Was Gnosticism inspired by ancient greek philosophy?

Nov 2010
1,583
#1
Inspired by another thread about if God is really Satan:

Some early Christians (who later came to be known as Gnostics) actually believed that the world was created by an evil entity, called a "demiurge" (meaning craftsman).

Gnostics (gnosis = acknowledgement) acknowledges that the world is inheriently evil and that the true God rarely, if ever, intervene in this false world.

I believe that the Gnostics came into being because of ancient Greek philosophy and studying of nature: The concept of entropy proves that this world is fallible. A truely divine world would not change, and certainly not degenerate. The universe is expanding and is evidence that the universe will degenerate more and more, but never completely vanish, but only degenerate further and further.

A truely divine universe would've been made like a mechanical perpetual clockwork.

I believe this was the reason for the writings of the early Gnostics (a term coined in the 19th century).
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#2
I think Indian philosophy, either directly or indirectly through Greek Philosophy, played a role.

No question in my mind that Gnosticism was derived from Greek philosophy. You can see Greek philosophical terms (Logos) being used in the Gospel of John, which although not gnostic, did seem to have some gnostic tendencies. It would take a few steps to go from the Gospel of John and other tendencies in the other gospels to go to full blown gnosticism. The ruler of this world is Satan- not much of a leap to say the material world was and always bad, for example.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#3
I think Indian philosophy, either directly or indirectly through Greek Philosophy, played a role.

No question in my mind that Gnosticism was derived from Greek philosophy. You can see Greek philosophical terms (Logos) being used in the Gospel of John, which although not gnostic, did seem to have some gnostic tendencies. It would take a few steps to go from the Gospel of John and other tendencies in the other gospels to go to full blown gnosticism. The ruler of this world is Satan- not much of a leap to say the material world was and always bad, for example.
As I said, I agree with the premise that Gnosticism arose out of Greek Philosophy; there was non-Christian Gnosticism as the religious Gnosticism, for example. Still, there were elements even in canonical gospels that would lend themselves to gnostic trendes:

a. The canonical gospels repeatedly claim that Jesus gave special teaching and knoweldge to his chose disciples that he did not give to the average person. Jesus clearly says this in the Gospel of Mark chapter 4 when asked to explain the parables of the sower:

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]” Mark 4 NIV - The Parable of the Sower - Again Jesus - Bible Gateway
b. Jesus several times called he current generation "evil", and the ruler of this world "Satan". From that language, it would be a small step as I said that the material world was evil.

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Matthew 16 NIV - The Demand for a Sign - The Pharisees - Bible Gateway
.



However, the idea that YWH was not the true God would have been totally foreign to early Christians coming from their Jewish background, and for that I think we would need to look to Greek philosophy.


Here are the elements that make up Gnosticism:

Gnostic systems (particularly the Syrian-Egyptian schools[which?]) are typically marked out by:


  1. The notion of a remote, supreme monadic divinity, source — this figure is known under a variety of names, including "Pleroma" (fullness, totality) and "Bythos" (depth, profundity);
  2. The introduction by emanation of further divine beings known as Aeons, which are nevertheless identifiable as aspects of the God from which they proceeded; the progressive emanations are often conceived metaphorically as a gradual and progressive distancing from the ultimate source, which brings about an instability in the fabric of the divine nature
  3. The introduction of a distinct creator god or demiurge, which is an illusion and a later emanation from the single monad or source. This second god is a lesser and inferior or false god. This creator god is commonly referred to as the demiourgós (a technical term literally denoting a public worker the Latinized form of Greek dēmiourgos, δημιουργός, hence "ergon or energy", "public god or skilled worker" "false god" or "god of the masses"), used in the Platonist tradition.[26] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism
 
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