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The Apocalypse of Paul (NHC V,2) as a Valentinian Baptismal Liturgy of Ascent

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image of Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies

The Apocalypse of Paul (NHC V,2), a second-century Valentinian text, imagines Paul’s progression up to the tenth level of heaven. Not only is this a reference to the third-person account in 2 Corinthians, but also a clear indication of the baptismal liturgy in the Valentinian text as the audience joins Paul after the third heaven and ascends through the upper levels while reciting the visionary tale in the first person after their initiation. Ultimately, this paper shows how the second-century Valentinian memory of Paul is a coalescence of his mystical religiosity and authority and the imagistic ritual practices of the Valentinians. Methodologically, this paper follows a traditional historical and text critical approach, augmented with social memory theory and cognitive ritual studies. In this paper, it is argued that the Apocalypse of Paul integrates of the memory of Paul and his ascent according to 2 Corinthians with contemporary Valentinian ritual practices.

Affiliations: 1: Rice University


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