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Eric Voegelin Society Meeting 2009
The aim of this paper is to show why the early version of Voegelin's
Gnosis-thesis, as proposed in the New
Science of Politics, is not convincing. The main argument is that
processes of immanentization can be fully explained within the tradition of
Judaeo-Christian eschatology, without invoking Gnostic sectarianism. Joachim
of Fiore, according to Voegelin the originator of modern Gnosticism, serves as
an example for illustrating the argument. The paper also shows that Voegelin
became increasingly aware of this problem and accordingly formulated a much
more differentiated and convincing version of the Gnosis-thesis in The
Joachim of Fiore and Gnosticism
2009 Matthias Riedl
version -- do not cite without author's permission
The Gnosis-theses in the New
Science and related
later volumes of the History of Political Ideas, written in the 1940s, already display
Eric Voegelin's increasing interest in Gnosticism. He had studied some of
the recent research on the ancient Gnostics and believed to have identified
Gnostic symbols in the writings of Jean Bodin and other thinkers who played a
crucial role in the formation of Western modernity. But it was not before
Voegelin's Walgreen Lectures,
short, the Gnosis-thesis suggests identifying the essence of modernity with
the growth of Gnosticism.
Modernity, understood as a process of immanentization, emerges
from medieval sectarianism as "a continuous evolution in which modern
Gnosticism rises victoriously to predominance over a civilizational tradition
deriving from the Mediterranean discoveries of anthropological and
that is, over Greek philosophy and Christian revelation. In a
number of publications up to the early 60s, Voegelin restated the
Gnosis-thesis, most famously in Science,
Politics, and Gnosticism, an essay based on his
Joachim of Fiore
problems arising from the Gnosis-thesis may be perfectly illustrated by the
example of Joachim of Fiore. The pivotal role of Joachim in the narrative of
the New Science is evident. He is
the Gnostic prophet, within whom earlier sectarianism crystallizes, and who
initiates the age of modern Gnosticism. In the early Middle Ages the Gnostic
sects work silently in the underground; after Joachim, Gnosticism rises to
dominance in the Western world. In Voegelin's words: "In his trinitarian
eschatology Joachim created the aggregate of symbols that govern the
self-interpretation of modern political society to this day."
These symbols were: the third age as a symbol of immanent
fulfillment, later to be found in Turgot, Comte, Marx, and National Socialism;
the leader in the third age, later identified with Saint Francis just as much
as with Adolf Hitler; and finally, the "brotherhood of autonomous persons",
a spiritually perfect society without institutional authority.
re-evaluation of Voegelin's claims is only promising if based on the ground
of recent research and scholarship -- if it is not to engage in irrelevant
Voegelin-philology. There is now a great difference in the dynamics of
scholarship on Gnosticsm, on the one hand, and on Joachim of Fiore, on the
other hand. The spectacular discovery of a whole Gnostic library near the
Egyptian town Nag Hammadi in 1945 led to a huge progress in the scholarly
evaluation of ancient Gnosticism.
Today the scholar of Gnosticism is confronted with a huge variety
of primary sources in various editions and translations.
situation is totally different in the case of Joachim. Most of the editorial
work happened only after Voegelin's death; even today the situation is
anything but satisfactory. Even though an edition of Joachim's Opera
Omnia is now in progress, some of his main works are still not available
in critical editions; none of them is available in a modern language, except
some Italian translations. Joachim's longest work, the Expositio
in Apocalypsim, still awaits publication, and the same goes for the second
half of his second main work, the Liber
The third main work, Psalterium
Decem Chordarum was published only this year. A true knowledge of Joachim's
original writings is still almost completely restricted to specialized
Medievalists. For my own research, however, I was given the unique opportunity
to use all the unpublished materials of the Opera
Omnia, and thus had full access to all extant writings of Joachim of
From this perspective, I want to attempt a short re-evaluation of
it is not convincing to put Joachim in a sectarian context, even though many
later sects referred to him, or, more frequently, to writings published under
his name. Joachim considered himself an orthodox Catholic and submitted all
his writings to the supervision of the Church in his testament. He was an
advisor to popes and cardinals, and throughout his work fought for the primacy
his early monograph on Bonaventure, the current pope, Benedict XVI, saw very
well the problematic side of Joachim's eschatology, but also emphasized his
positive role. In the very moment Joachim claimed that the incarnation of
Christ was not the only significant turning point in history, but that the
future general dispensation of the Holy Spirit would mark another one, he
accepted the existence of the Church in her own historical right and not just
as part of eschatological events.
