Chapter I - LEFTOVERS FROM THE JAR
In this chapter some minor Gnostic documents in the Nag Hammadi collection are described: the Treatise on Resurrection, the Gospel of Philip, the Hypostasis of the Archons, and some others. (Length of this chapter,with notes, = 52 pp.)
Chapter II - THE MARCIONITE CHURCH
Marcion came from Asia Minor and lived in the second century A.D. His community, the Church of Marcion, was a large and well-organized Gnostic community. His ideology centered on the dualistic opposition between God, the father of Jesus Christ, and the God of the Old Testament. In his opinion Judaizers = Christians of Jewish descent, had distorted almost all of the teaching of Jesus. In order to save as much as possible of the Jewish faith, they had altered Jesus' sayings. Peter was the main culprit. Only the Gospel of Luke was to be trusted, although he did not think that Luke really was its author.
There were, in consequence, two gods,. The God of the Old Testament and the God of what remained of the New Testament, the one warlike, the other supremely good. We find in him also the usual Gnostic elements: God is unknowable,.mankind is a sorry lot, only a few will be saved. His Church was modelled on the Roman Catholic Church, what with its bishops, priests, and deacons. (Length of this chapter, with notes, = 54 pp.)
Chapter III - MANDA, THAT IS KNOWLEDGE
The Mandaeans are the only still existing Gnostic sect. They live in Iraq, in the Delta of the Euphrates and Tigris. They are baptists, because baptism plays a great role in their ideology. They are opposed to Christianity and to Judaism; neither are they Muslims, for which reason they are second-rank people in Iraq. Their main holy book is the Ginza.
As good Gnostics, they acknowledge two worlds, the upper world, the Lightworld, and the nether world, our world, which is no good. The great principle is Manda, which means `Knowledge'; Manda fights the powers of Darkness. The body, the world, and the female sex are vehemently disliked. Except those who possess the Manda, the world and mankind is doomed to destruction. (Length of this chapter, with notes, = 42 pp.)
Chapter IV - MANI`S WORLD RELIGION
The best-known Gnostic-dualistic sect is that of the Manichaeists, the `Church of Justice'. It survived all others, with the exception of Mandaeism, since we find traces of it until 1300. It was widespread, with adherents as far as China.
For many people Manichaeism is dualism par excellence; there is, indeed, no doubt that it was deeply dualistic. The oppositions are even more radical than in most other systems. The upper and lower world are involved in a protracted and bitter struggle, while mankind is divided between those who will be saved (the Manichaeans) and those who will not. Manichaeism is characterized by a fierce abhorrence of all that is material and physical, especially of sex, women, and procreation.
First-class Manichaeans live in communities, are vegetarians, and do not marry. They shun contact with the world. The second-class Manichaeans were allowed to marry, to have children, and to work, but had to live a very strict life of prayer and fasting. (Length of this chapter, with notes, = 76 pp.)
Chapter VI - LOOKING BACK ON THE GNOSIS
Part I of this chapter reviews the opinions of modern scholars on the Gnosis. Part II combats the all too common notion that the Gnosis is a branch of Christianity. Part III discusses the place of the Gnosis in Antiquity. (Length of his chapter, with notes, = 54 pp.)
This volume contains a Bibliography and a General Index.
Published in 1994 by J.C. Gieben, Publisher.
ISBN 90 5063 346 3