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On Jesus as a Gnostic

By Aidan Kelly

Why write about him at all? Because, like it or not, he is the protagonist in the story of Western civilization. You know about him; you have a theory about him, even if it’s that you should ignore him. But, as with most topics, it’s better to be well-informed than to be ignorant.

Before 1945, the few people interested in the Gnostics generally thought they were heretical interlopers whose teachings had nothing to do with the genuine Christian message. The Nag Hammadi documents, which iclude some (not all) of the writings by some of the other versions of Christianity before about AD 400, have shown that theory to be inadequate, but few have thought it to be entirely wrong. However, what if it was? What if the essence of Gnosticism went back to Jesus himself, but was ignored in what became the mainstream form of the Christian movement? Would Jesus make any sense as being a Gnostic? I now think he does, in fact, more sense than is provided by the traditional theologies about him.

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