From this perspective, he strengthened the authority of the clerical church
and explained her deficiencies as a temporal necessity of the second age.
It would not be surprising if the canonization of Joachim, which
is currently in progress, would be completed under the present pope.
these arguments could still be rejected as superficial; and the popes might
very well have gone wrong in their appreciation of the Calabrian abbot. It
seems advisable to look at the four symbols Voegelin identified as crucial and
see how they appear in Joachim's actual writings.
The brotherhood of autonomous persons: Voegelin goes wrong when he says
that Joachim formulated the idea of a community of the spirituality perfect
without institutional authority. The sketch of the constitution for the third
age, as found in his Liber Figurarum
shows that the future community will be governed by a small number of
charismatically gifted persons. But the whole society displays a strictly
hierarchical structure, differentiated according to the traditional orders of
monks, clerics and laics, who do not mix. The real novelty is that the monks
take the highest rank instead of the clerics. Yet, even the majority of the
monks lives under the government of a pater
spiritualis, who might be discerned as an abbot, or if the constitution is
applied to Christian society as a whole, as a monastic pope.
Joachim also maintains the traditional separation between clerics
and laics and condemns the contemporary Waldensians for confusing the spheres
of the sacred and the profane.
This also speaks against a sectarian context of Joachim's
The leader or dux. Joachim makes very clear that this leader is nothing else
but a pope, the highest priest of the universal
3) The Gnostic
prophet: Joachim was certainly not a Gnostic. The yet unedited Expositio
in Apocalypsim contains a clear refutation of the only contemporary
Gnostic sect, the Albigensians. It is obvious that Joachim in no way belongs
to the neat line of Gnostic movements and sects from Manicheans over
Paulicians and Bogomils up to the Albigensians, that scholars have constructed
and that Voegelin also invokes in the New
Yet, Joachim's refutation of the Albigensians is not just the
anti-heretic reflex of a faithful catholic; it shows that he had quite
intimate knowledge about Gnostic doctrines and realized how much they
contradicted his own teaching. According
to Joachim, the error of the Gnostics is a misconception of the relation
between body and spirit. In Voegelin's terms, one could say that he accuses
them of pneumopathology. They wrongly define redemption as the liberation of
man's spiritual substance from the prison of the evil body (disputando
de corpore et spiritu, ut diceret omne corpus esse fugiendum).
the other hand, explains in traditional Pauline terms that the redemptory act
of Christ is the crucifixion of the flesh that enables man to join the
mystical body of Christ. In other words, the Christian redemption is an act of
divine grace, the transformation of the body from the flesh into the soma
pneumatikon, and not the escape from the body.
Redemption is necessary not because the human soul got lost in the
creation of an evil god but because of original sin. Evil, therefore, has no
external source outside God's creation. The father as the creator, the son
as the redeemer, and the spirit, who completes the act of redemption, are
three persons of the same Divine essence. God created the world and he will
save it. Yet, when Joachim says "world", he means mankind and not the
cosmos. In full agreement with Catholic orthodoxy Joachim rejects all
cosmological speculation, as we find them not only in Gnosticism but also in
Eastern Christian theology, especially of the Alexandrian type. The gnosis,
the redemptory knowledge of the Gnostics, is cosmological knowledge and finds
no equivalent in Joachim's writings. All relevant knowledge is enclosed in
the Holy Scripture, especially the Book
of Revelation, and it will remain hidden from the sapientes
and prudentes who are preoccupied
What Gnostic would ever say such a sentence? This is the inversion
of Gnosticism. Therefore, Joachim's concept of knowledge (scientia) has no relation to Gnosticism whatsoever. Certainly, he
says that knowledge will be multiplied in the coming age of the Spirit.
