Pre-Christian Gnosticism, the New Testament and Nag Hammadi in Recent Rebate
Edwin M. Yamauchi
Themelios 10.1 (September 1984): 22-27.
[Reproduced by permission of the author]


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Dr Yamauchi, professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is chairman of the Institute for Biblical Research, the American counterpart of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical and Theological Research. This article is a revised form of a lecture delivered to the IBR in Dallas, Texas, in December 1983, and is excerpted from the second edition of his book Pre-Christian Gnosticism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983) by permission of the publishers. The first edition appeared in 1973 (London: Tyndale Press, and Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). In the intervening decade, the stream of writings on Gnosticism, largely flowing from the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Coptic manuscripts in 1945, has mounted to aflood, high enough to daunt even the boldest of travellers into this difficult territory. Dr Yamauchi's second edition is 70 pages longer than the first, which indicates the quantity of fresh discussion to be taken into account. His assessment of recent writings and of the state of the argument, in afield where hazardous hypotheses too often belie the elusiveness of hard evidence, is always learned and level-headed. The new edition is an invaluable up-to-date guide, showing that the more adventurous or even sensational theories of scholars have failed to win the support of a consensus of their fellows. These edited extracts focus on two of the central areas in the debate - the New Testament, and the significance of the Nag Hammadi texts.

1. Introduction

a. Recent publications

In the last decade numerous international conferences have focused on Gnosticism: at Stockholm (1973),[1] Strasbourg (1974),[2] Oxford (1975),[3] Cairo (l976),[4] New Haven (1978),[5] Quebec (1978),[6] Oxford (1979),[7] Louvain, (1980),[8] and Springfield (1983). Papers from all but the last are now available in print.

Festschrifts have been published in honor of three giants in the field of Gnostic scholarship: Hans Jonas,[9] Gilles Quispel,[10] and R. McL. Wilson.[11] Two valuable collections of essays have been edited by K.-W. Tröger, one on Gnosticism and the New Testament,[12]and the other on Gnosticism, the Old Testament and Early Judaism.[13]

Invaluable are the annual bibliographical surveys since 1971 (except for 1976) published by D. Scholer in Novum Testamentum. In his original monograph, Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1948-1969 (Leiden: Brill, 1971) Scholer had listed 2425 items. In his latest supplement (XII) to his indispensable 'Bibliographia Gnostica', Novum Testamentum, 25 (1983), pp. 356-81, Scholer has listed the 5345th publication. In other words nearly 3,000 books, articles and reviews on Gnosticism have been published in the last decade!

From time to time articles have appeared which have attempted to assess current trends and interpretations of Gnosticism in general, and its relations to the New Testament and Christianity in particular. I would single out as especially valuable two recent essays. The first was the presidential address given by R. McL. Wilson to the Studiorum Novi Testamenti


Societas in Rome in l981.[14] The second is an analysis by R. van den Broek of the salient trends as culled from over a hundred essays from recent conference papers and Festschriften.[15]

The major synthetic work is Die Gnosis published by K. Rudolph in 1977,[16] of which an English translation has just appeared. Also noteworthy as destined to serve as a standard textbook is the two-volume Introduction to the New Testament published by H. Koesterin 1982.[17]

b. Defining Gnosticism

Scholars continue to experience difficulty in agreeing upon a definition of 'Gnosticism'.[18] Some such as H.-M. Schenke, K. Rudolph and G. Strecker have objected to the distinction urged at Messina in 1966 between 'proto-Gnosticism' and 'Gnosticism'.[19] They would prefer what I call the 'broad' definition of Gnosticism, emphasizing links of continuity over stages of development.[20]

On the other hand, Hans Jonas has insisted that an anti-cosmic dualism is the essential ingredient of Gnosticism. The same point has been stressed recently by K.-W. Tröger: 'Primarily the Gnostic religion is an anti-cosmic religion'.[21]

To underline the distinction between the apparently inchoate phenomena in the first century and the fully articulated systems in the second century Wilson has been urging that we use the term 'Gnosis' for the former and reserve 'Gnosticism' for the latter.[22]

2. New Testament exegesis on the basis of pre-Christian Gnosticism

a. No pre-Christian documents

When I first published Pre-Christian Gnosticism in 1973,[23] reviewers understandably reserved judgment as all of the Nag Hammadi tractates had not yet been published. But apart from the 'Trimorphic Protennoia' (see below) there have been no unexploded 'bombshells' in the Nag Hammadi corpus. Hence even the most ardent proponents of a Gnosticism earlier than or contemporary with the New Testament acknowledge that there are no Gnostic texts which date with certainty from the pre Christian era.

J. M. Robinson declared at the congress at Yale in 1978, 'At this stage we have not found any Gnostic texts that clearly antedate the origin of Christianity'.[24] In his 1981 presidential address to the Society of Biblical Literature Robinson conceded, 'pre-Christian Gnosticism as such is hardly attested in a way to settle the debate once and for all'.[25] In a similar fashion G. W. MacRae declares, 'And even if we are on solid ground in some cases in arguing that the original works represented in the (Nag Hammadi) library are much older than the extant copies, we are still unable to postulate plausibly any pre-Christian dates'.[26]

Nevertheless there seems to be no lack of scholars who, undeterred by the lack of pre-Christian Gnostic documents, proceed to interpret the New Testament against a backdrop of a developed or developing Gnosticism. The view that Gnosticism is an essential element in the hermeneutical circle to understand the New Testament is maintained by MacRae,[27] Rudolph,[28] Koester,[29] and Schmithals.[30]

