Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paul was not a gnostic part 1

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Here I have another fun exchange with my Jesus myther friend "Grog" who remains one of the best dialogue partners on carm. .

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Originally Posted by grog225 View Post
Paul the Gnostic

So now we are ready to consider Paul’s thoughts. First, let’s consider the main elements of Jewish Gnosticism and how it relates to wisdom or “Sophia.” Gnosticism held that the world was created by a demiurge, the malformed offspring of Sophia (wisdom). The Demiurge is the ruler of this material world often with Sophia enthroned alongside him. Depending on the version, Sophia created the demiurge in an attempt to be as the Supreme Aeon. So we have this dualistic world: the demiurge and the Supreme Aeon. Within this world, Sophia plays a dual, ambivalent role: she is on the one hand responsible for the evil material world and on the other hand the source of wisdom from the Supreme Aeon (see McRae, Novum Testamentum, 1971).

Earlier, I posted 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 and proclaimed it to be the bedrock of Paul’s thinking. Metacrock countered saying that Paul specifically rejected wisdom in 1 Cor 2:6:

1 Cor 2:6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

Metacrock’s error here was failing to recognize the ambivalent nature of Sophia, both as agent of the material world and as agent of the Supreme God. In 1 Cor 2:6, Paul explicitly references that:”We do, however, speak of Sophia among the mature” (or in some translations, ‘perfected’). Then “Not of Sophia of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” This exactly and precisely reflects Jewish Gnostic thought of the times. Note that the ‘rulers of this age’ are the evil elemental spirits, agents of the Demiurge:



No Sophia was the good guy among the gnostic, she was their goddess.

Actually I have no idea where you get the idea that this statement is the bedrock of Paul's thought? It's only the time ever talked this way.Most scholars are convinced that he adopts this kind of language for no other reason than to humor the Corinthian proto gnostic so he can lead them down the garden path to his own view. You are merely willing to read into it at ever opportunity the slightest nuance that puts a myther spin on it. Of course your motive for doing that its merely to fit the Doherty time table on grounding Jesus in history by the next century, and then making it appear that Paul supported some sort of gnostic or mystery cult myth making in the first century, so that you can subvert the history of Christianity and make it appear that it came out of mystery cult sources.

see Koester, in his chapter on John, he takes the prologue to be an anti-gnostic counter to the Sophia cult. Ancient Christian Gospels.


Koester tells us "Paul not only alludes to the sayings where were evidently of crucial importance to his opponents, he also adopts their schema of revelation which speaks of the things that were formerly hidden, but have now been revealed. This scheme is characteristic of the Q sayings...though it is not really typical of the Synoptic Saying Source as a whole. IN the genuine Pauline letters, it is used only in 1 Cor 2:6-16, while it occurs frequently in the deutero-Pauline letters and also appears in the secondary ending of Romans" (16:25-26).(Koster p.59)


"For the Corinthian wisdom theology this revelation schema, of central importance for their understanding of salvation, it related to the sayings tradition by another element, namely, the recourse to the authority of certain persons: Paul, Appeals, Cephas, possibly Christ "(1 Cor 1:12, 3:4-5, 22).(Koester p 62)

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“However, it appears to us that these names have been indiscriminately used by Paul to designate the cosmic powers. Besides them there are also "OS0L 7oXXoi" and "xupmo ToXXoA" (I Cor. viii 5), "aocv 6votoca votaocC6irvoq" (Eph. i 21), and "erzoupavoc" and "MysWoc" and "xoraXocovLc" (Phil. ii Io). Finally, some of their names with cosmic bearings are "xootpoxp'Tops; TOU C7XOTOU TOToou" (Eph. vi 12), "a'roloa" (Gal. iv 3, 9; Col. ii 8, 20), and "'dpXovTzo zo ax6O0ou TOUTou" (I Cor. ii 6-8). These designations seemingly correspond to the Johannine title for the supreme demonic being…”(Lee, Novum Testamentum, 1971)[emphasis added]


That is all third century. We have no writing's from the gnostics from the first century, except those mentioned nit he NEw testament, and couple of lost gospels such as Egerton 2 or the Gospel of the Savior, but they do not include these kinds of characters found at Nag Hammadi. Everything from Nag Hammodi is third century.

