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ISBN:0674066030
Author: David Brakke
ISBN13: 978-0674066038
Title: The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity
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Language: English
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Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (September 3, 2012)
Pages: 180

The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity by David Brakke



Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity. Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England 2010. Printed in the United States of America. Brakke, David The Gnostics : myth, ritual, and diversity in early. Christianity, David Brakke. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 978-0-674-04684-9.

One person found this helpful. David Brakke aims to address many of these questions in The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity. Chapter 1 (Imagining Gnosticism and Early Christianities) discusses the preliminary matters necessary for any serious engagement with the early Christian sect. Brakke lists the texts which he thinks were produced by the ancient Gnostics. I don’t know the texts well enough to appraise his list, nor will I include it here, due to length, though presumably they all embody Sethian distinctives. Chapter 3 (The Myth and the Rituals of the Gnostic School of Thought) charts out the Gnostic Myth, with all it’s complexity, and offer a glimpse into the ritual worship of this Christian sect.

Imagining "Gnosticism" and early Christianities Identifying the Gnostics and their literature The myth and rituals of the Gnostic school of thought Unity and diversity in second-century Rome Strategies of. Download The Gnostics : myth, ritual, and diversity in early Christianity David Brakke. leave here couple of words about this book: Tags: Block books.

FB 4033 rvk. Personal Name: Brakke, David 1961- Verfasser (DE-588)132161664. Publication, Distribution, et. Cambridge, Mass. Download DOC book format.

This book offers an illuminating discussion of recent scholarly debates over the concept of ��Gnosticism�� and the nature of early Christian diversity. Acknowledging that the category ��Gnosticism�� is flawed and must be reformed, David Brakke argues for a more careful approach to gathering evidence for the ancient Christian movement known as the Gnostic school of thought. Rather than depicting the Gnostics as heretics or as the losers in the fight to define Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, in which other Christians not only rejected their ideas but also adapted and transformed them.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. In this book the author takes up the issue of diversity in early Christianity, with special attention to a group that he identifies as "Gnostics. In the first chapter ("Imagining 'Gnosticism' and Early Christianities") he discusses the current controversy on the use of the term Gnosticism and adopts the position of some scholars that there was no such thing. At the end of the chapter Brakke provides a list of the surviving works of the Gnostics and various ancient testimonia. As is well known, some of the "Gnostic" texts have no Christian elements in them at all.

Who were the Gnostics? And how did the Gnostic movement influence the development of Christianity in antiquity? Is it true that the Church rejected Gnosticism? This book offers an illuminating discussion of recent scholarly debates over the concept of œGnosticism� and the nature of early Christian diversity. Rather than depicting the Gnostics as heretics or as the losers in the fight to define Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, in which other Christians not only rejected their ideas but also adapted and transformed them

From the beginning, Brakke sets out to dispel the myth that Do not be fooled by the slimness of this book, it is intellectually heavy. My guess is that Brakke wrote The Gnostics as a doctoral thesis and later decided to get it published for general audiences. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the Gnostic tradition, because it will give you an idea of how complex the study is.

Arguments sketched out in an important 1995 article by Bentley Layton benefit here from the more visible platform of a full monograph. In wonderfully lucid prose, David Brakke articulates a position familiar to specialists but probably not to many other readers. Arguments sketched out in an important 1995 article by Bentley Layton benefit here from the more visible platform of a full monograph. It is well known that none of the writings such as the Secret Book, Judas, or the others contains the self-designation gnōstikos or a Coptic equivalent, but instead one finds references to the "race of Seth," "holy race," or "immovable race," etc.

Who were the Gnostics? And how did the Gnostic movement influence the development of Christianity in antiquity? Is it true that the Church rejected Gnosticism? This book offers an illuminating discussion of recent scholarly debates over the concept of “Gnosticism” and the nature of early Christian diversity. Acknowledging that the category “Gnosticism” is flawed and must be reformed, David Brakke argues for a more careful approach to gathering evidence for the ancient Christian movement known as the Gnostic school of thought. He shows how Gnostic myth and ritual addressed basic human concerns about alienation and meaning, offered a message of salvation in Jesus, and provided a way for people to regain knowledge of God, the ultimate source of their being.