Following the concept of 'trajectories', which he and Professor Koester introduced,[31] Robinson in his SBL presidential address sketched two diverging trajectories which arose in primitive Christianity, both equally ancient and equally worthy of consideration. According to Robinson's schematization the 'orthodox' trajectory led from the pre-Pauline confession of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 and the account of the empty tomb in the gospels to the Apostles' Creed in the second century. The 'left-wing' trajectory led from Paul's view of the resurrected Christ as a 'luminous appearance' and from Easter 'enthusiasm' to Gnosticism in the second century.[32] A further trajectory led from the Sayings Collection (Q) and the Gospel of Thomas to the Gnostic dialogues with the resurrected Christ.[33]

b. The Gospel of John

There is an enormous literature on this gospel and its possible relations with Gnosticism.[24] In spite of doubts about Bultmann's reconstruction of Gnostic sources, many interpreters take the gospel either as a transformed Gnostic document or as an anti-Gnostic work.[25] For example, K. M. Fischer believes that one can understand John 10:1-18 only against the background of a Gnostic myth such as is found in the Nag Hammadi Exegesis on the Soul.[36]

Other scholars, however, have opposed this trend. Bultmann's reconstruction of a Gnostic background from Mandaean sources is sharply criticized by W. A. Meeks.[37] E. Ruckstuhl refutes Schottroff's recent Gnostic interpretation.[38]

Bultmann's formulation that the Johannine prologue was a pre-Christian Gnostic baptist hymn has not convinced even his own students - H. Conzelmann and E. Käsemann.[39] Most recently another former student, W. Schmithals, has repudiated his master's theory quite categorically: 'The hymn does not betray direct Gnostic influences.... The concept that the hymn was pre-Christian is rash. Bultmann's guess that it concerned an original baptismal hymn has rightly found no reception.'[40]

c. l and 2 Corinthians

Because Paul speaks about gnosis and sophia and uses termin ology found in later Gnostic literature in his letters to Corinth, the possibility of a Gnostic heresy looms the largest here. That this was the case has been most fully developed by W. Schmithals.[41] Rudolph believes that Schmithals' interpretation has thus far not been seriously refuted.[42]

But as a matter of fact an impressive number of scholars have now rejected the view that Gnosticism must be presupposed to understand Paul's opponents at Corinth. As Wilson points out, Rudolph was unaware that even U. Wilckens, whom he cites for support,[43] has recently changed his mind on this issue.[44]

S. Arai concluded his study on the subject as follows: 'The opponents of Paul in Corinth had therefore been inclined to be "Gnostic", they were, however, not yet Gnostic.'[45] This view has now been given considerable support by H. Conzelmann in his recent Hermeneia commentary on 1 Corinthians.[46] Wilson has come to very similar conclusions: 'What we have at Corinth, then, is not yet Gnosticism, but a kind of Gnosis.'[47]

In a series of articles R. A. Horsley has attempted to illuminate the 'gnosis' of Paul's opponents from Hellenistic Judaism as illustrated by Philo and the Wisdom of Solomon rather than from Gnosticism.[48] He argues, 'What Paul responds to, therefore, is not a Gnostic libertinism, as derived from Reitzenstein, elaborated on by Schmithals and still presupposed by commentators such as Barrett, but a Hellenistic Jewish gnosis at home precisely in the mission context'.[49]

d. The Johannine epistles

Because of the anti-Docetic polemic in the Johannine epistles the view is widespread that the opponents condemned were certainly Gnostics.[50]

But Docetism may have arisen from a Hellenistic prejudice against the body without necessarily implying a fully developed Gnostic theology.[51] Thus Wisse believes that I John is 'a tract dealing with the arrival of the eschatological antichrists rather than with a group of docetic Gnostics'.[52] K. Weiss also feels that 'The usual conclusion that these opponents there were Gnostics, however, goes too far.'[53]

3. The patristic evidence on Simon Magus

In view of the unanimous patristic view that Gnosticism began with Simon Magus, some scholars have continued to seek the roots of Gnosticism in Samaria. Jarl Fossum stresses the links of Simon to Dositheus,[54] and I. P. Culianu avers that Simon Magus borrowed the idea of a second Creator from the Magharians.[55] Unfortunately for such theories, the link with Dositheus is questionable and the sources for the Magharians are quite late.[57]

As for whether or not we can take Simon Magus as an early Gnostic, there is a clear conflict between Acts 8, our earliest


source which depicts him simply as a magos,[58] and the patristic accounts which depict him as a Gnostic.

Rudolph accepts the latter, dismissing Acts as a 'blur of contradictions and an idealization of primitive Christianity'.[59] Here he follows the lead of E. Haenchen who regarded the Acts account as untrustwrothy.[60] J. W. Drane, on the assumption that an early Gnosticism must have been current, suggests that Luke 'has deliberately omitted details in order that Simon may be seen as a sincere, if somewhat confused, believer in the Christian message'.[61]

But it makes more sense to recognize the accuracy of Acts[62] and to question the patristic accounts[63] as many scholars have done.[64] Two major studies which have recently upheld the view that the church fathers transformed Simon into a Gnostic are monographs by K. Beyschlag[65] and G. Lüdemann.[66] Other scholars who have questioned the patristic accounts of Simon and Simonianism include S. Arai,[67] C. Colpe,[68] M. Elze,'[69] and F. Wisse.[70] W. Meeks concludes his excellent summary of recent research on Simon by declaring, 'The use of reports about Simon Magus as evidence for a pre-Christian gnosticism has been effectively refuted'.[71]

4. The Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas, which is preserved among the Coptic Nag Hammadi texts, and of which Greek fragments were found at Oxyrhynchus, is believed to have been composed c. AD 140 in Edessa, Syria.

