This post is the second post in a series on the “Gnostic Paul”– that is, Paul perceived by certain Gnostic thinkers– on Galatians. For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.

In this series of posts, we have been exploring the version of Paul presented by Elaine Pagels in her book The Gnostic Paul. Dr. Pagels reconstructs– using a combination of academic research and original texts– how “gnostic” thinkers (even though that word is loaded) may have perceived the apostle Paul. We’ll refer to this Paul as the “Gnostic Paul”, to indicate that this is not intended to be a discussion of historicity, but rather how certain early Christians perceived Paul. The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels

Specifically, we’ve been diving into Galatians. We’ve already covered, in Part 1, how the Gnostic Paul saw himself as a pneumatic- a distinct kind of Christian from the apostles– and the conflict this created when Peter (a “psychic” Christian) expected Paul to hold himself to standards that Peter wasn’t willing to be held to.

Part 2 dove into the specifics of the Gnostic Paul’s tirade. Paul argued that pneumatic Christians were justified through God but psychic Christians were justified through the Demiurge. This has really practical applications.

Here in Part 3, we’re going to pick up in Galatians 3 (and moving into Galatians 4), unpacking the next stage of his argument: Gnostic atonement theory, being an heir to God or to the Demiurge. Ready to dive in? Click below to continue reading!

Paul and Gnostic Thinkers-

Did you know that some ancient gnostics, such as those today called Valentinians, considered Paul to be primary source of their theology? In what is perhaps professor Elaine Pagel’s best work, The Gnostic Paul, she explores the perspective of these early Christians writing in the second century, who thought very differently than how most approach Christianity today. “Gnostic” can mean many different things, and it’s unlikely that many (if any) ancient Christians branded “gnostic” by heresiologists would have self-identified as such, but let’s stick with the concept for now as we explore some different perspectives. In this post, we’ll explore Romans 1 by using Pagel’s work as our guide.

The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!