Saturday 17 October 2020

Valentinian Teaching on Sin

 Gnostic Teaching on Sin

Valentinian Teaching on Sin

The Valentinian understanding of sin is fundamentally Christian in nature, and that it emerges naturally out of Pauline speculations about sin" Valentinian theology Desjardins (1990 , page 131)

The original Greek term for "sin" derives from archery and literally means "missing the mark." According to Valentinian theologians, sin was a natural consequence of ignorance of God.

Ignorance is described as a physical substance within mankind:

Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in the understanding, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart,

Ignorance alienates from the life of God: 

Ignorance appears to be a physical substance of human nature since Ignorance leads to death:

Ignorance is the mother of [all evil]. Ignorance leads to [death, because] those who come from [ignorance] neither were nor [are] nor will be (gospel of philip)

According to the Gospel of Philip 'Ignorance is slavery, knowledge is freedom.' in all of which slavery, ignorance, sin and wickedness are contrasted with freedom and with knowledge.

The process of revealing the truth also reveals the evil and error that is deep in our hearts:

(Gospel of Thomas 45) Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things."

(Gospel of Philip) Let each of us also dig down after the root of evil within us and pull it out of our hearts from the root. It will be uprooted if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces fruit in our hearts. It dominates us. We are its slaves, and it takes us captive so that we do what we do [not] want and do [not] do what we want. It is powerful because we do not recognize it. As long as [it] exists, it stays active.

sin includes the desire as well as the action, for "it is always a matter of the will, not the action" 

From this we learn that ignorance is the source of all evil and sin it is is internal, not external. It is "the law which wars against the law of my mind" (Romans 7:23) 

In Valentinian theology, matter itself is derived from and in some ways identical with ignorance:

ignorance of the Father caused anguish and terror, and the anguish grew thick like a fog, so that no one could see – Error was strengthened. It worked on its own matter in vain, not knowing the Truth. (Gospel of Truth)

For now, their works lie scattered. In time, Unity will complete the realms. Within Unity each one will receive themselves, and within knowledge they’ll purify themselves from multiplicity into Unity, consuming matter (=ignorance) within themselves like fire, and darkness by light, death by life (Gospel of Truth)

Error is also used as an equivalent of ignorance and is personified in the Gospel of Truth:

Error was strengthened. It worked on its own matter in vain, not knowing the Truth. It happened in a deluding way, as it (Error) prepared with power, in beauty, a substitute for the Truth. (Gospel of Truth)

For Valentinians both sin and death are a natural consequences of ignorance of the Father: 

This ignorance of the father brought about terror and fear. And terror became dense like a fog, so no one was able to see. Because of this, error became strong. (Gospel of Truth)

Speak of the Truth with those who search for it, and of knowledge with those who’ve sinned in their Error. (Gospel of Truth)

Ignorance of the Father is the true nature of sin and error.

The Hebrew word “chattaah” is translated sin in English, and primarily is associated with both the offense and its penalty, or sacrifice, so in English we often define the Hebrew word “chattaah” as transgression. However, sin is often used as a translation for the root of “Chattaah” or “chata”, and so Vine’s Expository Dictionary says the basic nuance or feeling of this word, “Chattaah”, is missing the road or mark. So a question we should be asking ourselves, is what is the road or mark God is speaking of when He uses the word “chattaah” in His word? Our initial response is that “the mark” is obedience to His law and commandments, and we sin when we fail to obey them and thus miss the mark. However when we consider God’s plan with His creation we find that obedience to His laws is only part of the mark. The actual mark is on a much higher plane.

The Greek word hamartia is a Feminine Noun meaning missing the mark; hence: (a) guilt, sin, (b) a fault, failure (in an ethical sense), sinful deed.

awon´ is the Hebrew term most frequently linked with or used in parallel with chat·ta´th´ (sin, missing the mark) In the Septuagint the Hebrew word 05771 עון ‘avon is translated by the word G4108 πλάνη plánē G4108 πλάνη plánē, plan'-ay; feminine of G4108 (as abstractly); objectively, fraudulence; subjectively, a straying from orthodoxy or piety:—deceit, to deceive, delusion, error.

Sin, in it's most comprehensive definition is "to miss the mark" - whether morally (transgression) or physically. Mankind was initially created with the intention of sharing in God's glory, both physically and morally. Mankind has "missed the mark" both physically and morally. Due to the events in Eden, we are created (in the womb) in that fallen state, and thus born in sin.

The word sin is used in two major ways in the scripture. It signifies in the first place, "the transgression of law;" and in the next, it represents that physical substance or element of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death;" and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression. 

The Fall
In the Tripartite Tractate the Fall in the Garden of Eden is described as a work of providence and part of the divine plan:

This is the expulsion which was made for him, when he was expelled from the enjoyments of the things which belong to the likeness and those of the representation. It was a work of providence, so that it might be found that it is a short time until man will receive the enjoyment of the things which are eternally good, in which is the place of rest. This the spirit ordained when he first planned that man should experience the great evil, which is death, that is complete ignorance of the Totality, and that he should experience all the evils which come from this and, after the deprivations and cares which are in these, that he should receive of the greatest good, which is life eternal, that is, firm knowledge of the Totalities and the reception of all good things. Because of the transgression of the first man, death ruled. (Romans 5:17) It was accustomed to slay every man in the manifestation of its domination, which had been given it as a kingdom because of the organization of the Father's will, of which we spoke previously (see 106:35-107:1). (The Tripartite Tractate)
Sin and Error
Valentinian use the words ignorance (ἄγνοια agnoia), forgetfulness (ἐπιλανθάνομαι epilanthanomai), error (πλάνη plánē) and sin to describe transgressions and human nature 

