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4/19/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Hypostasis of the Archons

From godsfavoritecolor

I recently learned of this. For those of you who may not have heard of this before, check out the Gnostic text “Hypostasis of the Archons” or “The Reality of the Rulers,” an exegesis on the Book of Genesis 1-4 from The Nag Hammadi Library. The text is on the Internet at The Hypostasis of the Archons.

It features an inversion of the roles of God and the serpent and of others in the traditional creation story. This should drive traditional Christians to apoplexy.


What is Gnosticism?
Taken from gnosis.org

“Gnosis” and “Gnosticism” are still rather arcane terms, though in the last two decades they have been increasingly encountered in the vocabulary of contemporary society. The word Gnosis derives from Greek and connotes "knowledge" or the "act of knowing". On first hearing, it is sometimes confused with another more common term of the same root but opposite sense: agnostic, literally "not knowing". The Greek language differentiates between rational, propositional knowledge, and a distinct form of knowing obtained by experience or perception. It is this latter knowledge gained from interior comprehension and personal experience that constitutes gnosis.

In the first century of the Christian era the term “Gnostic” came to denote a heterodox segment of the diverse new Christian community. Among early followers of Christ it appears there were groups who delineated themselves from the greater household of the Church by claiming not simply a belief in Christ and his message, but a "special witness" or revelatory experience of the divine. It was this experience or gnosis that set the true follower of Christ apart, so they asserted. Stephan Hoeller explains that these Christians held a "conviction that direct, personal and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge must always constitute the supreme achievement of human life."

What the "authentic truths of existence" affirmed by the Gnostics were are briefly reviewed bere, but a historical overview of the early Church might be useful. In the initial century and a half of Christianity -- the period when we find first mention of "Gnostic" Christians -- no single acceptable format of Christian thought had yet been defined. During this formative period Gnosticism was one of many currents moving within the deep waters of the new religion. The ultimate course Christianity, and Western culture with it, would take was undecided at this early moment. Gnosticism was one of the seminal influences shaping that destiny.

That Gnosticism was, at least briefly, in the mainstream of Christianity is witnessed by the fact that one of its most influential teachers, Valentinus, may have been in consideration during the mid-second century for election as the Bishop of Rome.3 Born in Alexandria around 100 C.E., Valentinus distinguished himself at an early age as an extraordinary teacher and leader in the highly educated and diverse Alexandrian Christian community. In mid-life he migrated from Alexandria to the Church's evolving capital, Rome, where he played an active role in the public affairs of the Church. A prime characteristic of Gnostics was their claim to be keepers of sacred traditions, gospels, rituals, and successions – esoteric matters for which many Christians were either not properly prepared or simply not inclined. Valentinus, true to this Gnostic predilection, apparently professed to have received a special apostolic sanction through Theudas, a disciple and initiate of the Apostle Paul, and to be a custodian of doctrines and rituals neglected by what would become Christian orthodoxy. Though an influential member of the Roman church in the mid-second century, by the end of his life Valentinus had been forced from the public eye and branded a heretic by the developing orthodoxy Church.

While the historical and theological details are far too complex for proper explication here, the tide of history can be said to have turned against Gnosticism in the middle of the second century. No Gnostic after Valentinus would ever come so near prominence in the greater Church. Gnosticism's emphasis on personal experience, its continuing revelations and production of new scripture, its asceticism and paradoxically contrasting libertine postures, were all met with increasing suspicion. By 180 C.E. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, was publishing his first attacks on Gnosticism as heresy, a labor that would be continued with increasing vehemence by the church Fathers throughout the next century.