There is still sharp disagreement as to whether the Gospel of Thomas represents an independent gospel tradition related to Q, as advocated by Koester and Robinson, or whether Thomas is essentially dependent upon the synoptic gospels. On the one hand, MacRae declares, 'It now appears that a majority of scholars who have seriously investigated the matter have been won over to the side of Thomas' independence of the canonical Gospels....'[72] On the other hand, Kaestli writes, 'Today, the most widely accepted position is that of the dependence of the Gospel of Thomas on the canonical Gospels....'[73]

Recently Quispel, who has written more prolifically on the Gospel of Thomas than any other scholar, has set forth his conclusions as to the sources of the Gospel of Thomas. Though maintainng that Thomas is independent from the synoptics, Quispel does not now agree with Koester that it represents a primitive tradition: 'The Gospel of Thomas, far from being a writing older than Q, is an anthology based upon two second-century apocryphal Gospels, and moreover a Hermetic writing which gave "Thomas" a seemingly Gnostic flavour.'[74]

Also opposed to the idea that the Gospel of Thomas represents pristine traditions of the Aramaic-speaking Christians in Palestine is Drijver's recent assessment. He would prefer to date the Gospel of Thomas about AD 200 on the assumption that the author knew and used Tatian's Diatessaron.'[75]

If either Quispel or Drijvers is correct, we must relocate the Gospel of Thomas at a position much later on the trajectory from Palestine to Edessa than that assumed by Koester and Robinson.

5. The Coptic Evidence

a. The Nag Hammadi Corpus

The exciting story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts[76] and the equally fasinating story leading up to their translation and publication in 1977[77] have been recounted in detail by J. M. Robinson, whose persistence and skill saw the task to its completion.'[78]

It is probable that the codices were buried after the paschal letter from Athanasius in AD 367 banned such heteredox writings.[79] The books were discovered at the base of the Jabal at-Tarif cliffs north of the Nile river where it bends west to east, actually on the other side of the river from Nag Hammadi. Van Elderen was led to excavate the great basilica of Pachomius in the plain below Jabal at-Tarif beginning in 1975.[80] Scholars still debate about the nature of the library and the kind of monastic community which may have preserved it.[81]

b. The Apocalypse of Adam

The Apocalypse of Adam (ApocAd) continues to be touted by Robinson as an early, non-Christian Gnostic text which can help us understand the Gospel of John.[82] Rudolph asserts that the ApocAd 'certainly forms a witness of early Gnosticism' and that it has 'no Christian tenor'.[83] MacRae, who supports the non-Christian interpretation of ApocAd,[84] at least concedes that a Christian interpretation is possible.[85]

On the other hand, there has been an increasing number of scholars who have interpreted the ApocAd either as a Christian document or as a product of late rather than early Gnosticism. The Berliner Arbeitskreis für koptisch-gnostische Schriften notes that the figure 'upon whom the Holy Spirit descends' is clearly Jesus.[86] W. Beltz contends that the series of thirteen kingdoms and the kingless generation are all explanations for the birth of Jesus.[87] G. Shelirude presented evidence for a Christian provenance of the ApocAd at the 1979 Oxford conference.[88]

Hedrick suggests a redaction of the ApocAd 'in Palestine, possibly in Transjordan, before the second half of the second century AD'[89] He was not aware of my attempt to date the ApocAd on the basis of the allusion to the well-known Mithraic motif of the 'birth from a rock' (CG V, 80.24-25) in a paper which I presented at the IInd International Congress of Mithraic Studies at Teheran in 1975.[90] On the basis of the epigraphic and iconographic evidence collected by M. J. Vermaseren, I sought to demonstrate that this topos was not known before the second century AD and that the probable provenance for knowledge of such a motif for a Gnostic writer was Italy.

c. The Paraphrase of Shem

The Paraphrase of Shem (ParaShem) along with the ApocAd is one of the basic supports of the pre-Christian Gnosticism envisioned by Robinson.[91] MacRae believes that the ParaShem provides us with a striking example of a non-Christian heavenly redeemer who deceives the ignorant powers.[92] Koester assigns the work to 'a Jewish gnostic baptismal sect' since it contains 'no references to specific Christian names, themes, or traditions'.[93]

In my earlier expositions I had interpreted F. Wisse as holding that the ParaShem could provide us with evidence for a pre-Christian Gnosticism. As recently as 1977 he had written in the preface of his translation for the NHL: 'The tractate proclaims a redeemer whose features agree with those of New Testament Christology which may very well be pre-Christian in origin.' But Professor Wisse has recently written me, 'I still think it is basically non-Christian though most probably not pre-Christian.'[94]

Other scholars would emphatically disagree with the judgment that the ParaShem is without any trace of Christian influence. After analyzing the Coptic text, Sevrin concludes:

Several features of this portrait of the redeemer have a Christological appearance: his origin in the light, of which he is the son, the ray and the voice, makes us think of the pre-existent Logos and of the Son of the Gospel of John, or also of Christ 'reflecting the glory of God' in Heb. 1:3; his descent 'into an infirm place' corresponds quite well to the coming of Christ into this world....'[95]