The Body
According to the Extracts from the Works of Theodotus the Saviour referred to this body [of flesh] as the adversary or Satan the devil:

52 This body the Saviour called an "adversary" and Paul said a " law warring against the law of my mind" and the Saviour advises us "to bind it" and to "seize its possessions" as those of "a strong man" (Extracts from the Works of Theodotus)

Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled "sinful flesh," that is, flesh full of sin; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh "dwells no good thing" (Rom. 7:18, 17); and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him 
The nature of the lower animals is as full of this physical evil principle as the nature of man; though it cannot be styled sin with the same expressiveness; because it does not possess them as the result of their own transgression; the name, however, does not alter the nature of the thing. (Elpis Israel)

This quotation from Elpis Israel by Dr. Thomas helps us to understand the Valentinian teaching, that matter, nature or creation itself (Rom 819-23) is derived from and in some ways identical with ignorance or sin. ignorance or sin  represents that physical substance of the animal nature
Ignorance is described as a physical substance within mankind:

Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in the understanding, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart,

The word Ignorance (Greek G52 ἄγνοια agnoia [ag-no-eh’-o which comes from the root 50 ἀγνοέω agnoeo [ag-no-eh’-o) means not to know, lack of knowledge, moral blindness [{Ac 3:17 } 3) to err or sin through mistake, to be wrong, spoken mildly of those who are not high handed or wilful transgressors [{Heb 5:2 }

Ignorance is an absence of knowledge. It may also be called ‘Unknowing’
- Ignorance is a form of ‘mindlessness’, ‘forgetfulness’ or ‘oblivion’
- It is imagined as ‘darkness’ or a ‘cavern’

Ignorance alienates from the life of God: but light to those who enter Christ, brings that life.

The descendants of Adam are born under condemnation to death and in a state of ignorance and alienation from God for Adam's 'offence'" (Rom 5:19)

The descendants of Adam are in a state of alienation from God at birth. Alienation is only applicable to those who are capable of reconciliation.

alienation the term 'alienation' in describing a state that exists between God and man due to his sin stricken nature.

Before being baptised a believer is dead in being alienated from God by ignorance, condemnation inherited from Adam, and trespasses and sins.”

Close to ignorance stands the term forgetfulness the state of having forgotten, heedlessness, and sleep. Planē herself forgets (she is in a fog concerning the Father, 17:31), indeed she arose out of the fog of Forgetting, but primarily she causes (man's) Forgetting.

Sin and Ignorance are the physical substance which brings forth death or kills the body and soul:

For without the soul, the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul is saved (when it is) without evil, and the spirit is also saved, then the body becomes free from sin. For it is the spirit that raises the soul, but the body that kills it; that is, it is it (the soul) which kills itself. (The Apocryphon of James)

In Fragment 40 Heracleon in his Commentary on the Gospel of John says without the Savior, human beings exist in a sickened state in "ignorance and sins", living under the "law which kills through sins":

 The “child” “in Capernaun” is one who is in the lower part of the Middle (i.e. of animate substance), which lies near the sea, that is, which is linked with matter. The child’s proper person was sick, that is, in a condition not in accordance with the child’s proper nature, in ignorance and sins. (In John 4:47, “When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his child , for it was at the point of death.”) The words “from Judea to Galilee” mean ‘from the Judea above.’. . . By the words “it was at the point of death,” the teaching of those who claim that the soul is immortal is refuted. In agreement with this is the statement that “the body and soul are destoyed in Hell.” (Matthew 10:28) The soul is not immortal, but is possessed only of a disposition towards salvation, for it is the perishable which puts on imperishability and the mortal which puts on immortality when “its death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) On “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (John 4:48): It is fittingly said to the kind of person whose nature is determined through works, and who is convinced by means of sense-perception and does not believe the word. The words, “Come before my child dies” (John 4:49) were spoken because death is the goal and end of the law which kills through sins. (Fragment 40 Heracleon)


The person who has gnosis (knowledge) is thus freed of his sinful material self.

He who has knowledge of the truth is a free man, but the free man does not sin, for "He who sins is the slave of sin" (Jn 8:34). (Gospel of Philip)

Valentinian theologians emphasize that the elect must abstain from sin

Fear not the flesh nor love it. If you fear it, it will gain mastery over you. If you love it, it will swallow and paralyze you. (Gospel of Philip)

As Theodotus says about the sinful nature, "Be well disposed to it, not nourishing it and strengthening it by the power to commit sin, but putting it to death here and now, and thereby showing it as transitory by our refraining from evil." (Excerpts of Theodotus 52:2).

He wanted us to be circumcised, not in regard to our physical foreskin but in regard to our spiritual heart; to keep the Sabbath, for he wishes us to be idle in regard to evil works; to fast, not in physical fasting but in spiritual, in which there is abstinence from everything evil. (Ptolemy's Letter to Flora)
The Role of Jesus
The role of Jesus is to bring gnosis (knowledge) of the Father and thereby to remove sin. 

