herodotus, led a military expedition into parts of Europe ... Herodotus [Histories 2.102] relates that when Sesostris defeated an army without much resistance he erected a pillar in their capital with a vulva on it to symbolize the fact that the army fought like women ...

According to Diodorus Siculus (who calls him Sesoosis) and Strabo, he conquered the whole world, even Scythia and Ethiopia, divided Egypt into administrative districts or nomes, was a great law-giver, and introduced a caste system into Egypt and the worship of Serapis
[https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Enc ... /Sesostris : "Sesostris is evidently a mythical figure calculated to satisfy the pride of the Egyptians in their ancient achievements, after they had come into contact with the great conquerors of Assyria and Persia"]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sesostris


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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by Leucius Charinus »

MrMacSon wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 2:43 pm Separate and, in fact, quite removed from all that immediately above (which seems to be mostly Hellenized Egyptian activity), is what we see in texts attributed to [Gnostic-]-Christian Sethians such as Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1), a text often dated to the early 3rd century (like the other so-called platonizing Sethian treatises), which, as the title suggests, is an ascent apocalypse written in the name of or about Zostrianos who Arnobius, a Christian writer around 300 CE, tells us was considered to be the grandfather of Zoroaster/Zarathustra ie. a pre-Mosaic/pre-Jewish entity.

As David Litwa said in the video LC posted upthread (and below), "the author is pretending to be a Persian sage who is living thousands of years before Jesus, so it wouldn't really be very logical for him to be mentioning Jesuses or Christ's left and right because, essentially, the life of Jesus hasn't happened yet and won't happen for another few thousand years".
IMO the author is purposefully creating a story to pre-date the story of Moses from Hebrew antiquity which he found in the Greek LXX. The common principle being the greater the antiquity of the story the greater kudos. The author is therefore (IMO) attempting to undermine both the Jewish and the Christian story. We may not know when the author originally wrote Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1) but we do know that the editor of the NHL (and thus Zostrianos) flourished in the mid 4th century and thus after the political establishment of the Nicene church orthodoxy.

Here is another informative article by John D Turner:

GNOSTICISM AND PLATONISM
THE PLATONIZING SETHIAN TEXTS FROM NAG HAMMADI IN THEIR RELATION TO LATER PLATONIC LITERATURE
by
JOHN D. TURNER
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
pages 425-459 in Gnosticism and Neoplatonism
(Ed. R. T. Wallis and J. Bregman. Studies in Neoplatonism 6. Albany: SUNY Press, 1992)


The attentive reader of the Sethian treatises contained in the Coptic Gnostic Library from Nag Hammadi is no doubt struck by the rather large fund of philosophical and technical terminology that they contain, particularly in their descriptions of the divine world and in certain cases their portrayal of the means necessary to become assimilated to that world. The intention of this paper is to examine this phenomenon and try to account for certain of its aspects as owing to an interaction between gnostic Sethians and a presumably well-established fund of metaphysical speculation deriving from Neopythagorean and Middle-platonic circles of the first three centuries of our era.

Current scholarship considers the following literature to be representative of Sethian gnostic doctrine: The "Barbeloite" report of Irenaeus (Haer. I.29); the reports on the Sethians (and Archontics and related groups) by Epiphanius (Haer. 26 & 39-40), pseudo-Tertullian (Haer. 2) and Filastrius (Haer. 3); the untitled text from the Bruce Codex (Bruce, Untitled); and the following treatises from the Nag Hammadi and Berlin gnostic codices: four versions of the Apocryphon of John (Ap. John: short versions, BG 8502, 2 and NHC III, 1; long versions NHC II, 1 and III, 1); The Hypostasis of the Archons (Hyp. Arch.: NHC II, 4); The Gospel of the Egyptians (Gos. Egypt.: NHC III, 2 and IV, 2); The Apocalypse of Adam (Apoc. Adam: NHC V, 5); The Three Steles of Seth(Steles Seth: NHC VII, 5); Zostrianos (Zost.: NHC VIII, 1); Melchizedek (Melch. : NHC IX, 1); The Thought of Norea (Norea: IX, 2); Marsanes (NHC X, 1); Allogenes (NHC XI, 3) and Trimorphic Protennoia (Trim. Prot.: NHC XIII, 1).


https://web.archive.org/web/20070622200 ... iadaft.htm

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Re: Zostrianos

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 6:29 pmWe may not know when the author originally wrote Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1) but we do know that the editor of the NHL (and thus Zostrianos) flourished in the mid 4th century and thus after the political establishment of the Nicene church orthodoxy.
We don't know from who, when or where the FIRST 'Zostrianos' story emerged. Nor how many variants circulated. Nor how close Porphyry (c.270 AD) was to the origin of the myth ("recent" in Antiquity might be 100-150 years.) We don't know which version of 'Zostrianos' he read. But, within reason, for Zostrianos to be famous 'his' works must have circulated +70-100 yrs.