Orthodoxy Christianity was deeply and profoundly influenced by its struggles with Gnosticism in the second and third centuries. Formulations of many central traditions in Christian theology came as reflections and shadows of this confrontation with the Gnosis.5 But by the end of the fourth century the struggle was essentially over: the evolving ecclesia had added the force of political correctness to dogmatic denunciation, and with this sword so-called "heresy" was painfully cut from the Christian body. Gnosticism as a Christian tradition was largely eradicated, its remaining teachers ostracized, and its sacred books destroyed. All that remained for students seeking to understand Gnosticism in later centuries were the denunciations and fragments preserved in the patristic heresiologies. Or at least so it seemed until the mid-twentieth century.

For books on this topic, CLICK HERE

16 comments:

chuckyjesus said...

This is something that most Xians are ignorant of -- the early history of their own religion. Most of them seem to think that the four Gospels were written from reliable sources very soon after "Jesus" and that's the end of the story. The first set of Gospels, Mark, Matthew, and Luke were not written until 70-110 C.E., and the Gospel of John not until 90-110. All of this was around the time of the gnostic movement. What happened between the two factions at the time was a matter of church politics, not divine anything, as was the final editing of the Bible by the Nicean Council.

If a god ever existed, I find it difficult to believe that his "word" would be trusted to a committee.

The answer here is, that this is all the work of men -- only men.

billybee said...

I have a question I've always wanted to ask. Maybe someone here can answer it. Here goes:

I assume that when people attend "Bible college" they study the origins of their faith.

Q; How is it that they still emerge without the realization that Christianity is a human construct?

Thanks

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

Valentinus, true to this Gnostic predilection, apparently professed to have received a special apostolic sanction through Theudas, a disciple and initiate of the Apostle Paul, and to be a custodian of doctrines and rituals neglected by what would become Christian orthodoxy.

Whats so funny about this entry [there is some evidence to support it] is that Theudas would have had access to Pauls "secret" practices, and if the 'orthodox' church argues against Valentinus' 3rd generation pauline practice, they would then be arguing against Paul..which is self defeating since he was a major player in the development of that church!

I have always found the Arian controvery very interesting as well.

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

To Billybee - two words "Blind Faith". Every person who has become emmotionally attatched to the false religion finds it increasingly difficult to be honest with themselves, the truth at that point becomes too painful to admit and people who base their lives on unstable emmotions that are directly linked with that faith find it easier to just believe the lie. Its called human frailty. Any person who can be so authentically attached to the lie of christianity and walk away from it to live an honorable and truthful life needs to be commended! Kudos Ex-Christians! To break away shows true strength of character.

Harlequin said...

Based on the Gnostic view, the idiot brother got the business by deceit...

I'd refer the interested to Richard L Tierney...

ARRGGHH!!! said...

Come on guys, it's boring to simply expose the ignorance of others - it's mastabatory - ooh, look, we broke away and are looking back on stupid people wondering how they can be so stupid. Yawn.
Einstien said that religion, art, and science were all branches of the same tree - with a goal to enoble man. I admire early christians - they didn't have science. I admire some modern christians - they don't want to die, they want something holy out of life. Why not, instead of revealing Christian ignorance, don't you work to give them somethng holy and TRUE in a world stripped of God? Give them art, give them science and philosophy and something BEAUTIFUL! This mockery is pointless - you all know, I assume, what it was like to feel you were part of something epic and sacred. It hurt me - I loved the bible and my silly beliefs.

Advance, don't rest on your laurels and criticize. That's not what is needed here.

webmdave said...

Hi, I thought you might like to check out my analysis of the Hypostasis of the Archons here: http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Hypostasis-of-the-Archons

Thanks.

webmdave said...

And because it has been "rejected" by the 'experts,' it is therefore now automaitcally impossible? Really. The 'experts' once agreed that the earth was flat, and insisted that the sun and all the planets and stars wheeled around the earth ... Do we all really need to be reminded of the fact that 'experts' have frequently been dead-wrong?

All I'm asking is for people to keep an open mind, and allow all evidence; and moreover, to keep "all theories ... forever tentative" (Popper) because better evidence can always (in theory) come along one day.

