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Gnosticism in modern times
John the Baptist is a key figure in the religion, as an emphasis on baptism is part of their core beliefs. They are thought to be originally from Judea/Palestine and their anthropogeny appears Jewish and Gnostic. Mandaeans revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, and especially John the Baptist. Significant amounts of original Mandaean Scripture, written in Mandaean Aramaic, survive in the modern era. The primary source text is known as the Genzā Rabbā and has portions identified by some scholars as being copied as early as the 2nd–3rd centuries.
Prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 Gnosticism was known primarily through the works of heresiologists, Church Fathers who opposed those movements. These writings had an antagonistic bias towards gnostic teachings, and were incomplete. Several heresiological writers, such as Hippolytus, made little effort to exactly record the nature of the sects they reported on, or transcribe their sacred texts.
There is also the Qolastā, or Canonical Book of Prayer and the Mandaean Book of John (Sidra ḏ'Yahia). Manichaeism was founded by the Prophet Mani (216–276). Mani's father was a member of the Jewish-Christian sect of the Elcesaites, a subgroup of the Gnostic Ebionites. At ages 12 and 24, Mani had visionary experiences of a "heavenly twin" of his, calling him to leave his father's sect and preach the true message of Christ. In 240–41, Mani travelled to the Indo-Greek Kingdom of the Sakhas in modern-day Afghanistan, where he studied Hinduism and its various extant philosophies.
Gnosticism in modern times includes a variety of contemporary religious movements, stemming from Gnostic ideas and systems from ancient Roman society. Gnosticism is an ancient name for a variety of religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century CE. 200, the situation had changed. Christianity had become an institution headed by a three-rank hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons, who understood themselves to be the guardians of the only “true faith.” The majority of churches, among which the church of Rome took a leading role, rejected all other viewpoints as heresy. Deploring the diversity of the earlier movement, Bishop Irenaeus and his followers insisted that there could be only one church, and outside of that church, he declared, “there is no salvation.” Members of this church alone are orthodox (literally, “straight-thinking”) Christians.
It was an intellectually vibrant tradition, with an elaborate and philosophically "dense" form of Gnosticism. Valentinus' students elaborated on his teachings and materials, and several varieties of their central myth are known. It depicts creation in a series of emanations from a primal monadic source, finally resulting in the creation of the material universe.
Proponents of the view that Paul was actually a gnostic, such as Elaine Pagels, view the reference in Colossians as a term that has to be interpreted in a gnostic sense.
How many apocryphal gospels are there?
These books are called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because they were traditionally thought to have been written by Matthew, a disciple who was a tax collector; John, the "Beloved Disciple" mentioned in the Fourth Gospel; Mark, the secretary of the disciple Peter; and Luke, the traveling companion of Paul.
Whether he actually did teach secretly or not, we don't know otherwise. But the Gospel of Thomas claims to be this kind of secret teaching. In the Persian Empire, Gnostic ideas spread as far as China via the related movement Manichaeism, while Mandaeism is still alive in Iraq.
Some of these have left considerable traces on Christian traditions, including iconography. Thus, according to Meyer, it is clear that without Jesus, the rituals and mysteries mentioned in this gospel would have no context. Furthermore, according to Meyer, this text seems to follow the beliefs of the Valentinian Christian sect, a group that worshipped the Gnostic Christ, and is often linked to what is sometimes thought to be Valentinius' own text, the Gospel of Truth. There were early Christian groups, such as the Ebionites, that did not accept Paul's writings as a part of their canon. Marcion, on the contrary, treats the Catholic Church as one that 'follows the Testament of the Creator-God,' and directs the full force of his attack against this Testament and against the falsification of the Gospel and of the Pauline Epistles.
What was the goal of the Gnostics?
Different gnostics believed different things about the death and resurrection of Jesus. But some were people, whom we know as docetists, [who] believed that the death and suffering of Jesus were things that only appeared to happen, or if they happened, didn't really happen to the core of Jesus' spiritual reality.
So it would be ridiculous to tell the story of the early Christian movement as though the orthodox were, you know, power mad, and trying to destroy all diversity in the church. It's much more complicated than that. The sociologist Max Weber has shown that a religious movement, if it doesn't develop a certain institutional structure within a generation of its founder's death, will not survive. So it's likely, I think, that we owe the survival of the Christian movement to those forms that Irenaeus and others developed.
