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Overcoming Gnosticism: Hans Jonas, Hans Blumenberg, and the Legitimacy of the Natural World

Overcoming Gnosticism: Hans Jonas, Hans Blumenberg, and the Legitimacy of the Natural World In 1984, about a decade before his own murder, the Romanian scholar of religion Ioan Culianu complained of a more widespread, if decidedly less grisly form of assault.1 The gnostics, he declared in a moment of high jocularity, had "taken hold of the whole world, and we were not aware of it. It is a mixed feeling of anxiety and admiration, since I cannot refrain myself from thinking that these alien body-snatchers have done a remarkable job indeed."2 Though offered in jest, Culianu's designation "alien body-snatchers" quite accurately sums up what has remained since 1934 the leading view of gnosticism as a delimited, identifiable phenomenon. In that year appeared the first monumental volume of Gnosis und spätantiker Geist (Gnosis and the Spirit of Late Antiquity) composed by the young Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas as a dissertation under Martin Heidegger and the theologian Rudolf Bultmann. Over the next sixty years Jonas returned again and again to the movement as he defined it. Above all, gnosticism had as its guiding principle the notion of das Fremde. The term includes in its linguistic domain not only "the alien," by which it is most usually translated, but its cognates as well: the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Ideas University of Pennsylvania Press

Overcoming Gnosticism: Hans Jonas, Hans Blumenberg, and the Legitimacy of the Natural World

Journal of the History of Ideas , Volume 64 (4) – Feb 26, 2003

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 The Journal of the History of Ideas, Inc.
ISSN
1086-3222
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Abstract

In 1984, about a decade before his own murder, the Romanian scholar of religion Ioan Culianu complained of a more widespread, if decidedly less grisly form of assault.1 The gnostics, he declared in a moment of high jocularity, had "taken hold of the whole world, and we were not aware of it. It is a mixed feeling of anxiety and admiration, since I cannot refrain myself from thinking that these alien body-snatchers have done a remarkable job indeed."2 Though offered in jest, Culianu's designation "alien body-snatchers" quite accurately sums up what has remained since 1934 the leading view of gnosticism as a delimited, identifiable phenomenon. In that year appeared the first monumental volume of Gnosis und spätantiker Geist (Gnosis and the Spirit of Late Antiquity) composed by the young Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas as a dissertation under Martin Heidegger and the theologian Rudolf Bultmann. Over the next sixty years Jonas returned again and again to the movement as he defined it. Above all, gnosticism had as its guiding principle the notion of das Fremde. The term includes in its linguistic domain not only "the alien," by which it is most usually translated, but its cognates as well: the

Journal

Journal of the History of IdeasUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Feb 26, 2003

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