Neoplatonismo e Gnosticismo

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História do Gnosticismo


Gnosticismo Sírio-Egípcio

Pais do Gnosticismo Cristão
Magus Simão

Gnosticismo mais recente

Medieval Gnosticism

Gnosticismo nos tempos modernos
Gnosticismo nas culturas populares

Textos Gnosticos
Biblioteca de Nag Hammadi
Codex Tchacos
Gnosticismo e o Novo Testamento

Artigos Relacionados
Neoplatonismo e Gnosticismo
Cristandade Esoterica


Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and some earlier Platonists. Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius Saccas, a dock worker and philosopher in Alexandria. Neoplatonists considered themselves simply "Platonists", although they also wished to distinguish themselves from various earlier interpreters of Plato, such as Arcesilaus and the New Academy. A more precise characterization for the group, as suggested by scholars like Professor John Turner would be orthodox (neo)Platonism.

Gnosticism is a term created by modern scholars to describe a collection of religious groups, many of which thought of themselves as Christians, which were active in the first few centuries AD.<ref name = "Filoramo"> Filoramo, Giovanni (1990). A History of Gnosticism. Blackwell. pp. 142-7 </ref> There has been considerable scholarly controversy about exactly which groups to describe with this term. Sometimes it is used narrowly to refer only to religious groups such as Sethians and Archontics who may have used it as a self-designation. Sometimes it is used a little more broadly to include groups similar to Sethians, or influenced by them such as followers of Basilides or Valentinius and later the Paulicians. Sometimes it is even used broadly enough to cover all groups which heavily emphasized gnosis, in which case it would probably include Hermetics and Neoplatonists as well. One distinct, if questionable, attempt to define Gnosticism since Nag Hammadi has been to limit it to groups that used the term gnostikoi, even though early Platonists and Ebionites also used the term and are not considered to be Gnostics.


Scholarship on Gnosticism has been greatly advanced by the discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi texts, which shed light on some of the more puzzling comments by Plotinus and Porphyry on the Gnostics. More importantly, the texts help to distinguish different kinds of early Gnostics. It now seems clear that "Sethian" gnostics attempted "an effort towards conciliation, even affiliation" with late antique philosophy <ref name ="Schenke1">Schenke, Hans Martin. "The Phenomenon and Significance of Gnostic Sethianism" in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism. E. J. Brill 1978</ref>, and were rebuffed by some Neoplatonists, including Plotinus. Plotinus considered his opponents "imbeciles" and "blasphemers" taking all their truths over from Plato<ref name="armstrong"> cite the Armstrong</ref>. Although there has been dispute as to which gnostics Plotinus was referring to it appears they were indeed Sethian.

Platonic Origins of the Term "Gnostikoi"

Gnosis is a Greek word, originally used in specifically Platonic philosophical contexts. Plato, for example, uses the terms gnostikoi’ and gnostike episteme in the text called Politikos in Greek and Politicus in Latin (258e-267a) the modern name being the Statesman. The word means the knowledge to influence and control. Gnostike episteme also was used to indicate one's aptitude. The terms do not appear to indicate any esoteric or hidden meaning within the works of Plato but instead expressed a sort of higher intelligence and ability akin to talent.

Within the text of Politikos, the Stranger (the main speaker in the dialog) indicates that the best political leaders are those that have this "knowledge" that would indicate the ruler's competency. Gnostikoi’ would be a quality or characteristic of someone ideal to attend the academy of Plato's. Since a high aptitude would be a necessary qualification to understand and grasp the teachings of the academy.

