I'm really not going to an all-Fathers, all-the-time format. Really. I promise we're getting back to the normal mostly-fiction format. Soon.
Archive for May 22nd, 2006
Irenaeus now brings up Marcus, a Gnostic teacher whose reported personal worship and evangelical practices lead one to believe he really wasn't all that opposed to flesh. Or money. Or using prestidigitation and hypnosis to bedazzle his marks. (His more theoretical ideas come next chapter.)
UPDATE: Bad link fixed.
Now we go from discussing a general summary of Gnosticism to a quick summary of individual Gnostic teachers' ideas. (Isn't Colorbasus a great name, btw? Sounds like a brand of paint.) This is pretty much the pattern of the book — from general to ever more specific issues, each then opposed with Christian arguments.
St. Irenaeus explains how Gnostics thought the world would end, and what their own fate would be. He also explains their favorite quoting techniques, as Against Heresies continues.
Against Heresies continues, as St. Irenaeus explains how it is that Gnostics thought that the Creation of the world was generally a mistake and a bad thing.
Against Heresies is in some ways a really great book. St. Irenaeus went out there and not only studied Gnostic writings, but talked to Gnostic teachers. Then he tried his hand at refuting their arguments, and put all the information out there for Christians to use.
Unfortunately, Gnosticism is more interesting as a phenomenon than as a belief system. Just as Gnostic gospels take all the fun out of Jesus, Gnostic cosmology takes all the fun out of mythology. Not liking all that messy body stuff meant turning their backs on most of the stuff humans like. St. Irenaeus does his best to fight this with scattered bits of humor, but it’s pretty grim reading. Also, it’s a really long book. (The following chapters bring us less than halfway through Volume 1. Of 5.)
Still, this is an important topic, and you might need Irenaeus’ arguments! When people tell you all about Gnostics and the “sacred feminine” from The De Vinci Code, be sure to tell them how Sophia/Achamoth fell “because she was female” and hence weaker and less perfect. Yeah, those Gnostics were so enlightened and feminist. Yup. Uh huh.
UPDATE: Link fixed. Thanks for the heads up, Tom!