Dealing with Objections to GJohn as anti-Gnostic polemic (H&J Part 05)

Could the Gospel of John really contain anti-Gnostic sentiments?  As we have seen in previous entries, many scholars throughout history have thought so.  But others have argued against this idea.  Before we enter into an in-depth analysis of John’s relationship with Christian or Hermetic Gnosticism, it will be helpful to first deal with several possible objections to this proposal.

Potential objections we will be addressing in this entry are as follows:

1) Trinitarian objections on the basis of an ambiguous or “balanced” Johannine Christology;

2) objections on the basis of a presumed lack of polemical clarity;

3) objections of the basis of a perceived lack of interest in historical polemic in the other Gospels;

4) objections on the basis of later Gnostic infatuation with GJohn;

5) objections on the basis of a presumed lack of doctrinal clarity in the first century;

6) Trinitarian objections on the basis of alleged inefficiency of potential anti-Gnostic statements;

7) objections based on the satisfaction provided by Jewish evidence.

H&J Part 05:

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11 thoughts on “Dealing with Objections to GJohn as anti-Gnostic polemic (H&J Part 05)

  1. Some interesting points to investigate. I watched you lecture on youtube restoration channel. During the QA you mention two scholars who are revising the dating window of poimandres. Can you please clarify the spellings of their names and the specific works you are referring to?

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  2. Hi Duncan,
    Garth Fowden and Gilles Quispel were the two scholars I mentioned during the Q&A who have generally dated the origins of the extant philosophical Hermetica to the first century CE. See Fowden’s book ‘The Egyptian Hermes’ (Princeton, 1993) and various articles from Quispel (“Hermes Trismegistus and the Origins of Gnosticism,” Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Brill: Leiden, 1992); “The Ascelpius,” Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times (New York: SUNY Press, 1998).) Quispel in particular dates the Poimandres text featured in my lecture to the first century CE “at the latest” (“Asclepius,” p. 75).

    It is important to know that for centuries various scholars of the Hermetica have recognized that the philosophical Hermetica, including Poimandres, have their beginnings in the first century CE. Many of them have also concluded that even if the extant Hermetic writings in question were not around during GJohn’s composition, that these texts were incorporating matter certainly old enough to be contemporary with the Fourth Gospel. For opinions along these lines I can cite: Isaac Casaubon (1600s), David Chambers (1880s), R. Reitzenstein (1900s), G.R.S. Mead (1900s), Harold Willoughby (1930s), Lewis Spence (1950s), C.H. Dodd (1960s), C.K. Barrett (1960s), Gilles Quispel (1990s), Jean-Pierre Mahé (2000s), Garth Fowden (2000s), and more. No doubt my contentions relative to the dating of the Hermetic ideas at hand and the plausibility of their proximity to GJohn stand in good company.

    I am working on a new material regarding all of this dating business; been quite busy, however. Will get there!

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