Although the Greek stem gno- was in common use, "like many of the new words formed with -(t)ikos, gnostikos was never very widely used and never entered ordinary Greek; it remained the more or less exclusive property of Plato's subsequent admirers, such as Aristotle, Philo Judaeus, Plutarch, Albinus, Iamblichus and Ioannes Philoponus. Most important of all in its normative philosophical usage gnostikos was never applied to the person as a whole, but only to mental endeavours, facilities, or components of personality."<ref name = "layton1">Layton, Bentley. "Prolegomena to the Study of Ancient Gnosticism" in The Social World of the First Christians: Essays in Honor of Wayne Meeks. ed L. Michael White and O. Larry Yarborough. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995</ref>. Thus, if it really is so that some Christians "called themselves" gnostikos, or "professed to be" gnostikos, as Porphyry (a pagan who wrote against Christianity), Celsus (a pagan who wrote against Christianity), Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus claim, then this would be a novel innovation, and a very distinctive claim, rather than a continuation of the traditional usage, and may well mark a self-designating proper name, rather than merely a self-description. Indeed, it would have sounded like technical philosophical jargon at the time. In contrast, merely claiming to have or supply gnosis would have been a very normal and non-distinctive claim in the 2nd century CE, in many Christian and Hellenistic circles.

Historical relations between Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

Platonism went through four main styles of thought in the ancient world, the "Old Academy," the "New Academy," Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. After Plato's death in 348 B.C., the leadership of his Academy passed to Plato's nephew, Speusippus, and then to Xenocrates, Polemo, Crantor, and Crates of Athens the leaders of the "Old Academy." Following Crates, in 268 B.C., was Arcesilaus of Pitane who founded the "New Academy," under the influence of Pyrrhonian scepticism. Arcelisaus modeled his philosophy after the Socrates of Plato's early dialogues, "suspending judgment" (epokhê peri pantôn Predefinição:Polytonic).

Antiochus of Ascalon, who was head of the Academy from 79-78 B.C., was able to intellectually maneuver around the scepticism of the New Academy by way of agreement with, and return to, the dogmata of Plato and the Old Academy philosophers. Antiochus, through his argument that the Platonic Forms are not transcendent but immanent to rational minds (including that of God), and his treatment of the Platonic Demiurge (from the Theaetetus) and the World-Soul (a notion from the Timaeus that the physical world was a living, ensouled being), provided the framework in which both other middle Platonists (such as Philo of Alexandria) and later Platonists such as Plutarch of Chaeronea, Numenius of Apamea, and Albinus would work. These treatments of the forms and of the Demiurge would be an important influence on both Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. Neopythagoreanism seems to have influenced both the Neoplatonists and the Gnostics as well.<ref name = "Turner1"> Turner, John. "Sethian Gnosticism: A Literary History" in Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and Early Christianity, 1986 p. 59 </ref> Similarly, Neopythagoreanism and Middle Platonism seem to be important influences on Basilides and on the Hermetic tradition, which seem in turn to have influenced the Valentinians. <ref name = "layton2"> Layton, Bentley. The Gnostic Scriptures. Doubleday 1987 </ref> Indeed, the Nag Hammadi texts, included excepts from Plato, and Irenaeus claims that followers of Carpocrates honored images of Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle along with images of Jesus Christ.


By the 3rd century Plotinus is shifting Platonist thought enough that modern scholars consider it a new movement, which is called "Neoplatonism" although Plotinus took his position to be inline with the Old Academics and the Middle Platonists, especially via his teacher Ammonius Saccas and Alexander of Aphrodisias later head of the Lyceum in Athens and Numenius of Apamea a forerunner of the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonists. Plotinus seems to have been influenced by Gnostics only to the extent of writing a polemic against them (which Porphyry seems to have re-arranged into Ennead 3.8, 5.8, 5.5, and 2.9).<ref> Harder, "Scrift Plotins" ??? </ref> But later Neoplatonists may have been more influenced by Gnosticism.Predefinição:Fact