Christ came to ransom some, to save others, to redeem others. (Gospel of Philip) 

This is the one who is called the savior, since that is the name of the work that he must do for the redemption of those who have not known the father. (Gospel of Truth)


According to Heracleon Jesus is  "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’  (In John 1:29, Heracleon goes on to say:

John spoke the words, "Lamb of God" as a prophet, but the words, "who takes away the sin of the world" as more than a prophet. The first expression was spoken with reference to his body, the second with reference to Him who was in that body. The lamb is an imperfect member of the genus of sheep; the same being true of the body as compared with the one that dwells in it. Had he meant to attribute perfection to the body he would have spoken of a ram about to be sacrificed. (Fragment 10, on John 1:29)

Sin, I say, is a synonym for human nature. Hence, the flesh is invariably regarded as unclean. It is therefore written, "How can he be clean who is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4) "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." (Job 14:4) "What is man that he should be clean? And he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous? Behold, God putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water?" (Job 15:14-16) This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, "God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21); and this he explains in another place by saying, that "He sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3) in the offering of his body once (Heb. 10:10,12,14). Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those for whom he died; for he was born of a woman, and "not one" can bring a clean body out of a defiled body; for "that", says Jesus himself, "which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). (Elpis Israel)

"the second with reference to Him who was in that body" the one that dwells in the body is the logos or the anointing spirit

That which was imperfect was the nature with which the Logos, that came down from heaven to do the Father's will, clothed himself. That nature was flesh of the stock of Abraham, compared in Zech. 3:3 to "filthy garments," typical of the "infirmity with which he was compassed."

The Spirit clothed Himself with weakness and corruption - in other words, "Sin's flesh's identity" - that He might destroy the "DIABOLOS." It is manifest from this the Diabolos: must be of the same nature as that which the Spirit assumed; for the supposition that He assumed human nature to destroy a being of angelic nature, or of some other more powerful, is palpably absurd. The Diabolos is something, then, pertaining to flesh and blood, and the Spirit or Logos became flesh and blood to destroy it. -(Eureka 1:246)

Error tried to kill the savior by nailing to a tree 

That is the gospel of him whom they seek, which he has revealed to the perfect through the mercies of the father as the hidden mystery, Jesus the anointed.  Through him he enlightened those who were in darkness because of forgetfulness. He enlightened them and gave them a path. And that path is the truth that he taught them.  For this reason error was angry with him, so she persecuted him. She was distressed by him, and she was made powerless. He was nailed to a tree.  He became a fruit of the knowledge of the father. He did not, however, destroy them because they ate of it. He rather caused those who ate of it to be joyful because of this discovery. (Gospel of Truth)

For this reason Jesus appeared. He put on that book. He was nailed to a cross. He affixed the edict of the father to the cross. (Gospel of Truth)

Here Jesus and the gospel are one: it is nailed to the tree in his person. Thought only nailed to a tree, the gospel became a fruit of knowledge, thereby making its tree into a tree of knowledge — but not knowledge of good and evil ( Gen. 2:9) — knowledge of the Father

According to the Interpretation of Knowledge, "when the great Son was sent after his little brothers, he spread abroad the edict of the Father and proclaimed it, opposing all. And he removed the old bond of debt, the one of condemnation. And this is the edict that was: Those who reckoned themselves slaves have become condemned in Adam. They have been brought from death, received forgiveness for their sins and been redeemed." (Interpretation of Knowledge 14:28-38)

Christ, having the same nature as we do in every respect, had our same temptation “chattaah”. He destroyed his “chattaah” when he offered himself up on the cross. He glorified God both by his obedience and by his destruction of his “chattaah”.

The chattaah is the law of sin and death

He included Himself in the Living Offering

He included himself in the living offering, together with your offspring. He offered them up as an offering to the All. For it is not cattle that you will offer up for sin(s) of unbelief, and for the ignorances, and (for) all the wicked deeds which they will do [...]. And they do not reach the Father of the All [...] the faith ...... (20 lines unrecoverable) (The Nag Hammadi Library Melchizedek)

... (2 lines unrecoverable)
... is the sacrifice of [...], whom Death deceived. When he died, he bound them with the natures which are leading them astray. Yet he offered up offerings [...] cattle, saying, "I gave them to Death, and the angels, and the [...] demons [...] living offering [...]. I have offered up myself to you as an offering, together with those that are mine, to you yourself, (O) Father of the All, and those whom you love, who have come forth from you who are holy (and) living. And <according to> the perfect laws, I shall pronounce my name as I receive baptism now (and) forever, (as a name) among the living (and) holy names, and (now) in the waters. Amen." (The Nag Hammadi Library Melchizedek)

What does the text of Melchizedek mean when it says "He (Jesus) included himself in the living offering, together with your offspring. He offered them up as an offering to the All."

The same idea is found later on in the text "I have offered up myself to you as an offering, together with those that are mine, to you yourself, (O) Father of the All"

The interpretation of this is the Lord's sacrifice was necessary for his own redemption. His sacrifice was a public demonstration that his flesh was rightly related to death and a declaration of the righteousness of God that required the offering of his life in devotion to Him. By his sacrifice the ungodly propensities (diabolos) of his nature was destroyed (Heb. 2:14; 9:12; 7:27), thus providing for the granting of immortality.

It was necessary that Jesus should offer for himself for the purging of his own nature, first, from the uncleanness of death, that having by his own blood obtained eternal redemption for himself, he might be able afterward to save to the uttermost those that come to God by him

What is Kabbalah?

What is Kabbalah?

What is Kabbalah?

In the 12th and 13th centuries C.E., a mystical form of Judaism, called Cabala, started gaining popularity.

According to Cabalistic teachers, the simple meaning of the Bible text is not its true meaning. They believe that God used the individual letters of the Hebrew Bible text as symbols, which when properly understood reveal a greater truth. In their view, each Hebrew letter and its position in the Bible text was set by God with a specific purpose in mind.

The Jewish kabbalists had a system called athbash (Hebrew: אתבש‎; also transliterated Atbaš), whereby the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is read as the last one, the second letter as the second to last letter.

The earliest documented Kabbalistic writing is called the Sepher Yetzirah, or the book of formation. 

One tradition says that the Rabbi Akiva wrote it. He is supposed to be one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time.