When Paul says "we struggle not against flesh and blood" (totally anti-gnostic statement because they did struggle against flesh) "but against principalities and powers" he's talking about the demonic force in the Roman empire not just the powers that the gnostic dreaded running into after death. That whole business about the powers keeping the spirit from the plaroma is latter. We don't have an example of it ni the first century. It looks like it evolved.

so you are trying to impose the third century style of gnosis upon the first century before it even existed. And there's no evdience for the type of gnostic Doherty reads back into the era before Chrsit. either.


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“All this suggests that St. Paul did not think about earthly kings and authorities, but rather about spiritual entities located somewhere in space, the ambivalent spiritual powers behind the earthly authorities.” (Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae, 1965)


So what if he did? Jews believed in demonic powers. But he's probably talking about demonic powers as they pertained to the Roman administration. There is nothing uniquely gnostic about that.


Now it is probable that Paul did use this phrase of demonic powers. But he believed that demonic powers played a hand in the running of the world, the affairs of state, that they controlled governments. They were able to motivate the crucifixion for this very reason. That still means however that the crucifixion was in history. It is the demonic powers influence over human affairs of which he speaks, not some ethereal events in some realm removed form history (Whiteley, Theology of St.Paul Fortress:1965, 229).


2:7 "No we speak of God's secret Wisdom. A wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rules of this age understood it for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. "(8)






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Quispel adds “behind the earthly authorities” but I think that presumes too much that the crucifixion is an actual event

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you are begging the question. there is no reason to assume otherwise, you are treating the gap in knowledge a proven fact.


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In fact, in Romans 13 Paul refers to the governing authorities as agents of the Supreme God, not the Demiurge (I have argued this elsewhere and for the sake of space, I won’t do so here). So I agree with Quispel up to “spiritual powers” period.
supreme God in comparison with pagan gods. The God who really exists vs teh "gods" who are really the demons. given what he says in Rom 1 that makes such perfect sense and is clearly what he means!


That's imposing the reading upon the text. There's no connection between the idea that civil authoities are agents of God so therefore that must be a reference to the "true God" above the dimurge. That's certainly a warpped way to look at it.

(1) Clearly he's talking about human governments, for he would hardly advize us to pray that God would bless the authorities and keep them peaceful so we wont be persecuted and the talking about demonic powers.

(2) The phrase "principalities and powers" probably does refer to demons but as they work their evil through human governments. You are using that to connected to what you take to be a gnostic dichotomy but there no reason at all to connect it in that way. It makes just as much sense with Christian, who would also be talking bout demonic powers.

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So having set aside Metacrock’s objection, let’s look at the rest of 1 Cor 2:6-10:
1 Cor 2:6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
I sense a twister coming on. He uses the same pharse who ti must be same idea for the same group.


this is still just more of your refusal to understand the uniqueness of this kind of talk in Pauline usage means he had a special reason for speaking to these guys this way. This was not Paul's usual way of speaking, which indicates something different is going on and we can't take it to be indicative of his real beliefs. In other words he's trying to reason with them no their own terms!

here's the sort of ink blot job you are doing on the language:

Barit means covenant in Hebrew

ish means man in Hebrew

therefore barit-ish means "man of the covenant"

therefore the British are the 10 lost tribes!



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"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

Again in 2:8, ‘none of the rulers of this age’ refers to the evil elemental spirits as I documented above with the Quispel and Lee quotes. (A sidenote on Quispel: he believes Gnosticism is a late development and a Christian heresy. If this analysis of Paul is correct, that would be decisive against Quispel.)



again you continue along the same lines of errors. Still using Corinthians which is not normal language for Paul. You also seem to assume that Orthodox Christians didn't have the idea of revelation by the spirit, which is just foolish as hell.

