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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2017, 09:20:34 PM »
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.

Since when is Timişoara in Bulgaria?
can you read? There are ethnic Bulgarian RC of supposedly Paulician ancestry living in Banat. But Paulicianism isn't a religion they still practice.

As I said before:

Gnostics are famed for their ability to dissimulate.  It is even a commandment in some Gnostic sects, later adopted by Gnostic-influenced Shia Sufi sects, to practice dissimulation, or takfir, in Arabic, vs. a useless martyrdom.  The Sufis are more willing to be martyred than the Gnostics, as a rule, but practice takfir when, for example, in the company of hardcore Salafis, to avoid conflict with other Muslims.  Conversely, the Gnostics, including the Valentinians and the Manichaeans, viewed martyrdom as useless.   Furthermore, they were and are highly syncretic, incorporating aspects of various belief systems while retaining their core doctrines of salvation through secret knowledge.

In this respect, they are like more extreme versions of Pietist evangelical Protestants, who tolerate wide doctrinal divergences, even, in the case of Rev. Billy Graham, recognizing everyone from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Mormons as Christian, while adhering to their core doctrines of salvation through a specific belief in Christ (sola fide).  The similiarity is quite striking.

Gnostics went way beyond the Pietists however, in terms of what they would adapt to.  Thus, we have the factual existence of non-Christian Gnostic sects as well as Christian ones, for example, the non-Christian Mandaeans and Jewish Gnostic sects, and other Gnostic sects which are thought to predate the incarnation of our Lord by a century, ultimately being the religious implementation of a synthesis of Pythagoreas, Plato and the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, hence the similiarities between the later religion of Neo-Platonism, a major competitor with Christianity in the fourth century, and Gnosticism (it does not appear that Plato intended to start a religion, any more than Socrates, Aristotle or Xenophon; he was merely a philosopher, but his ideas concerning a demiurge, a Logos, a world of ideals and of forms, and the real world, influenced both Gnosticism and the philosophical terminology used by the Fathers of Christianity to explain doctrine; Roman Catholic scholasticism leans more heavily on Aristotle, whereas Plato seems to be narrowly preferred over Aristotle among the early Fathers, in what Rome erroneously calls the Patristic era).   In contrast, I should note the evidence suggests that Zoroaster and Pythagoras were men of religion from the start, false or failed prophets, who were later acclaimed for the excellence of their philosophy apart from their religion, in much the same way that Thomas Jefferson and other Unitarians sought to create a false dichotomy between the philosophical teachings of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, such as our belief in the miracles performed by and the deity of our Lord.

So, we have Gnostics who exist today, but are not Christian, and ancient record of pre-Christian and other non-Christian Gnostic sects, as well as other religious traditions which are either Gnostic or Gnostic-influenced (Sufi Islam, for instance, Alevism, the Yazidi and Yarsani faith, the Druze of Lebanon).

  We also have writings that say that that Gnostics did not value martyrdom, and routinely used a combination of dissimulation and syncretism to hide their faith.  And these writings are backed up by intact archaeological evidence.  More than evidence, but a complete, intact building!   An 11th century Manichaean temple in China, disguised as a Buddhist temple, but identified on close examination as Manichaen owing to the subtle difference between its idols of Buddha (really, of Mani), and those found in every other Buddhist temple, other carvings and engravings, and ancient inscriptions surrounding the temple which use double entendre and subtleties, that a Buddhist would not see them as Manichean, but anyone familiar with Manichaeanism would recognize them.

As far as we know, this temple is no longer used by Manichees but by Buddhists, but here too we face the problem of dissimulation.  Also, Mani proselytized to Buddhists by sending a disciple named or renamed Buddha to the orient, just as he sent a Hermes to Egypt and a Thomas to Syria.  Who is to say that the worshippers at that temple claiming to be Buddhist are referring to that Buddha and not Siddharta Guatama?  Also, the Buddhist and Manichaean religions are very similiar, both believing in reincarnation, salvific knowledge and the need to escape the prison of what Manicaeans believe is the material world, and what Buddhists regard as a shared delusion, or Samsara.  And the status of an Arahant ontologically in many of the more optimistic Buddhist sects is clearly analogous to the state of a Gnostic or Manichaean upon entering the Pleroma, the Realm of Light as Mani called it.

So who is to say these Paulicians, who by the way, have been genetically and otherwise proven to be descendants of the Armenian Paulicians, are not still practicing aspects of their Christian faith while syncreticqlly integrating it and dissumlating it into Roman Catholicism?  The Ecclesia Gnostica uses a mass and lectionary derived from the Roman Catholic; the true Paulicians might go further.  The actual surviving Gnostic teachings, if they still exist, and I suspect they do, would be passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, at a mature age and under an oath of secrecy, probably around the time of Confirmation, as a sort of doctrinal correction to or expansion of Catholicism, to include Gnostic elements, and an instruction of strict silence to outsiders and denial of these doctrines.

We know from the Gnostic literary corpus and from the archaeological record, and indeed, the surviving Gnostic sects including the Mandaeans, who seek out Christian churches when abroad and cut off from their people, that dissimulation, syncretism or integration into other religions, is their preferred mode of dealing with existential threats.

Doubtless as Armenia and Georgia were on the verge of Russian invasion, some Paulicians fled to Bulgaria, and then travelled to Romania, becoming Roman Catholic, because, I propose, the Catholics knew much less about them than the Orthodox, and thus would be less likely to notice any crypto-Paulicians, and also lacked the power to persecute in the Ottoman Empire in Roumelia (Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans) wielded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but were rather a separate millet protected by the French.  An ideal situation.

I would also not be surprised if Paulicianism survives underground in Armenia still, among that population, with similiar dissimulation and syncretism.

Of course, unfortunately, the continued survival of these sects would be very difficult to prove.  My conjecture would be hard to falsify as it would require basically interrogating every single member of the Paulician ethnic group, and conducting extensive and oppressive searches of their residences, and doing the same thing to the worshippers at the crypto-Manichaean Buddhist temple in China.   Thus I cannot call it a theory, or rather, I can, but prefer not to, because while my hypothesis is falsifiable, and thus meets the criterion of legitimate theories, falsifying it would require acts of violent persecution and disruption to entire ethnic groups.   There is no ethical way to falsify it, thus, I call it a conjecture.

However, if one were able to become close friends or mary into a Paulician family, and probe with some intensity, if even one person encounterednone family with an ancient Paulician knowledge, that would confirm it; ideally that family could be persuaded to open up about their religious views rather than keeping them hidden, because in Bulgaria and Romania, at least, the European Convention on Human Rights is in effect and would preclude the kinds of persecution they would historically have faced.