Late-Dater Turner says Zostrianos is from ~225 AD; I'd suppose 175-200 AD. I think the mythic character is older, tho; before 125 AD and 'Zostrianos' saw many emendations thereafter.

This material comes out of a culture that was established and dynamic; but it wasnt fighting a catholic/orthodox Church. Its older than the earliest heresiologists, by +100 years.
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Re: Zostrianos

Post by andrewcriddle »

billd89 wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 7:02 pm
Leucius Charinus wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 6:29 pmWe may not know when the author originally wrote Zostrianos (NHC VIII,1) but we do know that the editor of the NHL (and thus Zostrianos) flourished in the mid 4th century and thus after the political establishment of the Nicene church orthodoxy.
We don't know from who, when or where the FIRST 'Zostrianos' story emerged. Nor how many variants circulated. Nor how close Porphyry (c.270 AD) was to the origin of the myth ("recent" in Antiquity might be 100-150 years.) We don't know which version of 'Zostrianos' he read. But, within reason, for Zostrianos to be famous 'his' works must have circulated +70-100 yrs.

Late-Dater Turner says Zostrianos is from ~225 AD; I'd suppose 175-200 AD. I think the mythic character is older, tho; before 125 AD and 'Zostrianos' saw many emendations thereafter.

This material comes out of a culture that was established and dynamic; but it wasnt fighting a catholic/orthodox Church. Its older than the earliest heresiologists, by +100 years.
If one accepts (as I do) that Zostrianos is influenced by Platonic texts that make use of the Chaldaean Oracles then a date much before 225 CE is unlikely.

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Re: The Sethian School of 'Gnostic' Thought

Post by billd89 »

Compared to (bad idea) this Zostrianos, the fragmentary 'Chaldean Oracles' are several rungs lower in terms of reliability. Zostrianos is an artefact; the Oracles are hearsay about which we can only speculate.

Chaldean Oracles attributed to Julian the Theurgist and/or his father, Julian the Chaldean, presumably date to the period of Marcus Aurelius c.180 AD. The material behind the Chaldaean Oracles probably dates c.125 AD, the high-point for Sethian writings (c.115-145 AD) 'coming out of Egypt'. The horrific persecution of the Jews (in 38 & 115 AD) and devastation of their community in Egypt must have caused an exodus of Hebraic literati to places like Byblos, Sidon, Tyre. That Judeo-Egyptian generation (born 65-85 AD) - increasingly heterodox in the face of persecution and exile - assimiliated and became teachers of local elites in cities of the Diaspora. This is how and why the similiar and related doctrines of (Judeo) Hermeticism and Sethianism spread so widely out of Alexandria in the late 1st & 2nd C. AD.

Sethians (heterodox Judeo-Phoenicians of the Sethrum, sometimes called 'Samaritans' or 'Chaldaeans') had a long historical connection to Syria as their homeland (i.e. Baal-zephon/Zeus Kasios) by coastal trade. In Byblos, Lucian of Samosata (c.125 AD) was initiated into a cult of Adonis; some (heterodox) believed it was Osiris. (Heterodox) Judeo-Egyptian sailors had carried human teachers, their literature (i.e. books) and their ideas across the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. So Middle-Platonic ideas of the Oracles were already current in the First Century AD (i.e. Philo Judaeus) and therefore older. Julian the Theurgist (born c.160 AD), son of Julian the Chaldean (c.125-185 AD), participated in the culture of a region then influenced by Sethian doctrines and other Alexandrian teachings. Theurgist/Therapeut ideas permeated Alexandria a generation or two earlier, 'Egyptian theurgy' (Isis & the Jews) was the most in/famous in Rome, and book-production & dissemination by (Judeo?) Egyptian traders all lent an outsized spiritual (Hermetic-Gnostic) influence to the cosmopolis in the Eastern Mediterranean. In short, it's really no surprise to see such 'Egyptian' (Judaic intellectual) traces in Alexandrian-taught or -derivative Syrian writers of the 2nd C. likewise.



In the 1st C. AD, Alexandria was basically like New York in the 20th C. You may not realize how much 'New York' produced ideology you are consuming, but if you regularly watch(ed) American tee-vee you're basically brainwashed by New York product. (A similar argument can be made for 'London'.)
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