Valentinian Ethics and Paraenetic Discourse

Determining the Social Function of Moral Exhortation in Valentinian Christianity


Offering a fresh assessment of the presence and function of paraenesis within Valentinianism, this book places Valentinian moral exhortation within the context of early Christian moral discourse. Like other early Christians, Valentinians were not only interested in ethics, but used moral exhortation to discursively shape social identity. Building on the increasing recognition of ethical and communal concerns reflected in the Nag Hammadi sources, this book advances the discussion by elucidating the social rhetoric within, especially, the Gospel of Truth and the Interpretation of Knowledge. The social function of paraenesis is to persuade an audience through social re-presentation. The authors of these texts discursively position their readers, and themselves, within engaging moments of narrativity. It is hoped that this study will encourage greater integration of research between those working on the Nag Hammadi material and those studying early Christian paraenetic discourse.

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Philip L. Tite, Ph.D. (2005) in Religious Studies, McGill University, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Willamette University, Salem Oregon. He is the author of Compositional Transitions in 1 Peter (International Scholars, 1997), Conceiving Peace and Violence (UPA, 2004), and co-editor of Religion, Terror and Violence (Routledge, 2008). His research and teaching center on the social and rhetorical aspects of early Christianity and Gnosticism.
"Tite’s book rightly underscores the importance of ethics in Valentinian Christianity" – Birger A. Pearson, in: Religious Studies Review 26/1 (March 2010)
"This monograph makes an important contribution to the scholarly understanding of moral exhortation in Valentinian teaching." – Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

1. Introduction

2 Constructing Social Identity Through Discourse: A Socio-Rhetorical Approach for the Study of Valentinian Paraenesis

3. Defining Paraenesis I: Historical Phases within the Academic Study of Paraenesis

4. Defining Paraenesis II: Towards a Functional Understanding of Paraenesis

5. Literary Aspects of Paraenesis: Indicators of Moral Exhortation from the Greco-Roman World within Valentinianism

6. Two Schools and the Call to Reconciliation: Literary and Social Aspects of Moral Exhortation in the Interpretation of Knowledge

7. Existing in Error: Literary and Social Aspects of Moral Exhortation in the Gospel of Truth

8. Conclusion

Scholars interested in moral exhortation (paraenesis) within early Christianity, specifically those working within Nag Hammadi and Gnostic studies, but also early church historians and New Testament scholars with interests in social rhetoric.
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