Rethinking the Gospel of truth: a study of its eastern Valentinian

University dissertation from Uppsala : Uppsala universitet

Abstract: Already in the second century, the Church Father Irenaeus warned against reading the Gospel of Truth that was used among the so-called Valentinians. For more than one and a half millennium GospTruth was lost until in the 1950s a Coptic text was discovered that could be a translation of that work both loved and hated.Since the discovery scholars have tried to determine whether the Coptic text represents the one mentioned by Irenaeus, and whether its author might even be the famous Gnostic teacher Valentinus of Alexandria.The text is very complex and the present study the first attempt to use text linguistic tools for analysing GospTruth. A new and sometimes radically different translation is presented, and an hypothesis of date of redaction and authorship is put forward. Previously Gnostic texts have usually been read in light of the reports of the Church Fathers. In this study an attempt is made to detect topics that were interesting for the Valentinians and that have so far been neglected. The analysis presents a new ethical debate among early Christians regarding the Biblical law, and a hypothesis of how the author of GospTruth wanted his or her community to act towards the neighbouring communities is elaborated. In addition my investigation draws attention to an interpretation of the crucifixion that seems to have distinguished Valentinians from others.For a long time scholars depicted the Gnostics as evil opponents to the church. During the last decades this view has been criticized, and today many scholars abandon the term Gnostic altogether, and instead only use the term Christian. In my opinion such an approach risks to conceal the unique features of Valentinianism, and the results of the present study will hopefully shed new light on a branch of Christianity which still is relatively unexplored.

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