Moses De Leon, a 14th century Spanish Kabbalist presented the Zohar, an extremely influential book in Kabbalistic philosophy.  De Leon originally claimed that he found the scrolls that have been written much earlier, more than a thousand years earlier.  Recent scholarship supports the idea that he is the one who wrote the Zohar.
What does Kabbalah mean? 

What does Kabbalah mean? 

There are slightly different definitions of the word "Kabbalah". One source says it comes from the three Hebrew kbl which means "reception". Another source says "Kabbalah is a word meaning "tradition."

Kabbalah is also know as cabala, cabalah, kabala, caballah, qabala, qabalah, etc. You do not have to be Jewish to study Kabbalah and its proponents state that it can adapt itself to any religious system.

Furthermore, the Kabbalist is supposed to gain understanding about God and himself by learning to understand these 10 aspects, their relationship to each other, and then apply the principles thus learned in his own life to help him return back to God -- Kabbalah teaches the soul's pre-existence. 

Kaballah is the way of viewing reality based upon subjective, experiential interpretations of the world, life, death, creation, meaning, purpose, etc.  It is an inner-contemplative movement and is considered to be a way of life.  

Christian Gnostic traditions pre-date the classical Kabbalah of the Zohar

Christ also has his name from chrism, for the father anointed the son, the son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us. (gospel of philip)

Clement of Alexandria records that Valentinus was instructed by Theudas, and that Theudas in turn was taught by Paul (Clement of Alexandria Stromata 7:17)

The Sepher Yetzirah
     The  is also known as the "Book of Formation" and the "Book of Creation." It is the oldest known Kabbalistic writing from which the Zohar is derived. It "describes a total of 32 intelligences or emanations that make up the body and mind of God."  Kabbalistic traditions says that the origins of the Book of Formation go back to Abraham. Others say it goes back to Rabbi Akiva of the first century. However, modern scholarship dates the book as originating in the fifth century A.D. 
     The Sepher Yetzirah is not a creation narrative.  It is a writing on one aspect of the formation of the universe and mankind and is considered to be a compilation of Hebrew Kabbalistic rabbis.  It expounds on the basic structure of Kabbalah, describes creation, through the 32 paths, the ten sephiroth (from the ), and the twenty two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
The Zohar
     The Zohar is one of the most important texts, if not the most important in Kabbalah. The Zohar is not a single book. Instead it is allegedly a 2nd century A.D. collection of Aramaic writings from various Kabbalists that is a commentary on the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with some commentary on the song of songs, also known as the song of Solomon.  Its interpretations of the Torah are highly mystical and subjective and often in contradiction to what the Torah reveals. it seeks to explain as well as the video the relationship between God and man.  But, the book is generally believed to have been authored by a 13th Century Jewish mystic named Moses De Leon (1250-1305) partly because it was never mentioned in the Talmud (a collection of commentaries used to explain the the oral law concerning the first five books of the Old Testament).  Additions were added to the Zohar in the 14th century.

What are the main teaching of Kabbalah? 
What are the main teaching of Kabbalah? 

1. God has 10 aspects through which creation was realized. 
1. God has 10 aspects through which creation was realized. 
2. The the truths of Kabbalah were given to the angels first, then to Adam, then Abraham, and finally to Moses. 
3. The human soul preexisted before coming to earth. cooper, 107. 
4. Reincarnation of the soul. 
5. Higher realms of consciousness 
6. Multiple universes 
7. The interconnectedness of all levels of consciousness, angels, demons, thoughts, incarnations, etc. 
8. "There are four primary archangels:  Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael.  (Cooper, David A., God is a Verb. New York, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 135.) 
1. "Liliel is the Angel of the Night...Lilith is considered to be the arch she-devil."  Sandalphon is the angel of prayer as is Michael, (Cooper, p. 135) 
9. There are two Messiahs, one from the lineage of Joseph and the other from David, (cooper, p. 181. 
10. The fall of Adam and Eve was because they failed to make a rectification that would bring "the universe to a new level of consciousness."  cooper, 107 
11. It is possible to have a direct experience with God without the need of a mediator such as Jesus. 

The Sephirot (also spelled "sefirot"; singular sefirah) are the ten emanations and attributes of the Deity through which The Infinite One reveals Himself and continuously creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher spiritual realms.

The Infinite One emanated himself in stages to create the universe. There are ten Sefirot, which are vessels or containers called the Sephirot (the word Sephirot means emanations).

These emanations or attribute that are manifested are powers and virtues, wisdom, knowledge, justice, mercy, and so on these are still referenced in attributions to the seven lights of the Jewish synagogue, which you will find on the altar in a synagogue with seven lights this seven lights will reference 10 Sefirot.

The seven lamps allude to the branches of human knowledge, represented by the six lamps inclined inwards towards, and symbolically guided by, the light of God represented by the central lamp.

There are 22 paths that connect these ten Sephirot and that makes 32 names of God. The root attributes of the powers and virtues of God were understood as a kind of tree like the tree of life. It was the image of God in mankind as the blind men said I see men as trees walking we find a lot of this tree language in this tree of life are ten Sefirot ten vessels

The tree of sefirot also has a numerological significance. Between the 10 sefirot run 22 channels or paths, which connect them, a number which can be associated with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Together the spiritual forces of the 10 sefirot and the 22 connecting channels are called the "32 Paths of Wisdom".

