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Spirit, Soul and Body in Nag Hammadi Literature: Distinguishing Anthropological Schemes in Valentinian, Sethian, Hermetic and Thomasine Texts

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image of Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies

A close analysis of the views on man in the Nag Hammadi texts reflects that the tripartite pattern distinguishing three elements in the human being (intellect or spirit, soul and body), even if majoritarian, is not the only one at work in the corpus: there is also a group of texts reflecting rather a bipartite scheme discriminating between soul and body only. Irrelevant though it may seem, this difference is seminal, since it not only implies a different psychology, or theory of the soul, but also a different cosmology, which in its turn also involves a dissimilar soteriology or theory concerning man’s salvation. The present study, the first in a series of five, provides a first and general approach that intends to establish the existence of these two differentiated anthropological patterns in the Nag Hammadi corpus. Following studies will offer a more detailed and separate analysis of the textual evidence, assessing the anthropological frameworks behind the different textual groups allegedly found in the corpus, namely the Valentinian, Sethian, Hermetic and Thomasine texts.

Affiliations: 1: University of Groningen


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