Gnostic Intellectuals?

Gnostic Intellectuals? March 5, 2014

I apologize that I didn’t manage to find the time until now to mention the conversation about ancient Gnostic intellectuals that has been taking place lately.

Read Larry Hurtado’s post that sparked the discussion, April DeConick’s response, Larry Hurtado’s reply,  as well as contributions by Mike Bird and Jared Calaway.

I think it is fair to sum things up by saying that neither all Gnostics nor all proto-orthodox Christians were intellectuals, and that neither group was devoid of intellectuals.



Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Wayne Coppins

    Hey James. Check out my post on Christoph Markschies for a line of thought that shows some similarities to what you are saying here. See

  • Gary

    Didn’t have time to read everything. But something right off the bad jumped out at me from Hurtado’s first ref.
    “women were to avoid giving birth, as this only imprisoned souls in this mire. Instead, they were to “become male” and cease “the work of women,” i.e., live celibate. (Hardly the elevation of women some people erroneously ascribe to “gnostic” circles.)”
    “Erroneously” may be a reach, depending on how you analyze the data. Perhaps this demonstrates Hurtado’s bias as well.
    “Elevated status” has more to do with women and men sharing in roles of preacher, bishop, duties in the church. At the beginnings of meetings, lots were drawn for some gnostic meetings, to determined their roles, with both men and women participating. A rather earth-shaking cultural change for the times.
    It doesn’t really relate, but I can’t help but think that the “no child birth, drop work of women, become celibate”, could be interpreted in woman’s lib circles, as breaking the glass ceiling, working in traditionally men’s jobs, like CEO’s, having a career instead of a family. If so, I could interpret Hurtado’s dismay at this, the same way men were upset and threatened by this thought in 200AD. Oh oh, not good!

  • “mumbo-jumbo”

    I can’t disagree with that, but then it applies to orthodoxy too.

  • Evan Hershman

    Right, only gnostics wrote “mumbo-jumbo” while the orthodox were models of clarity. Because, say, Paul or Origen is so easy to understand, right?

    • Gary

      Just my opinion,
      Valentinus “Gospel of Truth”, good.
      Origen “Against Celsus”, rather amusing. Poor Origen.

      • Gary

        Checked the other references. Mike Bird’s blog, “This is Irenaeus’ way of saying that the Valentinians are just making stuff up!”…and the Trinity is…? Oh My! As Sulu would say. Oh you nonsense-blabbering pumpkins!

  • Ryan Hite

    I love Gnosticism as a philosophy. I think it is something that will re-emerge as Christianity becomes “liberalized”

  • Andrew Dowling

    While “Bible Hunters” is ridiculous, Hurtado’s bias is remarkable. He goes “Gnostics were a bunch of elitist snobs with kooky ideas” Then DeConick basically tears his argument to shreds. His reply . .”well, the only people I consider Gnostics are the ones difficult to understand . . .”