Outline of the Gnosticism
Translated from Japanese


Outline of the Gnosticism

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Sommaire des Gnosticismes
"Outline of the Gnosticism"
par Marie RA. et NoicE

In general in the world, the systems of thoughts, philosophies or faiths, which are called "Gnosticism", are basically, that is, in the usage of the first meaning, the "TEACHINGS" which have the unique Views of the World, of the Gods, and of the Humans, and were widely spread in the Hellenistic World, i.e. the Mediterranean World under the ruling of the Roman Empire from the 1st century to around the 3rd or 4th century A.D. I call these Teachings the "Hellenistic Gnosticism".

The reason I call so is because that there are many and various thoughts or Views of the Universe, which have the same "types of thoughts and Idees/World Graspings" as these Gonosticisms which were spread in the Hellenistic World, and these thoughts can be also considered as wide-sense gnosticism. Because that to grasp the gnosticism in these wide-senses is more convenient to understand gnosticisms, which are as the thoughts, Views of the Universe, those of life, or the "Faith Teachings". We call such wide-sense gnosticism "Universal Gnosticism" here.

The Hellenistic Gnosticism may be defined by the following elements in principle :

I ) (Christian) -- Anti-Cosmic Dualism
II ) Triad Structure of Human Existence (Flesh, sarks / Heart, psykhe / Spirit, pneuma)
III ) Possibility of Salvation inside A Human = Sharing of Fragments of Light of the Most-High Spirits
IV ) Memory-Losing of Truth and Recovery of Recognition = sophia-Wisdom through "Truth Discloser = Redeemer"

The explanations for these "Four Elements" shall be needed. As for the more detailed discussion, there are explanations stated in the Document "Anti-Cosmic Dualism and Jaldabaoth" in the page of "Mysticism and Gnosis II" in this site (Note : yet not translated into English). The four elemental Principles which characterize the Hellenistic Gnosticism is explained shortly as follows :

I ) Jahweh, the god of Christianity which was the world religion in the Mediterranean region, was a "god of Good/Virtue [deus bonus]". He was a good god at least in the doctrine of the Early Christianity, and so in the doctrines of Christianities in the later ages. There exists, however, the phenomenonical fact that the "Evil" is filled for the reason we cannot understand in "This World = KOSMOS". For example, why should men die? Why are there absurdly many agonies and difficulties in a life, or poverty, cruelties, discrimination and misery matters in this World = Cosmos?

The Christianity, not Gnosticism, insists that the "Original Sin" which was committed by the human ancestor Adam and Heva is the "ORIGIN of the EVIL" in this world against these questions. In addition, ancient philosophical views of the world and various religions other than Christianity also insist that the One who creates the World, i.e., the god is originally the good one and the World = Universe = Cosmos is also originally the "GOOD". But for us, for each individual who lives in his/her existence, the world = cosmos seems, in real feelings, to be the "Wolrd of Evil" of Darkness where many and many miseries, agonies and contradictions are filled in fact, though they say the universe is "the Universe of Good" and the Creator = the god is "the god of Good".

(Of course, there are ones who think "no, the world is "a good world" and "the world of Virtue", or ones who think the world is "that of the Middle Way (via media)" or "the world of Rupa (colour = phenomena) and Synyata (null = space which has no substantia)" where relative good and evil are mixtured, and exist and appear as phenomena. However, our souls, that is, "gnostical souls -- Gnostischer Seelen" (See the Document "Our Existence as an Orphan in the Universe" in the page of "Mysticism and noosis IV" in this site [Note : yet not translated into English.]), feel strongly the Misery and Evil in the World, and especially our "Cosmic Orphanhood -- Kosmische Weisenheit", and the Thoughts of the Gnosticism are the Views of the World and of Humans which such souls grasp.)

The Hellenistic Gnosticism (especially pseudo-Christian Gnosticism) answer, using and applying mainly the material and myth-frames of the Early Christianity, that the reason that "the Evil" is filled in this "World of Good" which might have been created by the Good God is, to tell the truth, "the Creator Jahweh = YHWH" is "the Pseudo-God = Creator of Evil", and therefore the situations are very natural, and the fact that the fate of humans in this world seems to be misery and helpless is a natural result as far as one thinks that pseudo-god Jahweh as "the Creator of Original Human".

