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{{short description|Common Greek noun for knowledge}}{{other uses}}{{see also-text|Noesis (phenomenology)}}{{Gnosticism}}{{Esotericism}}Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge ((wikt:γνῶσις|γνῶσις), gnōsis, f.).ENCYCLOPEDIA, Ramelli, Ilaria L. E., 2018, Gnosis/Knowledge, Hunter, David G., van Geest, Paul J. J., Lietaert Peerbolte, Bert Jan, Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, Leiden and Boston, Brill Publishers, 10.1163/2589-7993_EECO_SIM_00001440, 2589-7993, BOOK, Porter, Stanley E., Stanley E. Porter, 2016, What Do We Mean by Speaking of Paul and Gnosis/Knowledge? A Semantic and Frequency Investigation,weblink Porter, Stanley E., Yoon, David, Paul and Gnosis, Leiden and Boston, Brill Publishers, Pauline Studies, 9, 7–22, 10.1163/9789004316690_003, 978-90-04-31668-3, 2016009435, 147727033, The term was used among various Hellenistic religions and philosophies in the Greco-Roman world.BOOK, May, Gerhard, 2008, Part V: The Shaping of Christian Theology - Monotheism and creation,weblink Mitchell, Margaret M., Margaret M. Mitchell, Young, Frances M., Frances Young, The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1: Origins to Constantine, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 434–451, 452–456, 10.1017/CHOL9780521812399.026, 9781139054836, BOOK, Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism,weblink 2001, A&C Black, 978-0-567-08640-2, 2, ENCYCLOPEDIA, Williams, Michael, Encyclopædia Britannica, Gnosticism,weblink 20 July 1998, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Edinburgh,weblink 4 January 2021, live, 12 April 2021, It is best known for its implication within Gnosticism, where it signifies a spiritual knowledge or insight into humanity's real nature as divine, leading to the deliverance of the divine spark within humanity from the constraints of earthly existence.BOOK, Ehrman, Bart D., Bart D. Ehrman, 2005, 2003, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, Christians "In The Know": The Worlds of Early Christian Gnosticism,weblink Oxford, Oxford University Press, 113–134, 10.1017/s0009640700110273, 978-0-19-518249-1, 2003053097, 152458823, BOOK, Brakke, David, 2010, The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity,weblink Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 18–51, 9780674066038, j.ctvjnrvhh.6, 169308502,


Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun which means "knowledge" or "awareness."Liddell Scott entryγνῶσις, εως, ἡ,A. seeking to know, inquiry, investigation, esp. judicial, "τὰς τῶν δικαστηρίων γ." D.18.224; "τὴν κατὰ τοῦ διαιτητοῦ γdeetr." Id.21.92, cf. 7.9, Lycurg.141; "γ. περὶ τῆς δίκης" PHib.1.92.13 (iii B. C.).2. result of investigation, decision, PPetr.3p.118 (iii B. C.).II. knowing, knowledge, Heraclit.56; opp. ἀγνωσίη, Hp. Vict.1.23 (dub.); opp. ἄγνοια, Pl.R.478c; "ἡ αἴσθησις γ. τις" Arist.GA731a33: pl., "Θεὸς γνώσεων κύριος" LXX 1 Ki.2.3.b. higher, esoteric knowledge, 1 Ep.Cor.8.7,10, Ep.Eph.3.19, etc.; "χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν νοῦν, λόγον, γνῶσιν" PMag.Par.2.290.2. acquaintance with a person, "πρός τινα" Test. ap.Aeschin.1.50; "τῶν Σεβαστῶν" IPE1.47.6 (Olbia).3. recognizing, Th.7.44.4. means of knowing, "αἱ αἰσθήσεις] κυριώταται τῶν καθ᾽ ἕκαστα γ." Arist.Metaph.981b11.III. being known, "γνῶσιν ἔχει τι", = "γνωστόν ἐστι", Pl.Tht.206b.2. fame, credit, Hdn.7.5.5, Luc.Herod.3.IV. means of knowing: hence, statement in writing, PLond.5.1708, etc. (vi A. D.).V. = γνῶμα, Hsch. s. h. v. It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge (εἴδειν eídein), as with the French connaître compared with savoir, the Portuguese conhecer compared with saber, the Spanish conocer compared with saber, the Italian conoscere compared with sapere, the German kennen rather than wissen, or the Modern Greek γνωρίζω compared with ξέρω.BOOK, Elaine, Pagels, The Origin of Satan, 1995, 167, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, A related term is the adjective gnostikos, "cognitive",LSJ entry γνωστ-ικός, ή, όν,A. of or for knowing, cognitive: ἡ -κή (sc. ἐπιστήμη), theoretical science (opp. πρακτική), Pl.Plt.258b.c., etc.; τὸ γ. ib.261b; "ἕξεις γ." Arist.AP0.100a11 (Comp.); "γ. εἰκόνες" CA25p.475M.: c. gen., able to discern, Ocell. 2.7. Adv. "-κῶς" Procl.Inst.39, Dam.Pr.79, Ph.241.22. a reasonably common adjective in Classical Greek.In Perseus databank 10x Plato, Cratylus, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman 2x Plutarch, Compendium libri de animae procreatione + De animae procreatione in Timaeo, 2x Pseudo-Plutarch, De musica The terms do not appear to indicate any mystic, esoteric or hidden meaning in the works of Plato, but instead expressed a sort of higher intelligence and ability analogous to talent.Cooper and Hutchinson. "Introduction to Politikos." Cooper, John M. & Hutchinson, D. S. (Eds.) (1997). Plato: Complete Works, Hackett Publishing Co., Inc. {{ISBN|0-87220-349-2}}.{{blockquote|Plato The Statesman 258e|Stranger: In this way, then, divide all science into two arts, calling the one practical (praktikos), and the other purely intellectual (gnostikos).Younger Socrates: Let us assume that all science is one and that these are its two forms.Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 12 translated by Harold N. Fowler. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.}}In the Hellenistic era the term became associated with the mystery cults.In the Acts of Thomas, translated by G.R.S. Mead, the "motions of gnosis" are also referred to as "kingly motions".George Robert Stow Mead, and Stephen Ronan. The Complete Echoes from the Gnosis. London, Chthonios Books, 1987, p. 113.Irenaeus used the phrase "knowledge falsely so-called" ({{transliteration|grc|pseudonymos gnosis}}, from 1 Timothy 6:20)feminine nominative adjective for the title of his book On the Detection and Overthrow of False Knowledge, that contains the adjective gnostikos, which is the source for the 17th-century English term "Gnosticism"."Gnostic | Origin and meaning of the name Gnostic by Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2021-07-24

Comparison with epignosis

The difference and meaning of epignosis () contrasted with gnosis is disputed. One proposed distinction is between the abstract and absolute knowledge (gnosis) and a practical or more literal knowledge (epignosis). Other interpretations have suggested that 2 Peter is referring to an "epignosis of Jesus Christ", what J. B. Lightfoot described as a "larger and more thorough knowledge". Conversion to Christianity is seen as evidence of the deeper knowledge protecting against false doctrine.BOOK, Green, Michael, 2 Peter & Jude, 1987, Eerdman's, 70, 9780802800787,weblink


