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Gnostic Extremes?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by mnw, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. mnw

    mnw New Member

    Jan 8, 2006
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    I am not sure if the title for this thread is accurate, anyway, here we go.

    Just doing some study on Gnosticism and its many off shoots an I am coming up short on one line of thought.

    I know that docetism and other philosophies sprung from the basic gnostic principles but there are extremes I have read about before and I am having a mental block trying to research them again.

    1. One extreme looks at the physical being evil and so rejects pretty much any and all pleasure. They abstain from most foods, sex, drink and really anything affords pleasure.

    2. The other extreme looks at the physical as evil and the spirit as good and conclude they can do anyting to their bodies with no spiritual/emotional/mental consequences. So, they sleep around, eat and drink excessively and really do not deny themselves any physical pleasure.

    Am I getting mixed up here or what? I believe the first group could be epicureans, but to what degree I am not sure. Now, to a degree I guess hedonists (not the Piper variety) woul dbe in the second group. But I am looking for more info.

    Any takers?
  2. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones New Member

    May 3, 2005
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    Yes, you're a little mixed up. It's hard to pin down what you're talking about but the labels: Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Manichaeism come to mind. Everett Ferguson's "Background of Early Christianity" book is quite accessible and from what I recall accurate. He gives a rundown on these matters.

    My guess is you'd find something online more helpful. I'd recommend searching the "new schaff-herzog encyclopedia" here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc01.html

    Or the New Catholic encyclopedia here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/index.html

    Type in Stoicism, Epicureanism, Manichaeism (check the spelling), Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, etc. Knock yourself out.

    Don't let the names fool you though since neither encyclopedia is "new" so they are both outdated, but they're out of copyright and free to access.