to walk worthily of the Lord, pleasing him in all respects

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Blog in Crisis

This blog is important to me, though it has languished (or I have) of late. My apologies to those of you who have checked in. I am back and will try to stay back.

What's on the horizon?

I am presenting a paper for the Regional SBL analyzing Sophia in Wisdom of Solomon agains a Middle Platonic backdrop. I should also be working on rewriting the dissertation from whence this paper comes. Soon, very soon.

When I am not teaching or chasing after any of my children, I have been working of late on a book review of "Gnostic Revisions of Genesis Stories and Early Jesus Traditions", by Gerard P. Luttikhuizen. It's OK - he provides competant readings of the Apocryphon of John and certain other Nag Hammadi tractates. Having finished with the Genesis Stories portion, I find his thesis that the source of these revisions is pagan or greek-minded Christians (but NOT non-Christian Jewish traditions) has not been proven. He argues against Pearson and others who see Sethian "gnosticism" as arising from Greek-speaking Jewish circles. I agree with him that Apoc. John has strong pagan/Greek intellectual influences, but I don't see how they could not have as easily influenced certain dis-illusioned Jews as the Christians he supposes.

I am working also on amassing materials related to the first tractate of Corpus Hermeticum, aka POIMANDRES, to make a comparison with certain Nag Hammadi/Sethian writings. I might say more on this later.


Sophia Sadek said...

Gee! Solomon vs. Middle Platonic, isn't that like apples and oranges?

Solomon had ties to Egypt. Pythagoras was initiated into the Egyptian mysteries. Plato, too, was initiated into the Egyptian mysteries. So, perhaps they aren't so different after all.

On a personal note, I was observing one of Americas judges in action. It was a family law matter. The judge said he would do like Solomon and cut the baby in two. Of course, Solomon didn't actually cut up the baby, he only threatened to.

It was a test. It was only a test.

Gerard Luttikhuizen said...

Dear Ron,
Thanks to the blessings of Google I found your weblog. My book was published in November last year. Yesterday I got the idea to find out if there might be reactions to this book. As yet I only received some oral comments of close colleagues. Your weblog is the first written reaction and the first reaction by somebody I do not know. (As far as I see, you do not mention your family name. Since I am a regular visitor of the annual SBL meetings, it is possible that we met somewhere). You make use of a public weblog, so why should I not react to it? It gives me the opportunity to speak out more clearly than I may have done in my book "Gnostic Revisions".
Several years ago I became convinced that the Gnostic thought world can not have originated in any form of Judaism. (As you know, in my book I do not speak about "Gnosticism" in general but about what I call demiurgical Gnostic texts, the Apocryphon of John and related writings.) I could and cannot believe that the idea that the biblical God is not the true and highest God but an ignorant and malicious figure, the creator of a failed product, a cosmic being who tries to imprison humanity in his dark world has a Jewish background. Not can I believe that the idea that the highest part of the human soul was not created but is a lost part of the supermundane God was thought out and worded by Jews. It does not make sense in my opinion to refer to Philo or to any other (Hellenistic-) Jewish text known to us. Philo does not speak negatively of the biblical God, his words and his deeds. The contary is true. The only possiblity as you suggest is that the people who thought this out were former Jews (desillusioned Jews). But is there a solid source basis for this speculation? And why is it necessary to hypothesize desillusioned Jews? I surmise that scholars still reckon with the possibility that the Gnostic thought world originated before Christianity. This was widely believed in the last century (think of Rudolf Bultmann). But I wonder if we have sources pointing to the first half of the first century CE or to earlier centuries. It is not necessary to think of desillusioned Jews because the Christianity of the second century can be seen as the perfect historic context for highly critical approaches to the Jewish Scriptures. So my question to you would be: why do you attach to the idea that Gnostic ideas were first worded by (former, desillusioned) Jews? And what is the textual, historical, sociological or any other basis for this hypothesis?
By the way, I like the style and format of your weblog. You seem to live in LA (Malibu). Last summer my wife and I enjoyed a six weeks holiday in LA . We exchanged home and car with a couple in Fountain Valley. One week our elder son and his girl friend joined us. With them we traveled to San Francisco, Yosemite Park and Las Vegas. It was a marvelous time.
Best wishes, also to the little boy on the photo, yours,
Gerard Luttikhuizen

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