According to Christian Gnostic tradition there are 30 aeons which are the emanations of the Deity they are called the Triacontad

The Aeons in the Valentinian system are given biblical names
First generation
Bythos (the Depth) and Sige (Silence, Charis or Grace, Ennoea, etc.)
Second generation
Nous (Nus, Mind) and Aletheia (Veritas, Truth)
Third generation, emanated from Nous and Aletheia
Sermo (the Word) and Vita (the Life)
Fourth generation, emanated from Sermo and Vita
Anthropos (Homo, Man) and Ecclesia (Church

This, then, is the Tetrad begotten according to the likeness of the Uncreated (Tetrad). And the Tetrad is begotten [... ] the Decad from Word and Life, and the Dodecad from Man, and Church became a Triacontad.

One analogy might be that the Valentinians were to proto-orthodox Christianity what Kabbalah is to Judaism.

Gnostic ideas found a Jewish variation in the mystical study of Kabbalah. Many core Gnostic ideas reappear in Kabbalah, where they are used for dramatically reinterpreting earlier Jewish sources according to this new system The Kabbalists originated in 13th-century Provence, which was at that time also the center of the Gnostic Cathars.

Sethian Gnosticism was always anti-Jewish, even when it arose among Jews or Jewish Christians, for its radical dualism of an alien God set against an evil universe is a total contradiction of the central Jewish tradition, in which a transcendent God allows Himself to be known by His people as an immediate presence, when He chooses, and in which His creation is good except as it has been marred or altered by man's disobedience or wickedness.

Monday 12 October 2020

Christian Gnostic Understanding of Satan The devil

Christian Gnostic Understanding of Satan The devil

The theology of orthodox Christianity places the devil in juxtaposition with God. As the one is presented for worship as the source and embodiment of all good, so the other is held up for detestation and dread, as the instigator and promoter of all evil. Practically, the one is regarded in the light of the good God, and the other as the bad god. It is the polytheism of paganism in its smallest form: and the philosophy of the ancients embodied in names and forms supplied by the Bible.

The first thing we have to address is the definition of Satan. While fundamentalists will tell you that Satan was present in the Bible from the very foundations laid in Genesis, history tells us a different story. The words Satan, Devil, demon, Lucifer, fallen angel etc. simply don't occur in the whole of the book of Genesis. Throughout the Old Testament, the one and only God is presented as all powerful, without equal and in no competition with any other cosmic force. The Old Testament makes it clear that any 'adversary' to God's people was ultimately under the control of God Himself.

The period between the Old and New Testaments saw the production of a huge volume of Jewish literature advocating a personal Satan. Jewish writings speak of a figure called Beliar, a kind of personal Satan figure. The Book of Enoch and the story of the "watchers" became accepted as dogma amongst the Jews- i.e. that the "watcher" Angels had sinned and come to earth at the time of Genesis 6 and married beautiful women. Thus the Book Of Jubilees, dating from around 104 B.C., claims that God placed "over all nations and peoples, spirits in authority, to lead them astray" (15:31). Why would the righteous God place His people under the authority of those who would lead them astray- and then judge us for going astray? Jubilees 5:2 blames the flood on the fact that the earth was morally corrupt, but it claims that the animal creation also sinned and brought about the state of corruptness which required the destruction of the flood- thereby taking the spotlight off human sin as the sole cause for the flood.
The Bible clearly states that the suffering and disease that there is in the earth is a result of Adam's sin; but Jubilees claims that all such illnesses were a result of evil spirits, "And we explained to Noah all the medicines of their diseases, together with their seductions, how he might heal them with herbs of the earth" (Jub. 10:12-13).

After the fall of the second temple Rabbinical scholars rejected all of the Enochian writings mentioning Satan as a literal, heavenly figure and fallen angels, and viewing Satan to symbolize evil inclination (malicious impulses) yetzer hara (Hebrewיֵצֶר הַרַע‎)
SATAN is a Hebrew word that has been transferred to the New Testament and to the English. It denotes an adversary, an opponent or an enemy. It has been translated seven times: “adversary”; five times: “be an adversary”; once each: “resist” and “to withstand”; nineteen times: “satan” (as in Numbers 22:22; Matthew 16:23).

The Accuser (often said by clergy to be Satan) in the Book of Job is literally an agent of the court, much like Prosecutors in the modern legal system. There’s no indication that this is a fallen angel. (One has to ask, how on earth did a fallen angel even appear before God if said fallen angel is supposed to be suffering in the fires of Hell?) The original Hebrew word HaSatan simply means adversary or accuser.

The first place where it occurs is Num. 22:22 :--"And God's anger was kindled because he (Balaam) went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary (SATAN) against him."

It next occurs in the same chapter, verse 32 :--

"And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand (marg., to be AN ADVERSARY--a Satan to) thee."

In this case, Satan was a holy angel. Understanding "Satan" to mean adversary in its simple and general sense, we can see how this could be; but, understanding it as the evil being of popular belief, it would be a different matter. The following are other cases in which the word is translated "adversary," in the common version of the Scriptures:--

"Let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary (SATAN) to us" (1 Sam 29:4).

"And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries (SATANS) unto me?" (2 Sam 19:22).

"But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary (SATAN) nor evil occurrent" (1 Kings 5:4).

"And the Lord stirred up an adversary (SATAN) unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom" (1 Kings 11:14).

"And God stirred him up another adversary (SATAN), Rezon, the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah."

"And he was an adversary (SATAN) to Israel all the days of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:23, 25).

Matthew 16:23 - “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of MEN.”

The foregoing literal definitions indicate certain characteristics applicable to mankind and NOT to a superhuman evil god of the lower regions.

These definitions indicate characteristics of mankind, NOT a superhuman evil god.

The devil of popular opinion (the demigod of the lower region) cannot be found in the Hebrew Old testament writings.

