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No Such Thing as ‘Gnosticism’?

Monday, June 24, 2019
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Presenter:  Deb Saxon

This month’s study involved exploring the raging debate over whether there is any such thing as ‘Gnosticism’ and whether or not it is important to stop labeling certain texts as ‘gnostic.’ Following the ‘Questions for Discussion,’ presenter Deb Saxon offered some preparatory references:

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did you first discover the extracanonical texts and how did you think of them? Did you think of them as the ‘gnostic Gospels?’ Why were you drawn to the study of these writings?
  2. Does it matter what we call these texts or how we classify them? What are the stakes in continuing to call them ‘gnostic’?
  3. If we don’t use ‘gnostic,’ what can we use instead?

Rather than looking at a single primary text, we considered snippets of two important books by Michael Williams and Karen King that have tackled this question and argued that the term ‘Gnosticism’ is misleading and inaccurate and serves simply to perpetuate old ideas about the superiority of some ideas as ‘orthodox’ and others as ‘heretical’.