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The Interpretation of Knowledge

At a Glance
Treatise
Genre:
(5/5) *****
Reliability of Dating:
(5/5) *****
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 150-200 A.D.

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Einar Thomassen writes, "That the outlook of the text is Gnostic is clear from the first page: 'The world [is the place of] unbelief [and death]' (1,36-38). The Gnostic tenor is also evident in a statement such as: 'While we were in the darkness, we used to call many people "father," because we were ignorant of the true Father. And this is the greatest of all sins' (9,35-37). More precisely, the tractate can be assigned to a Valentinian homiletic tradition on account of numerous parallels with other Valentinian texts: the distinction between faith and persuasion (p. 1) is also found in the Treatise on Resurrection; the statement that the Father knew his limbs from the beginning and will reveal them at the end (p. 2) is paralleled in the Gospel of Truth; the metaphor of the 'trace' (2,31) is found in the Gospel of Truth and the Tripartite Tractate; the image of the human being as an inn (pandokeion) inhabited by demons (p. 6) is used in a letter by Valentinus (Valentinus, frag. 2); the picturing of the Savior as schoolmaster teaching the true letters (9) is also found in the Gospel of Truth; the association of the Sabbath with the cosmos, and the interpretation of the Savior's 'work on the Sabbath' to retrieve the lost sheep as a metaphor for his incarnation and descent into the world (11) also occur in the Gospel of Truth; the Name (12) is a central Valentinian notion; the concern with avoiding jealousy (phthonos; 15ff.) is also found in the Gospel of Truth, the treatise on Resurrection, and other Valentinian sources; finally, on page 19 there even seem to be references to Church and Life, Valentinian names of aeons." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 651-652)

Birger A. Pearson writes, "Nothing is known of the author of this tractate. It is clear that he was a learned exegete of the scriptures and used his teaching authority pastorally in addressing the needs of his community. Where and when he was active cannot be determined, but late second-century Alexandria is a good guess." (Ancient Gnosticism, p. 182)


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Kirby, Peter. "The Interpretation of Knowledge." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/interpretation.html>.