The deceiving phase of mind in man that has fixed ideas in opposition to Truth (adversary, lier in wait, accuser, opposer, hater, an enemy). Satan assumes various forms in man's consciousness, among which may be mentioned egotism, a puffing up of the personality; and the opposite of this, self-deprecation, which admits the "accuser" into the consciousness. This "accuser" makes man believe that he is inherently evil.

Satan is the "Devil," a state of mind formed by man's personal ideas of his power and completeness and sufficiency apart from God. Besides at times puffing up the personality, this satanic thought often turns about and, after having tempted one to do evil, discourages the soul by accusing it of sin. Summed up, it is the state of mind in man that believes in its own sufficiency independent of its creative Source.

Satan--The Adversary, the great universal negative whose power is derived from the unlawful expression of man's own being. The serpent as "Satan" is sensation suggesting indulgence in pleasures beyond the law fixed by creative Mind.

The Devil

In the New Testament, the word DEVIL is derived from the Greek word ‘diabolos’ which literally means a slanderer, a false witness, or a liar, which can only apply to mankind and not to one of God’s heavenly hosts.

As Jesus applied "Satan" to Peter, so he applied "devil" to Judas: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is A DEVIL?" (John 6:70). Judas proved a liar, a betrayer, a false accuser, and, therefore, a devil. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:11, tells the wives of deacons not to be devils. His exhortation, it is true, does not appear in this form in the English version. The words, as translated, are "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers (diabolous)." The same remark applies to 2 Tim 3:2, 3 "For men shall be... without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers (diaboloi)"; and to Titus 2:3: "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers (diabolous)."

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might DESTROY him that had the power of death, THAT IS, THE DEVIL."

On the supposition that the devil here referred to is the orthodox devil, or a personal devil of any kind, there are four absurdities on the face of this passage.

In the first place, to take on the weakness of flesh and blood was a strange way of preparing to fight a powerful devil, who, it would be imagined, would be more successfully encountered in the panoply of angelic strength, which Paul expressly says Jesus did not array himself in; for he says, "He took not on him the nature of angels" (Heb. 2:16).

In the second place it was stranger still that the process of destroying the devil should be submission to death himself! One would have thought that to vanquish and destroy the devil, life inextinguishable, and strength indomitable, would have been the qualification. Undoubtedly they would have been so, if, the Bible devil had been the orthodox devil--a personal monster.

In the third place, the devil ought now to be dead, or whatever else is imported by the word "destroyed," for Christ died nineteen centuries ago, for the purpose of destroying him by that process. How comes it then, that the devil is clerically represented to be alive and busier than ever in the work of hunting immortal souls with gin and snare, and exporting them to his own grim domain?

 The devil Christ has come to destroy is sin. If anyone doubts this, let .him reconsider Paul's words quoted above. What did Christ accomplish in his death? Let the following testimonies answer:--

"He put away SIN by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26).

"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3).

"He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities" (Isa. liii, 5).

"His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (2 Pet 2:24).

"He was manifested to take away OUR SINS" (1 John 3:5).

Christ, through death, destroyed, or took out of the way, "the sin of the world ". In this, he destroyed the Bible devil. He certainly did not destroy the popular devil in his death, for that devil is supposed to be still at large, but in his own person, as a representative man, he extinguished the power of sin by surrendering to its full consequences, and then escaping by resurrection, through the power of his own holiness, to live for evermore. This is described as "God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. viii, 3). Sin in the flesh, then, is the devil destroyed by Jesus in his death. This is the devil having the power of death, for it is sin, and nothing else but sin that causes death to men. Does anyone doubt this ? Let him read the following testimonies:

By one man sin entered into the world, and death BY sin" (Rom. v, 12)

"By man CAME DEATH (I Cor. xv, 21).

"The wages of sin is DEATH" (Rom. vi, 23). "SIN hath reigned unto death" (Rom. v, 21). "SIN... bringeth forth death" (James i, 15). "The sting of death is SIN" (I Cor. xv, 56).

The devil, a Bible synonym for sin - abstract and concrete - existing as the spirit of disobedience in the children of men and embodied and manifested in the persons and institutions of present order of things.

Satan The devil is a personification of human nature this is not an abstraction but that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death" and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression. Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled "sinful flesh," that is, "flesh full of sin"; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh "dwells no good thing" (Rom. 7:17,18); and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him.

the devil

Same as Satan, which see. The "devil" signifies the mass of thoughts that have been built up in consciousness through many generations of earthly experiences and crystallized into what may be termed human personality, or carnal mind. Another name of the "devil" is sense consciousness; all the thoughts in one that fight against and are adverse to Truth belong to the state of mind that is known to metaphysicians as the Devil.

The "devil" is a state of consciousness adverse to the divine good. Other names for this state of consciousness are the Adversary, carnal mind, the accuser, and the old man. There is no personal devil. God is the one omnipresent Principle of the universe, and there is no room for any principle of evil, personified or otherwise.

Devil, how to overcome the--The Devil is overcome by denying his existence and by affirming universal Christ love for God and all men. The devils that we encounter are fear, anger, jealousy, and other similar negative traits, and they are in ourselves. Christ gives us the power to cast out these devils, thereby cleansing our consciousness.

Who is Satan in Gnosticism?

If we take, for example, the Valentinian Gnostic cosmogony, the Christian notion of Satan doesn’t come into play at all.

According to the sethian Gnostics The God of the Jews and the Christians is either Yaldabaoth or Sabaoth the ill-begotten son of Sophia, who gave birth outside of the normal pattern of reproduction for the Divine Syzygies in the Pleroma.

It is I who am God, and there is none apart from me.’  When he said this, he sinned against the whole place. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying,
“You are wrong, Samael,” that is, “God of the blind.” . . .
And he said, “If anything else exists before me, let it become visible to me!”