Yet firstly, this knowledge is nothing but a more perfect
understanding of the mysteries in the Old and New Testament; secondly, it
results from the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and not from the efforts of
individuals; and thirdly, it will not be given to intellectuals but to humble
The third age:
Joachim cannot be understood in the context of Gnostic sectarianism but only
in the context of Catholic Church reform. This reform program, which led to
the Investiture Controversy, always implied two components. Firstly, the papal
(Gregorian) reform program of libertas
ecclesiae aimed at the liberation of the church from the influence of the
lay rulers or, put differently, the exclusion of the temporal rulers from the
charismatic order of the church. The new concept of the church was practically
reduced to the ordo ecclesiasticus,
the ordained clergy, which formed a hierocratic church governed by the pope.
Secondly, the monastic reform program, emerging from
contribution is a radically consequential reflection on the future status of
the church should the reforms actually succeed: Christian society would be
governed by the Church and not by temporal rulers who would either submit or
perish. The church would be spiritual, monastic, and no longer preoccupied
with earthly concerns. The glory of this church would shine forth throughout
the whole world and lead the return of the Eastern churches as well as the
conversion of Jews and infidels. This second transformation of the people of
God would be as significant as the first transformation from
said all this, I still think that Voegelin was right in discerning Joachim's
thought as a turning point toward the immanentization of eschatology. But to
say it one more time, this immanentization and its inherent progressivism is
to be understood as a radicalization of Catholic church reform and not as an
outcome of sectarian undercurrents. It is the result of the new concept of the
church, as developed by the Gregorian reformers. Augustine once declared that
the wheat and the chaff grow side by side in the church, as long as it a civitas peregrina, a peregrine community in this world.
Only the Last Judgment would purify the church and unite it with
the City of
in the seventh age, even the smallest detail of the structure of Jerusalem
will be completed just as the convocation of all the people that will dwell in
it (perficiatur in septima, quicquid
minus erit in structura Ierusalem, et vocatione universi populi, qui futurus
est in ea) -- insofar as in the future world, which will be like an eight
age, everything will evidently be fulfilled, which is related to this
has to be mentioned that this interpretation of Joachim coincides with
Voegelin's earlier chapters on Joachim in the Political
Religions and the History of
Political Ideas, where Joachim is not seen in a Gnostic context.
It occasionally also comes up in the New
Science, too, where the experience of reform is seen as an additional
component in the process of immanentization;
but these remarks are covered up by the all-comprehensive
Gnosis-thesis. However, a Gnostic influence on Joachim can not be verified in
his original writings. Joachim's immanentizing faith in progress can be
fully explained within the Christian tradition and the reformatory efforts of
The revision of the Gnosis-thesis
the summer of 1973, Eric Voegelin gave a number of interviews to a young
scholar and former student of his, Ellis Sandoz, later to be published as the Autobiographical
Reflections. Now, Voegelin was not so sure anymore about the comprehensive
explanatory value of his Gnosis-thesis:
my first application of Gnosticism to modern phenomena in The
New Science of Politics and in 1959 in my study on Science,
Politics, and Gnosticism, I have had to revise my position. The
application of the category of Gnosticism to modern ideologies, of course,
stands. In a more complete analysis, however, there are other factors to be
considered in addition. One of these is the metastatic apocalypse deriving
directly from the Israelite prophets, via Paul, and forming a permanent strand
in Christian sectarian movements right up to the Renaissance."
however, is not just a slight revision. It is not only that Voegelin mentions
other elements of modernity that he had previously overlooked, such as the new
construction of an intramundane order in the "miscarried" revival of
Platonism in Renaissance Florence and the "egophanic revolt" in 18th
the revision points to a deeper question, which had already been
formulated in the New Science but
was covered up by the all-comprehensive Gnosis-thesis. The question is whether
at least some of the roots of modern immanentism are to be sought in the
Judaeo-Christian revelation itself. I will return to this question below.
I think, Voegelin's revision of the Gnosis-thesis resulted from a variety of
factors. However, two factors are related to the growth of empirical
I already mentioned the discovery of the Coptic Nag Hammadi Library in 1945.
Unfortunately, the editorial process was slowed down tremendously by political
turbulences, such as the Suez Crisis.
The significance of these discoveries becomes apparent if one
considers that at the time Voegelin wrote the New Science, the sum total of
primary sources amounted to no more than 50 printed pages.
Today, only the English paperback edition of the Nag Hammadi
Library provides more than 500 pages primary texts.