If the world creator Jahweh is a pseudo-god, and if this world was created by the pseudo-god, naturally, there must be "the True God = the True Creator of Humans" differently from a pseudo-god, and there must be "the True Universe, the True HEIMAT (Home World) to which human psyches originally belong, certain people thought. The many and Major Teachings of the Hellenistic Gnosticism conclude the creator Jahweh is "a pseudo-god" and request and set "the True God = True Saviour = True Cosmo-Creator" differently from Jahweh, and thus the Dualism which is constituted of "pseudo-god versus true god", "this world of darkness = pseudo-cosmos of evil versus true world of salvation = eternal world of light" is called "Anti-Cosmic Dualism" of Gnosticism since this dualism denies "this world = Universe = Cosmos". (This is the First Element.)

II ) The Hellenistic Gnosticism also insists that a human is composed of three elements. This concept exists in the general gnosticisms too, and, that is, there are three elements, "Flesh, sarks, σαρξ" as Matter (materia) = dusts which is corrupted and ruined on the Earth, "Heart-soul, psyche, ψυχη which has godlike part a little, but this is also determined to be ruined and distinguished, and "Spirit, pneuma, πνευμα" which is eternal and godlike, and has its origin in and from "the True God and/or the True Eternal World of salvation". These form the "Triad Structure of A Human" in the Gnosticism. (This is the Second Element.)

/*/ The "Human Triad Structure" theory in Gnosticism means that an individual person consists of three phases, i.e., "man of flesh", "man of herat-soul" and "man of spirit". The former two phaese of a person are "imperfect being" which was created by the Archon (Arkhoon), namely, creator = Jaldabaoth who is a false god etc., and the third "man of spirit" is really the "Original Self" of a perfect human which was created by the Pleroma (Pleerooma) and/or the True God. The salvation principle which the Gnosticism intends may be said that the recovery of this "Original Self = Man of Spirit", and that "Self as Spirit" returns to the original home world of soul through the "Gnosis" (sophia-Wisdom, or knowledge). (In 42 - 54 of Chapter 15 in "the First Corinthians in the New Testament", even Paulos (Paul) talked about "man of soil / man of flesh" and compared them with "man of heaven / man of spirit", and thus stated the former is ruined on the earth, but the latter is not ruined and succeds to the "Kingdom of God" (Basileia Theou). Paulos the Apostle who is a declarer of the Christianity, however, in reality, may be said to be "proto-Gnostic". Refer to the above-mentioned Document "Our Existence as an Orphan in the Universe" in the page "Mysticism and Gnosis IV in this site [Note : yet not translated into English.]),

/*/ --- But to tend to misunderstand is the opinions that since the Gnosticism denied both "Flesh-body, Sarko-sooma" and "Heart-soul, Psykhee", and thus the spiritual rank of "Spirit, Pneuma" is not affected by any activies in the stage of Flesh, so THEY (the Gnostics and their followers) indulged in physical libertinism, allowed immoral, antisocial sayings and/or behaviour, and practised them. These are not fact, but for the Meisters = Adepts of the Gnosticism, that is, a kind of the spiritually awakened such as the ones who were called "parfaits" in the Catare sect which is one of the Christian Gnosticism in the West-European mediaeval time, the problems were highly delicate and complicated, and it may be said that they had the profound insights and the mysterious sophia-Wisdoms about the problems of "Flesh and Heart-soul" versus "Spirit". The idees or thoughts of the Emancipation of "Original Self of the Lights" which are captured in a prison of Flesh are exactly those of the Platonism, yet "Platonism" is not directly the Gnoticisms. Here I only point out that there are the practice and "mysteries" of the sophia-Wisdom Existence which stand against (contra) "simplification" of thoughts of the Gnosticism on these problems. It should be said that there are "the Mysterious Structures of Existence" of the Gnosticism, which can not be accommodated in simplified structural schemata that the Gnosticism abandoned body and denied "this World of Evil" under a dualism of flesh-body and spirit. /*/

The Gnosticism makes "the pseudo-cosmos/pseudo-god" opposed to "the true cosmos/true God" and contrasts them. And what the Gnosticism supposes as "the true world" is, in the Hellenistic Gnosticism, "the Hyper World of Aion." The word "Aeon (aion or aioon)" means "a ceratain period" or "an era" in the classical Greek, but it also implifies the meaning of "eternity" in the use by Plato. In addition, Aeon (Aioon) is personified or treated as godhood, and thus, the usages and meanings of "Aeon, Aioon (Αιων)" are devided into some semantic forms, that is, the meaning of a world/sphere such as "the Eternal Sphere" or that of godhead/spiritualhood such as "the Hyper-eternal Being = Spiritual principle." (Concerning "Aeon", there are a little more detailed explanations in the section "Aion, Sephira and St. Maria" which is included in the page "Mysticism and Gnosis" in this site [Note : yet not translated into English.] )

