Recent Ph.D. Dissertations Concerning Gnosis or Gnosticism


Title: Gnosis, theophany, theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria's appropriation of his background
Author(s): Choufrine, Arkadi
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2001 Pages: 00353
Institution: Princeton Theological Seminary; 0182 Advisor: Adviser Kathleen E. McVey Source: DAI, 62, no. 03A (2001): p. 1072 Standard No: ISBN: 0-493-16505-3

The thesis includes three case studies of Clement's constructive-theological method. By thrice going back to an idea characteristic of one of the three respective intellectual traditions integral to Clement's Alexandrian background (pre-Orthodox Christian, Hellenistic Jewish, Platonico-Aristotelian academic), and then forth to his appropriation of it, the thesis also indirectly lays bare the inner structure of his synthesis. At its center is the Christ-event in its two aspects of divine revelation and human deification, affecting the immanence, historicity, and finitude which distinguish the human condition from the divine. Insofar as the earliest Alexandrian Christian intellectuals--Basilides and Valentinus--grounded their idea of gnosis in the Christ-event, epitomized by the Jordan-theophany and participated sacramentally in baptism, Clement stands in continuity with them in a way he does not with Philo or the Hermetica. The first part of the thesis traces this continuity. The second part deals with Clement's appropriation of Philo's idea of God's presence as Light in the Old Testament theophanies. Clement draws upon Philo's respective interpretations of this Light as the pre-temporal Day of the creation account and the Logos operative in creation. Thus he reclaims the God revealed at the Jordan and in Hades as none other than the world's Creator. Clement transforms the teaching of his Alexandrian Christian predecessors in construing: (1) baptismal illumination--as the deifying incarnation of this Logos-Light with which the neophyte is generated "from above"; (2) the true Gnostic--as the one who strives for an ever greater unity with this Light, thus approximating the Human Being in God's "image and likeness." The final part deals with Clement's idea of deification as a process the end (telos) of which is infinite (un-ending). By thus binding his "realized" eschatology with the Aristotelian ethical ideal of an action desirable for its own sake, he transforms the Middle Platonist interpretation of human telos as "assimilation to God." This corrects Antonie Wlosok's and Salvatore Lilla's perspectives, while retaining their stereoscopic quality. SUBJECT(S) Descriptor: RELIGION, HISTORY OF THEOLOGY PHILOSOPHY Accession No: AAI3006842

Title: Early Jewish mystical elements and body topoi as cyphers for understanding the mystery of bodily transformation in Colossians
Author(s): Cairns, Helen Dorothy Degree: D.Litt. et Phil. Year: 2000 Pages: 00001 Institution: University of South Africa (South Africa); 0596 Advisor: Promoter H. R. Lemmer Source: DAI, 62, no. 01A (2000): p. 206

Abstract: A postmodern hermeneutic incorporating socio-rhetorical and traditio-historical-phenomenological and formal communicative approaches is espoused. Situating the Letter to the Colossians in its wider Umwelt and alongside other Jewish mystical and apocalyptic writings enabled a synchronic and diachronic perspective of underlying traditions that contributed to the configuration of Colossians. Traditions concerning bodily transformation lead to a hermeneutic utilising body topoi thereby facilitating an emic and empathic understanding of the rhetorical situations in Colossians. The multi-layering of body topoi provide a key to understanding the mystery encapsulated in this letter. The writer concludes that Gnosticism was neither the opponent nor an influence in Pauline theology. New Testament scholarship can benefit from interdisciplinary dialogue especially in the field of Nag Hammadi and other ancient Jewish writings. SUBJECT(S) Descriptor: RELIGION, BIBLICAL STUDIES

Title: The hidden scrolls: Is there correlation between Qumran and Nag Hammadi?

Author(s): Gross, Margo (Naomi) Degree: M.A. Year: 2000 Pages: 00135 Institution: California State University, Dominguez Hills; 0582 Advisor: Adviser James Jeffers Source: MAI, 39, no. 02 (2000): p. 368 Standard No: ISBN: 0-599-94946-5

Abstract: This thesis finds correlation between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi codices in their shared use of Jewish apocalyptic literature. The research consisted of study on the subjects of Qumran, Nag Hammadi, early Christianity, Gnosticism, apocalyptic literature, and Rome. Gnosticism, however, deifies Jesus, something anathema to Judaism, whereas Essenes continued to look for a human messiah. Some Gnostic sects, rejected the whole of Jewish teaching and use only Paul's writings, and the Gospel of Luke, as scripture. Pauline doctrine, was Gnostic in its postulation of a pre-existing Redeemer/god, with the addition of the Pagan concept of the dying and rising Savior/god incarnate turning Jesus into a version of human sacrifice. This also was anathema to Judaism. This latter interpolation of Paul's was also rejected by the Gnostics in favor of a docetic Christ. This expounds the central basis for the historic separation of Christianity from Judaism and the later expulsion of the Gnostics from Orthodox Christianity. SUBJECT(S) Descriptor: RELIGION, HISTORY OF Accession No: AAI1401577