Rather than depicting the Gnostics as heretics or as the losers in the fight to define Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, in which other Christians not only rejected their ideas but also adapted and transformed them. This book will challenge scholars to think in news ways, but it also provides an accessible introduction to the Gnostics and their fellow early Christians.

Reviews: 7
Nejind
David Brakke does an outstanding job of making Gnosticism's relationship to early Christianity both intelligible and interesting as well as full of lots of information on the various sects and teachers of the pro-Gnosticism school of thought as well as their opponents in what later became orthodoxy. I love how he shows that this took place before Christianity congealed into a solid orthodoxy, great facts and stuff.
The irony of history is revealed in this book. By reading it any person with a glimmer of systematic theology background will be able to see how much of what we believe was founded in the war for orthodoxy itself.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient Christianity, in heresies of the early ages, and in their lingering effects up unto the present era.
Washington
A very good review of basic Gnostic beliefs and practices, including aspects of what would now be considered by most as the occult. Includes reasonable comparisons of beliefs and practices of Gnostic contemporaries. Where it fails, like most texts on the Gnostics, is to take into consideration the mystical aspects of orthodox Christianity with respect to why Gnostic beliefs were not accepted by people such as Bishop Iraneus. Not everything can be reduced to socio-political forces!
caster
A significant addition to the books by Rudolph and Jonas that contextualizes gnosticism (small G) within the smorgasbord of 1st and 2nd century religious movements. I have only one minor difference with the book; the pagan writer Celsus likely gives us an accurate look at 2nd century Christian groups and his accusation that Christians practiced magic obviously caused Origen a lot of distress. Celsus specifically mentions several gnostic teachings as well as a diagram of multiple heavens in us among some sects, so Irenaeus is not our only contemporary window into gnosticism. That said, this is an exemplary work that incorporates recent insights into the gnostic movement.
Mr Freeman
This book provides an effective argument of our interpretation of why Gnosticism has become too broad a topic and that new categories of proto-orthodoxy needs to be developed. This text should be required reading for those learning medieval heresy.
Vaua
Very detailed.
Connorise
The Gnostics are an often-disparaged group. They are employed for theological-slams against those who would denigrate the environment in the name of Jesus. Likewise, they are recognized as a “loser” within the battle to determine the Christian identity. But who were the Gnostics, really? Beyond contemporary polemics, what did this early Christian sect really believe – how did they originate? David Brakke aims to address many of these questions in The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity.

Chapter 1 (Imagining “Gnosticism and Early Christianities) discusses the preliminary matters necessary for any serious engagement with the early Christian sect. One of the major problems with study of the Gnostics is our hindsight knowledge of their eventual outcome. We are prone to imagine them in contrast to the “orthodox” Christian movement. Following Irenaeus’ rhetorical account of early Christianity, many have conceptualized the Gnostics as an impure heresy that had moved away from the pure, Apostolic Christianity. However, this view, in Brakke’s account, is untenable because there was no pure Christianity from which to deviate.

Rather, Christianity was pluriform in the 2nd century, with numerous “Christianities” each representing distinct elements while maintain enough unity to be considered one of the same. It is in this matrix that we find Gnosticism as an early Christian sect (social group) with a strong affinity for Middle Platonism. This chapter would have been stronger had Brakke considered the New Testament evidence. 1st Century Christianity suggests something closer to what Irenaeus charts. Certainly there was variance within early Christianity, though; I think there really were doctrines (forgive the term) which I think formed an orthodoxy – even before Justin Martyr.

Chapter 2 (Identifying the Gnostics and Their Literature) aims to answer the question of who were the Gnostics. His answer, in short, is that the Gnostics were a particular strand of early Christianity often known as the “Sethian Gnostics”. However, on Brakke’s account, they are not “Sethian Gnostics”, but merely Gnostics. Thus, other groups, which have been assumed to be Gnostic, such as Valentinus, are not actually Gnostic. They may share some Gnostic thought – likely derived from a common source (Middle Platonism) – but they were not part of the same social unit. His main argument for this, which I found convincing, was than when Irenaeus speaks of the Gnostics, he is speaking a particular sect (likely self-identified as Gnostics) which was, and can be differentiated from other forms of Christianity.

