From Ancient Gnostics to Modern Scholars – Issues in Defining the Concept of “Gnosticism”

From Ancient Gnostics to Modern Scholars – Issues in Defining the Concept of “Gnosticism” | Victor-Alexandru PRICOPI

Abstract: Nowadays, the category of „Gnosticism” has become very ambiguous and problematic. There are different paradigms in defining the concept of „Gnosticism” and because of this, there still are controversies between the most prominent scholars. In recent decades were made valuable research on this topic, but a consensus is far to achieve. In this paper my aim is to show how this concept changed from ancient heresiologists to modern scholars as Hans Jonas, Ioan Petru Culianu or Michael Allen Williams. In one of the late papers of Ioan Petru Culianu, „Gnosticism” was seen as a „sick sign”. From this observation, Michael A. Williams came to dismantle the concept of „Gnosticism” and to replace this concept with the one of „biblical demiurgical traditions”. Nevertheless, criticism cannot be applied only to the modern concept of ,,Gnosticism”, but also to Williams’ suggestions. Indeed, the category in debate is hard to define, but we also will propose in this paper an answer to this question.

Keywords: Gnostics, Gnosticism, Heretics, Knowledge, Gnosis, Demiurge.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18662/rrem/2013.0502.04

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