Friday, January 05, 2007

The Historical Bible Critics and Gnosticism

Two not-unrelated topics addressed by N T Wright-excerpts from an interview, courtesy of Insight Scoop.

My major work has been designed to refute the wilder claims made by some so-called historical critical scholarship. Because now we see only too clearly that the whole historical critical movement was not, as it tried to claim, a neutral, objective, scientific account of the Gospels. It had its own agendas that were heavily driven by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. The movement really started out with the assumption that if there is a God, this God does not intervene in human affairs. In other words, the Enlightenment has already settled Lewis's question one way. It has decided that any Jesus who said John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," would be completely out of his skull. Therefore, Jesus couldn't have said it, because we know he was a good man and we want to follow him for other reasons. It becomes a circular argument.

And on the modern-day Gnostics (e.g., the Masons)

When does Gnosticism flourish? In the middle and late second century, what's just happened? The failure of the second Jewish revolt in A.D. 135. Jewish people who have clung fiercely to their Scriptures, as the desperate side of hope when everything seems to be going wrong, have lost. Then the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt, and Rabbi Akiba himself is killed, and what are you going to do? Well, you can go off and be a pagan. Or, in this wonderfully cynical way, you can take your own Bible and read it upside down. So Cain becomes the hero and Abel becomes the villain. And the God who made the world is a bad god, so you tell the story of the creation of the world as the Fall.

Jewish Gnosticism emerges out of that failure, and is sustained at a time when the imperial power of Rome has stamped on Judaism and is now doing its best to stamp on Christianity. So you say, there is no hope in the world, the world is a dark place run by evil, wicked forces who have no fear of God, no sense of spirituality. Therefore, the only thing is to turn inward.

Now, look at the rise of the great powers in the 20th century and situate the rise of Freudian and Jungian psychology within those movements. People are looking outside, and it's chaos. People are doing awful things. You say there must be very interesting things going on inside. One of Carl Jung's famous sayings was, "Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakens." That's 20th-century Gnosticism. When you get the rise of the modern American empire, the post-Holocaust world and all the anomie of modernity, people are asking, "What is it all about?" Gnosticism seems to many people like a place to find something good about oneself in the face of a hostile world.

Worth repeating.

4 comments:

David said...

WHere exactly do you get "Masons" from that?

Dad29 said...

Dave, the Masons have been Gnostics from the get-go.

As you know, one cannot be a Mason and claim to be Roman Catholic. There's a reason for that...

David said...

Dear God more people stuck in the 1800's. Dad I have always been in awe of your ability to skewer a point of view using basic logic and an unflinching belief in truth. But to see you fall for a 200 year old hoax is an absolute let down.

They are a religious group that has nondenominational prayers before meetings and they teach their members to be regular church goers in the faith of their choice and to try to live a moral life. Quick, board up the vatican gates those evil masons are out to take over the world. And I thought only the nutty like that idiot with the davinci code book believe that crap.

Dad29 said...

David, your admiration for this poster is correctly placed.

Your understanding of Masonry is deficient. They are fine people, very nice, good for the community, etc., (in general terms.)

They are also Gnostics.

Finally, what is true in 1800 (or 30AD) does not become UN-true because it is 2000.