Samael  is an archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore; a figure who is the accuser (Ha-Satan), In the Apocryphon of JohnOn the Origin of the World, and Hypostasis of the Archons, found in the Nag Hammadi librarySamael is one of three names of the creator God, whose other names are Yaldabaoth and Saklas

In the system depicted by the sethians there is no satan and there is no need for one, for “Yahweh”—the God of Jews and Christians alike—himself acts as chief of the fallen angels who seduces and enslaves human beings. By declaring himself to be the supreme and unique God of the universe

The Albigenses or Cathari believed that the "the creator of the material world is the source of all evil (Albigenses by Nicholas Weber in Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907)

In the Old testament Yahweh is referred to as Satan by comparing 1 Chronicles 21, and 2 Samuel 24 In the Book of Samuel, Yahweh himself is the agent in punishing Israel, while in 1 Chronicles an "adversary" is introduced. The adversary seems to have been God; for we read in 2 Sam. 24:1, "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and HE moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." The angel of God was a Satan to Balaam, as we have seen, and, in this case, God proved a Satan to Israel. Moved, doubtless, by the general perversity of the people, He impelled David to a course which resulted in calamity to the nation.

In contrast, Ptolemy, and other Valentinians steadfastly maintained that "the creation is not due to a god who corrupts but to one who is just and hates evil" (Letter to Flora 3:6). He carefully distinguished the Demiurge from both God and the Devil. According to Ptolemy, "he is essentially different from these two (God and the Devil) and is between them, he is rightly given the name, Middle" (Letter to Flora 7:4). He is "neither good nor evil and unjust, can properly be called just , since he is the arbitrator of the justice which depends on him" (Letter to Flora 7:5)

In the gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip Satan and the devil never appear. however the devil appeas once in the Gospel of Truth  

Be concerned about yourselves. Don’t be concerned about other things which you’ve rejected from yourselves. Don’t return to eat your vomit. Don’t be eaten by worms, because you’ve already shaken it off. Don’t become a dwelling-place for the devil, because you’ve already brought him to naught. Don’t strengthen your obstacles which are collapsing, as though you’re a support. For the lawless one is nothing, to be treated more harshly than the just, doing his works among others. (Gospel of Truth)

To be “a dwelling-place for the devil” implies that the Devil enters us. “The lusts of other (sinful) things entering in” (Mk. 4:19) cause us to sin. Our lusts are described several times as physically moving into our heart from our evil nature where they are stored "an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things." (Gospel of Thomas Saying 45)

Do not become a place for the Devil, for you have already defeated him defeating the devil or bringing him to naught refers to 1 John 2:13: ‘because you have overcome the evil one.’

From the use of the word in Matthew 6:13; 13:19, it is obvious that it is the flesh that John is referring to, and which these ''young men had conquered by their acceptance of Christ. The evil propensities of the flesh dominate the world (1 John 3:12; 5:18-19), but these "young men had come out of the world, and had learned to conquer the flesh.

The Gospel of Philip like the book of Isaiah (45:7) does not see good and evil as cosmic opposites instead—“light and dark, life and death, good and evil”—are in reality pairs of interdependent terms in which each implies the other.

Philip, on the other hand, interprets the human inclination to sin without recourse to Satan

The gospel of Thomas and Philip teach that within each person's heart lies the root of wickedness. This is Philip’s interpretation of the traditional Jewish teaching of the yetzer hara, which the rabbis called the “evil inclination.” So long as we remain unaware of “the root of evil” within us, Philip says, “it is powerful; but when it is recognized, it is destroyed.” 

45. Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil."

The Root of Evil

Let each of us also dig down after the root of evil within us and pull it out of our hearts from the root. It will be uprooted if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces fruit in our hearts. It dominates us. We are its slaves, and it takes us captive so that we do what we do [not] want and do [not] do what we want. [cf. Rom. 7:14—15] It is powerful because we do not recognize it. As long as [it] exists, it stays active. .

Essential to gnosis is to “know” one’s own potential for evil. According to Philip, recognizing evil within oneself is necessarily an individual process: no one can dictate to another what is good or evil; instead, each one must strive to recognize his or her own inner state, and so to identify acts that spring from the “root of evil,” which consists in such impulses as anger, lust, envy, pride, and greed. This teacher assumes that when one recognizes that a certain act derives from such sources, one loses the conviction needed to sustain the action. In order to do evil— whether to indulge in an angry tirade, commit murder, or declare aggressive war—one seems to require the illusion that one’s action is justified, that one is acting for right reasons. This author holds, then, the optimistic conviction that “truth ... is more powerful than ignorance of error.”90 Knowing the truth in this way involves more than an intellectual process; it involves transformation of one’s being, transformation of one’s way of living: “If we know the truth, we shall find its fruits within us; if we join ourselves with it, we shall receive our fulfillment

Sunday 4 October 2020

Gnostic Sacraments

Gnostic Sacraments

The English word "sacrament" is derived indirectly from the Ecclesiastical Latin sacrāmentum, from Latin sacrō ("hallow, consecrate"), from sacer ("sacred, holy"). This in turn is derived from the Greek New Testament word "mysterion".

The master [did] everything in a mystery: baptism, chrism, eucharist, redemption, and bridal chamber.[For this reason] he said, “I have come to make [the lower] like the [upper and the] outer like the [inner, and to unite] them in that place.” [He spoke] here in symbols [and images].

Some cliam that the word mystery refers to five Gnostic Sacraments 

Is this correct? 