Fischer likewise concurs. 'Soldas seems once again to be a code name for Jesus, with whom the heavenly Christ (Derdekeas) is associated.'[96]

d. The Trimorphic Protennoia

Both at the international conference at Yale in the spring of l978,[97] and at the fall conference of the Society of Biblical Literature at New Orleans that same year[98] Professor Robinson called attention to the views of the Berliner Arbeitskreis für koptisch-gnostische Schriften[99] and especially of Gesine Schenke,[100] regarding The Trimorphic Protennoia (TriProt). He also noted that Carsten Colpe had listed striking parallels in this tractate to the prologue of the Gospel of John.[101]

In the case of the parallels between the TriProt and the Johan-


nine prologue, the Berlin group suggests that the light falls more from the former on the latter, that is, they believe that the setting of the same elements in the TriProt demonstrates its logical priority over the prologue.[102] It is quite clear that these scholars are working within a Bultmann framework.[103] Other scholars who do not share such presuppositions will have different perceptions of these parallels.[104]

Janssens, who has translated the work into French,[105] has argued that the TriProt reflects the priority of John's prologue.[106] The most striking parallel is that between John 1:14, 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt (eskenosen) among us' and (47, 14f.) 'The third time I revealed myself to them [in] their tents (SKENE)'.[107] As Helderman has demonstrated in detail, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the word SKENE in TriProt reflects the word eskenosen 'tented, tabernacled' of John 1:14.[108]

Janssens, Helderman, and Wilson are able to detect numerous New Testament allusions in the TriProt not only to John but to the other Gospel and Pauline texts. Wilson therefore concludes:

In the light of all this it may be suggested that the Christian element in the text as it now stands is rather stronger than the Berlin group have recognised. This would in turn tend to weaken any theory of influence on the Fourth Gospel.[109]

6.The Jewish Evidence

a. A Pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism?

Impressed by the great number of 'Jewish' elements such as the use of the Old Testament and midrashic interpretations in the Nag Hammadi texts a number of scholars are now maintaining the thesis of a pre-Christian 'Jewish' Gnosticism, that is, a Gnosticism which somehow developed from within Judaism itself. B. Pearson, the scholar who has been most effective in ferreting out traces of Jewish traditions in the Nag Hammadi texts, is convinced that Friedländer was correct in postulating 'that Gnosticism is a pre-Christian phenomenon which developed on Jewish soil'.[110]

Kurt Rudolph believes that Gnosticism proceeded from the sceptical and cynical Jewish wisdom tradition of Ecciesiastes, which he dates to c. 200 BC on the assumption that it had been influenced by Greek rationalism and early Hellenstic popular philosophy.[111] Pearson is quite impressed by Rudolph's arguments for a Jewish origin from Syro-Palestine Jewish circles.[112] MacRae believes that 'Gnosticism arose as a revolutionary reaction in Hellenized Jewish wisdom and apocalyptic circles'.[113]

B. Doubts about an Early Jewish Gnosticism

Opposed to scholars who presuppose a pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism are others who have questioned the existence of such 'an animal' at least in the New Testament era. According to Gruenwald, 'Thus the views which hold that there was a Jewish Gnosis from which Gnosticism arose, or that Gnosticism arose from within Judaism, appear to me to infer too much from too little.[114] Maier believes that the case for a Jewish Gnosticism has been prematurely presumed and that it cannot as yet be proven.[115] According to van Unnik one cannot find the origins of Gnosticism in Judaism.[116] Perkins doubts that there was 'a Jewish Gnosticism as such in the first century'.[117] Wilson concludes: 'In sum, the quest for a developed pre-Christian Gnosticism, even a Jewish one, which could be said to have influenced the Corinthians, or Paul himself, has not yielded any conclusive results.[118]

A major difficulty in accepting an inner Jewish origin for Gnosticism is to account for the anti-Jewish use which most Gnostics seem to have made of the 'Jewish' elements. The anti-cosmic attitude of the Gnostics contradicts the Jewish belief that God created the world and declared it good. According to Troger, 'But in my view, the hypothesis of a "revolt" within Judaism would hardly be sufficient in accounting for the fundamental and radical anti-cosmism in such a lot of Gnostic writings'.[119]

7. Conclusions

At the 1966 Messina conference on Gnostic origins Simone Petrément was almost the sole representative of the classical position which held that Gnosticism was none other than a Christian heresy.[120] In the last two decades the existence of a non-Christian Gnosticism has been amply demonstrated, but the existence of a pre-Christian Gnosticism in the first century or before, that is, a fully developed Gnostic system early enough to have influenced the New Testament writers, remains in doubt.

Gnosticism with a fully articulated theology, cosmology, anthropology, and soteriology cannot be discerned clearly until into the Christian era. According to Wilson, were we to adopt the programmatic definition of H. Jonas[121] 'then we must probably wait for the second century'.[122] Hengel would concur, 'Gnosticism is first visible as a spiritual movement at the end of the first century AD at the earliest and only develops fully in the second century.[123]

At the Yale conference Barbara Aland emphasized the importance of Christianity for the understanding of Valentinianism. She would date the rise of Gnosticism in the first quarter of the second century.[124] Tröger would also underscore the role of Christianity for the development of at least certain branches of Gnosticism.[125]

Significantly, U. Bianchi, the editor of the conference volume from the Messina conference on the origins of Gnosticism,[126] has also come to the conclusion that Christianity is indispensable for understanding the full development of Gnosticism:

In effect it is difficult to imagine in a purely Jewish environment, although penetrated by Greek thought, one would have been able to arrive at that extreme which is the demonization of the God of Israel... Only the perspective of a messiah conceived as a divine manifestation, as a divine incarnate person, already present in the faith of the New Testament and of the Church, but interpreted by the Gnostics on the basis of ontological presuppositions of the Greek mysteriosophic doctrine of soma-sema ('body'-'tomb') and of the split in the divine, could allow the development of a new Gnostic theology where the God of the Bible, the creator, became the demiurge....[127]


[1] G. Widengren (ed.) Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Gnosticism (Stockholm, 1977).

