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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?


A Few Words on Gnosticism

Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History
History of Judaism Continued
Scholarly Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
Historicity of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
A Few Words on Gnosticism
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
List of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus (P. 1)
The Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Study Conclusions and Overall Comparisons

Additional Material
The Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
Comparison of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)

Introduction
| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3




Since it has been established earlier in this study that the teachings of the Christian New Testament can historically be traced directly back to Jesus, his apostles, and earliest disciples during the 1st century B.C., we can now compare New Testament historicity with that of Gnosticism.

Earlier in our study, during our analysis of Propositional Religions, we discussed Gnosticism as a mystical religion that was a composite of Greek thought, Judeo-Christianity, and other ancient mystery cults. With that in mind we categorized Gnosticism with Propositional Mysticism rather than Evidentiary Monotheism (as exhibited in Old and New Testament Judeo-Christianity). On the other hand Christianity is clearly a product of non-mystical Judaism

"Christianity - Christianity is in a direct sense an offshoot of Judaism, because Jesus and his immediate followers were Jews living in Palestine and Jesus was believed by his followers to have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

The fact is that to deny that New Testament Christianity is the Christianity taught by Jesus Christ himself contradicts the firmly established academic standards used to determine the life and accomplishments of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Plato, and other such figures, including ancient historians themselves. These academic standards validate that the New Testament teaching was the teaching of Jesus Christ himself to such an extent that this alone should silence critics on this point. However, since recent suggestions have been made that Gnostic forms of Christianity were the authentic teachings of Jesus and not the views expressed in the Christian New Testament, further discussion of the origin of Gnosticism is warranted. Toward that ends, the following quotes will demonstrate that Gnostic works were later in origin than those of the Christian New Testament and post-New Testament literature, devoid of historical detail, and without historical connection to the central figures of Christianity.

While New Testament Christianity spread throughout Judea and the Roman empire during the 1st century B.C., Gnosticism did not become widely held until the 2nd century B.C.

"Gnosticism - dualistic religious and philosophical movement of the late Hellenistic and early Christian eras. The term designates a wide assortment of sects, numerous by the 2d cent. A.D." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001

"Gnosticism - philosophical and religious movement prominent in the Greco-Roman world in the 2nd century AD." - Britannica.com

The fact that Gnosticism became widespread in the 2nd century A.D. after the onset of Christianity, means that Gnosticism was influenced by Christianity and not the other way around.

"Gnosticism - Christian ideas were quickly incorporated into these syncretistic systems, and by the 2d cent. the largest of them, organized by Valentinus and Basilides, were a significant rival to Christianity." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001

Historically speaking, it is quite clear that the early promoters of Gnostic Christianity were a product of the 2nd century A.D. blending of Christian and mystery religion.

"Gnosticism - Scholars trace these salvation religions back to such diverse sources as Jewish mysticism, Hellenistic mystery cults, Iranian religious dualism (see Zoroastrianism), and Babylonian and Egyptian mythology...Christian ideas were quickly incorporated into these syncretistic systems, and by the 2d cent. the largest of them, organized by Valentinus and Basilides, were a significant rival to Christianity." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

As Britannica.com asserts, no Gnostic teachers prior to this period are known to us. In fact, until 1945, our knowledge of Gnosticism was largely dependent upon the writings of early Christian leaders who cataloged and refuted Gnostic teaching with Old and New Testament scripture.

"Gnosticism - Until the discovery at Nag Hammadi in Egypt of key Manichaean (1930) and Coptic Gnostic (c.1945) papyri, knowledge of Gnosticism depended on Christian sources, notably St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. Among principal Gnostic writings are the Valentinian documents Pistis-Sophia and the Gospel of Truth (perhaps by Valentinus himself)...Gnostic elements are found in the Acts of Thomas, the Odes of Solomon, and other wisdom literature of the pseudepigrapha Christianity." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

Gnostic works of literature do not appear until after the Christian New Testament was written. Dating to the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., Gnostic texts emerged as a result of the rise of Gnosticism's first major leaders, such as Valentinus.

"Gnosticism - The dualistic phase was reached after the expansion of Gnosticism into the Hellenistic world and under the influence of Platonic philosophy, from which was borrowed the doctrine that a lower demiurge was responsible for the creation of this world. This teaching is to be found in the Apocryphon of John (early 2nd century) and other documents of popular gnosis discovered near Naj' Hammadi in upper Egypt in the 1940s and in the Pistis Sophia, a 3rd-century Gnostic work in Coptic belonging to the same school. The learned gnosis of Valentinus, Basilides (qq.v.), and their schools presupposes this popular gnosis, which, however, has been thoroughly Hellenized and Christianized and sometimes comes very near to the views of Middle Platonism." - Britannica.com

As Gnosticm began to spread during the 2nd century, orthodox Christians like Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp (who was himself discipled by John the Apostle of Jesus) documented their heretical beliefs and vigorously refuted them showing that even as Gnosticism first began to syncretize with Christianity it was identified and resisted by those with historical connections to the authentic teaching of Jesus, his apostles and early disciples.

"Irenaeus - c.125-c.202, Greek theologian, bishop of Lyons, and Father of the Church. Born in Asia Minor, he was a disciple of St. Polycarp...Only two of his works survive—neither in the original Greek. Against Heresies establishes Christian doctrine against the Gnostics and incidentally supplies much information on Gnosticism." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Polycarp - c.A.D. 70-A.D. 156?, Greek bishop of Smyrna, Father of the Church. He was a disciple of St. John,who appointed him bishop. Thus he linked the apostles and such 2d-century Christian expositors as St. Irenaeus." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

So, it is clear that Christianity is a product of Judaism alone, despite the contentions offered by some that the authentic form of Christian teaching is found in Gnosticism. A simple analysis of historical documentation has shown that the New Testament understanding about Jesus and his teaching predates that of the Gnostic schools.

Likewise, we have the documents of post-New Testament Christian leaders (like Irenaeus) which sternly refute Gnostic claims, pre-date the available Gnostic writings, and constitute clear evidence that the anti-Gnostic nature of New Testament Christianity can be attributed to Jesus, his apostles and disciples. Thus, the Gnostic Christianity, which became prominent as the Church approached the third century A.D. and eventually culminated in the Roman Catholic endeavors of that time, is clearly shown to be the imposter and not the original form of Christianity. And, as we have said, to deny that New Testament Christianity is the Christianity taught by Jesus Christ himself contradicts the firmly established academic standards used to determine the life and accomplishment of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Plato, and other such figures, including ancient historians themselves.

With that said, we now move on to our examination of the evidence offered by Judaism and Christianity to substantiate their claims. We will begin by examining Christianity's claim to be a correct interpretation of Old Testament Jewish teachings.


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