Gnosis the nature and history of gnosticism pdf
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Although Gnosticism thus rests on personal religious experience, it is a mistake to assume all such experience results in Gnostic recognitions. It is nearer the truth to say that Gnosticism expresses a specific religious experience, an experience that does not lend itself to the language of theology or philosophy, but which is instead closely affinitized to, and expresses itself through, the medium of myth. Indeed, one finds that most Gnostic scriptures take the forms of myths. In the following summary, we will attempt to encapsulate in prose what the Gnostic myths express in their distinctively poetic and imaginative language. All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect.
Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun which means "knowledge". A related term is the adjective gnostikos , "cognitive",  a reasonably common adjective in Classical Greek. Gnosis is used throughout Greek philosophy as a technical term for experience knowledge see gnosiology in contrast to theoretical knowledge or epistemology. Irenaeus used the phrase "knowledge falsely so-called" pseudonymos gnosis , from 1 Timothy  for the title of his book On the Detection and Overthrow of False Knowledge , that contains the adjective gnostikos , which is the source for the 17th-century English term " Gnosticism ". Philo also refers to the "knowledge" gnosis and "wisdom" sophia of God. Paul distinguishes "knowledge" gnosis and "knowledge falsely so-called" pseudonymos gnosis.
This article is no longer being updated. Scholar Elaine Pagels explores these documents and their implications. In December an Arab peasant made an astonishing archeological discovery in Upper Egypt. Rumors obscured the circumstances of this find—perhaps because the discovery was accidental, and its sale on the black market illegal. For years even the identity of the discoverer remained unknown. Originally natural, some of these caves were cut and painted and used as grave sites as early as the sixth dynasty, some 4, years ago.
Gnosticism pronounced NOS tuh siz um was a second-century religious movement claiming that salvation could be gained through a special form of secret knowledge. Early Christian church fathers such as Origen , Tertullian , Justin Martyr and Eusebius of Caesarea condemned gnostic teachers and beliefs as heretical. The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis , meaning "to know" or "knowledge. The secret knowledge reveals the key to salvation. Gnostic beliefs clashed strongly with accepted Christian doctrine , causing early church leaders to be embroiled in heated debates over the issues. By the end of the second century, many Gnostics broke away or were expelled from the church.