Brakke lists the texts which he thinks were produced by the ancient Gnostics. I don’t know the texts well enough to appraise his list, nor will I include it here, due to length, though presumably they all embody Sethian distinctives.

Chapter 3 (The Myth and the Rituals of the Gnostic School of Thought) charts out the Gnostic Myth, with all it’s complexity, and offer a glimpse into the ritual worship of this Christian sect. Let me say first, that Gnosticism is incredibly complex and, in my admittedly modern view, bizarre. I cannot even begin to describe the intricate theological understanding of the Gnostics, though, most simply put, the Gnostics believed in one ultimate being, who was presumably too transcendent to be known, who had a series of emanations who formed divine aeons. One of the emanations, in ignorant folly, created the material world. In a strange, dark happening, Eve bears a spiritual son, Seth, with Adam, and bears two fleshly son, Cain and Abel, because of her rape by demonic “rulers”. Humanity is cast into a state of ignorance and they await the redemptive gnosis from the ultimate being. This gnosis eventually arrives in Jesus.

Gnostics practiced Baptism, in a form perhaps similar to other early Christians, though, it may have been a metaphor for a purely spiritual practice. Along with their “five-fold” (referring to a mysterious five seals) baptism, Gnostics also practice Mystical Ascent. They believed that the human intellect mirrored the divine intellect, and thus introspection and contemplation could lead to advance spiritual experience.

Brakke additionally discusses the origins of the Gnostic sect. He rejects the hypotheses which understands it as an originally Jewish sect which adopted Jesus traditions, rather, from the beginning it was a Christian sect. However, he doesn’t exactly explain this. The closest he gets is saying the Gnostics embody one response early Christians made to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I’m not sure I find this adequate or convincing.

Chapter 4 (Unity and Diversity in Second-Century Rome) deals with much more than simply Gnosticism. Rather, it aims to situate Gnosticism within Roman Christianity of the 2nd Century. After some curious thoughts on the Apostle Paul, Brakke considers three representative examples of early Christian responses to Gnosticism. He surveys Marcion, Valentinus, and Justin Martyr. In the end, he concludes that there were multiple ways in which Christians responded to Gnosticism. None could really be called outright rejection. Many adapted some elements. The overall feel regarding second century Christianity, as depicted by Brakke, is that it contained – you guessed it – unity and diversity. The Gnostics likely went too far, breaching the requirements for unity. Thus, they were likely a marginal group within Christianity, perhaps unrecognized as truly Christians by many.

Chapter 5 (Strategies and Self-Differentiation) considers three representatives for understanding self-differentiation in early Christianity: The Valentinian School, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Origin. I must confess that while I found this chapter, and the previous one, very interesting and worthwhile, they often veered away from discussing Gnosticism. This last chapter in particular had little to do with the Gnostics specifically. However, it was a helpful chapter in establishing the 2nd century Christian milieu.

Overall, this was a helpful introduction to Gnosticism. Perhaps a bit too complex and constructive for a true introduction, but, as one unfamiliar with Gnosticism outside of contemporary polemical references (N.T. Wright), I benefited greatly. I’m not convinced by all of Brakke’s arguments; however, his case was well worth my time and gained assent in many key areas. I feel confident now that when I pejoratively declaim Gnostic-like thought in American Christianity I will actually know what that means. That’s a successful book on my count.

Note: This book was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Brazil
Superb summary of the current state of studies in Gnosticism with a convincing analysis of ancient communities and beliefs in the second and third centuries.
As everyone knows, The Gnostics were a Devonshire skiffle band in the late fifties who were profoundly influential on the more popular bands of the 1960s British invasion. George Harrison stole the whole "shy quiet" act from Adrian Griffin, the Gnostics' lead guitarist and throat singer. For a long time the significance of this seminal musical group has been a type of secret knowledge, one might say, known only to those initiated into the mysteries of English rock history. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find a new biography of the band. Sadly, Brakke does not emphasize the blue-collar roots of the band's folk music background nor does he have any commentary on their hit singles such as "It's No Secret Why I Love You," "You Fill the Pleroma of My Heart," and "Come On, Baby, Let's Have an Ogdoad." While Brakke does offer a compelling analysis of the plurality and complexity of Christian communities in the first few centuries of the common era, this does little to draw back the veil upon one of pop music's most groundbreaking yet ineffable combos.