New gnostics

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Kennet | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Feb 5 2021 10:10 AM

I have read Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy (Part 1) | Truth Watchers and it was a very interesting read. Has logos more books by other new gnostics?

Posts 609
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2021 10:42 AM

Not sure of your 'new gnostic' label, since Heiser is more often than not reading the text (vs later doctrine).

But today's search for Harnack's 'Alien God' (Marcion) quickly gens up 'new gnostics'. I assume it's new fun to be had.

Posts 2
Edwin Mendez | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2021 7:22 PM

This page completely misunderstands Heiser. Heiser in his book doesn't present polytheism. That's a gross misconception of what he lays out. He presents what some scholars propose as "summodeism." (Watts, 2018) That is, the belief in a supreme Deity. (Yahweh) and a hierarchy of lower deities whom the Supreme Deity created. Jewish scholars like Maimonedes have been propounding some form of this since medieval times. The closest thing to Summodeism is henotheism, then a step farther from that is polytheism, which goes to show their error is twice fold misunderstood. It seems like all Ancient Near East religions that we know (Sumerians, Ugaritians, Assyrians) had some form of Summodeism, that is a Supreme Creator Deity ruling over minor and lower spiritual entities. The Hebrews, being close to Ugaritians at least in language, would be no different, at least if one reads their Hebrew Bible correctly, they can see it is apparent. A few major medieval Jewish theologians developed hierarchies for angelic beings, catching on to this notion of a hierarchy of spiritual entities under the Supreme Deity.

Secondly, there are theologians out there with a bone to pick with Heiser, because his book shatters previously thought reputable reformed positions and traditional thought on the text. (Such as determinism in Calvinism) I can see why they are aggravated, some build their whole theological system on this.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2021 7:52 PM

Edwin Mendez:
This page completely misunderstands Heiser.

Thanks for the post - there was nothing in the OP that encouraged me to read the article. Your post did. While I've only read one of Heiser's books, I can see that the article misrepresents what I read. But now I have a bigger issue: I'd not seen the term "summodeism." which I see as extremely useful for use in certain other traditions. Do you know the origins of the term or some scholars who use it?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2021 8:08 PM

Kennet:
new gnostics?

To me, this brings to mind The New Gnosticism – Catholic World Report which clearly doesn't apply to Heiser. I've also run into the New Christian Gnositicism in articles such as The New Christian Gnosis | Rosa Mundi (wordpress.com) which again seems inapplicable. So am I to try to apply the term to the Progressive Christians who try to extend the canon to include certain gnostic texts? From the existence of books such as Christianity of Blasphemy: A New Gnostic Lie, I suspect this is closer to the direction you want me to head to answer your question.  There is definitely going to be fun tracing some of this new-to-me stuff down.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2021 11:48 PM

Edwin Mendez:

This page completely misunderstands Heiser. Heiser in his book doesn't present polytheism. That's a gross misconception of what he lays out. He presents what some scholars propose as "summodeism." (Watts, 2018) That is, the belief in a supreme Deity. (Yahweh) and a hierarchy of lower deities whom the Supreme Deity created. Jewish scholars like Maimonedes have been propounding some form of this since medieval times. The closest thing to Summodeism is henotheism, then a step farther from that is polytheism, which goes to show their error is twice fold misunderstood. It seems like all Ancient Near East religions that we know (Sumerians, Ugaritians, Assyrians) had some form of Summodeism, that is a Supreme Creator Deity ruling over minor and lower spiritual entities. The Hebrews, being close to Ugaritians at least in language, would be no different, at least if one reads their Hebrew Bible correctly, they can see it is apparent. A few major medieval Jewish theologians developed hierarchies for angelic beings, catching on to this notion of a hierarchy of spiritual entities under the Supreme Deity.

Secondly, there are theologians out there with a bone to pick with Heiser, because his book shatters previously thought reputable reformed positions and traditional thought on the text. (Such as determinism in Calvinism) I can see why they are aggravated, some build their whole theological system on this.

Yes, I personally have no knowledge of Heiser. But as I read this, I was struck by the sense there were a lot of claims but not a whole lot to back them up. Since I've seen my own religion frequently misrepresented, I try not to do that with others. (Don't always succeed but I try)

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 12:05 AM

David Wanat:
Yes, I personally have no knowledge of Heiser. But as I read this, I was struck by the sense there were a lot of claims but not a whole lot to back them up. Since I've seen my own religion frequently misrepresented, I try not to do that with others. (Don't always succeed but I try)

I hope you are responding to the Truth Watcher's article not Edwin Mendez. Otherwise, you have left me utterly confused ... and I thought the OP had already done a good job of that with the use of an ambiguous/new-to-me-usage term. 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 12:13 AM

MJ. Smith:

David Wanat:
Yes, I personally have no knowledge of Heiser. But as I read this, I was struck by the sense there were a lot of claims but not a whole lot to back them up. Since I've seen my own religion frequently misrepresented, I try not to do that with others. (Don't always succeed but I try)

I hope you are responding to the Truth Watcher's article not Edwin Mendez. Otherwise, you have left me utterly confused ... and I thought the OP had already done a good job of that with the use of an ambiguous/new-to-me-usage term. 

sorry. I meant the linked article in the OP. I probably should go to bed before I post anything else incoherently.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 12:38 AM

David Wanat:
sorry. I meant the linked article in the OP. I probably should go to bed before I post anything else incoherently.

Now that I know what you mean, I see where I went astray - I under-interpreted the yes, and over-interpreted the quotation.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Scott E. Mahle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 3:56 AM

MJ. Smith:

Do you know the origins of the term or some scholars who use it?

