Were the Ancient Gnostics Great Intellectuals?

Here’s one New Testament scholar (Larry Hurtado, recently retired, Univ. of Edinburgh) who laughs at the idea. I’d agree with him (and I like reading western esotericism).

If you think they’re intellectual elites, you’ve been watching too much on the Fantasy Channel (aka, History Channel) and reading too many pages by modern new agers. Go to the primary sources, like Prof. Hurtado suggests.

[Addendum: 2/24/2014. Prof. April DeConick was apparently put off by Prof. Hurtado. It didn’t take her long to respond. I’m with Hurtado on this one. I’ve read enough esoteric material and western esotericism to know that the short path to sounding intellectual is to spout streams of barely intelligible ideas. That way, you come off as the possessor of elite knowledge: “If you were as brilliant as I am, you’d understand what I’m saying.” Gnostic literature is filled with that sort of thing. Just read it. My point is not that they were dumb or on acid. It’s that calling them leading intellectuals of the ancient world is silly. In terms of the New Age crowd, it’s hard for them to take reasoned discourse and make it sound like mystery and mysticism to convince you they’re deep. It’s easy to do that with Gnostic material, and many have done so. That ought to tell us something. (And readers will know I’m not in the ecclesiastical box of the “historic” church in several respects). Yes, I can be accused at this point of assessing that material through “western logic.” But tell me — when we debate the subject, are we going to use the rules of western logic for discussion or not? Will we evaluate the soundness of argumentation using rules of western logic or not? We all know the answer, and that tells us something as well.]

Someone Else Promoting John Lamb Lash Gnostic Alien Archon Myth

Ah, wait a PaleoBabble feast this one is — a missive from a gullible Dr. John Singh in what I’m guessing is a Canadain version of the Weekly World News. I wonder if Dr. Singh ever actually checked the Gnostic texts to see if John Lamb Lash’s ideas are really there?  Hmmmm.  I’m betting the answer is no — but readers of PaleoBabble know better, since I posted videos of me looking through the digitized Nag Hammadi corpus (not exciting, but they’re the antidote for nonsense like this).

New Craptastic Jesus Bloodline Movie

Another fresh piece of cinematic claptrap has recently emerged (no, it’s not Indiana Jones V). Here’s a review of Bloodline, whose title cleverly disguises its message that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and produced a bloodline. Whoa! Didn’t see that coming!

Once again the public is treated to the myth that the Gnostic gospels (any any other source) has Jesus married (to anyone). Granted, my movies aren’t as visually compelling – you remember, the ones that show me searching my computer edition of the Nag Hammadi texts for any evidence Jesus was married – but they are factual. Probably why mine are free. Here they are for anyone who has an ounce of objectivity:

Was Jesus Married in the Gnostic texts (Video 1)

Was Jesus Married in the Gnostic texts (Videos 2, 3, 4)

Gnostic Archons = Aliens? Part 3 (of 3) on John Lamb Lash’s Theory

Here’s the second video on Lash’s theory. As you may recall, in the first video (Part 2 of this series), I searched for terms Lash uses (embryonic, reptilian, fetal, etc.) to claim that the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi describe the “Greys” — the little Grey aliens we know from TV and film that have big heads, slanted eyes, etc. The argument is that the Greys’ appearance is consistent with terms like those Lash allegedly finds for the Gnostic archons in the Gnostic texts. Watch the first video if you want to see what’s really there (or not there).

In this video, I reverse the approach and look for all occurrences of the term “archons” in the Gnostic library from Nag Hammadi. Are they described as Lash suggests? Nope. And more than that, I’ll actually show you a passage that denies Lash’s view.

Click here for the video. It’s 17:54 and the file is quite large, so you need high speed. And don’t forget to turn up your speakers.

Gnostic Archons = Aliens?

Ah, our first foray into the weird, wonderful world of John Lamb Lash. For those of you unfamiliar with Lash, he is a modern Gnostic. No, I’m not going to pick on Gnosticism. I am going to pick on Lash’s Gnostic nonsense at a specific point.
In his quest to argue the superiority of Gnosticism as a worldview, Lash has written that the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi (alone, since they are so wonderful) correctly tell us the story of an ancient alien intrusion into earth’s history. They do nothing of the sort. Now, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t deny that there are striking similarities between Gnostic cosmology and teachings and the messages that you’d read about (ad nauseum) from people who believe they have been contacted by aliens.  That’s true–but not for the reason Lash argues.  Lash wants you to believe that the similarities are due to the faithful recording in the Gnostic texts of real aliens who came to earth and kickstarted human civilization (and helped create humanity to boot). I’d say the opposite:  that the similarities are what they are because the ideas and worldview spoonfed to contactees and abductees is nothing more than Gnosticism rehashed for a 20th-21st century technological audience (with a dash of theosophy and a few other occult spices).  That’s the kind of thing I’m discussing on another blog, so I won’t park on that here.  On PaleoBabble, I have another issue in view.
Lash makes the following claim in his online article, “Alien Instrusion”:
Physical descriptions of Archons occur in several Gnostic codices. Two types are clearly identified: a neonate or embryonic type, and a draconic or reptilian type. Obviously, these descriptions fit the Greys and Reptilians of contemporary reports to a T. Or I should say, to an ET.

Delving into the Gnostic materials, it is quite a shock to discover that ancient seers detected and investigated the problem of alien intrusion during the first century CE, and certainly well before. (The Mysteries date from many centuries before the Christian Era.) What is amazing about the Gnostic theory of the Archons is not only the cosmological background (explaining the origin of these entities and the reason for their enmeshment with humanity), but the specificity of information on the alien m.o., describing how they operate and what they want from us. For one thing, Gnostics taught that these entities envy us and feed on our fear. Above all, they attempt to keep us from claiming and evolving our “inner light,” the gift of divine intelligence within. While I would not claim that Gnostic teachings on the Archons, or what remains of such teachings, have all the answers to the ET/UFO enigma, one thing is clear: they present a coherent and comprehensive analysis of alien intrusion, as well as specific practices for resisting it. They are far more complete and sophisticated than any theory in discussion today.
How can we test this claim? Easy–in future posts I’ll revisit my electronic corpus of the Nag Hammadi texts and search for such descriptions.  You don’t have to take Lash’s word for it (or mine)–I’ll show you.  Stay tuned.

Gospel of Judas Apology

Let’s file this under the “too little, too late” category.  National Geographic has apologized for its television  special on the Gospel of Judas.  A new edition of the gospel with a “thoroughly updated translation” has now been put forth which, to cite Gnostic scholar Birger Pearson, acknowledges “the flawed scholarship of the original edition.” NG itself admits to putting out a “sensationalized reading.”  Oops. Now if only we had done objective scholarship in the first place.  Remind anyone of any other over-hyped claims about the ancient Christian world?  Jesus Tomb? DaVinci Code?  Why didn’t Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman step forward and call for more careful approaches?  You can ead about the new Gospel of Judas edition and NG’s apology here.