The earliest origins of Gnosticism are still obscure and disputed, but they probably include influence from Plato, Middle Platonism and Neo-Pythagoreanism, and this seems to be true both of the more Sethian Gnostics, and of the Valentinian Gnostics. <ref name = "Turner1"/>. Further, if we compare different Sethian texts to each other in an attempted chronology of the development of Sethianism during the first few centuries, it seems that later texts are continuing to interact with Platonism. Earlier texts such as Apocalypse of Adam show signs of being prechristian and focus on the Seth of the Jewish bible (not the Egyptian God Set who is sometimes called Seth in Greek). These early Sethians may be identical to or related to the Ophites or to the sectarian group called the Minuth by Philo. Later Sethian texts such as Zostrianos and Allogenes draw on the imagery of older Sethian texts, but utilize "a large fund of philosophical conceptuality derived from contemporary Platonism, (that is late middle Platonism) with no traces of Christian content."<ref name = "turner1"/>. Indeed the Allogenes doctrine of the "triple-powered one" is "the same doctrine as found in the anonymous Parmenides commentary (Fragment XIV) ascribed by Hadot to Porphyry ... and is also found in Plotinus' Ennead 6.7, 17, 13-26." <ref name = "turner1"/> However, by the 3rd century Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus, Porphyry and Amelius are all attacking the Sethians. It looks as if Sethianism began as a pre-Christian tradition, possibly a syncretic Egyptian pagan, Hellenic philosophy, Hebrew movement and incorporated elements of Christianity and Platonism as it grew, only to have both Christianity and Platonism reject and turn against it. Professor John D Turner believes that this double attack led to Sethianism fragmentation into numerous smaller groups (Audians, Borborites, Archontics and perhaps Phibionites, Stratiotici, and Secundians).

Philosophical relations between Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

Gnostics borrow a lot of ideas and terms from Platonism. They exhibit a keen understanding of Greek philosophical terms and the Greek Koine language in general, and use Greek philosophical concepts through out their text, including such concepts as hypostasis (reality, existence), ousia (essence, substance), and demiurge (creator God). Good examples include texts such as the Hypostasis of the Archons (Reality of the Rulers) or Trimorphic Protennoia (The first thought in three forms).

Gnostics structured their world of transcendent being by ontological distinctions whereby the plentitude of the divine world emerges from a sole high deity by emanation, radiation, unfolding and mental self-reflection. Likewise the technique of self-performable contemplative mystical ascent towards and beyond a realm of pure being is rooted in Plato's Symposium, and common in Gnostic thought, was also expressed by Plotinus (see Life of Plotinus). Divine triads, tetrads, and ogdoads in Gnostic thought often are closely related to Neo-Pythagorean Arithmology. The trinity of the "triple-powered one" (with the powers consisting of the modalities of existence, life and mind) in Allogenes mirrors quite closely the Neoplatonic doctrine of the Intellect differentiating itself from the One in three phases called Existence (hypostasis), Life, and Intellect (nous). Both traditions heavily emphasize the role of negative theology or apophasis, and Gnostic emphasis on the ineffability of God often echoes Platonic (and Neoplatonic) formulations of the ineffability of the One or the Good.

Nonetheless there were some important philosophical differences. Gnostics emphasized magic and ritual in a way that the more sober Neoplatonists such as Plotinus and Porphyry would have been uncomfortable with (although perhaps not later Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus). But Plotinus' main objection to the Gnostics he was familiar with was their rejection of the goodness of the demiurge and the material world. He attacks the Gnostics as vilifing Plato's ontology of the universe as contained in the Timaeus. Plotinus accused Gnosticism of vilifying the Demiurge or craftsman that crafted the material world, even thinking of the material world as evil or a prison. As well as the gnostic origin of the demiurge coming from wisdom as a deity. Wisdom (called Sophia) being anthropomorphically expressed as a feminine spirit deity not unlike the goddess Athena or the Christian Holy Spirit. Plotinus stating at one point that if the gnostics did so believe this world was a prison then they could at any moment free themselves by committing suicide. These charges do seem to hold for some of the texts discovered in Nag Hammadi, although others such as the Valentinians, or the Tripartite Tractate, wished to insist on the goodness of the world and the Demiurge.

First International Conference on Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

Conferences and topics covered in relation to the topic of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism.

Neoplatonism, Gnosticism and other movements

Neoplatonism and Gnosticism are probably also both influences on certain later movements. A good example, is Hermeticism. Hermeticism seems to have roots prior to the 3rd century, but also to have been influenced heavily by both Gnosticism and Neoplatonism.

See also



External links