"At the same time, the intellectual baggage associated with henotheism does not recommend this term for the Mesopotamian material.132 Moreover, there is a quality in the ancient Near Eastern material lacking in Vedic expressions of henotheism, and that is the clear hierarchical character of the god praised. In the Vedic material cited above, the “one-god” does not occupy the peak of a “pyramid” of gods, the highest point in a hierarchy. It involves the sum or totality of divinity, but not its summit; in the Vedic material it does not express political hierarchy. Indeed, there does not seem to be a political metaphor operating here, and certainly empire is not the operative context, as it is in a good deal of the ancient Near Eastern material.133 Instead of henotheism, it would be preferable to deploy a term that captures the idea of one deity as the sum and summit of other deities who remain deities in their own right.

For this form of theism, the term “summodeism” may be considered. The term was introduced by the historian and political philosopher, Eric Voegelin (1901–1985), in order to characterize “worship of a supreme god as head of a polytheistic pantheon.”134 This expression, I think, works better for the ancient Near Eastern material under discussion. I am led in the direction of Voegelin’s coinage by a penetrating essay of Henk S. Versnel, entitled “Thrice One: Three Greek Experiments in Oneness.”135 Versnel himself uses henotheism as the paradigm of divinity to describe the Greco-Roman situation. Henotheism for Versnel is “the privileged devotion to one god, who is regarded as uniquely superior, while other gods are neither depreciated nor rejected and continue to receiving the cultic observance whenever this is ritually required.”136 Henotheism works for the Greco-Roman context, as the political sense of divine hierarchy expressed in the devotion to a given deity recedes. In some of these instances of henotheism found in the Greco-Roman context,137 the Latin summus is used.138 In view of its etymological roots, the term “summodeism” may be used to convey the notion of one deity as the sum and summit of the reality of other deities. Understood in this way, “summodeism” conveys a theism in which the deities are regarded as aspects or functions of a chief god, with political power often key to its expression. Before proceeding to a discussion of Mesopotamian “summodeism,” I hasten to add that I use these labels only as a short hand way to press closer to various representations of deities. In this discussion, none of these forms of theism is represented or regarded as superior to the others, nor does this study offer or presuppose a developmental scheme leading from one form of theism to another.139 Indeed, these theoretical terms and the distinctions that they represent would probably have been largely unclear to the ancient authors or their audiences.140 The purpose in using them is to gain some clarity for analysis and discussion."



Smith, M. S. (2008). God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World. (B. Janowski, M. S. Smith, & H. Spieckermann, Eds.) (pp. 168–169). Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck.

 

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Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 4:05 AM

The classic work that comes to mind for me is Harold Bloom's The American Religion.I see there is a new edition - which is good since the 1st edition, the only version I have read, is more than a bit dated. But in the work, he finds that what most Americans actually believe is a form of what traditional churches would call gnosticism, and he iirc is more than a bit of an advocate of this. That said, it is questionable if this is the official teaching of most Americans....

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 8:55 AM

MJ. Smith:

David Wanat:
sorry. I meant the linked article in the OP. I probably should go to bed before I post anything else incoherently.

Now that I know what you mean, I see where I went astray - I under-interpreted the yes, and over-interpreted the quotation.

No worries. By that time of night, I was tired enough to assume that what was in my mind had gotten into my post.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 6 2021 2:45 PM

Thank you Scott and Ken

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 34
Benny | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 8 2021 10:34 AM

What do you think about this book?

Posts 34
Benny | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 8 2021 10:47 AM

Kennet:

I have read Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy (Part 1) | Truth Watchers and it was a very interesting read. Has logos more books by other new gnostics?

What do you think about this book?

https://general.ebooks.faithlife.com/product/147760/a-new-new-testament-a-bible-for-the-twenty-first-century-combining-traditional-and-newly-discovered-texts

Posts 1866
Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 8 2021 11:29 AM

Benny:

What do you think about this book?

https://general.ebooks.faithlife.com/product/147760/a-new-new-testament-a-bible-for-the-twenty-first-century-combining-traditional-and-newly-discovered-texts

First of all, I am glad that it is in the Logos Ecosystem. I even wish it were a full featured Logos Research edition, so its translations could be read in parallel with other versions in the Logos Ecosystem. Everything else that I have to say has to be under this understanding. Back when the book came out, I attended "The Jesus Seminar on the Road" where they were hyping it, and had a few of the scholars involved lecturing about it. I didn't pick it up on hard copy, although seriously considered it at the time. I had a fine start of a discussion with one of the authors about how works like the Martyrdom of Perpetua fits in with Early Christian thought - especially, the Gospel of Thomas.

To the author's claim that in order to understand the depth of Early Christian thought, you do have to read figures other than just the orthodox like Irenaeus, I would certainly agree. And to read 2nd Peter and the disputed letters of Paul next to other works that claimed to follow in the tradition of Peter and Paul is useful. And to point out that the history of canonization of the Bible is more complicated and later than many Christians assume, is certainly the case. I even have sympathy with their concern to bring out the ministry of women in the early Jesus Movement.

But the title "New New Testament", as if their collection is a better canon for today? I will say no - and will even say that it is part of the way The Jesus Seminar seems to do scholarship by PR...

With regards to the original topic - it is a good thing for scholars to see that real "Gnostics" were more complex than the way we often dismiss it. It is a good thing to show that many "Gnostic" figures did not say some of the things we orthodox condemn. That said, many figures included in this collection do seem to obscure that Jesus came with a body like mine - and so has somehow redeemed this body I have. It saddens me when I hear spiritual leaders suggest that these texts should be commended to the faithful today to be read as scripture. I would rather recommend a collection like https://www.amazon.com/Early-Christian-Fathers-Cyril-Richardson/dp/1618954733 to those who are interested, with, of, course, reference to works like https://www.logos.com/product/4240/the-nag-hammadi-library-in-english-4th-rev-ed for those who want to read the other side.

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

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