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The Gnostic Writings


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Anyone have any views on the writings of the Gnostic Christians? What they mean, where they came from, what they are about, what role they might or might not play in understanding early Christianity or the historicity of Jesus, their value as historical and/or theological documents, etc.

 

Here are some links I found today:

 

The Gnostic Archive is an immense treasure of information on the writings of the Gnostic Christians.

 

A site about the three gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth

 

Early Christian Writings contains the canonical and the Gnostic writings.

 

Entry for "gnosticism" at Wikipedia.

 

Entry for "gnosticism" at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

 

Hoping to learn more myself by learning what everyone here thinks about Gnosticism.

 

-CC in MA

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Hey there CC, I don't want to derail this thread from the outset, but in beginning to read through some of links that you provided I came across this...

 

"All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it."

 

It now seems somewhat vague to me, but I seem to remember abandoning the notion that "the world is imperfect." I'm not really even sure what that would mean anymore. It seems also at that time I went through a rather lengthy wrestling match with existentialism. The universe just is, period.

 

Anyway, I'm just offering up some thoughts that have occurred to me so far.

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Hey there CC, I don't want to derail this thread from the outset, but in beginning to read through some of links that you provided I came across this...

 

"All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it."

 

It now seems somewhat vague to me, but I seem to remember abandoning the notion that "the world is imperfect." I'm not really even sure what that would mean anymore. It seems also at that time I went through a rather lengthy wrestling match with existentialism. The universe just is, period.

 

Anyway, I'm just offering up some thoughts that have occurred to me so far.

 

Interesting thought. Probably that's right -- all religions posit that something is wrong. But is it? And what does this mean? Earthquakes are quite natural, as are hurricanes and tsunamis. While they cause loss of human life for which we mourn and grieve, an earthquake cannot be "wrong" or "bad" or "evil." It just is. The natural world just is and this could be extrapolated to mean, as you wrote, that the universe just is. The natural world and the universe are neutral and we better not build our homes beneath Mt. Vesuvius.

 

That brings us to biological life on our planet. Remember those old (you'll have to be over 35 to have any memory of this!) Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom programs on television? Life in nature is, as Thomas Hobbes, wrote, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Does it make the lion that kills the lamb wrong or immoral or evil? Seems not. The lion just is, and just follows its instinct. Is the stingray or shark that kills a person swimming in the water evil or wrong? No, it just is.

 

And then we come to our self-aware species. There's where the debate is wide open, I suppose. And that's where religion comes in with its theories and cures and ideas.

 

-CC in MA

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Hey there CC, I don't want to derail this thread from the outset, but in beginning to read through some of links that you provided I came across this...

 

"All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it."

 

It now seems somewhat vague to me, but I seem to remember abandoning the notion that "the world is imperfect." I'm not really even sure what that would mean anymore. It seems also at that time I went through a rather lengthy wrestling match with existentialism. The universe just is, period.

 

Anyway, I'm just offering up some thoughts that have occurred to me so far.

 

Interesting thought. Probably that's right -- all religions posit that something is wrong. But is it? And what does this mean? Earthquakes are quite natural, as are hurricanes and tsunamis. While they cause loss of human life for which we mourn and grieve, an earthquake cannot be "wrong" or "bad" or "evil." It just is. The natural world just is and this could be extrapolated to mean, as you wrote, that the universe just is. The natural world and the universe are neutral and we better not build our homes beneath Mt. Vesuvius.

 

That brings us to biological life on our planet. Remember those old (you'll have to be over 35 to have any memory of this!) Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom programs on television? Life in nature is, as Thomas Hobbes, wrote, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Does it make the lion that kills the lamb wrong or immoral or evil? Seems not. The lion just is, and just follows its instinct. Is the stingray or shark that kills a person swimming in the water evil or wrong? No, it just is.

 

And then we come to our self-aware species. There's where the debate is wide open, I suppose. And that's where religion comes in with its theories and cures and ideas.

 

-CC in MA

 

Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

 

If a perfect diamond becomes covered in mud and grime - is it now imperfect? And if you clean the diamond of its mud and grime is it not perfect again?

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

 

If a perfect diamond becomes covered in mud and grime - is it now imperfect? And if you clean the diamond of its mud and grime is it not perfect again?

 

 

Good point. But where does the mud and grime come from? How does Zen say we rid our diamonds of these contaminants?

 

-CC in MA

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

 

If a perfect diamond becomes covered in mud and grime - is it now imperfect? And if you clean the diamond of its mud and grime is it not perfect again?

 

 

Good point. But where does the mud and grime come from? How does Zen say we rid our diamonds of these contaminants?

 

-CC in MA

 

Ah, now you'll have to think about that one. :D

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

 

If a perfect diamond becomes covered in mud and grime - is it now imperfect? And if you clean the diamond of its mud and grime is it not perfect again?

 

 

Good point. But where does the mud and grime come from? How does Zen say we rid our diamonds of these contaminants?

 

-CC in MA

 

Ah, now you'll have to think about that one. :D

 

Perfect Zen answer. Thank you! I'll sit in front of a white wall for the next 24 hours and see what I come up with. :HaHa:

 

-CC in MA

 

-CC in MA

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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

 

If a perfect diamond becomes covered in mud and grime - is it now imperfect? And if you clean the diamond of its mud and grime is it not perfect again?

 

 

Good point. But where does the mud and grime come from? How does Zen say we rid our diamonds of these contaminants?

 

-CC in MA

 

Ah, now you'll have to think about that one. :D

 

Perfect Zen answer. Thank you! I'll sit in front of a white all for the next 24 hours and see what I come up with. :HaHa:

 

-CC in MA

 

-CC in MA

 

The wall need not be white, I prefer cream or tea green myself! :HaHa:

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Anyone have any views on the writings of the Gnostic Christians?
The same as any other religious goup, not much. As with any religion they are desperately trying to fit what they see into an a priori assumption the god they believe in is real.
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Buddhists don't posit that anything is wrong or imperfect. The world and all in it is perfect as is. We too are perfect and born as everything else, pure and unadulterated. It's when we loose sight of that through our own ingnorance and self-imposed delusions that things SEEM wrong, imperfect.

 

Wouldn't the fact that we can loose sight of our perfection through our own, as you wrote, ignorance and self-imposed delusions, mean that we are imperfect? Would a perfect being succumb to ignorance and delusion?

 

-CC in MA

Ahhh....many parellels to the Genesis myth isn't there? :) I think that is exactly what the myth means. It is by our own accord that we SEEM imperfect, when we are actually perfect. Somewhere throughout the ages this same concept became corrupted to mean that we are born imperfect because of the first self-imposed delusion represented by Adam and Eve...not so. What is the serpent? The prince of lies. What are lies? Delusions. What happens when we believe in lies? We become deluded. It is a story of the state of humanity, IMO. It's the same notion that you two are discussing.

 

Adam and Eve were perfect right, yet they succumbed to ignorance and delusion (so the myth goes). That does not mean that they were suddenly imperfect and all their offspring became so too. It just means that this seemingly imperfection is passed on through all generations because they are taught that they are imperfect. A little irony there isn't there? Adam and Eve represent all of humanity.

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Good point. But where does the mud and grime come from? How does Zen say we rid our diamonds of these contaminants?

 

-CC in MA

Stop believing in the lie of imperfection. Of course, that would do away with the need for a sacrifical saviour, but not the need for a little direction. :wicked:

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I'm reading the Gospel of Judas.

 

I think that the gnostics are as mad as any religionists can be.

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