III ) Both the "pseudo-gods" and the "True Gods" are, in the Gnosticism, "aeon" of the above two meanings. Aeon has anyway the meanings of Hyper-spiritual principles or Hyper-spiritual worlds/spheres, which transcend the human beings, and the "pseudo-god" and his subordinate angels are low-rank aeons, and these low-rank aeons are called, in the Hellenistic Gnosticism, generally "ruler (that is, "archon", αρχων ). In addition, there are usually multiple archons, and the one spiritual principle, called "the First Archon" which is the principal from the Origin of the Cosmos, is imagined, and it is said that this First Archon (alias Jaldabaoth, or Demiourgos/Demiurge, a maker of the temporal things, Δημιουργος ) is the creator of this "World of Evil", the material world, and "flesh" and incomplete "heart-soul" of men who have the miserable fate of death.

The First Archon, namely, Demiourgos/Demiurge (Jaldabaoth) was regarded and identified as "the God of the Most-High/the Creator God = Jahweh (YHWH)" of the Judaism, who appears in the "Old Testament". In the Christian Gnosticism, as the same manner, "the True God" is considered as right that of the "Father God" whom Jesus prayed in the "Gospels" of the "New Testament". Some sects in the Gnosticism considered that "Father God (Theos Pateer)" is the high-rank Aeon and "* the AEON of the Most-High = Propateer *" (for instance, in the Ptolemaic sect). Surrounding the Aeon of the Most-High = Propateer (Fore-Father, alias Propatoor), the high-rank Aeons who compose the True Universe constitute "the Sphere", and this Sphere" is called "Ogdoas, Ogdoad, (Ογδοας)" or "Pleroma (Fulfilled Sphere), Pleerooma (Πληρωμα)", in the Hellenistic Gnosticism, according to the number of Aeons which constitute this Sphere.

The flesh and heart-soul of the human were created and formed by the low-rank Aeon Demiourgos and his subordinate archons, however, on the other hand, as there is just the "Anti-cosmic Dualism" structure, so the dualism of "Flesh" and "Spirit" stands according to the teachings of the Hellenistic Gnosticism, and therefore, it is thought that "Spirit (Pneuma)" inside the Human was not formed by Demiourgos or his archons, but truly this was created by "the Aeon Sphere of the Most-High = Pleroma" and "Propateer", and also it is equipped with the "Same Nature (Essentia)" as that of the Aeon of the Most-High in the Pleroma.

In this way, the "Fragments of Spirit" of the Aeon World of the Most-High is included inside the human "existence", and thus, due to this "Fragments of Spirit", Human being can return back to his "Heimat (Father/Mother-Land) of Eternity", that is, "The TRUE World in PLEROMA = Soul Heimat" according to the thoughts of most sects of the Hellenistic Gnosticism. And so Human soul will be salvated from this "Evil Cosmos of the Darkness (Skotia)" and will be reborn to the Eternal Sphere of the GOOD. This teaching is really essential. And this is "the Fragments of the Light Spirits that enable the salvation", which are premised in the general Gnosticisms. (The Third Element.)

IV ) And the reason why "the teachings or faiths" outlined above are called "Gnosticism" can be said that since "the Pseudo-god = Creator of matters = the Demiourgos (Demiurge)" has been consealing the "Truth" from "Humans" who include Fragments of the Spiritual Lights in their existence secretly and has made them forgotten the "True God" and their "Heimat of Salvation", the Holy Aioon (Aeon) = Propater of the Pleroma, the Most-High, and its Ogdoas have dispatched "the Truth Disclosers" to this earth in their Program of "the Salvation of Human Souls", and through making recollected (anamneesis) the "Sophia-Wisdom = Veritas-Truth of the Existence" which human beings have forgotten, they have tried to promote that the human beings "Become Recoginized" the Truth.