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Note that in 1 Cor 2:10 the source of the revelation is the Spirit, not an earthly ministry of Jesus. Who is this Spirit? The Spirit is most often in Gnosticism associated with Sophia. So it is Sophia who has revealed the gospel to Paul, the “secret wisdom” of the Supreme God, hidden through the ages, and now revealed through Sophia.


It's totally ridiculous to try and kidnap the Holy Spirit and term him into a side kick of Sophia. There's absolutely no reason to think the Orthodox could not have the Holyk Spirit as a miracle working aspect of God's power. Clearly they did. It's all over Acts, the Jews had it to. Its' in the OT: Joel 2 "in the last days I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams."



(1) you assume fallaciously that he would have to chalk the source up to Jesus ministry

(2) you are apparently ignorant of the role of the spirit of God in Jewish beilef--it had one

(3) in several places Paul refers to "the spirit of Christ."

this is all the very very Jewish concept of Memra. The presence of God revealed on earth--which is equivalent to the logos. When John said "logos" in John 1:1 he was saying "memra" the phrase used in the targemum to say "the presence of God revealed downward from heaven to earth."

very very Jewish has nothing at all to do with Gnosticism and that's the link he's making to Sprit.



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Note also the similar passage in the Gospel of Thomas:

“I will give you what eye has not seen, and what ear has not heard, what has not been touched, and what has not arisen in the heart of man.”


Thomas is not gnostic. the core first century sayings of Thomas are not gnostic, they are q source and related to Q source. The gnostic bits are just a framework in which the core was placed in the second or third century.


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(Albeit the source of this saying is Isaiah 64:4, however, it clearly resonated with Christian Gnostics.)


why is that clear? prove that it resonated anymore with them than with any other Jews or Jewish Christians? There are no writings of Christian gnostic in this period. They don't show up until the middle of the second century. We don't kow exactly who he was dealing with in Corinth or exactly what they were thinking; but there were ony "proto gnostics" among the Christians at this time.


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It is hard to imagine a more thoroughly Gnostic passage than 1 Cor 2:6-10.


there's basically noting Gnostic about it. The kind of gnosticism you try to read into it you can't prove existed at that time.


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If you read Paul from this perspective, you find that his thinking is grounded in Gnosticism. Another parallel to Gnosticism (parallel? it is Gnosticism!) is Paul’s reference to different levels of understanding his Gospel (don’t confuse Paul’s gospel with THE Gospels, they are separate things!). Paul, like the Gnostics, referred to different levels of understanding God’s revealed secret mystery:
if you stare at my shrink's ink blots long enough you get the same effect


again, he never spoke this way again. It's totally unique for Paul and that implies that he was trying to reason with a proto gnsotic faction on their terms. OF course one can read in all sorts of things when dealing with what we take to be someone's understanding. So the ideas of "levels" is all the fruitful imagination of the mythers require to go off to the races.


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1 Cor 2:14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:


Jews believed in the Holy Spirit. it was the Sprint of God. they talked about they believed in it. that's clearly and obviously what he 's talking about.


the Gnostic did not talk about "the spirit." you are trying to equate that with Sophia but Paul never links the spirit to wisdom except in an ordinary way and never attaches female sense to it. I've never seen any references by the gnostics to "the spirit" in this way, or any charismatic seeming passages about the giftrs either. I don't call any such thing in Nag Hammadi or in the Gnsotic elements in Thomas.

Obvious you are just reading in what you want to be there.


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16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"But we have the mind of Christ.


show me what ordinary Jew could not say that?