File:Lion-faced deity.jpg|thumb|right|150px|A lion-faced, serpentine deity found on a Gnostic gem in Bernard de MontfauconBernard de MontfauconGnosticism originated in the late 1st century CE in non-rabbinical Jewish and early Christian sects.{{sfn|Magris|2005|pp=3515–3516}} In the formation of Christianity, various sectarian groups, labeled "gnostics" by their opponents, emphasised spiritual knowledge (gnosis) of the divine spark within, over faith (pistis) in the teachings and traditions of the various communities of Christians.BOOK, Layton, Bentley, Bentley Layton, 1999, Prolegomena to the Study of Ancient Gnosticism,weblink Ferguson, Everett, Everett Ferguson, Doctrinal Diversity: Varieties of Early Christianity, New York City, New York and London, Garland Publishing, Inc, Recent Studies in Early Christianity: A Collection of Scholarly Essays, 106–123, 0-8153-3071-5, Gnosticism presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable God, and the Demiurge, "creator" of the material universe.BOOK, Kvam, Kristen E., Schearing, Linda S., Ziegler, Valarie H., 1999, Early Christian Interpretations (50–450 CE),weblink Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender, Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 108–155, 10.2307/j.ctt2050vqm.8, 9780253212719, j.ctt2050vqm.8, The Gnostics considered the most essential part of the process of salvation to be this personal knowledge, in contrast to faith as an outlook in their worldview along with faith in the ecclesiastical authority.In Gnosticism, the biblical serpent in the Garden of Eden was praised and thanked for bringing knowledge (gnosis) to Adam and Eve and thereby freeing them from the malevolent Demiurge's control. Gnostic Christian doctrines rely on a dualistic cosmology that implies the eternal conflict between good and evil, and a conception of the serpent as the liberating savior and bestower of knowledge to humankind opposed to the Demiurge or creator god, identified with the Hebrew God of the Old Testament. Gnostic Christians considered the Hebrew God of the Old Testament as the evil, false god and creator of the material universe, and the Unknown God of the Gospel, the father of Jesus Christ and creator of the spiritual world, as the true, good God.EB1911, Valentinus and the Valentinians, Bousset, Wilhelm, Wilhelm Bousset, 27, 852-857, x, In the Archontic, Sethian, and Ophite systems, Yaldabaoth (Yahweh) is regarded as the malevolent Demiurge and false god of the Old Testament who generated the material universe and keeps the souls trapped in physical bodies, imprisoned in the world full of pain and suffering that he created.BOOK, Litwa, M. David, 2016, 2015, Part I: The Self-deifying Rebel – “I Am God and There is No Other!”: The Boast of Yaldabaoth,weblink Desiring Divinity: Self-deification in Early Jewish and Christian Mythmaking, Oxford and New York City, New York, Oxford University Press, 47–65, 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190467166.003.0004, 9780199967728, 2015051032, 966607824, JOURNAL, Fischer-Mueller, E. Aydeet, January 1990, Yaldabaoth: The Gnostic Female Principle in Its Fallenness, Novum Testamentum, 32, 1, Brill Publishers, Leiden and Boston, 79–95, 10.1163/156853690X00205, 1568-5365, 0048-1009, 1560677, {{Catholic Encyclopedia |wstitle=Demiurge |volume=4 |first=John Peter |last=Arendzen}}However, not all Gnostic movements regarded the creator of the material universe as inherently evil or malevolent.BOOK, Logan, Alastair H. B., 2002, 2000, Part IX: Internal Challenges – Gnosticism,weblink Esler, Philip F., The Early Christian World, New York City, New York and London, Routledge, 1st, Routledge Worlds, 923–925, 9781032199344, For instance, Valentinians believed that the Demiurge is merely an ignorant and incompetent creator, trying to fashion the world as good as he can, but lacking the proper power to maintain its goodness. All Gnostics were regarded as heretics by the proto-orthodox Early Church Fathers.