There is also one other aspect to the lack of ethical or easy falsifiability of my conjecture, if you view it as a theory and insist on positively disproving it, the only way you could do so would be to overthrow the Romanian government, install yourself as Emperor Marshal Augustin I of Romania, Bulgaria and Armenia, reconstitute the Securitate, and place all of the Paulicians under arrest.  I assume you do not want to do that; thus, you cannot deny the possibility of my conjecture or proclaim it outright impossible, logically speaking; the most you can do is consider it highly unlikely, and I can accept such a critique, since I myself think that it is neither probable nor improbable, but merely a possibility, based on the writings of the Gnostics and Manichees, the Archaeological record, and ehat we knoe about their behavior from encounters with surviving contempory Gnostics, the Mandeans, and semi-Gnostics like the Druze.

It is also worth noting that because of the esoteric nature of Gnostism, extreme secrecy was and is commonly an element in their faith.  Thus, despite the Druze religion being extant for a thousand years, we still have no idea exactly ehat they believe; occasionally a Druze of the Gnostic caste of priestly elders has apostasized, and avoided being killed, and leaked tidbits of information, but we are far from having the entire picture.  We do not know, for example, ehat exactly goes on inside certain Druze houses of worship into which only the Gnostic caste are allowed to enter (the caste of followers or adherents, who includes the secular ruler of the Druze in Lebanon, who is also an avid enthusiast of marijuana, amusingly enough, do gather outside these buildings on rare occasions to oraynor receive blessings, but normally Druze is a very private religion, endogamous, like the Mandaeans or Parsismof India, only even more so.

Thus, if you want to claim my conjecture is utterly false, feel free to install yourself as the new Emperor of Romania.  I think that would be awesome and I would probably support you.  You could create a grand army of Romanians, Moldovans and Bulgarians and march on Constantinople, with Russian assistance, to take it from the Turks.  However, such a career choice would be exceedingly difficult, and it would require you to take the rather evil step of arresting every single Paulician and subjecting them to harsh interrogation, while ransacking theirnhouses for evidence, and in that venture my support for your reign as Augustin I would end.  I also daresay that if you were able to overthrow the democratically elected governments of three or four countries, if we include Armenia, Georgia, or Moldova, to the mix, you would have more important things to do with your time in order to keep your new empire afloat.

So with that, I will close by saying "All Hail Augustin I, King and Emperor of Romania and Protector of the Black Sea," while maintaining, at the risk of exile from your lands, that you still cannot logically disprove my theory without resorting to the most extreme measures described above.  But you can dismiss it as unlikely, which is what I usually do.

For example, I cannot positively disprove your claims about the early church as they are not falsifiable, but I can hold them to be unlikely, a separate topic which I shall,address presently.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2017, 09:35:23 PM »
Asteriktos, maybe you can help me understand a bizarre claim Fr. Hopko once said. He said all theology was pretty much "finished by 70 A.D. Everything after was just putting a finer point to things. How in the world did he come to such a conclusion? What am I overlooking?

I know not related to the discussion but I was just reminded of it.
well it's a trope  for a reason that the orthodox don't know the Bible. Not in a scholarly way .

That's not true.  There are numerous contemporary Orthodox theologians intimately familiar with sacred scripture, textual criticism and higher criticism, for example, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Fr. John Behr, and many others.  Orthodox seminarians have to posess equivalent knowledge of Biblical hermeneutics, history, textual criticism, higher criticism and interpretation as their Protestant counterparts in order to graduate.  We also have dedicated Bible scholars, who only study the Bible or part of it, for example, Eric Jobe, who as a scholar has dedicated himself to the study of the Hebrew Masoretic text, using both textual criticism and higher criticism to show that it is just as good, in his scholarly opinion, as our preferred Septuagint, if not better, and many of his arguments are compelling, although I disagree with them. 

It is more common however for Orthodox theologians to not completely specialize on just studying the Bible in a vacuum because we reject sola scriptura, and indeed, Bart Ehrman, Jean Dominic Crossan and their ilk do not do this either.  But whereas they are scholars of contemporary philosophy of religion, postmodernist philosophy, textual deconstructivism, and related fields popular in liberal Chriatianity and the atheist-Christian fringe, an Orthodox theologian who studies the Bible is also likely to study Patristics, the liturgy and other fields in harmony.

I think Fr. John Behr is the best Bible Scholar we have, even though he is not a specialist in the study of the Bible, but rather a specialist in Patristic studies; he grew up among parents who were students of Karl Barth, and thus from an early age was introduced to Systematic Theology.  His knowledge of sacred scripture is comprehensive and includes lower and higher criticism.  And his lectures on the theme of "the heresy of Orthodoxy" brilliantly refute the works of Ehrman, Karen King and others, and also the view of multiple rival Jesus movements of which Orthodoxy was the champion (a view which is only partially true; the non-Orthodox heresies fell into just two camps in the second century, the Judaizers such as the Ebionites, and the Gnostics, and all of the different Gnostic sects were related, like Protestant denominations).
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2017, 09:39:58 PM »
Note by the way, I cannot positively disprove your ideas about the emergence of Orthodoxy, but I can regard them as unlikely for the reason stated above.  Also note that in lauding Fr. John Behr I am not appealing to his authority to make my case, but rather merely reccommend him as someone you might enjoy reading.  I probably disagree with him on some points, although I haven't found any yet.  I have heard that he is intimidating, but I have heard worse things about Fr. Thomas Hopko, memory eternal, and thus am forced to interpret this as a compelling argument in favor of the Orthodox ideal of rejecting ecclesiastical gossip, which is a dark and sinister vice in our community, the instigator of schisms.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline augustin717

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #48 on: September 25, 2017, 12:08:50 AM »
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.

Since when is Timişoara in Bulgaria?
can you read? There are ethnic Bulgarian RC of supposedly Paulician ancestry living in Banat. But Paulicianism isn't a religion they still practice.

As I said before:

Gnostics are famed for their ability to dissimulate.  It is even a commandment in some Gnostic sects, later adopted by Gnostic-influenced Shia Sufi sects, to practice dissimulation, or takfir, in Arabic, vs. a useless martyrdom.  The Sufis are more willing to be martyred than the Gnostics, as a rule, but practice takfir when, for example, in the company of hardcore Salafis, to avoid conflict with other Muslims.  Conversely, the Gnostics, including the Valentinians and the Manichaeans, viewed martyrdom as useless.   Furthermore, they were and are highly syncretic, incorporating aspects of various belief systems while retaining their core doctrines of salvation through secret knowledge.

In this respect, they are like more extreme versions of Pietist evangelical Protestants, who tolerate wide doctrinal divergences, even, in the case of Rev. Billy Graham, recognizing everyone from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Mormons as Christian, while adhering to their core doctrines of salvation through a specific belief in Christ (sola fide).  The similiarity is quite striking.