Title: Dying to know: A new translation and anagogic investigation of Aleksandr Blok's "The Rose and the Cross" (Russia)

Author(s): Gharavi, Lance Degree: Ph.D. Year: 2000 Pages: 00335 Institution: University of Kansas; 0099 Advisor: Chairs John Gronbeck-Tedesco Maria Carlson Source: DAI, 61, no. 08A (2000): p. 2998 Standard No: ISBN: 0-599-91703-2

Abstract: The decades surrounding the turn of the century in Russia, often referred to as the Religious Renaissance or the Silver Age, was a time of great spiritual adventurism. As political forces from the left heatedly discussed political and social revolution, the Symbolist movement emerged as a religious, philosophical, and artistic dialogue aimed at manifesting a revolution of the spirit. The theatre and drama of Russian Symbolism was part of this dialogue and bears the marks of the panoply of mystic and occult traditions that swirled through the atmosphere of the Silver Age. Yet, few critics have taken this into account when addressing the works of Russian Symbolist drama. Fewer still have directly addressed the ways in which these unorthodox spiritual sensibilities are manifest in the dramaturgy of Aleksandr Blok. This dissertation attempts to address this gap in scholarship through an anagogic investigation of Blok's 1913 play, The Rose and the Cross . Drawing on sources from Early Christian and Hebrew literature as well as a variety of mystic and occult traditions--including the traditions of Gnosticism, Alchemy, the Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, and Hermeticism--this investigation uncovers the mystic elements secreted within the play's symbols, characters, and actions. This investigation re-visions the play, not as a tragic fairy-tale, but as a triumphant and esoteric mystery drama. The theoretical and methodological framework of the dissertation examines the nature of the symbol in theatre and literature. Further, it provides a model for theatre as symbolic activity that differentiates it from representational activity. I draw a distinction between the symbol and allegory to suggest that, in a symbolic theatre, theatrical activity becomes a kind of alchemical rite of transformation. The dissertation also includes a new, annotated translation of The Rose and the Cross. Throughout the translation, I have sought to render Blok's language in a manner that is literally accurate while attempting to capture Blok's lyric style. My primary concern, however, has been to translate the play in a manner that is highly performative and stageworthy. SUBJECT(S) Descriptor: THEATER LITERATURE, SLAVIC AND EAST EUROPEAN Accession No: AAI9985111

Title: Apokatastasis in the work of Czeslaw Milosz: Poetic restoration of wholeness (Poland)

Author(s): Jastremski, Kimberly Ann Degree: Ph.D. Year: 2000 Pages: 00194 Institution: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 0153 Advisor: Adviser Madeline G. Levine Source: DAI, 61, no. 04A (2000): p. 1437 Abstract: This dissertation proposes a reading of the Polish-Lithuanian poet which links his self-diagnosed dualism to a desire for poetic apokatastasis, a return to original wholeness for the object of the poem and, ultimately, for the poet himself. By focusing his literary interpretation of the quotidian on the divine resolution of the dialectical relationship between matter and spirit, Milosz conducts, in both his poetry and prose, an ongoing redefinition of apokatastasis which is much broader than the original theological term. In this dissertation I provide an overview of the direct references to apokatastasis in Milosz's poetry and outline the set of meanings I contend apokatastasis acquires in Milosz's oeuvre, which set as a whole I term "poetic apokatastasis." Four phases in Milosz's experience of faith in the possibility of poetic apokatastasis are distinguished, phases which are reflective of Milosz's own interpretation of the Ages of Man such as are found in mystical traditions of Gnosticism and Kaballah, and in the works of metaphysicians like Emanuel Swedenborg and William Blake, among others: (1) the original, Paradise phase where pre-katastatic wholeness is the natural state of being; (2) the Fall, or exile, or "Ulro," which represents the move from wholeness to katastasis; (3) "Spectrehood," or the time of wandering the earth, in search of a salve for the despair of exile, of katastasis, and a way back to Paradise; and (4) apokatastasis, the return to Paradise, where harmony between all four states is attained. The four chapters of this dissertation thus approach the four phases of Milosz's faith in poetic apokatastasis through: (1) analysis of his public exploration, in his prose writing, of questions of faith and, (2) the activation of that faith as reflected in both his poetry and his genre experimentation. Within each of the four chapters I examine Milosz's own intellectual presentation, as expressed in The Land of Ulro and various essays, of the phase in question. I continue with a close reading of several poems, taken from throughout the poet's oeuvre, which transform the intellectual substance of his arguments into artistic transmissions of that spiritual state.