The term "Gnosis (Gnoosis), γνωσις" in the Gnosticism has the meanings such as Wisdom, True-Knowledges, Recognition. This word is a noun form of a Greek verb "gignosko, (gignooskoo, γιγνωσκω) which means "to recognize, to be aware, to awaken, to know". And the Gnosticism was called also "Gnosis" in the Ancient age, and since the "Salvation" of Human Souls are realized through the recognition of "the Truth", the "Recoginition of the Truth-Veritas/sophia-Wisdom" was regarded as highly important in the Gnosticism, and it was taught that the Salvation to the Heimat in the Pleroma is realized through the "RECOGNITION of the Knowledges = sophia-Wisdom" regarding "the Destine of Human Beings" in the world of the above-mentioned Anti-cosmic Dualism structure. .... And this is the element of the "Recovery of Recognition" of "the Consealed or Forgotten Truth" by "Discloser = Redeemer", the "Reappearance of sophia-Wisdom. (The Fourth Element.)

(In Christian Gnosticisms, the "Truth Discloser" dispatched from Pleroma is "Jesus, the Saviour". But there are also opinions such as that the Woman or the Female Principle called "Sophia" is this Discloser, or there exists the other opinion that "Sancta Maria" is the Discloser of Salvation. ... In addition, in Manichaenistic Gnosticisms, of course, the founder Mani is this "Truth Discloser/Saviour", and besides, Buddha, Zoroaster and Jesus are also "Salvator in sophia-Wisdom" who preceded Mani.)

There were many sects and independent teachers/teachings in the Hellenistic Gnosticsms, and the churches of the Early Christianity considered them collectively as the Heresies of the "Gnosticism". Though, however, there were many sects/teachings in these gnosticisms, which had utilized the frames of the Christian myths, but in reality, they are not "the HERESY of the Christianity", but are the independent "Religions" or "the Views of the World", which can be called "Religions of the Gnosis", namely, it is adequate to say that they are the "PAGANISM" in relation with the Christianity.

In addition, from this point of view, the Gnostic sects in the Hellenistic period, that is, the Gnosticism by Simon "the Magos" which was described in the Christian New Testament, the Gnosticism of the sect of OPHIS, or that of Valentinos, the Great, or the systems of the Gnosticism by Ptolemaios who is in the school of Valentinos, or the sect who constituted the "Evangelion according to Thomas", which was found in the "Nag Hammadi Codices", or the christian Gnosticism by Markion which has peculiar form and system, are apparently not the "Heresy" of the Christianity, but they are "PAGANISM". This is in harmony with the FACT that the MANICHAENISM, which is considered as the pure form of the Gnosticism in recent years, and which lived through and continued for 10 and some centuries after the Hellenistic period and gave the great influences of thoughts on the Eurasian Continent (from Great Britain to China), has even some similarily with the Christianity, but is "Paganism" perfectly in reality.

We can also confirm that Gnosticisms are not limited to those which were spread in the Mediterranean world in the Hellenistic period, which possess the certain views of the world and life and the theories of salvation, but they are also the Terrestrially world-wide, universal Visions and Views of the World and Humans over times and geographical regions. We can say so since they share the elements of the thoughts with those which insist the thrownness" (Geworfenheit) of human existence such as Heidegger's thought.

The forms of gnosticisms, especially those of "Universal gnosticism", are diverse, and it can be naturally thought that there are fairly many variations from their appearances according to cultural codes and constitutions of myths of each age and each region. It may be said, however, that they are thoughts, views of humans and cosmos which possess elements of the principles, which are listed above as the "Four Elements" of the Hellenistic gnosticisms. Pessimism can not be called gnosticism since it has not the moment of "salvation". And nihilism is not gnosticism too since it does not recognize the "Salvation" and "the Heimat (father/mother land) of Aeon" == the original source of the meanings of existence".

The Gnosticisms == the Thoughts of Gnosis, are "Workings of Existence" where ones recognize the existence of "the Sophia-Wisdom, the True Knowledges, Gnosis ( Γνωσις ) ", and continue to search, think and practise the sophia-Wisdom. It is ultimately the transcendent "Hopeful View of the World and the Humans", which requires the hyper-cosmic, hyper-rational "LIGHT == Phos ( Φως )" of the sophia-Wisdom and salvation.

Miranda et Marie RA. 2001:0114:2130
Miranda et Marie RA. 2001:1223:1825
Miranda et Marie RA. 2004:0214:0200
Miranda et Marie RA. 2017:0602:1500