Gnostics went way beyond the Pietists however, in terms of what they would adapt to.  Thus, we have the factual existence of non-Christian Gnostic sects as well as Christian ones, for example, the non-Christian Mandaeans and Jewish Gnostic sects, and other Gnostic sects which are thought to predate the incarnation of our Lord by a century, ultimately being the religious implementation of a synthesis of Pythagoreas, Plato and the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, hence the similiarities between the later religion of Neo-Platonism, a major competitor with Christianity in the fourth century, and Gnosticism (it does not appear that Plato intended to start a religion, any more than Socrates, Aristotle or Xenophon; he was merely a philosopher, but his ideas concerning a demiurge, a Logos, a world of ideals and of forms, and the real world, influenced both Gnosticism and the philosophical terminology used by the Fathers of Christianity to explain doctrine; Roman Catholic scholasticism leans more heavily on Aristotle, whereas Plato seems to be narrowly preferred over Aristotle among the early Fathers, in what Rome erroneously calls the Patristic era).   In contrast, I should note the evidence suggests that Zoroaster and Pythagoras were men of religion from the start, false or failed prophets, who were later acclaimed for the excellence of their philosophy apart from their religion, in much the same way that Thomas Jefferson and other Unitarians sought to create a false dichotomy between the philosophical teachings of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, such as our belief in the miracles performed by and the deity of our Lord.

So, we have Gnostics who exist today, but are not Christian, and ancient record of pre-Christian and other non-Christian Gnostic sects, as well as other religious traditions which are either Gnostic or Gnostic-influenced (Sufi Islam, for instance, Alevism, the Yazidi and Yarsani faith, the Druze of Lebanon).

  We also have writings that say that that Gnostics did not value martyrdom, and routinely used a combination of dissimulation and syncretism to hide their faith.  And these writings are backed up by intact archaeological evidence.  More than evidence, but a complete, intact building!   An 11th century Manichaean temple in China, disguised as a Buddhist temple, but identified on close examination as Manichaen owing to the subtle difference between its idols of Buddha (really, of Mani), and those found in every other Buddhist temple, other carvings and engravings, and ancient inscriptions surrounding the temple which use double entendre and subtleties, that a Buddhist would not see them as Manichean, but anyone familiar with Manichaeanism would recognize them.

As far as we know, this temple is no longer used by Manichees but by Buddhists, but here too we face the problem of dissimulation.  Also, Mani proselytized to Buddhists by sending a disciple named or renamed Buddha to the orient, just as he sent a Hermes to Egypt and a Thomas to Syria.  Who is to say that the worshippers at that temple claiming to be Buddhist are referring to that Buddha and not Siddharta Guatama?  Also, the Buddhist and Manichaean religions are very similiar, both believing in reincarnation, salvific knowledge and the need to escape the prison of what Manicaeans believe is the material world, and what Buddhists regard as a shared delusion, or Samsara.  And the status of an Arahant ontologically in many of the more optimistic Buddhist sects is clearly analogous to the state of a Gnostic or Manichaean upon entering the Pleroma, the Realm of Light as Mani called it.

So who is to say these Paulicians, who by the way, have been genetically and otherwise proven to be descendants of the Armenian Paulicians, are not still practicing aspects of their Christian faith while syncreticqlly integrating it and dissumlating it into Roman Catholicism?  The Ecclesia Gnostica uses a mass and lectionary derived from the Roman Catholic; the true Paulicians might go further.  The actual surviving Gnostic teachings, if they still exist, and I suspect they do, would be passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, at a mature age and under an oath of secrecy, probably around the time of Confirmation, as a sort of doctrinal correction to or expansion of Catholicism, to include Gnostic elements, and an instruction of strict silence to outsiders and denial of these doctrines.

We know from the Gnostic literary corpus and from the archaeological record, and indeed, the surviving Gnostic sects including the Mandaeans, who seek out Christian churches when abroad and cut off from their people, that dissimulation, syncretism or integration into other religions, is their preferred mode of dealing with existential threats.

Doubtless as Armenia and Georgia were on the verge of Russian invasion, some Paulicians fled to Bulgaria, and then travelled to Romania, becoming Roman Catholic, because, I propose, the Catholics knew much less about them than the Orthodox, and thus would be less likely to notice any crypto-Paulicians, and also lacked the power to persecute in the Ottoman Empire in Roumelia (Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans) wielded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but were rather a separate millet protected by the French.  An ideal situation.

I would also not be surprised if Paulicianism survives underground in Armenia still, among that population, with similiar dissimulation and syncretism.

Of course, unfortunately, the continued survival of these sects would be very difficult to prove.  My conjecture would be hard to falsify as it would require basically interrogating every single member of the Paulician ethnic group, and conducting extensive and oppressive searches of their residences, and doing the same thing to the worshippers at the crypto-Manichaean Buddhist temple in China.   Thus I cannot call it a theory, or rather, I can, but prefer not to, because while my hypothesis is falsifiable, and thus meets the criterion of legitimate theories, falsifying it would require acts of violent persecution and disruption to entire ethnic groups.   There is no ethical way to falsify it, thus, I call it a conjecture.

However, if one were able to become close friends or mary into a Paulician family, and probe with some intensity, if even one person encounterednone family with an ancient Paulician knowledge, that would confirm it; ideally that family could be persuaded to open up about their religious views rather than keeping them hidden, because in Bulgaria and Romania, at least, the European Convention on Human Rights is in effect and would preclude the kinds of persecution they would historically have faced.

There is also one other aspect to the lack of ethical or easy falsifiability of my conjecture, if you view it as a theory and insist on positively disproving it, the only way you could do so would be to overthrow the Romanian government, install yourself as Emperor Marshal Augustin I of Romania, Bulgaria and Armenia, reconstitute the Securitate, and place all of the Paulicians under arrest.  I assume you do not want to do that; thus, you cannot deny the possibility of my conjecture or proclaim it outright impossible, logically speaking; the most you can do is consider it highly unlikely, and I can accept such a critique, since I myself think that it is neither probable nor improbable, but merely a possibility, based on the writings of the Gnostics and Manichees, the Archaeological record, and ehat we knoe about their behavior from encounters with surviving contempory Gnostics, the Mandeans, and semi-Gnostics like the Druze.

It is also worth noting that because of the esoteric nature of Gnostism, extreme secrecy was and is commonly an element in their faith.  Thus, despite the Druze religion being extant for a thousand years, we still have no idea exactly ehat they believe; occasionally a Druze of the Gnostic caste of priestly elders has apostasized, and avoided being killed, and leaked tidbits of information, but we are far from having the entire picture.  We do not know, for example, ehat exactly goes on inside certain Druze houses of worship into which only the Gnostic caste are allowed to enter (the caste of followers or adherents, who includes the secular ruler of the Druze in Lebanon, who is also an avid enthusiast of marijuana, amusingly enough, do gather outside these buildings on rare occasions to oraynor receive blessings, but normally Druze is a very private religion, endogamous, like the Mandaeans or Parsismof India, only even more so.

Thus, if you want to claim my conjecture is utterly false, feel free to install yourself as the new Emperor of Romania.  I think that would be awesome and I would probably support you.  You could create a grand army of Romanians, Moldovans and Bulgarians and march on Constantinople, with Russian assistance, to take it from the Turks.  However, such a career choice would be exceedingly difficult, and it would require you to take the rather evil step of arresting every single Paulician and subjecting them to harsh interrogation, while ransacking theirnhouses for evidence, and in that venture my support for your reign as Augustin I would end.  I also daresay that if you were able to overthrow the democratically elected governments of three or four countries, if we include Armenia, Georgia, or Moldova, to the mix, you would have more important things to do with your time in order to keep your new empire afloat.

So with that, I will close by saying "All Hail Augustin I, King and Emperor of Romania and Protector of the Black Sea," while maintaining, at the risk of exile from your lands, that you still cannot logically disprove my theory without resorting to the most extreme measures described above.  But you can dismiss it as unlikely, which is what I usually do.

For example, I cannot positively disprove your claims about the early church as they are not falsifiable, but I can hold them to be unlikely, a separate topic which I shall,address presently.
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #49 on: September 25, 2017, 12:48:30 AM »
Paulicians don't exist anymore. End of story.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #50 on: September 25, 2017, 03:45:47 AM »
 
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.

Since when is Timişoara in Bulgaria?
can you read? There are ethnic Bulgarian RC of supposedly Paulician ancestry living in Banat. But Paulicianism isn't a religion they still practice.

As I said before:

Gnostics are famed for their ability to dissimulate.  It is even a commandment in some Gnostic sects, later adopted by Gnostic-influenced Shia Sufi sects, to practice dissimulation, or takfir, in Arabic, vs. a useless martyrdom.  The Sufis are more willing to be martyred than the Gnostics, as a rule, but practice takfir when, for example, in the company of hardcore Salafis, to avoid conflict with other Muslims.  Conversely, the Gnostics, including the Valentinians and the Manichaeans, viewed martyrdom as useless.   Furthermore, they were and are highly syncretic, incorporating aspects of various belief systems while retaining their core doctrines of salvation through secret knowledge.

In this respect, they are like more extreme versions of Pietist evangelical Protestants, who tolerate wide doctrinal divergences, even, in the case of Rev. Billy Graham, recognizing everyone from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Mormons as Christian, while adhering to their core doctrines of salvation through a specific belief in Christ (sola fide).  The similiarity is quite striking.

Gnostics went way beyond the Pietists however, in terms of what they would adapt to.  Thus, we have the factual existence of non-Christian Gnostic sects as well as Christian ones, for example, the non-Christian Mandaeans and Jewish Gnostic sects, and other Gnostic sects which are thought to predate the incarnation of our Lord by a century, ultimately being the religious implementation of a synthesis of Pythagoreas, Plato and the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, hence the similiarities between the later religion of Neo-Platonism, a major competitor with Christianity in the fourth century, and Gnosticism (it does not appear that Plato intended to start a religion, any more than Socrates, Aristotle or Xenophon; he was merely a philosopher, but his ideas concerning a demiurge, a Logos, a world of ideals and of forms, and the real world, influenced both Gnosticism and the philosophical terminology used by the Fathers of Christianity to explain doctrine; Roman Catholic scholasticism leans more heavily on Aristotle, whereas Plato seems to be narrowly preferred over Aristotle among the early Fathers, in what Rome erroneously calls the Patristic era).   In contrast, I should note the evidence suggests that Zoroaster and Pythagoras were men of religion from the start, false or failed prophets, who were later acclaimed for the excellence of their philosophy apart from their religion, in much the same way that Thomas Jefferson and other Unitarians sought to create a false dichotomy between the philosophical teachings of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, such as our belief in the miracles performed by and the deity of our Lord.

So, we have Gnostics who exist today, but are not Christian, and ancient record of pre-Christian and other non-Christian Gnostic sects, as well as other religious traditions which are either Gnostic or Gnostic-influenced (Sufi Islam, for instance, Alevism, the Yazidi and Yarsani faith, the Druze of Lebanon).

  We also have writings that say that that Gnostics did not value martyrdom, and routinely used a combination of dissimulation and syncretism to hide their faith.  And these writings are backed up by intact archaeological evidence.  More than evidence, but a complete, intact building!   An 11th century Manichaean temple in China, disguised as a Buddhist temple, but identified on close examination as Manichaen owing to the subtle difference between its idols of Buddha (really, of Mani), and those found in every other Buddhist temple, other carvings and engravings, and ancient inscriptions surrounding the temple which use double entendre and subtleties, that a Buddhist would not see them as Manichean, but anyone familiar with Manichaeanism would recognize them.

As far as we know, this temple is no longer used by Manichees but by Buddhists, but here too we face the problem of dissimulation.  Also, Mani proselytized to Buddhists by sending a disciple named or renamed Buddha to the orient, just as he sent a Hermes to Egypt and a Thomas to Syria.  Who is to say that the worshippers at that temple claiming to be Buddhist are referring to that Buddha and not Siddharta Guatama?  Also, the Buddhist and Manichaean religions are very similiar, both believing in reincarnation, salvific knowledge and the need to escape the prison of what Manicaeans believe is the material world, and what Buddhists regard as a shared delusion, or Samsara.  And the status of an Arahant ontologically in many of the more optimistic Buddhist sects is clearly analogous to the state of a Gnostic or Manichaean upon entering the Pleroma, the Realm of Light as Mani called it.

So who is to say these Paulicians, who by the way, have been genetically and otherwise proven to be descendants of the Armenian Paulicians, are not still practicing aspects of their Christian faith while syncreticqlly integrating it and dissumlating it into Roman Catholicism?  The Ecclesia Gnostica uses a mass and lectionary derived from the Roman Catholic; the true Paulicians might go further.  The actual surviving Gnostic teachings, if they still exist, and I suspect they do, would be passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, at a mature age and under an oath of secrecy, probably around the time of Confirmation, as a sort of doctrinal correction to or expansion of Catholicism, to include Gnostic elements, and an instruction of strict silence to outsiders and denial of these doctrines.

We know from the Gnostic literary corpus and from the archaeological record, and indeed, the surviving Gnostic sects including the Mandaeans, who seek out Christian churches when abroad and cut off from their people, that dissimulation, syncretism or integration into other religions, is their preferred mode of dealing with existential threats.

Doubtless as Armenia and Georgia were on the verge of Russian invasion, some Paulicians fled to Bulgaria, and then travelled to Romania, becoming Roman Catholic, because, I propose, the Catholics knew much less about them than the Orthodox, and thus would be less likely to notice any crypto-Paulicians, and also lacked the power to persecute in the Ottoman Empire in Roumelia (Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans) wielded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but were rather a separate millet protected by the French.  An ideal situation.

I would also not be surprised if Paulicianism survives underground in Armenia still, among that population, with similiar dissimulation and syncretism.

Of course, unfortunately, the continued survival of these sects would be very difficult to prove.  My conjecture would be hard to falsify as it would require basically interrogating every single member of the Paulician ethnic group, and conducting extensive and oppressive searches of their residences, and doing the same thing to the worshippers at the crypto-Manichaean Buddhist temple in China.   Thus I cannot call it a theory, or rather, I can, but prefer not to, because while my hypothesis is falsifiable, and thus meets the criterion of legitimate theories, falsifying it would require acts of violent persecution and disruption to entire ethnic groups.   There is no ethical way to falsify it, thus, I call it a conjecture.

However, if one were able to become close friends or mary into a Paulician family, and probe with some intensity, if even one person encounterednone family with an ancient Paulician knowledge, that would confirm it; ideally that family could be persuaded to open up about their religious views rather than keeping them hidden, because in Bulgaria and Romania, at least, the European Convention on Human Rights is in effect and would preclude the kinds of persecution they would historically have faced.

There is also one other aspect to the lack of ethical or easy falsifiability of my conjecture, if you view it as a theory and insist on positively disproving it, the only way you could do so would be to overthrow the Romanian government, install yourself as Emperor Marshal Augustin I of Romania, Bulgaria and Armenia, reconstitute the Securitate, and place all of the Paulicians under arrest.  I assume you do not want to do that; thus, you cannot deny the possibility of my conjecture or proclaim it outright impossible, logically speaking; the most you can do is consider it highly unlikely, and I can accept such a critique, since I myself think that it is neither probable nor improbable, but merely a possibility, based on the writings of the Gnostics and Manichees, the Archaeological record, and ehat we knoe about their behavior from encounters with surviving contempory Gnostics, the Mandeans, and semi-Gnostics like the Druze.

It is also worth noting that because of the esoteric nature of Gnostism, extreme secrecy was and is commonly an element in their faith.  Thus, despite the Druze religion being extant for a thousand years, we still have no idea exactly ehat they believe; occasionally a Druze of the Gnostic caste of priestly elders has apostasized, and avoided being killed, and leaked tidbits of information, but we are far from having the entire picture.  We do not know, for example, ehat exactly goes on inside certain Druze houses of worship into which only the Gnostic caste are allowed to enter (the caste of followers or adherents, who includes the secular ruler of the Druze in Lebanon, who is also an avid enthusiast of marijuana, amusingly enough, do gather outside these buildings on rare occasions to oraynor receive blessings, but normally Druze is a very private religion, endogamous, like the Mandaeans or Parsismof India, only even more so.

Thus, if you want to claim my conjecture is utterly false, feel free to install yourself as the new Emperor of Romania.  I think that would be awesome and I would probably support you.  You could create a grand army of Romanians, Moldovans and Bulgarians and march on Constantinople, with Russian assistance, to take it from the Turks.  However, such a career choice would be exceedingly difficult, and it would require you to take the rather evil step of arresting every single Paulician and subjecting them to harsh interrogation, while ransacking theirnhouses for evidence, and in that venture my support for your reign as Augustin I would end.  I also daresay that if you were able to overthrow the democratically elected governments of three or four countries, if we include Armenia, Georgia, or Moldova, to the mix, you would have more important things to do with your time in order to keep your new empire afloat.

So with that, I will close by saying "All Hail Augustin I, King and Emperor of Romania and Protector of the Black Sea," while maintaining, at the risk of exile from your lands, that you still cannot logically disprove my theory without resorting to the most extreme measures described above.  But you can dismiss it as unlikely, which is what I usually do.

For example, I cannot positively disprove your claims about the early church as they are not falsifiable, but I can hold them to be unlikely, a separate topic which I shall,address presently.
to this I can only say: can you prove you're not a witch ?

The fact could be ascertained readily with the use of sophisticated interrogation techniques.  Only the most skilled intelligence operators can resist advanced Pavlovian-based positive reinforcement interrogation, and only for so long.  "Enhanced interrogation," e.g. Torture, or negative conditioning based on the psychology of BF Skinner, is a bit less reliable innthat it tends to produce false positives, because people will say whatever they can hinknof to stop the pain. Although the controlled use of fear can be effective in provoking people to "come clean" and elaborate on the entire story.

Ordinary people cannot resist standard police interview tactics.  For example, if you watch either COPS or the vast array of daschcam and bodycam videos available on the Net, which are somewhat more interesting as police behave differently without a TV crew filming them, you will see a pattern wherein a suspect might be stopped for a traffic violation, and an officer notices in plain view the pasengers in the back seat of the car trying to conceal drugs.   Subsequently drugs might be found in constructive posession of the front seat passenger.   Initially, these passengers will deny it, and blame each other; the front seat passenger will finger the driver, and the driver will claim evidence.  However, fearful of jail, the driver will admit the two passengers in the rear seat are drug dealers, and the front seat passenger is a girlfriend of sorts, perhaps a "professional" or semi-professional, e.g. a relationship not quite legit, and for purposes of a date, and all that entails, with the "girlfriend", he had to take her to a neighborhood where she purchases drugs, he thinks.   The girlfriend will cop out to intending to purchase but claim the deal was not done and possibly attempt to either exonerate or implicate the boyfriend, but it doesn't matter.  The police can click her via constructive posession for the drugs, and conspiracy to purchase drugs, which is a felony; they might go after the driver for conspiracy and seize his car, or perhaps if he has a clean record, et him go with a warning to associate with more reliable friends.  Meanwhile, the police have the two rear seat passengers not only on posession, and obstruction (attempting to conceal the drugs), but also via the statement of the girlfriend and the driver, enough in all probability to charge them with trafficking, especially if on searching them, they come up with more drugs.

Now, in my case, you could use police tactics like this, or a polygraph (which is a bit of a lark; polygraph testers are able to elicit the truth, but the machines are basically a prop designed to create artificial fear, which manifests itself whenever a specific question that spooks the person being examined is asked, resulting in a change in vital signs, and then, the real breakthrough tends to come after the test is ostensibly over and the sensors removed from the subject), or various forms of more sophisticated interrogation, but any of these methods could confirm within a reasonable level of access the history of my connection with the occult (specifically, Inwas never a witch, but Inwas, like many Protestant youths, a member of DeMolay, a Freemasonry-affiliated youth organization for boys, designed to prepare them for becoming freemasons, a tradition I have since come to regard as an occult religion).

You could also positively verify that I was not outwardly practicing witchcraft by searching my property, my computers, and so on, and placing me on 24/7 surveillance.  You would note that Infrequently read about occult or heretical Gnostic sects and cults due to my interest in heresiology, but you would not see any outward practice of withcraft or fined any paraphenalia associated with their religion.  And as far as mental, inward practice of the occult goes, unless I am an extremely well trained operative of the CIA, GRU or MI-6, which I am not, rudiemntary interrogation tactics of the sort used by police or a polygraph test would likely be sufficient.  Especially now that polygraphs include pressure sensors on the seats, which detect the most common form of cheating historically used,

It would be incredibly expensive and time consuming, but yes, you ascertain with a high level of certainty if you had sufficient money to spend and the means to compel my cooperation.

One thing I suggest is that if you are leaning towards skepticism of Orthodoxy, you study the definition of a theory, the logical fallacies, and epistemology in detail, because these are the turning points for debates concerning atheism, Biblical skepticism, and liberal Christianity vs. Orthodoxy.  Some general philosophy might help as well; I suggest Aristotleian logic, non-Aristotelian logic, and the philosophical writings or Maimonides, Avicenna, Thomas Awuinas, Spinoza, Rene des Cartes, Emmanuel Kant, and Hegel, as well as more recent work, including modernist philosophy, for example, the school of general semantics, and postmodern philosophy like Deconstructionism, as articulated by Jacques Derida and others.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 03:46:37 AM by Alpha60 »
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This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #51 on: September 25, 2017, 04:12:23 AM »
 A good philosophical starting point would be Karl Popper, who dealt with epistemology, the philosophy of history, philosophy of science, and related issues, and as a counterpart, the pioneering 1978 criticism of his philosophy of history published by the late Burleigh T. Wilkins, Has History Any Meaning?

That would set you up well for the role of a cynic or skeptic of the Orthodox faith, or conversely, a defender of it, if for instance you were to condescend to read a book like The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and set aside the various scandals and peccadilloes in your own Romanian church, which are in many if not most cases the byproducts of Securitate agents infiltrating the priesthood and hierarchy and remaining entrenched because they like the job, and/or poor catechesis due to the severe restrictions imposed on religious education by the Romanian Church and most other Orthodox Churches during the Communist era.  The Moscow Patriarchate has, in my opinion, a similiar problem, and it will be another generation before the communist infilitrators succumb to attrition and catechism of the laity reaches pre-WWII levels in the Warsaw Pact, or pre-Revolutionary levels in Holy Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.  I think Georgia is leading the pack in this process of de-contamination from the toxicity of communism.

In the interim, look to the Slavonic diaspora, to Greece, to Antioch, to Cyprus and to Alexandria for answers, or refer to ancient and useful texts, for example, the highly prized Romanian edition of the Philokalia, which contains additional material not found in the Greek original and is not translated into English.  Would that I could read and write Romanian just so I could read that.  It alone would be worth the price of learning your language, but, alas, I seem to be somewhat of a monoglot, able to slightly parse Latin and use a collection of Latin and French phrases, but otherwise limited to English and computer programming languages, which amount to dialects of written English with specialized grammar and syntax.  You are greatly blessed in being able to read the Philokalia in its Romanian form, and if I were you, I would read The Orthodox Way, then the Philokalia, understood as a monastic text and not as prescriptive for laity, but rather, filled with useful information on the art of prayer, and then do philosophy, starting with Aristotle, Avicenna, Aquinas, Maimonides, Popper and Wilkins, a group who will collectively develop the kind of critical thinking required for razor sharp skepticism or apologetics, depending on whether you find yourself accepting the Orthodox idea apart from the sordid realities of Church corruption, or rejecting it.  To the end of understanding corruption in the church, a prominent bishop whose name escapes me wrote a very good book, On The Priesthood, which devotes the opening chapters to differentiating between the good pastor and the evil pastor, and explaining why in service to the passions the former can degenerate into the latter.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #52 on: September 25, 2017, 04:56:40 AM »
Paulicians don't exist anymore. End of story.

This pithy quote would be commendable, except it is untrue; the Paulicians still survive as an ethnic group primarily in Armenia and Romania. 

The only real question is whether or not they secretly practice their religion using the Gnostic principles of dissimulation and syncretism; you cannot readily falsify this conjecture, even though it is falsifiable, with extreme difficulty.  You could however validate it if you found just one family posessing, for instance, a complete copy of The Key of Truth.

I do not, as stated previously, consider their continued existence probable, but I can also not declare it improbable, because the nature of the Gnostic religion was always to go underground or embrace syncretism when threatened with persecution.  This is why there were so few Gnostic martyrs compared to Orthodox-Catholic martyrs or Hebrew-Judaizing Christian martyrs, such as the Ebionites.  Even in Manichaenism, where the martyrdom of Mani was viewed as an event similiar to the crucifixion of Christ, martyrdom was not actively sought; the Manichee had work to do in liberating trapped light from creation in an effort to ascend to the Kingdom of Light, the spiritual Pleroma, instead of being reincarnated and remaining trapped on Earth under the rule of the Archons and the Demiurge, who even had a false heaven.

We have comprehensive evidence that proves these tenets of Gnostic behavior, so the possibility of Paulicianism surviving cannot be entirely discounted.  It might well be highly unlikely, but it cannot be positively ruled out by any practical means, and it is my opinion that scholars of religion have in general ignored these people and their beliefs.

There are several fascinating religions of the Middle East and related ethnic groups basically ignored by acedemia.  The Iberian Caucasian Christians, who are re-establishing their church and who apparenrly constitute the preferred allegiance of the 7200 residents of the sole Christian town in Azerbaijan.  The Yazidis, barely studied despite the fascinating aspects of their faith.  The Mandaeans, who only started receiving serious attention a few years ago, with the Iraq War causing a mass exodus from their homeland.  The Yarsanis, about whom we know very little other than they are a Kurdish religion with superficial similiarities to the Yazidis, who also believe in reincarnation, and unlike the Yazidis, will accept a convert.  Or even the Samaritans, whose liturgy was translated into English decades ago, but where a distinct, detailed and richly illustrated history in several volumes, documenting the history of this ancient sect, which 100 years ago was on the brink of extinction with just 120 members, but which has since recovered to around 800 or so, whose High Priest (Kohanim Gadol) is the oldest continually maintained office in the world, dating back to 320 BC.  There is a wealth of Samaritan literature in their own dialects of Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, most of which remains untranslated, and there is evidence of the borrowing of Islamic theological concepts by the Samritans around 800 AD.

For that matter, even in Christendom, the lack of proper scholarship of Arabic Christian literature of the Copts, Antiochians and Syriac Orthodox, and the Melkites, is infuriating; only recently, thanks to the likes of Sebastian Brock and other Aramaic scholars have we received deep access to Syriac Christian writings.  Even more infuriating is the lack of research into the Ethiopian church; the study and translation of Ethiopic Christian and Jewish literature in Ge'ez, Amharic and related languages is nothing less than infuriating.  Fortunes have been wasted by the likes of Ehrman, Crossan and Karen King pursuing the ideological dead end of Gnosticism, when the writings and beliefs of the most obscure and most pious surviving Oriental church, whose members seem sustained miraculously through prayer in the midst of horrifying famines, and have the energy in all that suffering to spend 24 hours standing in prayer in their rock hewn churches and ancient monasteries, remain neglected by academia, untranslated and undocumented.

This in turn, as Antonious Nikolaus can attest, has resulted in the mass proliferation of ridiculous falsehoods concerning that church.