[2] J.-E. Ménard (ed.) Les Textes de Nag Hammadi (Leiden, 1975), [Strasbourg].

[3] M. Krause (ed.) Gnosis and Gnosticism (Leiden, 1977), [Oxford-1].

[4] R. McL. Wilson (ed.), Nag Hammadi and Gnosis (Leiden, 1978).

[5] B. Layton (ed.) The Rediscovery of Gnosticism: I. The School of Valentinus (Leiden, 1980), [New Haven I]; B. Layton (ed.) The Rediscovery of Gnosticism: II. Sethian Gnosticism, (Leiden, 1981), [New Haven II].

[6] B. Barc (ed.) Coloque international sur les textes de Nag Hammadi (Quebec/Louvain), 1981), [Quebec].

[7]M. Krause (ed.) Gnosis and Gnosticism (Leiden, 1981), [Oxford-2).

[8] J. Ries (ed.), Gnosticisme et monde hellénistique (Louvain-La-neuve, 1980), [Louvain].

[9] B. Aland (ed.), Gnosis: Festschrift für Hans Jonas (Göttingen, 1978), [Jonas].

[10] R. van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren (eds.) Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions (Leiden, 1981), [Quispel].

[11] A.J.M. Wedderburn and A.H.B. Logan (eds.), The New Testament and Gnosis (Edinburgh, 1983), [Wilson].

[12] K.-W. Tröger (ed.), Gnosis und Neues Testament (Berlin, 1973), [GNT].

[13] K.-W. Tröger (ed.) Altes Testament-Frühjudentum-Gnosis (Gerd Mohn, 1980), [ATFG].

[14]'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament', NTS, 28 (1982), pp. 289-302.

[15]'The Present State of Gnostic Studies', VigChr, 37 (1983), pp.4l-71.

[16] Die Gnosis (Leipzig, 1977; Göttingen, 1978, 19802). The English Translation by R. McL. Wilson was published at the end of 1983. My references will be to the 2nd German edition, as I have not yet acquired a copy of the English version.

[17] (Philadelphia, 1982).

[18] See my Pre-Christian Gnosticism (London/Grand Rapids, 1973), [PCG], pp. 13ff.; R. McL. Wilson, 'Slippery Words II.: Gnosis, Gnostic, Gnosticism', ET, 89 (1977/78), pp. 296-301; U. Bianchi, 'Le Gnosticisme: concept, terminologie, origines, delimitation', Jonas, pp. 33-64.

[19] See G. Strecker, 'Judenchristentum und Gnosis', ATEG, p. 265; K. Rudolph, '"Gnosis" and "Gnosticism" - the Problems of Their Definition and Their Relation to the Writings of the New Testament', Wilson, pp. 21-37.

[20] For a critique of Rudolph's position see R. McL. Wilson's review of his Die Gnosis in Religion, 9 (1979), pp. 231-33.

[21] 'The Attitude of the Gnostic Religion towards Judaism as Viewed in a Variety of Perspectives', Quebec, p. 88.

[22] 'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament', p. 292.

[23] For some reviews of the first edition see: W. H. C. Frend, SJT, 28 (1975), pp. 88-89: G. W. MacRae, CBQ, 36 (1974), pp. 296-97; E. H. Pagels, TS, 35 (1974), pp. 775-76; M. Peel, JAAR, 43 (1975), pp. 329-31; G. Quispel, Louvain Studies, 5 (1974), pp. 21 1-12; G. C. Stead, JTS, 26, (1975), p. 187; J. D. Turner, JBL, 93 (1974), pp. 482-84; and R. McL. Wilson, ET, 84 (1973), p. 379.

[24] J.M. Robinson, 'The Trimorphic Prolennola and the Prologue of the Gospel of John', NewHaven II, p. 662.

[25] J.M. Robinson, 'Jesus: From Easter to Valentinus (Or to the Apostles' Creed)', JBL, 101 (1982), p.5.

[26] W. MacRae, 'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament', Jonas, pp. 146-47. Cf. van den Broek, 'The Present State', p. 67, 'There are no gnostic works which in their present form are demonstrably pre-Christian'.

[27] W. MacRae, 'Why the Church Rejected Gnosticism', in E. P. Sanders (ed.), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition I.: The Shaping of Christianity in the Second and Third Centuries. (Philadelphia, 1980), [hereafter JCSDJ, p. 127.

[28] Rudolph, Die Gnosis, pp. 319ff., especially p. 329.

[29] Koester, Introduction to the NT, passim.

[30] W. Schmithals, 'Die gnostischen Elemente im Neuen Testament als hermeneutisches Problem', GNT, pp. 359-81; idem, 'Zur Herkunft der gnostischen Elemente in der Sprache des Paulus', Jonas, pp. 385-414.

[31] J.M. Robinson and H. Koester, Trajectories through Early Christianity (Philadelphia, 1971).

