Gnostics, Yahweh, and Cosmic Mid East War

(Part I)

Having read widely among Gnostic texts in translation and modern New Age sources, I've come across an interesting linkage that may shed light on a few esoteric dynamics of Earth life. For specialists, it may also clarify some the origins of the Gnostic view and the debacle of the Middle East in human history. According to a rational approach to the academic study of the development of religion, the early Near Eastern Gnostic conception of an evil world-creating "Demiurge" (identified with the Old Testament Yahweh or Jehovah), is generally understood as merely an imaginative invention to help support the growth of their religion. Scholars imagine this strange reformulation of the Hebraic god to simply indicate the Gnostics' rejection of local Jewish authority.

According to this approach, whatever degree of metaphysical truth the Gnostic views might have (as a potentially accurate assessment of real cosmo-dynamics affecting Earth in real time and space), is also totally ignored. Indeed, such possibilities are not even considered by the conventional Gnostic scholars. It may be a result of their commitment to the symbolic approach to religious systems (holding a view that religious content is merely figurative), or perhaps some kind of innate recognition by these "experts" that cosmic matters are rightly beyond their ken. Yet, when the scope of our inquiry into spiritual literature is expanded to include select modern New Age sources (equally abstruse and arcane), some provocative correlations with the Gnostic cosmos can be made.

In this essay we will take a close look at the complex set of issues surrounding the Gnostic view of Yahweh, the Old Testament god of the Jews and so-called creator of the world. To this academic recounting -- using several Nag Hammadi (Egyptian source) texts, scholar Hans Jonas' classic The Gnostic Religion, and the more freewheeling Lacarriere's The Gnostics -- I will also add information from The Ra Material, a set of channeled sessions published in 1981 that also speak at length about Yahweh. Ra also explains Yahweh"s hidden relations with humanity in terms quite close to the Gnostics", and puts them in a multi-dimensional context related to what they call, the "negatively-oriented Orion Empire." In no uncertain terms, we are talking here about War in Heaven (as above, so below").

The cosmic perspective so essential to the Gnostic message and praxis finds great response in modern times -- both from renewed popular and scholarly interest in their work, as well as from some equally subjective "received information." This meeting of old and new is valuably combustible, and has strengthened (at least for me) the validity of each of the sources involved. Much can be gained from systematic comparative analysis, and at this time in human history with vast Mid East warfare looming, it is also highly relevant to personal life.

The basic Gnostic position is well explained by Hans Jonas and forms the basis of this discussion. Almost all Gnostic sects believe that the creator of the human world is not the true transcendental Deity (which they call the "Unknown [or] Alien God"), but is instead a false ruler, as our world is really the product of lesser forces. Thus, one text states:

"The world is the work of lowly powers... [and] the universe, the domain of the Archons is like a vast prison whose innermost dungeon is the earth." (Jonas, p.42-3)

The seven concentric spheres around our Earth are "the seats of the Archons who collectively rule over the world [as] warders of the cosmic prison" (ibid, p.43). More than a few Wanderers and other sensitive souls have had the same idea, in just the same terms as depicted here and in the film, Matrix. That film, by the way, is an extremely Gnostic presentation.

Names for these lesser powers reflect different old Testament synonyms for Yahweh, who is considered the Demiurgic leader of the seven planes variously named in different Gnostic systems (many of which show some degree of interchangeability). The anti-Judaic aspect of their teachings is nevertheless clear, as we find echoed in a statement from Simon Magus (a main Gnostic leader of the day). He stated that,

The Demiurge was originally sent out by the good God to create the world but [he then] established himself here as an independent deity, that is, he gave himself out to be the Most High and [now] holds captive in his creation the souls which [in truth, instead] belong to the supreme God." (p.109-10)

Thus we have an inferior creator proclaiming himself falsely, binding the souls of his inmates through deception and an elaborate multi-leveled surveillance system (sound familiar?). The motivation for maintaining such a complex system to entrap humanity is the very inferiority of the warders themselves, who actually recognize somewhat the weakness of their position.

Speaking of the specific evil of these Archons, Jonas clarifies that:

"their badness is not that of the archenemy or the eternal hater of the Light [ie, Lucifer], but that of ignorant usurpers who, unaware of their sub-altern rank in the hierarchy of being, arrogate lordship to themselves, and in the combination of feeble means with envy and lust for power can achieve only a caricature of true divinity." (p.133)

These lesser powers cling to whatever material power they can, since deep down they realize there are higher beings above them, even allowing their treachery. Such is a common understanding in other, more modern presentations of the place of "evil" in the cosmic scheme.

And so we return to a traditional characterization of the jealous, wrathful Yahweh -- who according to Marcion (another Gnostic teacher) is so different from the Father spoken of by Jesus that he must be a false god. Marcion (the fellow who actually coined the terms "Old" and "New" Testament) was very serious about establishing clearly for all to see the nature of this radical demarcation (Lacarriere, p.100). He thus comes to the same basic Gnostic conclusion via a more Christian angle: Jesus' Father is the Unknown God, but He is quite different from the vengeful god of the Hebrews.

We are shown here a metaphysically based denunciation of the Old Testament, and the movement of small, fringe sects towards an esoteric reformulation of Christianity. This is also shown in such Gnostic tractates as The Gospel of Thomas that speak of Jesus Christ as a Gnostic adept -- which also served as the basis of their radical sectarian practices, all meant to outwit these very same Archons. To these teachers, the whole of the Old Testament was suspect, and most Gnostics saw it as an elaborate scheme reasserting Aeonic dominion over ignorant Earth humanity. Some people see fundamentalist orthodoxy of all stripes today in just the same light.

Jonas notes, "one recurring feature [of Gnosticism] is the assertion that the [Old Testament] prophecies and the Mosaic Law issued from these [deceptive] world-ruling angels, among whom the Jewish god is prominent" (p.133). Obviously, these sects were quite antagonistic towards the Hebraic hierarchy of their day. Indeed, Saturninus (yet another Gnostic sect leader) taught that the Old Testament prophecies originated from both Satan and the Archons. To the Gnostic teachers, the entire Judaic dispensation was merely a clever ploy of the arrogant world-creator and his clone-consorts.

In this view, what is promoted as, and thus is presented to willfully naïve humanity to be genuine religious teaching (serving the development of the Judaic system) is really that which maintains our ignorance and servitude. Accordingly, the Gnostic's task is to pierce the veils of the evil spheres and throw off the shackles of conventional (at that time, Hebraic) morality -- and proclaim for all to hear the falseness of the supposedly righteous orthodoxy.

No doubt, the Gnostics were considered a dangerous group to both Christians and Jews of the time, primarily because their views threatened to draw off believers from those major social groupings. Yet, it would be short sighted to consider the Gnostics merely anti-Semites or anti-Christians, since they really didn"t care for those traditions in the long run, and simply wanted to offer human souls an alternative path to self-liberation, free of the older sets of dogmatic faith.

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