In Mandaeism, the concept of manda ("knowledge", "wisdom", "intellect") is roughly equivalent to the Gnostic concept of gnosis.BOOK, Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen, The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, 0-19-515385-5, 65198443, Mandaeism ('having knowledge') is the only surviving Gnostic religion from antiquity.{{Citation|last=McGrath|first=James|title=The First Baptists, The Last Gnostics: The Mandaeans|website=YouTube-A lunchtime talk about the Mandaeans by Dr. James F. McGrath at Butler University|date=23 January 2015|url= |access-date=8 February 2022}}BOOK, {{google books, y, chWcZcYcyeQC, |title=Iconography of Religions: An Introduction|editor-last=Moore|editor-first=Albert C.|date=1977|publisher=Chris Robertson|isbn=9780800604882|last=Rudolph|first=Kurt|author-link=Kurt Rudolph|chapter=Mandaeism|volume=21|url-access=registration|url=}}{{rp|15}} Mandaeans formally refer to themselves as Nasurai (Nasoraeans) meaning guardians or possessors of secret rites and knowledge.WEB, Rudolph, Kurt,weblink MANDAEANS ii. THE MANDAEAN RELIGION, 3 January 2022, Encyclopaedia Iranica, 7 April 2008, BOOK, Drower, Ethel Stefana, The Haran Gawaita and the Baptism of Hibil-Ziwa, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1953, The Mandaeans emphasize salvation of the soul through secret knowledge (gnosis) of its divine origin.WEB,weblink Mandaeanism | religion, Britannica, 8 February 2022, BOOK, Drower, Ethel Stephana, E. S. Drower, 1960, The secret Adam, a study of Nasoraean gnosis, London UK, Clarendon Press, xvi, true,weblink 19 February 2014, 6 March 2014,weblink" title="">weblink dead, Mandaeism "provides knowledge of whence we have come and whither we are going."Deutsch, Nathaniel. (2003) Mandaean Literature. In The Gnostic Bible (pp. 527–561). New Seeds Books{{rp|531}}

Christian usage

Despite rejection of Gnosticism,{{citation needed|date=December 2022}} Christianity has sometimes used the term or derivatives of it in a laudatory rather than lambasting sense. {{see also-text|Eric Voegelin}}

New Testament

The New Testament uses the term γνῶσις (Strong's G1108, Transliteration gnōsis) 28 times.Lexicon: Strong's G1108 - gnōsis Blue Letter Bible

Patristic literature

The Church Fathers used the word gnosis (knowledge) to mean spiritual knowledge or specific knowledge of the divine. This positive usage was to contrast it with how gnostic sectarians used the word. Cardiognosis ("knowledge of the heart") from Eastern Christianity related to the tradition of the starets and in Roman Catholic theology is the view that only God knows the condition of one's relationship with God.Donald K. McKim, Westminster dictionary of theological terms, 1996, p. 39Gerald O'Collins, Edward G. Farrugia (2004). concise dictionary of theology p. 130 Publisher: T. & T. Clark Publishers {{ISBN|978-0-567-08354-8}}Boston College Catholic philosopher Dermot Moran notes that{{blockquote|...even in early Christianity, matters were complex, such that an anti-gnostic writer like Clement of Alexandria can regularly invoke the notion of gnostike theoria in a positive sense.WEB,weblink Gnostic Return in Modernity and Gnostic Apocalypse, Notre Dame, }}

