Monday, March 30, 2009

Readings: In But Not Of

Along with the excerpts from Paula Fredriksen with reference to John’s gospel cited in my previous post, Hans Jonas illuminates additional Gnostic parallels to scriptural Christianity here:

An essential mental reservation qualifies participation in the things of this world, and even one’s own person as involved with those things is viewed from the distance of the beyond. This is the common spirit of the new transcendental religion, not confined to Gnosticism in particular. We remind the reader of St. Paul’s saying:

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away. (I Cor. 7:29-31)

The world and one’s belonging to it are not to be taken seriously. … [A]s a dimension of existence [gnostic dualism] does not offer occasion to the perfectibility of man. The least, then, that the acosmic attitude must cause in the relation to inner-worldly existence is the mental reservation of the “as-though-not.”

To the extent possible, we are to be in the world without being of the world. Is this not are the very core of St. Paul’s message?