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Gnosticsm & the Proclamation of Christianity with special reference to John's Gospel (Cont)

Dodd and Marsh on Gnosticsm

Dodd states: "The significance of the parallels and contrasts between the Gnostics and John is this : Both John and the Gnostics followed a deeply grounded tendency, which sought redemption through knowledge. He and they believed that such knowledge was given in the Christian revelation. The different views they give of what the Christian knowledge is, make Johannine Christianity, in spite of the common background, an entirely different thing from semi-Christian or near-Christian gnosticsm."

Dodd [17] comes to this conclusion after a very sympathetic and detailed review of Gnosticsm (p. 114).

Marsh, [18] after a careful study of Gnosticsm, concludes that the fourth Gospel was deeply affected by Gnostic ideas, but there is a 'decisive difference': 'The Gnostic claims that what saves is knowledge, knowledge of the origins of the world, of man in the world and of the way for man to escape from the world to union with God.

But for Christians the knowledge that will save is knowledge of the one true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Deliverance comes not when a man learns the secrets of the universe and the way through and beyond it; it comes when the Son, given to the world by the Father, gives Himself in death for the life of the world.

John, no less than Paul, is concerned to preach "Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2: 2.), even if John's proclamation be set in a quasi-Gnostic key. The knowledge that John would bring to men is not pure intellection; it is a response of mind and heart and will to an acceptance of and trust in what God has done, in the gratitude of obedience and the devotion of love.'

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  1. Dodd, C.H.: "The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel", page 114. Book ref. in [6].
  2. John Marsh: "The Gospel of St John", page 34. Book ref. in [6].

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