[32] Robinson, 'Jesus: From Easter to Valentinus', pp. 6-10.

[33] Ibid., p. 35. See P. Perkins, The Gnostic Dialogue (New York, 1980).

[34] See J. M. Lieu, 'Gnosticism and the Gospel of John', ET, 90, (1979), pp. 233-37; E. Yamauchi, 'Jewish Gnosticism? The Prologue of John, Mandaean Parallels, and the Trimorphic Protennoia', Quispel, pp. 467-86.

[35] Koester, Introduction to the NT, II, pp. 188-90; L. Schottroff, Der Glaubende und die feindliche Welt (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1970).

[36] 'Der johanneische Christus und der gnostische Erlöser', GNT, p. 256.

[37] 'The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism', JBL, 91 (1972), p. 72.

[38] H. Baltensweiler and B. Reicke (eds.), 'Das Johannesevangelium und die Gnosis', Neues Testament und Geschichte [Oscar Cullman Festschrift] (Zürich/Tübingen, 1972), p. 155.

[39] See Yamauchi, 'Jewish Gnosticism?', p.472.

[40] 'Der Prolog des Johannesevangellums', ZNW, 70 (1979), pp. 34-35.

[41] Gnostics in Corinth (Abingdon, 1971).

[42] Die Gnosis, p. 411, n. 131. E. Fascher, 'Die Korintherbriefe und die Gnosis', GNT, pp. 28 1-91, concludes that the identity of the opponents must remain disputed.

[43]M. D. Hooker and S. G. Wilson (eds.), R. McL. Wilson, 'Gnosis at Corinth', Paul and Paulinism [C. K. Barrett Festschrift] (London, 1982), p. 108.

[44] See U. Wilckens, 'Zu 1 Kor. 2.1-16', C. Andresen and G. Klein (eds.) Theologia Crucis - Signum Crucis [E. Dinkier Festschrift], (Tübingen, 1979), p. 537.

[45] S. Arai, 'Die Gegner des Paulus in I. Korintherbrief und das Problem der Onosis', NTS, 19 (1972/73), p. 437.

[46] H. Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians (Philadelphia, 1975), p. 15.

[47] Wilson, 'Gnosis at Corinth', p. 112. Cf. also F. T. Fallon, 2 Corinthians (Wilmington, 1980), p. 8; F. Wisse, 'The "Opponents" in the New Testament in Light of the Nag Hammadi Writings', Quebec, p. 108.

[48] R.A. Horsley, 'Wisdom of Word and Words of Wisdom in Corinth', CBQ, 39, (1977), pp. 224-39; idem, "How Can Some of You Say That There Is No Resurrection of the Dead?": Spiritual Elitism in Corinth', NTS, 20 (1978), pp. 203-31.

[49] R.A. Horsley, 'Gnosis in Corinth: I Corinthians 8.1-6', NTS, 27 (1980), pp. 48-49. Cf. also G. Sellin, 'Das "Geheimnis" der Weisheit und das Tätsel der "Christuspartie" (zu 1 Kor 1-4)', ZNW, 73 (1982), pp. 69-96.

[50] Koester, Introduction to the NT, II, pp. 195-96; R. Bultmann, The Johannine Epistles (Philadelphia, 1973), p. 38.

[51] On Docetism, see E. Yamauchi, 'The Crucifixion and Docetic Christology', Concordia Theological Quarterly, 46 (1982), pp. 1-20.

[52] F. Wisse, 'The Epistle of Jude in the History of Heresiology', M. Krause (ed.), Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts in Honour of Alexander Böhlig, (Leiden, 1972), p. 142, n. 3.

[53] K. Weiss, 'Die "Gnosis" im Hintergrund und im Spiegel der Johannesbriefe', GNT, p. 356.

[54] J. Fossum, 'Samaritan Demiurgical Traditions and the Alleged Dove Cult of the Samaritans', Quispel, p. 160.

[55] I.P. Culianu, 'The Angels of the Nations and the Origins of Gnostic Dualism', Quispel, p. 86.

[56] S. Isser, The Dositheans (Leiden, 1976).

[57] See PGCE, pp. 158-59.

[58] On Simon as a magician, see J. D. M. Derrett, 'Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24)', ZNW, 73 (1982), pp. 52-68; see my 'Magic in the Biblical World', TB, 34(1983), pp. 169-200, for examples of magic from biblical and extra-biblical sources.

[59] Rudolph, Die Gnosis, pp. 312ff.

[60] E. Haenchen, 'Simon Magus in der Apostelgeschichte', GNT, pp. 267-79.

[61] J.W. Drane, 'Simon the Samaritan and the Lucan Concept of Salvation History', EQ, 47 (1975), p. 137.

[62] W.W. Gasque, A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles, (Tübingen/Grand Rapids, 1975); M. Hengel, Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia, 1980).

[63] On the questionable value of the patristic accounts (with the exception of Irenaeus) see: F. Wisse, 'The Nag Hammadi Library and the Heresiologists', VC, 25 (1971), pp. 205-23; A. F. J. Klijn and O. J. Reinink, Patristic Evidence for Jewish-Christian Sects (Leiden, 1973); K. Koschorke, Hippolyt's Ketzerbekdmpfung und Polemik gegen die Gnostiker (Wiesbaden, 1975); R. M. Grant, 'Eusebius and Gnostic Origins', Paganisme, judäisme, christianisme [Marcel Simon Festschrift, (Paris, 1978), pp. 195-205; G. Vallée, A Study in Anti-Gnostic Polemics (Waterloo, 1981).

