dissabte, 13 d’octubre de 2012


Bertrand Russell

Chapter II

The view that the Jews were the Chosen People remained, however,
obnoxious to Greek pride. This view was radically rejected
by the Gnostics. They, or at least some of them, held that the
sensible world had been created by an inferior deity named
laldabaoth, the rebellious son of Sophia (heavenly wisdom). He,
they said, is the Yahweh of the Old Testament, while the serpent,
so far from being wicked, was engaged in warning Eve against
his deceptions. For a long time, the supreme deity allowed laldabaoth
free play; at last lie sent His Son to inhabit temporarily
the body of the man Jesus, and to liberate the world from the false
teaching of Moses.Those who held this view, or something like
it, combined it, as a rule, with a Platonic philosophy; Plotinus,
as we saw, found some difficulty in refuting it. Gnosticism afforded
a half-way house between philosophic paganism and Christianity,
for, while it honoured Christ, it thought ill of the Jews. The
same was true, later, of Manichaeism, through which St. Augustine
came to the Catholic Faith. Manichseism combined Christian and
Zoroastrian elements, teaching that evil is a positive principle,
embodied in matter, while the good principle is embodied in
spirit. It condemned meat-eating, and all sex, even in marriage.
Such intermediate doctrines helped much in the gradual conversion
of cultivated men of Greek speech; but the New Testament
warns true believers against them: "O Timothy, keep that
which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain
babblings, and oppositions of science [Gnosis] falsely so called:
which some professing have erred concerning the faith."

Gnostics and Manichaeans continued to flourish until the government
became Christian. After that time they were led to conceal
their beliefs, but they still had a subterranean influence.

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