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What is Gnosticism?

anne crossey


Gnosticism has seen something of a revival since public imagination was captured (for better or worse) by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and Nag Hammadi in the 1940’s. For the most part, the Nag Hammadi library is comprised of papyrus manuscripts transcribed around 1500 years agoby a gnostic sect who were based on the Western shores of the Dead Sea. About 1000 pages in all, Coptic translations of older Greek writings, the manuscripts include lost gospels and poems, reflections on various aspects of mysticism, and portions of Plato’s Republic. Deemed heretical, the influence of gnosticism on both orthodox religious practice and on the more hidden or esoteric aspects of even contemporary philosophy and theology has been sorely underrated. If the Church is the sober Bride of Christ, then gnosticism could be described as his colourful soulmate slut- something of an embarrassment to the…

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