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Koester and Fred Layman based research (my words largely but from Koester)

Paul Does seem to know a wisdom saying source for Jesus' sayings but it is one that is also reflected in the canonical Mark. The believers in Corinth seem to have a different take on the Gospel than many others. In the first couple of chapters of 1 Cor. Paul uses a different terminology than he uses anywhere else. Mainly this consists of words like "wise" and "wisdom." He uses these 10 times in the first chapter, but only four times in all the rest of his corpus. Therse terms bring up a set of sayings from Mark that are noted as distinctly different from Jesus' other other sayings. Mark: 11:25,27, 13:16-17--Luke 10:21-24. The contrast between terms "wise" and "clever" found there are used nowhere else in Jesus' sayings. These refer to Isaiah 29:14:"I will destroy the wisdom f the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Paul refers to this saying. Other contrasts include hidden and revealed. All of these concepts pertain to Gnostic ideas of the secret knowledge and those who possess it vs. those who possess it not. In 1 Cor. 4:5 "the Lord who will illumine the hidden things of darkness and reveal the councils of the heart." This is parallel by Mark 4:22 and also has a parallel in the Gospel of Thomas.




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“Man without the spirit” is reference to the lowest level of understanding the hylic or Psychic. Those with the Spirit are the Pnuematic they are the “spiritual man”, The Spirit has blown the pneuma (revelation) into them.


not talking about people who don't have spirits he's talking about people who don't use the Holy Spirit. To the myther this is so inviting to see it as the secret Gnostic the man without the spirit would be the ordinary fleshly man who si not gnostic. But that's just the spin that gnostic put on it a century latter. That's not the implication that need be attached to the actually thinking of Paul which is charismatic in nature. He's saying those who don't live by the spirit. It's the myther's misfortune not to know about that.


Paul’s Followers

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It is interesting to note that early Christian Gnostics cited Paul as the founder and sage of their movement.



that's hardly surprising. They could hardly claim a James church origin since Paul was the one with the mission to the Gentiles. Paul was not the only origin they claimed either.





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Today’s orthodoxy maintains that Paul was not a Gnostic, Metacrock scoffs at the idea, but to the gnostic Marcion, Paul was the one true apostle.



because he took the missions to the gentiles. Marcion was not a Gnostic.

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In fact, Paul’s letters probably survive today because of Marcion.


foolish. he's clearly a badge of honor for both Clement and Igantias. and Ploycarp. That's why!


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Marcion was the first to collect together writings and call them a Gospel, the Gospel of the Lord or the Evangelicon. This was in the early second century and it is the first attempt to create a cannon. Marcion’s cannon included a version of the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul. Valentinius, the great gnostic sage of the mid-second century also traced his philosophy to Paul:


you are confusing uses of the term "gospel." Just because the term came into coinage then, and originally it mean the four fold gospel because the four canonical were accepted everywhere, that does not mean Marcion's was the original source. he truncated the previous Gospel he didn't make them.


Marcion had the demiurge, but that doesn't mean you can lump him in with the Nag Hammadi Sophia types. See you are just melding the "Gnosticism" into a single monolithic body. But the term is one coined by the Orthdox to brand who are not Orthodox. It's really a collection of a whole bunch of different groups that are not related.
__________________

you also need to ask yourself why Paul became the centerpiece of the Orthodox? If he was a Gnostic and if the Orthodox were those who took the church away form the original gnostic state why did they take Paul for the major NT writer?



Paul adopts "wisdom" Schema to deal with faction


Koester tells us "Paul not only alludes to the sayings where were evidently of crucial importance to his opponents, he also adopts their schema of revelation which speaks of the things that were formerly hidden, but have now been revealed. This scheme is characteristic of the Q sayings...though it is not really typical of the Synoptic Saying Source as a whole. IN the genuine Pauline letters, it is used only in 1 Cor 2:6-16, while it occurs frequently in the deutero-Pauline letters and also appears in the secondary ending of Romans" (16:25-26).(Koster p.59)


"For the Corinthian wisdom theology this revelation schema, of central importance for their understanding of salvation, it related to the sayings tradition by another element, namely, the recourse to the authority of certain persons: Paul, Appeals, Cephas, possibly Christ "(1 Cor 1:12, 3:4-5, 22).(Koester p 62)


There are three elements which together call for an answer: (1) the Corinthians knew saying which they took to be a hidden wisdom saying source. (2) Paul rejects that his calling had anything to do with Baptism (1 Cor. 1:15-17) the claim of belonging to a specific person may have entered into this. (3) Several other sources indicate that Apostolic Authority and the name of a specific Apostle played a role in transmission of sayings for both Orthodox and Gnostic. These sources include: Gospel of Thomas, The Apocrypha of James and Ptolemy's Letter of Flora.


