Directions in New Testament Methods

By Martin C. Albl; Paul R. Eddy et al. | Go to book overview

THE TREATISE ON THE RESURRECTION AND 1 CORINTHIANS 15

PAULETTE SKIBA, BVM

The Treatise on the Resurrection is a Christian Gnostic work found among the documents of the Nag Hammadi Library. Written probably towards the end of the second century, it shows the influence of both Valentinus and Middle Platonism. This document stands as an important witness to the struggles within the early Christian community and the development of Christian orthodoxy. The author of the Treatise describes the resurrection as a spiritual phenomenon that occurs immediately at death but that believers can also consider as an already present reality. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul, arguing against such an understanding of the resurrection, is anxious to dispel doubt about the reality of bodily resurrection which occurs at the coming of Christ at the end of time. Each of these authors possesses an understanding of the resurrection which is based on a Christology, cosmology, and anthropology that are not mutually reconcilable.


THE TREATISE ON THE RESURRECTION

Though only a small section of the Treatise has been preserved, scholars have found sufficient evidence within the text to conclude that its author was influenced by the gnostic system of Valentinus, who had taught in Alexandria and then in Rome during the middle of the second century ( Peel, 53). Valentinus was succeeded by his students and the school became very influential.

In the Valentinian system there is one perfect and pre-existent Aeon (in gnosticism the term "aeon" was mythologized and used to designate categories of divine or semi-divine beings [ Jonas, 53-54]). This Aeon, called Fore-Father and Abyss, dwelled in repose with Ennoia (called also Thought or Silence). Projecting outside of himself, Abyss began all things. Impregnating Ennoia, Nous (Mind) was produced. He alone was

-53-

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