By the second century A.D., the mainstream Christian doctrine began to solidify with the exclusion of the Gnostics. One of the greatest issues dividing the Gnostics from their fellow Christian sects was the issue of Docetism, the assertion that Christ never died. As Gnostics believed the material world was evil, they refused to believe that Jesus was a fleshly incarnation. Instead, they claim he only appeared to have a physical form taken from this existence, thus he could never truly die.
Late 19th century
Dictionary of the History of Ideas. University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. "Commentary on the Articles of Faith".
- Christos Evangeliou has contended that Plotinus' opponents might be better described as simply "Christian Gnostics", arguing that several of Plotinus' criticisms are as applicable to orthodox Christian doctrine as well.
- While not much is known about this symbol, it appeared in the Gospel of Judas, found in the 1940s with a cache of holy texts hidden in Egypt.
- Jesus and several of his apostles, such as Thomas the Apostle, claimed as the founder of the Thomasine form of Gnosticism, figure in many Gnostic texts.
- Like others in the series, this very short introduction (137 pages of text) succinctly gives helpful entrées into the main apocryphal and Gnostic gospels, setting them in context and assessing their value.
For more on the gnostic texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, read this excerpt from Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels. Plus, read excerpts from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. “It was no mere school for the learned, disclosed no mysteries for the privileged, but sought to lay the foundation of the Christian community on the pure gospel, the authentic institutes of Christ. The pure gospel, however, Marcion found to be everywhere more or less corrupted and mutilated in the Christian circles of his time. His undertaking thus resolved itself into a reformation of Christendom.
In this lesson, learn about the Gnostics, a mysterious sect in early Christianity. We'll discuss their beliefs, including their version of creation and salvation, as well as symbols they used. René Guénon founded the gnostic review, La Gnose in 1909, before moving to a more Perennialist position, and founding his Traditionalist School.
180, wrote five volumes, entitled The Destruction and Overthrow of Falsely So-called Knowledge, which begin with his promise to set forth the views of those who are now teaching heresy . to show how absurd and inconsistent with the truth are their statements . you may urge all those with whom you are connected to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ.
The book is a collection of records about Jesus retrieved from the ancient monastreries of the Essenes and the Rosicrucian Order. Lewis allegedly went with a staff of researchers through Palestine and Egypt visiting holy sites and obtaining information. The book states that Jesus entered priesthood and secret priesthood and talks about the doctrines and secret facts about the resurrection. A preview of the book can be read on Amazon.
Nag Hammadi library
And to know oneself, they claimed, is to know human nature and human destiny. According to the gnostic teacher Theodotus, writing in Asia Minor (c. ), the gnostic is one has come to understand who we were, and what we have become; where we were… whither we are hastening; from what we are being released; what birth is, and what is rebirth. The history of Gnosticism is certainly a wild tale of secret religious knowledge called Gnosis, conflict with rival sects, buried treasure, and the Inquisition!
From The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. Reprinted by permission of the author. These diverse texts range, then, from secret gospels, poems, and quasi-philosophic descriptions of the origin of the universe, to myths, magic, and instructions for mystical practice. About the dating of the manuscripts themselves there is little debate. Examination of the datable papyrus used to thicken the leather bindings, and of the Coptic script, place them c.
There is no verifiable evidence that there is a Supreme Being nor is there verifiable evidence there is not a Supreme Being. We can only state with assurance that we do not know. Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.).
What do the Gnostics believe?
Gnosis refers to knowledge based on personal experience or perception. In a religious context, gnosis is mystical or esoteric knowledge based on direct participation with the divine. In most Gnostic systems, the sufficient cause of salvation is this "knowledge of" ("acquaintance with") the divine.
Clearly, this stood in extreme opposition to Church's doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection as a sacrifice to free humans from sin. Gnosticism was a religion and philosophical movement active between 200 BCE and 400 CE. Based on the idea of Gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge, it focused on salvation through the discovery and fostering of secret, inner knowledge. To Gnostics, this world is a corrupt realm of suffering and evil created by a being who was not the true God but thought he was. Their goal, through Gnosis, was to wake a divine spark within themselves and gain the sacred knowledge needed to be free of this world after death.
What is the opposite of Gnosticism?
Gnosticism is an ancient name for a variety of religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century CE. The Mandaeans are an ancient Gnostic sect still active in Iran and Iraq with small communities in other parts of the world.