Gnosticism and John

irrespective
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Gnosticism and John

Okay, so I've run into a few comments here on the forums about the writings of John being influenced by Gnosticism and using that alleged influence as a means for dating the books.  I would like to discuss/debate this topic here if any of you would be interested.  Just in case you were wondering, I would be defending the negative position that John's writings were not influenced by Gnosticism.

 


irrespective
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Eloise wrote: asceticism?

Eloise wrote:
asceticism? That's hardly unique to Gnostic practice, I disagree that the endorsement of ascetic virtue is relevant. OTOH the John Gospel does deal in dualism and inner divinity, how does it not?

 

While asceticism is not unique to Gnostic, it is one of its distinguishing characteristics in contrast to Christianity.  My point there was that if GoJ were a gnostic gospel it would more than likely contain asceticism, given that was a common characteristic in Christian gnosticism of the 2nd century.  There is also a dualism in John, but not all dualisms are created equal.  Traditional Christianity may be considered dualistic in a sense, as was Platonism and Judaism, etc.  But gnosticism taught a specific kind of dualism (matter/evil/darkness vs. spirit/good/light) which does not appear in John.  I do not see any teaching in John that may be interpreted to promote a "divine spark" in every man...perhaps you could enlighten me on that if  you don't mind.

 

Also, given that I have not run into a Christian gnostic previously, perhaps if you don't mind you could give a brief run-down if your belief system.  Thanks.

 

 


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irrespective wrote:

irrespective wrote:

Eloise wrote:
asceticism? That's hardly unique to Gnostic practice, I disagree that the endorsement of ascetic virtue is relevant. OTOH the John Gospel does deal in dualism and inner divinity, how does it not?

 

While asceticism is not unique to Gnostic, it is one of its distinguishing characteristics in contrast to Christianity.

What kind of Christianity does it contrast?

Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

If you are talking about a contemporary post-reformation church following which prides itself in having identified with some distance with archaic practices, then you are not really talking about christianity as a whole, you know.

Take your St. Jerome (c. 347–419 or 420) or St. Augustine (354–430) , both fervent promoters of asceticism in judaic christian practice, and, further, christian monasticism is the one most well-known and recognised ascetic movements in all western history.

Asceticism does not contrast against christianity, it is a deeply intertwined part of church christianity and its forebear in ancient judaism.

 

irrespective wrote:

My point there was that if GoJ were a gnostic gospel it would more than likely contain asceticism, given that was a common characteristic in Christian gnosticism of the 2nd century.

I'm not with you when you talk in terms of centuries, sorry. If there is a distinction to be made that relates to a specific time period it's not something have have the ability to debate with you, as I said before. Speaking strictly from my chiefly literary exposure to Gnosticism I can only say that asceticism is not something that I have found to be central to the gnosis.

Quote:

There is also a dualism in John, but not all dualisms are created equal. Traditional Christianity may be considered dualistic in a sense, as was Platonism and Judaism, etc. But gnosticism taught a specific kind of dualism (matter/evil/darkness vs. spirit/good/light)

Actually that dualism is more christian than gnostic, and it's kind of what I originally meant by questioning what you understood of gnosis. This light v darkness concept of duality corresponds directly with christian tenets, like original sin, which is not true of gnosis. Gnosis does not directly correspond with christian beliefs. That is your first clue that your idea of dualism is a misconception, I daresay, a common misconception.

Gnostic duality runs more parrallel with pantheism. In Gnosis Dualism is the understanding of matter and spirit; light and darkness, inner being and evironment; as corresponding aspects of each other. Matter is not evil to the gnostic, in a sense it is more like a relatively flawed twin-self of spirit.

try this link:

http://www.gnosticsanctuary.org/faq_gnosticism.html#twoB

 

irrespective wrote:

which does not appear in John.

19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

 

irrespective wrote:

I do not see any teaching in John that may be interpreted to promote a "divine spark" in every man...perhaps you could enlighten me on that if you don't mind.

Assuming we are not going to get into a debate about the realtionship between the John Gospels and the Epistles, I'll quote:

1John1

20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

 

irrespective wrote:

Also, given that I have not run into a Christian gnostic previously, perhaps if you don't mind you could give a brief run-down if your belief system. Thanks.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I am christian gnostic in any exclusive sense. My belief system is eclectic and temperate. What corresponds in terms of the christian teachings to my actual belief structure is the gnosis which makes it true to say I have christian gnostic leanings, but it is also true to say my religion involves alchemy, pantheism, philosophical deism, hindu-jainism and tao-buddhism, these all run virtually parrallel in essentials.

The main essential of all is the duality, the difference between gnostic dualism and orthodox dualism is subtle but crucial to understand. In Gnosis the duality is like two sides of the same coin. The gnostic has no external enemy force bearing down on it, only choices, some choices you make will lead you to the enemy within yourself. And both the right path and the wrong path involve embracing that internal flawedness, with love of the light, or love of the darkness respectively.

Beyond the duality, which is the basis and the whole, the other essentials of these belief structures are the thirst for knowledge or enlightenment, the source of knowledge, wisdom, and the god in all/all in god truth, AKA Brahman (hindu), Primal Unity (Tao) GoT: Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there...... etc.

As for asceticism, it would be chosen by a few devout in some form of attestation to the central importance of seeking wisdom over passion, it is not more central to gnosis than to christianity, really, and as a practice its predominance is in direct correspondence with chritian monastic practice.

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