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Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: by Nicola Denzey Lewis

By Nicola Denzey Lewis

In 'Cosmology and destiny in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity,' Nicola Denzey Lewis dismisses Hans Jonas' mischaracterization of second-century Gnosticism as a philosophically-oriented non secular circulate outfitted at the belief of the cosmos as detrimental or enslaving. A centred research at the suggestion of astrological destiny in “Gnostic” writings together with the Apocryphon of John, the recently-discovered Gospel of Judas, Trimorphic Protennoia, and the Pistis Sophia, this ebook reexamines their language of “enslavement to destiny (Gk: heimarmene)” from its origins in Greek Stoicism, its deployment via the apostle Paul, to its later use by means of quite a few second-century intellectuals (both Christian and non-Christian). Denzey Lewis hence deals an educated and revisionist conceptual map of the traditional cosmos, its impact, and all those that claimed to be freed from its almost certainly pernicious results.

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Extra resources for Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Under Pitiless Skies (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume 81)

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How evil its brilliance must have looked to them, how alarming its vastness and the rigid immutability of its courses, how cruel its muteness! 1 1. Hans Jonas and the Starry Sky Hans Jonas, one of the earliest scholars to devote attention to ‘Gnostic’ interpretations of heimarmene, was familiar with conceptions of fate and divine providence developed within Greek philosophical schools of the Hellenistic era, particularly Stoicism. In Jonas’s assessment, the Stoic concept of pronoia, divine providence, effectively and elegantly combined Greek, Egyptian or Babylonian astrological concepts of fate with the Greek concept of harmonia.

100–400) (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 9. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951). P. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 3rd ed. H. Beck, 1967), 711–712. 21 Dodds believed he could find a distinctive Weltanschauung spawned from the collective burden of existential dread that the ‘crisis’ of the third century had imposed upon Roman minds. ”25 Second, it was during the first to third century that highly articulated conceptions of fate as the instrument of planetary demons first gained prominence.

The Patristic writers, through their condemnation of pagan ‘irrationalism’ and their revival of ancient ideals in a new Christian guise, restored the spiritual peace-of-mind formerly asserted by their Stoic forebears. This view teaches us nothing new about the dynamics of Christian apologetics of the Patristic period, but a great deal about the biases inherent in nineteenth- and early twentiethcentury scholarship. ” This interpretation could be amply supported by early Christian ideological discourse, which necessarily exaggerated the extent to which anybody in the ancient world subscribed to ‘cosmic pessimism’ or felt ‘enslaved’ by fate, in order to prepare the ground for a new vision of the cosmos.

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