ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
[Through] the soul [or] through the spirit?” Jesus answers that the visionary perceives it through the mind. The Gnostics insisted that visions were not fantasies, but real perceptions through which spiritual intuition is realized, disclosing “insights into the nature of reality.”
Some scholars, such as Rudolph Bultmann, maintain that the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel according to John, is strongly influenced by Gnosticism, and there are also possible Gnostic components in some of the letters of Paul. According to Antoine Faive, a typical Gnostic statement in John is the following: “This is eternal life, that they know thee and know Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” (Jn. 17:30). There is also a Biblical source for Gnosticism in Ezekiel. This Old Testament text is believed to have been written in 593 B.C.E. The prophet, who was among the Babylonian captives, “beheld the personified Glory of the Lord who would not abandon him even in exile.” Ezekiel beheld a “figure of Light” in the form of a man (Ez. 1:26). Daniel, the latest of the Old Testament books (168 B.C.E.), refers to the Son of Man (i.e. Divine Man), which name Jesus applies to himself in the Gospels.
The Septuagint (Hellenistic) translator of Ezekiel identifies the Son of Man with the Platonic concept. (The same figure also appears in the Hermetic Poimandres.) This text shows how God created a son to show the way to salvation to all creatures. The son is androgynous. He is composed of three components: “light” (φόσ), “man” (ανφόποσ) (אדם), and “life” (ξοή). This being descends into the lower, material realm in order to create the cosmos, but falls in love with nature and becomes trapped in a physical body like our own. For this reason, human beings are both mortal and immortal; the body is perishable but the soul is eternal. In keeping with its Jewish roots, the Gnostic concept of the divine is that the orignal man is in God’s own image. That is to say, the human body is created after the likeness of God.
There is a Gnostic component in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran Essene community, the discovery of which in 1947 was one of the most important archaeological finds in history. Accidentally discovered by an Arab boy who tossed a rock into a cave and heard it clunk inside some kind of container, the scrolls are still subject to much controversy. They include an almost complete version of the Hebrew Bible, plus texts which give us a remarkably clear picture of the many forms of Judaism that flourished at the time of Jesus. The Essenes appear to have been influenced by Gnosticism. There was, in any case, a school of Jewish Gnosticism.
The Gnostic texts such as the aforementioned Pistis Sophia also speak of Sophia (Σοφία) or “personified Wisdom” in feminine form. She is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost which penetrates human beings. She is the effluence of divine glory, an emanation of eternal light, the immaculate mirror of God’s activity. She is both wisdom and the spouse of God. Some Jewish rabbis held that YHWH.( יהוה ) is not God, but the Angel of the Lord or Malak YHWH (יהוה רלאם), he who confronted Moses in the burning bush. He is not God but a Demi-Urge (δεμύργοσ ), which literally means “one who works with the people, skilled workman, creator, in Plato’s philosophy a secondary deity, a creative spirit who