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As Below, So Above


Apocalypticism, Gnosticism and the Scribes of Qumran and Nag Hammadi


Questioning the scholarly assumptions regarding the “heretical” Nag Hammadi Library and the “apocalyptic” Dead Sea Scrolls, Fairen argues that they were not diametrically opposed, but represent a scribal reconfiguration of an Enochic worldview as a critique of foreign rule.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-082-8
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 15,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 202
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-082-8
$133.00
$79.80

Considering that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library were discovered within the same decade, it is unsurprising that scholars have compared the two collections. Despite being the products of different centuries and consisting of a wide range of diverse material, the potential these collections have to significantly alter reconstructions of Jewish and Christian history of Late Antiquity is staggering. Unfortunately, despite this potential, scholarly comparisons have done little beyond reinforce the self-defining discourses of “orthodoxy” and “heresy.”

In examining the academic discourse concerning these two collections, As Below, So Above argues that scholars have used the “Apocalyptic” Dead Sea Scrolls as a cipher for that which should or could be legitimately Christian and the “Gnostic” Nag Hammadi Library as that which should not or cannot be legitimately Christian. In particular, by incorporating a mythical narrative that sees Christianity as the inheritor of the salvation history of ancient Israel and as such “unique” in Late Antiquity, scholarship has created two binary categories; Apocalypticism as a way of linking “unique” Christianity to the prestigious pedigree of Judaism, and Gnosticism as a way to quarantine “heretical” expressions that threaten this uniqueness.

Exploring the socio-political context of the Ancient Near and Middle East under Greco-Roman rule, this book argues that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library are not diametrically opposed, but are linked by a shared and Enochic worldview that was used by marginalized elements of the Near and Middle Eastern scribal class who were reacting to the cessation of native rule and the lack of a royal patron under Hellenism.

Considering that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library were discovered within the same decade, it is unsurprising that scholars have compared the two collections. Despite being the products of different centuries and consisting of a wide range of diverse material, the potential these collections have to significantly alter reconstructions of Jewish and Christian history of Late Antiquity is staggering. Unfortunately, despite this potential, scholarly comparisons have done little beyond reinforce the self-defining discourses of “orthodoxy” and “heresy.”

In examining the academic discourse concerning these two collections, As Below, So Above argues that scholars have used the “Apocalyptic” Dead Sea Scrolls as a cipher for that which should or could be legitimately Christian and the “Gnostic” Nag Hammadi Library as that which should not or cannot be legitimately Christian. In particular, by incorporating a mythical narrative that sees Christianity as the inheritor of the salvation history of ancient Israel and as such “unique” in Late Antiquity, scholarship has created two binary categories; Apocalypticism as a way of linking “unique” Christianity to the prestigious pedigree of Judaism, and Gnosticism as a way to quarantine “heretical” expressions that threaten this uniqueness.

Exploring the socio-political context of the Ancient Near and Middle East under Greco-Roman rule, this book argues that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library are not diametrically opposed, but are linked by a shared and Enochic worldview that was used by marginalized elements of the Near and Middle Eastern scribal class who were reacting to the cessation of native rule and the lack of a royal patron under Hellenism.

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Contributor Biography

Glen Fairen

Glen J. Fairen is currently a Ph.D candidate at the University of Toronto. He received his M.A. from the University of Regina in 2006 under the direction of Dr. William E. Arnal.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Preface (page 7)
  • Acknowledgments (page 9)
  • Abbreviations (page 11)
    • 2.1 Introduction (page 17)
    • 2.2 The sui generis Prophets, sans pareil Jesus, and Apocalyptic Pre-WWI (page 21)
    • 2.3 Rudolph Bultmann and Apocalyptic Post-WWI (page 26)
    • 2.4 Apocalypse How? (page 29)
    • 2.5 Foreign Politics and the Egyptian Apocalypses (page 38)
    • 2.6 Hellenistic Syncretism and the Fourth Sibylline Oracle (page 45)
    • 2.7 Genre-ness and Zand-i Vohuman Yasn—the Centre Cannot Hold (page 48)
    • 3.1 Introduction (page 57)
    • 3.2 Apocalyptic-ness of the Dead Sea Scrolls (page 62)
    • 3.3 Let’s Talk About Sects—the Essenes and Sadducees (page 64)
      • A) Essenes (page 65)
      • B) Sadducees (page 68)
    • 3.4 The Judeo-Christianisation of the Scrolls (page 70)
    • 3.5 The Yahad and the Crucible of Apocalypticism (page 77)
    • 4.1 Introduction (page 81)
    • 4.2 Irenaeus and the Construction of Heresy (page 84)
    • 4.3 Adolph von Harnack and the Construction of Hellenism (page 86)
    • 4.4 History of Religions School and the Construction of Orientalism (page 90)
    • 4.5 Hans Jonas and the Construction of the Gnostic Religion (page 93)
    • 4.6 Elaine Pagels and the Inversion of the Gnostic Religion (page 95)
    • 4.7 Alastair Logan and the Gnostic Cult (page 98)
    • 4.8 The Scholarly Investment in Keeping Gnosticism as “Other” (page 105)
    • 5.1 Introduction (page 107)
    • 5.2 Variety is the Spice of Heresy (page 110)
    • 5.3 The Nag Hammadi’s “Anti-Canons” (page 113)
      • A) “History of Revelation” Arrangement (page 113)
      • B) Anti-canonical Format (page 114)
    • 5.4 The Syncretism of the Nag Hammadi Library (page 117)
    • 5.5 Thomas, John and Dualism (page 119)
      • A) Thomas and John: Material / Spirit Split (page 121)
      • B) Thomas and John: Gnosis (page 122)
      • C) Thomas and John: Docetic Christology and the Gnostic Redeemer Myth (page 124)
      • D) Thomas and John: Demiurgical speculation (page 128)
    • 5.6 The Orthodoxy of Thomas and the Gnosticism of John (page 129)
    • 6.1. Introduction (page 135)
    • 6.2 Prophets, Scribes and “Legitimate” Apocalypticism (page 141)
    • 6.3 The Scribal Class of the Ancient Near and Middle East (page 148)
    • 6.4 Scribal Apocalypticism and the Book of Watchers (page 151)
    • 6.5 The Book of Watchers within the Dead Sea Scrolls (page 156)
    • 6.6 Gnosticism and the Disenfranchisement of the Scribes (page 161)
    • 6.7 The Book of Watchers within the Nag Hammadi Library. (page 164)
  • Bibliography (page 183)
    • Ancient Sources (page 183)
    • Modern Sources (page 183)
  • Index of Subjects (page 195)
  • Index of Names (page 199)
  • Index of Ancient Texts (page 201)
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