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Gnosticism 1.Discovery in Nag Hammadi 2.Gnosticism: main features 3.Valentinus & his system.

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Presentation on theme: "Gnosticism 1.Discovery in Nag Hammadi 2.Gnosticism: main features 3.Valentinus & his system."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gnosticism 1.Discovery in Nag Hammadi 2.Gnosticism: main features 3.Valentinus & his system

2 Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library Discovered in 1945 in a jar in Egypt 12 codices containing 52 writings Major source of Gnostic texts Coptic Museum in Cairo

3 Main Features of Gnosticism 1.Intricate and obscure cosmology. 2.Syncretism: blending various religious world-views. 3.Fundamental questions of human existence. 4.Gnosis: secret knowledge as means of attaining salvation. 5.Dualism: spiritual/ material; soul/ body. 6.Docetic christology (some Gnostics). 7.Sense of non-belonging to the world. 8.Ethics: world-denying asceticism or extreme libertinism. 9.Three groups: spiritual (initiated Gnostics); psychic (ordinary believers); fleshy (unbelievers, those who will perish).

4 Valentinian ‘Pleroma’ = Fullness (see ANF 31, pp. 198-201) Ungenerated Father (= Abyss= first aeon) Sophia (= Wisdom = Mother) gave birth outside of the Pleroma to the imperfect creator (= Demiurge = Craftsman = Yaldabaoth) 30 divine beings called aeons

5 St. Irenaeus of Lyons Approx. 130-200 AD Knew Stt. Polycarp & Justin Bishop of Lyons Wrote Against Haeresies ca. 180.

6 NT canon: stages of development Witnessing Jesus’ ministry Preaching, teaching, and worshipping Jesus Composition of the written materials Proliferation of writings Informal selection of writings

7 Proliferation of Apocrypha Gospels attributed to individual apostles or groups: –Peter, James, Philip, Thomas,Judas, Mary, pseudo- Matthew, Matthias, Bartholomew, the Twelve Apostles, Ebionites, Hebrews, Nazaraeans, Egyptians, Gospels under general titles: –Perfection, Truth, the Four Heavenly Regions Gospels attributed to heretics: –Cerinthus, Basilides, Marcion, Apelles, Bardesanes, Mani Other apocryphal literature: –Apocryphon of: John, James; Apocalypse of John, Peter; Correspondence between Paul and Seneca; Shepherd of Hermas Non-canonical gospel fragment

8 Irenaeus' contribution Four gospels, no less and no more Four beasts of Ezekiel symbolizing the four evangelists

9 NT canon: informal selection criteria 1.Use in public worship & teaching. 2.Orthodoxy = agreement with the apostolic tradition and rule of faith). 3.Apostolicity = attributed to apostles or ‘apostolic men’. 4.Antiquity =belong to the ‘apostolic age’.

10 Timeline 3 rd c. B.C.E. Septuagint. Started under Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BCE) in Alexandria. end of 1 st c. C.E. Council of Javneh: Jewish canon closed with 39 books. NT canon: 50ies: Pauline Epistles. Paul died ca. 60. 60ies-early 70ies: Gospel of Mark. 80ies: Gospels of Matthew and Luke. 90ies: Gospel of John and the rest of the canon. 140ies Marcion produced his own canon. 170ies Tatian published his Diatessaron. 180ies Irenaeus endorsed the four gospels. 200 ( or 4 th c?): Muratorian canon. Some Gnostic Gospels and apocrypha rejected. 367: The first full list of the 27 NT writings mentioned in letter of Athanasius of Alexandria


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