[64] See, e.g., R. Bergmeier, 'Quellen vorchristlicher Gnosis?' G. Jeremias et al. (eds.), Tradition und Glaube [K. G. Kuhn Festschrift] (Gottingen, 1971), pp. 203-206.

[65] Simon Magus und die christliche Gnosis (Tübingen, 1974).

[66] Untersuchungen zur Simonianischen Gnosis (Tübingen, 1974).

[67] 'Simonianische Gnosis und die Exegese über die Seele', Oxford-I, pp. 185-203; idem, 'Zum "Simonianischen" in AuthLog und Bronté, Oxford-2, pp. 3-15.

[ 68] 'Gnosis', Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum (Stuttgart, 1981), XI, col. 625.

[69] 'Häresie und Einheit der Kirche im 2. Jahrhundert', ZThK, 21 (1974), p. 407.

[70] Wisse, 'The "Opponents", p. 102, n. 13.

[71] 'Simon Magus in Recent Research', RelSRev, 3 (1977), p. 141.

[72] MacRae, 'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament' (n. 26), p. 152.

[73] J.-D. Kaestli, 'L'évangile de Thomas', Études theologiques et religeuses, 54, (1979), P. 383. Cf. J. Horman, 'The Source of the Version of the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Thomas', NovTest, 21 (1979), p. 326.

[74] Quispel, 'The Gospel of Thomas Revisited', Quebec, p.223.

[75] Drijvers, 'Facts and Problems in Early Syriac-Speaking Christianity', The Second Century, 2 (1982), p. 173.

[76] J. M. Robinson, 'The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices', BA, 42 (1979), pp. 206-24.

[77] J. M. Robinson, (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library (San Francisco, 1977), [NHL]. See my 'New Light on Gnosticism', Christianity Today, 23 (Oct. 6, 1978), pp. 36-40, 42-43.

[78] J. M. Robinson, 'Getting the Nag Hammadi Library into English', BA, 42 (1979), pp.239-48.

[79] F. Wisse, 'Gnosticism and Early Monasticism in Egypt', Jonas, p. 437; C. W. Hedrick, 'Gnostic Proclivities in the Greek Life of Pachomius and the Sitz im Leben of the Nag Hammadi Library', NovTest, 22 (1980), p.93.

[80] B. Van Elderen, 'The Nag Hammadi Excavation', BA, 42 (1979), pp. 225-3 1; P. Grossman, 'The Basilica of St.Pachomius', BA, 42 (1979), pp. 232-36; C. Walters, Monastic Archaeology in Egypt (Winona Lake, 1974).

[81] T. Säve-Söderbergh, 'Holy Scriptures or Apologetic Documentations?: The "Sitz im Leben" of the Nag Hammadi Library', Strasbourg, pp. 3-14. Idem, 'The Pagan Elements in Early Christianity and Gnosticism', Quebec, pp. 71-85; F. Wisse, 'Language Mysticism in the Nag Hammadi Texts and in Early Coptic Monasticism I: Cryptography', Enchoria, 9 (1979), pp. 101-20; idem, 'Gnosticism and Early Monasticism in Egypt', Jonas, pp. 431-40.

[82] Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Codices (n. 74), pp. 13-14.

[83] Rudolph, Die Gnosis, p. 148.

[ 84] W. MacRae, 'The Apocalypse of Adam Rediscovered', L. C. McGaughy (ed.), 1972 SBL Seminar Papers (n.p., 1972), II, pp. 574-75; idem, 'Adam, Apocalypse', JDBS, pp. 9-10.

[85] G. W. MacRae, 'Seth in Gnostic Texts and Traditions', P. J. Achtemeier (ed.), 1977 SBL Seminar Papers (Missoula, 1977), p.21.

[86] GNT, pp. 46-47.

[87] W. Beltz, 'Bemerkungen zur Adamapokalypse aus Nag Hammadi-Codex V', P. Nagel (ed.), Studia Coptica (Berlin, 1974), pp. 159-62.

[88] G. Shelirude, 'The Apocalypse of Adam: Evidence for a Christian Provenance', Oxford-2 , pp. 93-94.

[89] C. W. Hedrick, The Apocalypse of Adam: A Literary and Source Analysis (Missoula, 1980), p. 213.

[90] E. Yamauchi, 'The Apocalypse of Adam, Mithraism and Pre-Christian Gnosticism', J. Duchesne-Guillemin (ed.), Études Mithraiques, (Acta Iranica IV; Leiden/Teheran/Liège, 1978), pp. 537-63. For suggestions that the Adam Apocalypse dates even to the third or fourth centuries see Beltz, p. 162; F. Morard, 'L'Apocalypse d'Adam de Nag Hammadi', Oxford-l, pp. 35-42; idem, 'Thematique de l'Apocalypse d'Adam du Codex V de Nag Hammadi', Quebec, pp. 288-94.

[91] Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Codices, p. 7; NHL, p. 7.

[92]MacRae, 'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament', Jonas, p. 154.

[93]Koester, Introduction to the New Testament, II, p. 211.

[94] In a personal letter, 25 Jan. 1980. Professor Wisse also adds, 'I agree with you on the Apocalypse of Adam'.

[95] J.-M. Sevrin, 'A propos de Ia "Paraphrase de Sem"', Le Muséon, 88 (1975), p. 87.

[ 96] K.-M. Fischer, 'Die Paraphrase des Seem', M. Kause (ed.), Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts [P. Labib Festschrift), (Leiden, 1975), p. 266.