I am willing to admit I am wrong, should more convincing evidence make its appearance. I am also willing to admit the possibility that life spontaneously and independently arose on this planet. This is because I am trying my best to keep and open mind.

And who's to say that the "woo woo" stuff doesn't in fact unlock portions of our brains which are normally suppressed? Some people are open-minded enough to admit that as a possibility.

webmdave said...

terrance,

Actually, I've never personally indulged. I'm just a thinker not afraid to explore challenging new horizons. And yourself?

Whoop-d-frickin-do. You certainly, don't come off as a thinker, who uses reason and evidence as a process of examination, in aquiring knowledge. Anyone can amass a plethora of postulations and make absurd claims, but until you supply evidence, for your rants, it is not worth the effort, you wasted, in typing them, in the first place.

I agree with ATF, you are more woo-woo than anything. You are science fiction not science. You are more akin to the fictional Star Wars world, where the force was explained by symbiotic, microscopic life-forms that reside within the cells of all living things -- called, Midi-chlorians. Just like your speculative rant, both are imaginative, works of fiction, with no reality based, emperical evidence.

While, the science fiction of Star Wars makes for some mindless fun, your rants, only, come off as mindless, bullshit.

--S.

webmdave said...

Sorry, but I don't care to dignify any of these pointless, self-serving insults by addressing any of their supposed merits. Interesting that you so very wise, astute thinkers could know so much about someone you have never met and do not know. So sorry I intruded on your little hate-fest here. Say whatever you want about me at this point, for I will never see it. You shall not hear from me again. So sad--I was only intending to spark an interesting discussion. Guess that isn't possible on THIS forum.

webmdave said...

terrence,

So sorry I intruded on your little hate-fest here. Say whatever you want about me at this point, for I will never see it. You shall not hear from me again. So sad--I was only intending to spark an interesting discussion. Guess that isn't possible on THIS forum.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Boo-hoo. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

--S.

webmdave said...

Based on the Gnostic view, the idiot brother got the business by deceit...

I'd refer the interested to Richard L Tierney...

webmdave said...

To Billybee - two words "Blind Faith". Every person who has become emmotionally attatched to the false religion finds it increasingly difficult to be honest with themselves, the truth at that point becomes too painful to admit and people who base their lives on unstable emmotions that are directly linked with that faith find it easier to just believe the lie. Its called human frailty. Any person who can be so authentically attached to the lie of christianity and walk away from it to live an honorable and truthful life needs to be commended! Kudos Ex-Christians! To break away shows true strength of character.

webmdave said...

Valentinus, true to this Gnostic predilection, apparently professed to have received a special apostolic sanction through Theudas, a disciple and initiate of the Apostle Paul, and to be a custodian of doctrines and rituals neglected by what would become Christian orthodoxy.

Whats so funny about this entry [there is some evidence to support it] is that Theudas would have had access to Pauls "secret" practices, and if the 'orthodox' church argues against Valentinus' 3rd generation pauline practice, they would then be arguing against Paul..which is self defeating since he was a major player in the development of that church!

I have always found the Arian controvery very interesting as well.

webmdave said...

I have a question I've always wanted to ask. Maybe someone here can answer it. Here goes:

I assume that when people attend "Bible college" they study the origins of their faith.

Q; How is it that they still emerge without the realization that Christianity is a human construct?

Thanks

webmdave said...

This is something that most Xians are ignorant of -- the early history of their own religion. Most of them seem to think that the four Gospels were written from reliable sources very soon after "Jesus" and that's the end of the story. The first set of Gospels, Mark, Matthew, and Luke were not written until 70-110 C.E., and the Gospel of John not until 90-110. All of this was around the time of the gnostic movement. What happened between the two factions at the time was a matter of church politics, not divine anything, as was the final editing of the Bible by the Nicean Council.

If a god ever existed, I find it difficult to believe that his "word" would be trusted to a committee.

The answer here is, that this is all the work of men -- only men.