Is “Gnostic” a useful term?
The problem with the word is that it leads one to think of orthodox Christianity opposed to monolithic Gnosticism. There never was such a thing. It is a term first used in the 17th century, and not used again until the 19th. Instead, there is overlap and diversity, and development of spiritual understanding, among those who would see themselves as followers of Christ.
In the Secret Revelation of John, 22:17, Yahweh and Elohim are demoted to two separate beings, sons of Yaldabaoth. Yahweh is the Unrighteous one. So the Hebrew scriptures, of the worship of Yahweh, are worthless. Christ, of the True God, rescues us from him and them.
This is a rebellion. The writer rejects Scripture. Possibly this was part of a conflict over the Mosaic law, whether Christians need obey it. Now, Christians are happy choosing what parts of the Torah to find binding, and perhaps the Secret Revelation was part of the process leading to that position. I dislike the violent rejection of the Hebrew scriptures, and value the insight that we are not bound by them. That insight first comes in rebellion, and enables us to reach a sober valuing of the old testament. The document has value as part of a process though it is not the end stage.
“Matter is evil.” I am affected by matter: the wine that makes me slow and erratic, the pheromone that turns my head. I disagree; but what value might it have to split matter from spirit? Emotional resilience rising above physical pain and deprivation is a useful characteristic. The idea that my immortal soul is unaffected by the evil done by my fleshly body might either be licence to indulge, or a way of living with my natural animal self- though I prefer believing that animal self is healthy enough. A straight man told me he had been perplexed and bedevilled by his sexuality ever since his teens, and was still, though he was happy with his wife of forty years- and never told anyone that, before me. Straights have difficulty too.
I like the femaleness of God: The all, beyond everything, is surely beyond gender, and its perception and thought is Mother. From the All, at the request of the Mother-thought-Providence came Foreknowledge, Incorruption, and Eternal Life. These are the highest Æons of the All. Foreknowledge, or Predestination, has been the devilment of the Reformed church, sending ane to Heaven and ten to Hell. Incorruption divorces whatever is meaningfully “I” from matter, and eternal life- either makes me ignore this life for hope of another, or makes me live as if in Heaven now.
The next generations are the Son, Mind or Thought, and Will, then Grace, Understanding, Perception and Prudence. Attributes of God are different from Is-ness, though united with it in the highest realm. This may have value in contemplative prayer. God is both the Deist All, perfect and distant, and the Mother and Son, intimately involved with Creation.
I would like to know how this account fits with other accounts of the first Æons: which story came first, and how do the stories differ?