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Gnostics - what are they about?

(8 Posts)
claig Fri 26-Jul-13 00:24:55

Heard an interesting Radio 4 programme on the Gnostics a few weeks back. Does anyone know what they are all about and how the Christian Gnostics differ from conventional Christians and where the Nag Hammadi differ from the New Testament etc?

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Fri 26-Jul-13 07:03:05

From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Gnosticism (after gnôsis, the Greek word for “knowledge” or “insight”) is the name given to a loosely organized religious and philosophical movement that flourished in the first and second centuries CE. The exact origin(s) of this school of thought cannot be traced, although it is possible to locate influences or sources as far back as the second and first centuries BCE, such as the early treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum, the Jewish Apocalyptic writings, and especially Platonic philosophy and the Hebrew Scriptures themselves."

What you tend to find in gnosticism is a belief that the mind is good and the body is bad. They search for enlightenement which is only available to a few. The Nag Hammandi library has lots of the texts that had been lost or destroyed so is really important to understand gnosticism which was only known by what its opponents had written about it.

There is some good stuff on the gnostic gospels on old rejesus as they did a lot of work on it for the Da Vinci Code film.

Christianity gnosticism is outside mainstream Christianity. I find gnosticism facinating and complex and it is a while since I studied it but as far as I can make out one of the foundational differences between gnosticism and Christianity is that the world in gnostistic thought is corrupt and the point of enlightenment is to find a way for the soul to escape it. Mainstream Christianity holds that the world and creation is good; it is fallen but it is good.

claig Fri 26-Jul-13 07:36:45

Thnks, thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts. The rejesus link has lots of interesting info.

claig Fri 26-Jul-13 08:48:19

Thanks for the link to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

That is a really great resource. It will take me ages to work my way through that. It contains very good explanations.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Fri 26-Jul-13 11:19:51

I have 'The Idiots Guide to the Gnostic Gospels' on my shelf which is good for the varieties of gnosticism which I was unaware of from general reading. Enjoy!

Tuo Fri 26-Jul-13 11:23:18

Was this 'In Our Time'? The IOT page on the Radio 4 website often has further reading recommended by the people who were interviewed on the programme. Worth a look?

claig Fri 26-Jul-13 11:33:50

Yes, it was Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time. It is a great programme, but I don't often listen anymore as I haven't usually got time. But by chance I just had it on and found it fascinating.

claig Fri 26-Jul-13 11:37:19

Thanks, Tuo, I have found the reading list page and will get some of these books.

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