The claim that the word "mystery" in the Gospel of Philip refers to five Gnostic sacraments is not entirely accurate. While it is true that the text mentions "mystery" in connection with baptism, chrism, eucharist, redemption, and the bridal chamber, it is important to understand the context in which the word is used.

The word mystery is a Greek word used in the bible

Concerning the Greek mysterion, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words explains: “In the [New Testament] it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng. word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense a mystery implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed. Hence the terms especially associated with the subject are ‘made known,’ ‘manifested,’ ‘revealed,’ ‘preached,’ ‘understand,’ ‘dispensation.’”—1981, Vol. 3, p. 97.

The language surrounding ‘sacraments’ did not develop in the Church for some time. We hear of a ritual of baptism in the Christian community of the Acts of the Apostles, and of the ‘breaking of bread’ – the Eucharist (Acts 2:38, 41- 42). These celebrations were called by their name, there was no generic term for these experiences.

The Bible does not teach that salvation is given in any religious rites.

The master [did] everything in a mystery: baptism, chrism, eucharist, redemption, and bridal chamber.[For this reason] he said, “I have come to make [the lower] like the [upper and the] outer like the [inner, and to unite] them in that place.” [He spoke] here in symbols [and images].

Here the word mystery is musthrion 3466: μυστήριον meaning means ‘something hidden or secret’ – our word ‘mystery’.

a secret, of which initiation is necessary; in the NT: the counsels of God, once hidden but now revealed in the Gospel or some fact thereof; the Christian revelation generally; particular truths or details of the Christian revelation.

Therefore the word does not mean a "sacrament(s)"

With this knowlage that the Greek word means a something hidden or a secret, we could translate the text from the Gospel of Philip the following way 

The Lord [did] everything in a sacred secret: a baptism, and a anointing, and a eucharist, and a redemption, and a bridal chamber. [For this reason] he said, “I have come to make [the lower] like the [upper and the] outer like the [inner, and to unite] them in that place.” [He spoke] here in symbols [and images].

The Lord [did] everything in a symbolic secret: a baptism, and a anointing, and a eucharist, and a redemption, and a bridal chamber. [For this reason] he said, “I have come to make [the lower] like the [upper and the] outer like the [inner, and to unite] them in that place.” [He spoke] here in symbols [and images].

It is clear, however, that this text does not speak about “mysteries” in the sense of sacraments, but about the hidden, symbolic meaning of the Saviour’s deeds in the world. (Baptism in the Gospel of Philip Einar Thomassen)

the Lord's actions including baptism, anointing, eucharist, redemption, and bridal chamber, were done in a manner that carried hidden, profound, and symbolic meanings.

The sacred secrets were seen as symbols and images of the internal process of redemption. The Gospel of Philip put it this way, "Truth did not come into the world naked. Rather it came in prototypes and images, for the world will not receive it in any other form." (Gospel of Philip 67:9-12) Valentinians regarded their worship as purely spiritual (Heracleon 20-24, Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:21:4), with the external forms as symbolic.

Baptism is closely associated with the concept of resurrection from the dead. The person symbolically participated in the death and resurrection of Christ (Gospel of Philip 67:9-19, 69:25-26, 73:1-7). As Theodotus says, "Baptism is called death and an end of the old life . . . but it is also life according to Christ" (Excepts of Theodotus 77:1). The old sinful person dies and the new spiritual person is raised up. Cleansed of sin (Valentinian Exposition 41:21-22, Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:21:2), the person symbolically put on the perfect human being (Gospel of Philip 75:21-24) and was restored to the perfect realm (Gospel of Philip 67:9-12, Valentinian Exposition 41:29-38, Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:21:3).

Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world cannot receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is necessary to be born again truly through the image. How is it with the resurrection and the image? Through the image it must rise. The bridal chamber and the image? Through the image one must enter the truth: this is the restoration.

Cosmas writes that the sect was founded by a priest named Bogomil, but there is both controversy over what his name means, and whether it was his real name at all. Some interpret Bogomil as meaning ‘beloved of God’, while others opt for ‘worthy of God’s mercy’ and ‘one who entreats God’. Cosmas describes the Bogomils as rejecting the Old Testament and Church sacraments; the only prayer they used being the Lord’s Prayer. They did not venerate Icons or relics, while the cross was denounced as the instrument of Christ’s torture.The Church itself was seen as being in league with the devil, whom they regarded as not only the creator of the visible world, but also as Christ’s brother.Their priests were strict ascetics, abstaining from meat, wine and marriage (the gnostics by sean martin)

In the West, the heresy became known as Catharism, from the Greek word katharos, meaning ‘pure’.177 The first Cathars known in the West were discovered at Cologne in 1143, where a group of them blew their cover by arguing over a point of doctrine. Hauled up before the bishop of Cologne, it was discovered that

The Cathars told the bishop that they had ‘lain concealed from the time of the martyrs even to their own day [1143]’.178

Both the Cathars and the Bogomils completely rejected the Church and all its sacraments, regarding it as the church of Satan.The only sacrament they observed was the consolamentum, which served as baptism or, if administered on the deathbed, extreme unction. The only prayer both churches used was the Lord’s Prayer, with the Cathars substituting ‘supersubstantial bread’ for ‘daily bread’.(the gnostics by sean martin)

Both movements regarded the entity of the Church – Catholic in the West, Orthodox in the East – as the church of Satan, rejecting it utterly. Church buildings – the churches, chapels and cathedrals themselves – were likewise seen as no more holy than any other building; neither sect built any, preferring instead to meet in people’s homes, or in barns or fields.The Cross was seen as the instrument of Christ’s torture, and Bogomils and Cathars alike refused to venerate it. They interpreted the eucharist allegorically (the gnostics by sean martin)

Gnostic rosary