Gnostics; Tensions in Rabbinic Judaism

1.  I read Birger Pearson’s “Jewish Elements of Gnosticism and the Development of Gnostic Self-Definition.” 

According to Pearson, Gnostics “identify themselves ontologically with the highest God and understand themselves as originating ‘from the Primeval Father’ (Hyp. Arch. II.96.19-20).”  He further states that “the heart and core of the Gnostic religion” is “the idea of the consubstantiality of the self with God”.  Regarding Seth, Pearson says that, in Gnosticism, Seth is “understood as a pre-cosmic, heavenly being, as well as an incarnate saviour-revealer.”  Also, Pearson gives the meanings of the names that Gnostics ascribed to the God of the Old Testament, whom they regarded as a sinister sub-deity (though there is more nuance to their position, according to some scholars): “Yaldabaoth” means “Child of Chaos”; “Samael” means “Blind God”; and “Saklas” means “Fool”.

2.  I also read Richard Sarason’s “Kadushin’s Study of Midrash: Value Concepts and Their Literary Embodiment”.  According to Sarason, Max Kadushin was responding to Protestant beliefs that rabbinic Judaism was dry, legalistic, and tribal, contending instead that rabbinic Judaism valued religious authenticity and the value of all human beings, Jew and Gentile.  Sarason states, however, that there is more to rabbinic literature than that, for it contains “tensions…between universalism and particularism, and between ‘inwardness’ and formalism or routinization.”

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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