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Are gnostics very Christian?

To: soc.religion.gnosis
From: (Brett Zombro)
Subject: Re: Are gnostics very Christian?
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 19:38:54 GMT

Keldri wrote:
> I read several books on gnosticism, and was enthralled....Then I
> checked out these gnostic newsgroups, and was put off by all
> the Christian threads...especially so much emphasis on Jesus,
> the New Testament etc. This has nothing to do with what drew
> me to gnosticism....I'm not Christian, and I find the most meaning
> in the facets of gnosticism that relate to Sophia, the Divine
> Spirit, Jehovah's rebellion against the feminine source etc...
> I'm just wondering though if most people who embrace gnosticism
> today focus on the "Jesus as savior" element, which in my own
> study does not appear to be its central facet....
I don't know about "today"; there are certainly plenty of non-Christian
currents in gnosticism through history.  Maybe you just got here on a 
bad day.

Seriously, though, it's pretty hard to find any very *long* tradition
of gnostic thought that did not at some point get tangled up with the 
theology of one of the major world religions.  But not all are
and some of the early Christian traditions are sufficiently ambiguous
about the saviour/redeemer/revealer figure that you can pretty well
detach them from the main current of christian theology.
But are you trying to *learn* about non-Cristian gnosticism, or are 
you looking more to talk to actual living non-christian gnostics?
If the former, you might take a look at some of Pheme Perkins' work
on the relation between gnosticism and early Christianity.   Although
she is mainly interested in the Christian side of the tradition, she has
done a pretty good job IMHO of separating out the heavily christianized
texts from the ones with a more generalized "revealer" theme not
necessarily associated with the J-man.

Gershom Scholem's work is the standard starting point for Jewish 
gnosticism.  I don't know much about connections with other religions,
modern paganism, or separatist traditions.

I'm interested in the non-Xtian angle as well, but I'm not as deeply 
into the myth element as you seem to be.  But by all means keep
posting any interesting discoveries/insights.

Brett Zombro

"Silence is Foo"

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