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  • Author or Editor: Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta x
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Abstract

This contribution argues that Gnostic thought is not simply a parasite on orthodox Judaism or Christianity. To the contrary, Gnostics were important actors in the cultural context in which they lived, and the stature of their thought can only be properly understood as part and parcel of the ongoing discussion among philosophical and religious groups in the first centuries CE. Consequently, their views cannot be taken as simple reactions, but essential conceptual developments in both Christian and pagan worldviews were due to their innovative contributions. This is demonstrated by contextualising Valentinian thought in the polemics between the philosophical schools, with particular attention to the topic of God’s relationship to the world. The Valentinians were responding to the Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Neo-Pythagorean critique of the Platonic God in the Timaeus and of the Stoic immanent deity; these depictions of a technomorphic creator God portray him as grievously overworked. Valentinian Christians such as Ptolemy tacitly and implicitly side with these critics and resolve the issue by considering the Demiurge in the Timaeus not as the highest God, but as a lower creator God who created the lower realms of the world (the astral and earthly regions), and by equating him with the Christ–Logos who enacts the Father’s plan. In this way, Ptolemy’s solution prefigures the distinction that the Platonist philosopher Numenius makes between a genuinely divine intellect and a demiurgic intellect that brings the former’s plan into practice. Thus the Valentinians not only engaged in the contemporary debate about God’s relationship to the world, but also took the initiative in explaining how God interacted with the world.

In: Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity

Abstract

The heresiological interpretation of Valentinian anthropology continues to be held as the Gnostic position regarding human origins, condition, and destiny. Church Fathers not only managed to distil and fabricate a coherent whole they could easily attack, but were also persuasive enough to perpetuate their interpretation for centuries to come. Given the lack of consensus in the analysis of Early Christian sources, this article intends to advance the discussion by placing Valentinian anthropology in the wider religious and philosophical context to which it belongs. In order to do so, I will compare Valentinian views with Plutarch’s conception of the human being as presented in his eschatological myths. Especially, the analysis of his De facie will show that Plutarch provides the best precedent for Valentinian anthropology, and that in both cases myths intend to convey a philosophical, holistic view of human life in which cosmology, theology, anthropology, and ethics are intrinsically connected.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The heresiological interpretation of Valentinian anthropology continues to be held as the Gnostic position regarding human origins, condition, and destiny. Church Fathers not only managed to distil and fabricate a coherent whole they could easily attack, but were also persuasive enough to perpetuate their interpretation for centuries to come. Given the lack of consensus in the analysis of Early Christian sources, this article intends to advance the discussion by placing Valentinian anthropology in the wider religious and philosophical context to which it belongs. In order to do so, I will compare Valentinian views with Plutarch’s conception of the human being as presented in his eschatological myths. Especially, the analysis of his De facie will show that Plutarch provides the best precedent for Valentinian anthropology, and that in both cases myths intend to convey a philosophical, holistic view of human life in which cosmology, theology, anthropology, and ethics are intrinsically connected.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic