Sie sind hier: Startseite Abstracts Conversion from Physic to Pneumatic and vice versa: Moving in and out of a Gnostic Community

Conversion from Physic to Pneumatic and vice versa: Moving in and out of a Gnostic Community

Coptic Gnostic sources give small information about Christian esoteric communities who wrote them. However, some texts show clues about their social concerns, such as their relations with other Christians or persecution of their members. As esoteric groups, their identity is based on their own divine providence and specific salvation, which is usually achieved in life through initiatory rites. At the end of several texts, their secret character and necessity of being kept from outsiders is explicitly dictated.

But, was it possible to suffer a leak? The amount of information heresiologists had and its similarity with Coptic texts show how accurate their sources were sometimes, even former or current members of Gnostic communities. They underline how attractive those teachings were for some people because of their secret practices and mysteries, and Coptic texts do too. Consequently, some of them consider individuals who may afterwards abandon their communities and how could it make their esoteric teachings to be public and questioned the salvation any initiate could have already achieved.

This proposal focuses on the presence of Gnostic initiates who betrayed their fellows’ confidence stealing their knowledge and how those people are presented in Coptic sources. Heresiologists’ descriptions will be also considered since, for example, Epiphanius of Salamis himself had taken part of a libertine community of Gnostics, under his own account. Complex mysteries of Pístis Sophía describe the destiny of those people and polemic Coptic texts such as Second Treatise of the Great Seth call them ‘enemies’. Esoteric communities as Gnostic ones suffered movement inside and created methods to assimilate the paradox of betrayal after performing rituals of salvation in life and, if necessary, to uproot them from former initiates.