And because of this idea, which hasn't really been exhaustively verified, that Paulicianism is dead, and due to a general lack of interest, Gnostic "scholars" prefer to sit in their offices composing fictions driven by wishful thinking reimagining the Gnostics as feminist, sexuallly open, liberal alternatives to an equally imaginary Patristic Catholic boogeyman founded by Sts. Ignatius, Pokycarp and Irenaeus, determined to crush the teachings of our Lord that threatened male hegemony and patriarchal Roman culture; when instead Elaine Pagels could get on a plane to Romania and talk to Paulicians about their family history, their conversion to Gnosticism, et cetera, searching for clues as to whether or not the old religion still influences or shapes their identity beyond their name and genetics.  I think it probably does, at least to some extent, even if it is not actually practiced but is entirely extinct as a religious worldview, just as Germanic Paganism of Northern Europe and the Celtic-Anglo Saxon-Norman-Greco Roman Hellenic synthesis influences in a substantial way the English speaking world's perception of Christianity, sometimes in a manner that is misleading.

That would be interesting scholarship, but it would also be hard, and would involve talking to lots of patriarchal second world people perceived to have traditional, backwards and uninteresting worldviews, people of the sort the academic set claim to love, but when push comes to shove, many of whom prefer to interact with only through the safe intermediary of the writings of other scholars.

So, because that is hard work, expensive and with an elusive goal unlikely to further the neo-Gnostic political agenda of undermining traditional Christian values, I can understand why some scholars prefer to remain in their offices fantasizing about what Gnosticism was and writing scurrilous fictions  about early church fathers such as St. Ignatius or St. Irenaeus, in violation of the ancient and time honored principle of common decency, de mortuis nihil si bonum (of the dead, only the good is to be mentioned).
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 04:59:19 AM by Alpha60 »
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

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This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #53 on: September 25, 2017, 05:09:08 AM »
By the way, just out of curiosity, I should be very interested to know which works of Gnostic apocrypha and of Gnostic scholarship, and also, scholarship and examples of other New Testament apocrypha, such as the Protoevangelion of St. James, which is uncanonical but substantially agrees with Orthodox doctrine concerning the nativity of the Theotokos, individual members have read.  For example, who has read G.R.S. Mead, or the Gospel of Thoms, or the Panarion of St. Epiphanius, or works and translations of Mandaean literature?

Or, on the non-heretical side, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Protoevangelion of James, or the Correspondance between our Lord and King Agbar of Edessa?

I think the Panarion would be a good place to start.

If the OP, my dear friend Porter, or other members desire it, I can produce an index of surviving New Testament and Gnostic apocrypha, as well as important ancient heresiological works and important contemporary scholarship on the subject, along with reviews and descriptions.

I can also post the epitomes describing in general terms the beliefs of each heresy discussed by St. Epiphanius or St. John of Damascus; the latter simply copied the epitomes from the Panarion and used them to index those sects which were mostly extinct in his time, referring interested readers to St. Epiphanius for more information, while writing original works on newer heresies such as Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm, and Islam, which he classified as a Christian heresy and not as a discrete religion.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2017, 05:49:54 AM »
Quote
And because of this idea, which hasn't really been exhaustively verified, that Paulicianism is dead, and due to a general lack of interest, Gnostic "scholars" prefer to sit in their offices composing fictions driven by wishful thinking reimagining the Gnostics as feminist, sexuallly open, liberal alternatives to an equally imaginary Patristic Catholic boogeyman founded by Sts. Ignatius, Pokycarp and Irenaeus, determined to crush the teachings of our Lord that threatened male hegemony and patriarchal Roman culture; when instead Elaine Pagels could get on a plane to Romania and talk to Paulicians about their family history, their conversion to Gnosticism, et cetera, searching for clues as to whether or not the old religion still influences or shapes their identity beyond their name and genetics.  I think it probably does, at least to some extent, even if it is not actually practiced but is entirely extinct as a religious worldview, just as Germanic Paganism of Northern Europe and the Celtic-Anglo Saxon-Norman-Greco Roman Hellenic synthesis influences in a substantial way the English speaking world's perception of Christianity, sometimes in a manner that is misleading.

That would be a neat project, maybe not for Pagels but for somebody, but what do you mean by the bold?
Quote
The breath of Thine Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets and scientists. The power of Thy supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Thy laws, who reveal the depths of Thy creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of Thee. How great art Thou in Thy creation! How great art Thou in man!
Akathist Hymn- Glory to God for All Things

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2017, 11:38:36 AM »
Quote
And because of this idea, which hasn't really been exhaustively verified, that Paulicianism is dead, and due to a general lack of interest, Gnostic "scholars" prefer to sit in their offices composing fictions driven by wishful thinking reimagining the Gnostics as feminist, sexuallly open, liberal alternatives to an equally imaginary Patristic Catholic boogeyman founded by Sts. Ignatius, Pokycarp and Irenaeus, determined to crush the teachings of our Lord that threatened male hegemony and patriarchal Roman culture; when instead Elaine Pagels could get on a plane to Romania and talk to Paulicians about their family history, their conversion to Gnosticism, et cetera, searching for clues as to whether or not the old religion still influences or shapes their identity beyond their name and genetics.  I think it probably does, at least to some extent, even if it is not actually practiced but is entirely extinct as a religious worldview, just as Germanic Paganism of Northern Europe and the Celtic-Anglo Saxon-Norman-Greco Roman Hellenic synthesis influences in a substantial way the English speaking world's perception of Christianity, sometimes in a manner that is misleading.

That would be a neat project, maybe not for Pagels but for somebody, but what do you mean by the bold?

Well, consider the unscriptural and misleading word "Hell", for example.  Or Pascha being called Easter, causing dimwitted iconoclasts to accuse us of worshipping Ostara, the Celtic analogue to the West Semitic Ishtar (who we also apparently worship with Christmas trees).   ::)

It would be hypothetically better if the entire church had been given the ability to learn how tomspeak effortless New Testament Koine Greek and Byzantine Greek, but alas, we were not.  So what each ethno-linguistic group in the Orthodox Church has to do, when they lack a singular, integral national church to fo it for them, like the Church of Romania or the Armenian Apostolic Church, is to understand how their language and culture affected their reception of the Roman Catholic faith,  and how this in turn can be compensated for to ensure a cleaner reception of Orthodoxy (for example, we render what the Roman Rite translates as saeculae saeculorum not as "World without end" but "unto the ages of ages," because Scripture indicates this age and this world will end, amd we wish to avoid confusion; we tend to use alternative and more precise terminology for the feasts in formal publications, for example, the Nativity Fast and the Feast of the Nativity instead of Advent and Christmas, which are easier to understand and also disconnect the Orthodox celebration of the birth of our Lord from the commercial grotesquerie which seems to exist chiefly to promote retail sales).

I still call Advent Advent and sometimes even call Pentecost Whitsunday, mainly for my own amusement, and the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord and the Purification of the Theotokos I almost always call candlemass.  However, our church has accomplished something to be proud of, in the form of a new liturgical and theological terminology which compensates for the age and lost context and obscured connotations of the older terms, which made great sense around the year 1400, but now are basically arbitrary words, not unlike Pascha imstead of Passover, but devoid of the ancient tradition amd historical context that gives those words value.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2017, 06:24:22 PM »
Paulicians don't exist anymore. End of story.

