SUGGESTED SOCIOLOGICAL THEMES IN THE STUDY OF GNOSTICISM BY HENRY ALAN GREEN There has been a noticeable absence of a sociological perspective in the study of Gnosis and Gnosticism. * Although as early as 1963 Kurt Rudolph called for a sociological analysis with special emphasis placed on the socio-economic causes of Gnosticism,l it was until the Messina Colloquium in 1966 that a scholar trained in social anthropology pre- sented a paper entitled? "Some Notes on a Sociological Approach to Gnosticism".2 In this paper E. Michael Mendelson posed a number of sociological questions but unfortunately left them unanswered. Never- theless, the participants of the Colloquium jointly agreed upon the need for more sociological research. Proposal Six stated that "the Colloquium expresses the hope that further study will deepen the ... sociological aspects of the movements of Gnosticism".3 Other scholars more recently also have advocated sociological studies. These include, for example, Th. P. van Baaren who has suggested research into the consequences of Gnostic belief systems on everyday life4 and Petr Pokorny who has recommended an examination of the social background and environment of the Gnostics.5 Yet in spite of these recommendations I have found only one trained sociologist who
Vigiliae Christianae – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1977
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