Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Gnostic Influence

The Greek word is Gnosis. It means knowledge or wisdom.

In the early church world, the Greek philosophers had great influence. People would walk and travel hundreds of miles to sit at the feet of some of the great philosophers. There were teachers who were all over the spectrum from those who believed that experience through the body was the only way to knowledge all the way to the other end where only internal knowledge from asceticism and denying the bodily experience was accepted.

The Gnostic tradition was developing at the same time as the Christian tradition and in many times and places, the two coexisted and co-mingled. Many of the early ascetics of the Christian tradition were under the influence of some of the Gnostic ideas about needing to transcend the body in order to experience the divine. Some of those who were exiled from the church because they went as far as to say that Jesus was not a part of the Trinity, merely a human being who was teaching his disciples how to become divine.

Today, the Gnostic influence can still be seen in the Bible and in the world around us. There are some passages from Paul's letters that are understood to be included because he was trying to fight against the Gnostic influence. However, the idea that human beings can transcend their bodies is still one that comes up. The incarnation and resurrection appearances teaches differently. Our bodies are part of us, even when we are experiencing the eternal and divine.