This pithy quote would be commendable, except it is untrue; the Paulicians still survive as an ethnic group primarily in Armenia and Romania. 

The only real question is whether or not they secretly practice their religion using the Gnostic principles of dissimulation and syncretism; you cannot readily falsify this conjecture, even though it is falsifiable, with extreme difficulty.  You could however validate it if you found just one family posessing, for instance, a complete copy of The Key of Truth.

Yeah, and you can't readily verify that there is not a unicorn on the dark side of the moon. It doesn't mean anyone should take the possibility seriously.

And because of this idea, which hasn't really been exhaustively verified, that Paulicianism is dead, and due to a general lack of interest, Gnostic "scholars" prefer to sit in their offices composing fictions driven by wishful thinking reimagining the Gnostics as feminist, sexuallly open, liberal alternatives to an equally imaginary Patristic Catholic boogeyman founded by Sts. Ignatius, Pokycarp and Irenaeus, determined to crush the teachings of our Lord that threatened male hegemony and patriarchal Roman culture; when instead Elaine Pagels could get on a plane to Romania and talk to Paulicians about their family history, their conversion to Gnosticism, et cetera, searching for clues as to whether or not the old religion still influences or shapes their identity beyond their name and genetics.  I think it probably does, at least to some extent, even if it is not actually practiced but is entirely extinct as a religious worldview, just as Germanic Paganism of Northern Europe and the Celtic-Anglo Saxon-Norman-Greco Roman Hellenic synthesis influences in a substantial way the English speaking world's perception of Christianity, sometimes in a manner that is misleading.

That would be interesting scholarship, but it would also be hard, and would involve talking to lots of patriarchal second world people perceived to have traditional, backwards and uninteresting worldviews, people of the sort the academic set claim to love, but when push comes to shove, many of whom prefer to interact with only through the safe intermediary of the writings of other scholars.

So, because that is hard work, expensive and with an elusive goal unlikely to further the neo-Gnostic political agenda of undermining traditional Christian values, I can understand why some scholars prefer to remain in their offices fantasizing about what Gnosticism was and writing scurrilous fictions  about early church fathers such as St. Ignatius or St. Irenaeus, in violation of the ancient and time honored principle of common decency, de mortuis nihil si bonum (of the dead, only the good is to be mentioned).

Elaine Pagels is a historian, not an anthropologist. Besides, there are serious methodological errors in thinking that even if there were still Paulicians today, it would be beneficial to assume that they know what Paulicianism in the past was like. Scholars don't ask modern Catholics what it was like to be a Catholic in the 13th century. It was a completely different experience, AND arguably a very different faith.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #57 on: September 26, 2017, 02:37:34 PM »
We probably know more about dead Gnostic religions of the second century than we know about the Paulicinsnin the 19th; I would personally be more interested in their present status.  Also, in finding an intact copy of the Key of Truth.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #58 on: September 26, 2017, 02:41:27 PM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #59 on: October 02, 2017, 06:14:08 PM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.

Doubtful, considering the time differential.  You are actually making recourse to the Landmark Baptist "Trail of Blood" theory, and a related SDA idea, which declared the true Protestant Baptists always existed, having been continually persecuted by the Catholics from the start.

In this theory, the Paulicians conveyed the Protestant faith to the Bogomils of Bosnia, who somehow managed to pass it over the Alps to the Albigensians and Cathari, who in turn passed it on to the Vaudois, who in turn passed it, depending on which timeline you read, either through the Lollards and John Wycliffe and/or Jan Hus and/or directly to the Anabaptists of Germany who then passed on the true teaching to the British baptists and/or the early Sabbatarian Baptists who coalesced with the Millerite-Adventist movement.

Of course, the problem is that none of these religions looked anything like each other, let alone contemporary Baptism or Seventh Day Adventism; the former contains some psuedo-Gnostic ideas, but these were clearly extrapolations of the Lutheran error of Sola Fide; the SDAs lack this, not truly adhering to the five Solas despite making a great pretense of it.

I have debated very disagreeable Adventists who insist the Bogomil-inspired Albigensians and Waldensians were just like SDAs today; Sabbatarian, and so on, and who just outright deny the Catholic polemics as lies, ignoring the fact that these polemics, and in particular, the missionary activity of St. Dominic (who unlike his successors, did not institute the Auto da Fe, but rather formed the Order of Preachers with the intent of converting the Albigensians; at some point, one of his successors, about 60 years after his death, decided this was pointless, and the Dominicans should instead implement an Inquisition and simply kill them off); material particularly intended to convert members of these sects.

I could easily venerate St. Dominic but not his successors.  In fact, I have come to like him more than St. Francis of Assisi.

~

Now, speaking of Catholic saints and the Middle Ages, the ultimate Christian fanfic is probably, sadly, the Golden Legend.   I say sadly, because some of the miracles in it probably happened, and much of it is very beautiful, and as a work of literature, it brilliantly constructs a hagiographic narrative to take the reader through the Christian choir of saints, showing Christ alive in the world.  A lovely story in it unsubstantiated by other sources (as far as I know) is St. Jerome and the Lion.

It also contains a few darker stories and items of a propagandist nature favoring that particular local church which produced it.

However, I think as a literary work, it is a delight, even if it is less reliable than the official Synaxaria used in the Orthodox Churches, or the Roman Martyrology (which itself I suspect is probably less reliable than our Synaxaria, but ecumenical reconciliation will require splicing the two together).
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #60 on: October 03, 2017, 09:15:29 AM »
However, I think as a literary work, it is a delight, even if it is less reliable than the official Synaxaria used in the Orthodox Churches, or the Roman Martyrology (which itself I suspect is probably less reliable than our Synaxaria, but ecumenical reconciliation will require splicing the two together).

What a bizarre assumption. Why would anyone require such a thing? Nobody wants Frankenmartyrology.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #61 on: October 03, 2017, 01:07:38 PM »
However, I think as a literary work, it is a delight, even if it is less reliable than the official Synaxaria used in the Orthodox Churches, or the Roman Martyrology (which itself I suspect is probably less reliable than our Synaxaria, but ecumenical reconciliation will require splicing the two together).

What a bizarre assumption. Why would anyone require such a thing? Nobody wants Frankenmartyrology.

Clearly, "nobody" is hyperbole.  Someone definitely wants it.
Please don't project meta-debates onto me.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #62 on: October 03, 2017, 03:42:11 PM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.
Wouldn't it be the exact contrary?
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #63 on: October 03, 2017, 08:32:18 PM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.
Wouldn't it be the exact contrary?

I think this is a sound reply to most of Augustin's theories.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #64 on: October 04, 2017, 02:02:09 AM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.
Wouldn't it be the exact contrary?

I think this is a sound reply to most of Augustin's theories.

Probably be a good one to yours, too.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2017, 09:54:32 AM »
The Bulgarian paulicians are more likely of Bogumil origins.
Wouldn't it be the exact contrary?

I think this is a sound reply to most of Augustin's theories.
;)
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