Koester concludes form all of this that at Corinth Paul faced a Gnosticizing faction which believed that they had been initiated into secret knowledge through baptism. "They understood particular Apostles as their Mystagogues from whom they received sayings from which they received life giving wisdom...Paul's arguments against this understanding of Salvation become quite clearer if they are understood against this background." (Koster, p.62).


2) Paul never adopts this vocabulary again


As pointed out already, he only uses these terms of Wisdom and wise four other times in his whole corpus. Koester says that with this background in mind the way he speaks of the cross as hidden wisdom before the ages becomes understandable, because he is dealing with this Gnosticizing faction in their own terms. It is also important to note that the Cross was "hidden" to human understanding. The only verses about it in the OT are "hidden" and require interpretation, which even the Jewish people don't' accept today (Is 53, Ps 22, Zach.10:11).


3) never speaks of the Cross this way again.


Moreover, as Koster states: "Nowhere else does Paul speak about the Cross of Christ in such terms." (p.62). Doherty is merely confused and reversing Paul's meaning to place him in a position the opposite of which he was taking.


4) Paul is arguing against the Corinthian position!


It does not require much persuading to get most knowledgeable Bible readers to agree that Paul was not pleased with the Corinthians, that only when he was flattering them to coax them into submission was he saying positive things about their behavior. In the opening chapter he is clearly arguing against everything they think. He denies the importance of attaching one's self to a famous Apostle but one should only follow Christ. He denies that his mission was baptism precisely because they thought baptism by an Apostle or noteworthy was initiation into the secret mysteries. That's why he says "I thank God I did not baptize any of you." The rest of the time he is telling them they are not wise. They do not have the full truth, they are immature.


Note: There probably wasn't a blow blown Gnosticism at Corinth since this doesn't show up tied to Christian Doctrine until the second century. The Corinthians probably didn't deny that Christ was a flesh and blood being, but just believed that they had "secret wisdom" that other churches didn't have. That is why Paul doesn't just come out and say explicitly "this is wrong, Christ was in history..."
C. No Grounds for the Charge of non-historical crucifixion


Paul's repudiation of the Gnostic faction at Corinth can be seen as a repudiation of all Gnostic positions, especially any position that would detach Jesus Christ form Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of flesh and blood and history. Paul clearly rejected the hidden wisdom schema, why than assume that he rejects the rest of the Gnostic schema? Moreover, Doherty sites this Gnostic vocabulary as grounds for the assumption that Paul is working in the Mythos of a mystery cult. Yet Paul repudiates the mystery cult diatribe. Let's look further at some of the verses Doherty sites.
1) The Charge that Paul does not
Place crucifixion in Spiritual Realm.

4 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Based on that picture, Paul was apparently an Extra Terrestrial.

J.L. Hinman said...

ahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahaha

Deke said...

Great post Meta. JP Holding also gives a good critique of the Gnostic Paul idea here:

http://www.tektonics.org/gk/gnostpaul.html

He ends his essay with this thought-provoking statement,

"Like the Gnostics of the second century, one can only manufacture a Gnostic Paul by wrenching words from their context and reapplying and filling them with their own meaning. By such means have Paul, Jesus, and others been made to support every point of view from Communism to Mormonism to Jehovah's Witnesses. GP (Gnostic Paul) advocates are just another brick in the wall."

God Bless

J.L. Hinman said...

I agree. it's just reading the latter Gnostic back into a time before we know they existed and based upon filly any uncertainty in knowledge with what the myther wishes to see.