No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins

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9781565639447: No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins
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Where, when, and how did Gnosticism arise? What exactly is Gnosticism? There is no scholarly consensus on these questions. No Longer Jews reviews the theories about Gnosticism and its sources and details Smith’s hypothesis, offering an excellent introductory text on Gnosticism.

In addition to examining the development of Gnosticism, this book addresses issues of New Testament development and the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism as they interact in the late first and early second centuries.

Carl Smith starts with a lucid and incisive survey of the secondary materials on Gnosticism and explains various understandings of the development of Gnosticism. He defines Gnosticism by its unique anti-cosmic dualism between material things (evil), vs. spiritual things (good) and also explores both Gnosticism’s probable close relationship with Judaism and its rejection of the Creator God of the Old Testament.

After an extensive survey of the issues, Smith provides his own conclusions: first, that an early second-century dating for Gnosticism is most consistent with the historical details of the period; and second, that Egypt following the Jewish Revolt under Trajan (115–117 CE) provides a ripe context for Gnosticism’s most unique and definitive innovation, the rejection of the cosmos and the Creator God of the Jews. He argues that individuals closely connected with Judaism—whether Jews, Jewish Christians, or gentile God-fearers—may have responded to the rebellion by rejecting the God and religion that inspired this apocalyptic and messianic ferment. "No longer Jews," they were now free to follow a higher God and way of life.

"The date of the origin of Gnosticism is still much disputed, even after the publication of the Nag Hammadi texts. There is, however, a general recognition by scholars of the significant Jewish elements in Gnosticism, though often used polemically, and a consensus that Gnosticism probably emerged in Egypt. Carl Smith presents a persuasive case for identifying the historical context which may have induced disillusioned Jews to contribute to the origins of Gnosticism in the revolt of the Jews in Cyrene and Egypt under Trajan. Even those who may not agree with Smith's conclusions will appreciate the lucid manner in which he has expounded the issues and the evidences for emergent Gnosticism." —Edwin Yamauchi, Professor, Ancient History, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

"Carl Smith has revisited a contentious and important question that has profound implications not only for our understanding of Gnostic origins, but its relationship to Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity. Smith's readable book carefully reviews the competing theories and proposes a judicious explanation that fits well a particular time and place in history. I recommend it enthusiastically!" —Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies, Acadia Divinity College

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About the Author:

Carl B. Smith II, PhD, is Associate Professor of History and Religion at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Review:

"Well structured and compelling, this book is recommended for academic libraries, especially those with strong collections in religion and theology." -- Library Journal

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9780801047701: No Longer Jews: The Search for Gnostic Origins

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ISBN 10:  0801047706 ISBN 13:  9780801047701
Publisher: Baker Academic, 2004
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