[97] J. M. Robinson, 'Sethians and Johannine Thought: The Trimorphic Protennoia and the Prologue of the Gospel of John', New Haven, II, pp. 643-62.

[98]'The Prologue of the Gospel of John and the Trimorphic Protennoia', SBL l978 Abstracts, ed. P. Achtemeier (Missoula, 1978), p. 29; idem, 'Gnosticism and the New Testament', Jonas, pp. 128-31.

[99] 'Die dreigestaltige Protennoia', ThLZ, 99, (1974), cols. 733-34.

[ 100] G. Schenke, 'Die dreigestaltige Protennoia (NHC XIII)', unpublished dissertatton for Ristock University in 1977. It is worth noting that though she speaks of the work as 'nichtchristlich', she also designates parts of it as 'antichristlich' and others as presupposing 'christliche Gnosis' (pp.. 131, 146).

[101] C. Colpe, 'Heidnische, Heidische und christliche Überlieferung in den Schriften aus Nag Hammadi III', JAC, 17, (1974), pp.122-24. Colpe holds that both the TriProt and the Prologue go back to Jewish Wisdom traditions. Cf. C. A. Evans, 'On the Prologue of John and the Trimorphic Protennow', NTS, 27 (1 981), pp. 395-401.

[102] ThLZ, 99 (1974), col. 733.

[103] Ibid. On Bultmann's presuppositions, see R. Kysar, 'R. Bultmann's Interpretation of the Concept of Creation in Jo 1, 3-4', CBQ, 32 (1970), pp. 77-85.

[104] Van den Broek, 'The Present State', (n. 15). p. 67, comments: 'In reading the gnostic treatise (TriProt) I absolutely do not get the impression of the Berlin group....'

[105] Y. Janssens, 'Le Codex XIII de Nag Hammadi', Le Musdon, 87 (1974), pp. 341-413; La Prôtennoia Trimorphe (NH XIII. 1) (Quebec, 1978).

[106] Janssens, La Prôtennoia, p. 82: 'As for us, we remain convinced that it is a matter of the reminiscences of the New Testament in the TriProt and not the contrary'. Cf. idem, 'Line source gnostique du Prologue?' M. de Jonge (ed.), L'Évangile de Jean (Gembloux/Louvain, 1977), pp. 355-58. In her latest contribution, 'The Trimorphic Protennola and the Fourth Gospel', Wilson, pp. 229-44, she leaves 'the last word to specialists in the Fourth Gospel'.

[107] See Yamauchi, Quispel, pp. 482-83; contrast Robinson, New Haven, II, pp. 660-62.

[108] J. Helderman, "In ihren Zelten ..." Bemerkungen bei Codex XIII....', T. Baarda, A. F. J. Klijn, and W. C. van Unnik (eds.), Miscellanea Neotestamentica, (Leiden, 1978), I, pp.181-211.

[109] R. McL. Wilson, 'The Trimorphic Protennoia', Oxford-1, p. 54.

[110] B. A. Pearson, 'Friedläncler Revisited', Studia Philonica, 2 (1973), p. 35.

[111] K. Rudolph, 'Sophia und Onosis', ATFG, p. 232; idem, Die Gnosis, pp.298-301.

[112] B. A. Pearson, 'Jewish Elements in Gnosticism and the Development of Gnostic Self-definition', JCSD, p. 151.

[113] MacRae, 'Nag Hammadi and the New Testament', p. 150.

[ 114] Gruenwald, 'Aspects of the Jewish Gnostic Controversy', New Haven, II, p. 720.

[115] J. Maier, 'Jüdische Faktoren bel der Entstehung der Gnosis?', ATFG, p.243.

[116] W. C. van Unnik, 'Gnosis und Judentum', Jonas, p.84.

[117]Perkins, The Gnostic Dialogue, pp. 17-18.

[118] Wilson, 'Gnosis at Corinth', (n. 43), p. 111.

[119] Tröger, 'The Attitude', (n. 21), p. 93.

[120] S. Pétrement, 'Le Colloque de Messine et le problème du gnosticisme', Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 72 (1967), 344-73; idem, 'Sur Ic problème du gnosticisme', Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 85 (1980), pp. 145-77.

[121] H. Jonas, 'Response', J. P. Hyatt (ed.), The Bible in Modem Scholarship (Nashville, 1965), p. 293: 'A Gnosticism without a fallen god, without benighted creator and sinister creation, without alien soul, cosmic captivity and acosmic salvation, without the self-redeeming of the Deity - in short: A Gnosis without divine tragedy will not meet specifications.'

[122] Wilson, 'Gnosis at Corinth', (n. 43), p. 111; idem, 'From Gnosis to Gnosticism', Mélanges d'Histoires des Religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech (Paris, 1974), p. 425.

[123] Hengel, The Son of God, p. 34.

[124] B. Aland, 'Gnosis und Christentum', New Haven, I, p. 340.

[125] Trëger, 'The Attitude', (n. 21), p. 98.

[126] U. Bianchi (ed.), Le Origini dello Gnosticismo (Leiden, 1967).

[127] U. Bianchi, 'Le gnosticisme et les origines du Christianisme', Louvain (n. 8), p. 228.


Reader might be interested to know that two of Professor Yamauchi's books are currently being reprinted: 1) Pre-Christian Gnosticism by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, Oregon). 2) Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins by Gorgias Press (Piscataway, NJ). Full bibliographic details will be uploaded on this site when the become avaialable.


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