Eastern Orthodox thought

Gnosis in Orthodox Christian (primarily Eastern Orthodox) thought is the spiritual knowledge of a saint (one who has obtained theosis)"Spiritual knowledge is the state of spiritual theoria, when one sees invisibly and hears inaudibly and comprehends incomprehensibly the glory of God. Precisely then comprehension ceases and, what is more, he understands that he does not understand. Within the vision of the uncreated Light man also sees angels and Saints and, in general, he experiences communion with the angels and the Saints. He is then certain that resurrection exists. This is the spiritual knowledge which all the holy Prophets, the Apostles, Martyrs, ascetics and all the Saints of the Church had. The teachings of the Saints are an offspring of this spiritual knowledge. And, naturally, as we said earlier, spiritual knowledge is a fruit of the vision of God. "THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL" Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos weblink" title="https:/-/">weblink or divinely-illuminated human being. Within the cultures of the term's provenance (Byzantine and Hellenic) Gnosis was a knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all and above all,St. Symeon the New Theologian in Practical & Theological Discourses, 1.1 The Philokalia Volume Four: When men search for God with their bodily eyes they find Him nowhere, for He is invisible. But for those who ponder in the Spirit He is present everywhere. He is in all, yet beyond all rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world.Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology And Methodology by George Metallinos"The scientist and professor of the knowledge of the Uncreated, in the Orthodox Tradition, is the Geron/Starets (the Elder or Spiritual Father), the guide or "teacher of the desert." The recording of both types of knowledge presupposes empirical knowledge of the phenomenon.The same holds true in the field of science, where only the specialist understands the research of other scientists of the same field. The adoption of conclusions or findings of a scientific branch by non-specialists (i.e. those who are unable to experimentally examine the research of the specialists) is based on the trust of the specialists credibility. Otherwise, there would be no scientific progress.The same holds true for the science of faith. The empirical knowledge of the Saints, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Mothers of all ages is adopted and founded upon the same trust. The patristic tradition and the Church's Councils function on this provable experience. There is no Ecumenical Council without the presence of the glorified/deified (theoumenoi), those who see the divine (this is the problem of the councils of today!) Orthodox doctrine results from this relationship."University of Athens - Department of Theology Gnosis is transcendental as well as mature understanding. It indicates direct spiritual, experiential knowledgeThe Philokalia Volume Four Palmer, G.E.H; Sherrard, Philip; Ware, Kallistos (Timothy). {{ISBN|0-571-19382-X}}, glossary, p. 434, Spiritual Knowledge (γνῶσις): the knowledge of the intellect (q.v.). As such, it is knowledge inspired by God, as insight (noesis; see also Noema) or revelational, intuitive knowledge (see gnosiology) and so linked with contemplation and immediate spiritual perception. and intuitive knowledge, mystic rather than that from rational or reasoned thinking. Gnosis itself is gained through understanding at which one can arrive via inner experience or contemplation such as an internal epiphany of intuition and external epiphany such as the theophany.In the Philokalia, it is emphasized that such knowledge is not secret knowledge but rather a maturing, transcendent form of knowledge derived from contemplation (theoria resulting from practice of hesychasm), since knowledge cannot truly be derived from knowledge, but rather, knowledge can only be derived from theoria (to witness, see (vision) or experience).Glossary of terms from the Philokalia p. 434 the knowledge of the intellect as distinct from that of the reason(q.v.). Knowledge inspired by God, and so linked with contemplation (q.v.) and immediate spiritual perception. Knowledge, thus plays an important role in relation to theosis (deification/personal relationship with God) and theoria (revelation of the divine, vision of God).The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, SVS Press, 1997. ({{ISBN|0-913836-31-1}}) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 2002. ({{ISBN|0-227-67919-9}}) p. 218 Gnosis, as the proper use of the spiritual or noetic faculty plays an important role in Orthodox Christian theology. Its importance in the economy of salvation is discussed periodically in the Philokalia where as direct, personal knowledge of God (noesis) it is distinguished from ordinary epistemological knowledge (episteme—i.e., speculative philosophy).



{{further|Ma'rifa|Fana (Sufism)}}Knowledge (or gnosis) in Sufism refers to knowledge of Self and God. The gnostic is called al-arif bi'lah or "one who knows by God". The goal of the Sufi practitioner is to remove inner obstacles to the knowledge of God. Sufism, understood as the quest for Truth, is to seek for the separate existence of the Self to be consumed by Truth, as stated by the Sufi poet Mansur al-Hallaj, who was executed for saying "I am the Truth" (ana'l haqq).BOOK, Nasr, Seyyed Hossain, The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition, 2007, Harper Collins, 30,

Jewish usage

Hellenistic Jewish literature

The Greek word gnosis (knowledge) is used as a standard translation of the Hebrew word "knowledge" ( {{transliteration|he|da'ath}}) in the Septuagint, thus:{{blockquote|The Lord gives wisdom [{{transliteration|he|ħokhma}}] (sophia), from his face come knowledge [{{transliteration|he|da'ath}}] (gnosis) and understanding [{{transliteration|he|tevuna}}] (synesis)"|Proverbs 2.6}}Philo also refers to the "knowledge" (gnosis) and "wisdom" (sophia) of God.New Testament studies: Society for New Testament Studies – 1981 "see also the more extensive analysis of gnosis in Philo by Hans Jonas, Gnosis und spatantiker Geist 11/1"

See also

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  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Magris, Aldo, 2005, Gnosticism: Gnosticism from its origins to the Middle Ages (further considerations), Jones, Lindsay, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd, New York City, New York, Macmillan Inc., 3515–3516, 978-0028657332, 56057973,
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