As Hans Jonas pointed out, there is hardly any other field in
scholarship where a single archaeological discovery has so completely changed
In the early 1950s, all more systematic considerations on the
nature of Gnosticism still had to rely on the heresiological writings of the
Church Fathers, i.e., on the writings of the enemy. Voegelin's perspective
in the New Science is also
heresiological. As the standard work on Gnosticism he recommends the Adversus Haereses of Irenaeus of Lyon, written in the 2nd
By the early 1970s, most of the new texts were available in
excellent editions as well as in translations in several modern languages. The
edition was accompanied by the publication of a huge amount of secondary
literature. A lengthy footnote in The
Ecumenic Age shows that Voegelin had meanwhile familiarized himself with
the most important primary and secondary sources.
It is evident that the new basis of knowledge was one of the major
factors behind Voegelin's revision of the Gnosis-thesis. The new basis of
texts made obvious that Gnosticism was a quite complex phenomenon, comprising
a tremendous variety of different trends. Moreover, the lines between
Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity cannot be as clearly drawn as it had
appeared in the heresiological writings.
some cases it is yet undecided if we are dealing with Christian or Gnostic
texts. One of the most debated texts of the Nag Hammadi Library is the Gospel
of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, formally not unlike the
hypothetical source Q that New Testament scholars assume as a common source
for Jesus' sayings in the synoptic Gospels.
In fact, many of the sayings coincide with the ones found in the
New Testament. It is not unlikely that a Syrian, maybe Aramaic original of the
gospel was written around the same time as Mark, Matthew, Luke.
The sayings of Jesus in the Gospel
of Thomas are much more adaptable to Gnostic theology,
but cannot be ascribed to any Gnostic group or school and display
similarities to the Gospel of John. The Gospel
of Thomas, then, could be interpreted as early evidence for an independent
Gnostic or proto-Gnostic tradition, providing an alternative understanding of
the epiphany of Christ. As we will see, such an interpretation coincides with
Voegelin's reformulation of the Gnosis-thesis in The Ecumenic Age.
Originally Voegelin had planned six volumes, describing five types of order
and symbolization. The first three were published, comprising the cosmological
form of the Ancient Near Eastern empires, the historical form of
ultimately broke the project was, however, was the impossibility of aligning
the empirical types [of order and symbolization; M.R.] in any time sequence at
all that would permit the structures actually found to emerge from a history
conceived as a ‘course'."
other words, the grand narrative behind the whole project of Order
and History collapsed. The narrative said that the great differentiations
of consciousness, the revelation of
The Gnosis-Thesis in The
Voegelin gave up the linear construction of history, he did not give up the
basic idea that the "peculiar structure in history originates in the
stratification of man's consciousness through the process of
The differentiation results from "theophanic events" in which
man becomes aware of a transcendent divine reality but also "discovers the
something in his humanity that is the site and sensorium of divine presence;
and he finds such words as psyche,
or pneuma, or nous, to symbolize the something."
The theophanic events, however, always imply a certain danger as
they create a tension between the experience of the Beyond in the soul, on the
one hand, and the experience of a divine Beginning of spatio-temporal
existence in the cosmos, on the other hand. The human carriers of spiritual
outbursts are liable to a confusion of the two.
the divine reality is one, its presence is experienced in the modes of the
Beyond and the Beginning. The Beyond is present in the immediate experience of
movements in the psyche; while the presence of the divine Beginning is
mediated through the experience of the existence and intelligible structure of
things in the cosmos. The two models require two different types of language
for their adequate expression. The immediate presence in the movements of the
soul requires the revelatory language of consciousness. This is the language
of seeking, searching, and questioning, of ignorance and knowledge concerning
the divine ground, of futility, absurdity, anxiety, and alienation of
existence, of being moved to seek and question, of being drawn toward the
ground, of turning around, of return, illumination and rebirth. The presence
mediated by the existence and order of things in the cosmos requires the
mythical language of a creator-god of Demiurge, of a divine force that
creates, sustains, and preserves the order of things."
confusion of the languages, however, can easily lead into a confusion of
existence. The first example that might come to our mind today is the great
confusion of creationists who mistake the cosmogonic myth of the Genesis as
immediate revelation. Voegelin's example is the Gospel of John. John, who is
confronted with the epiphany of Christ, i.e., the presence of the Divine word
in the cosmos, confuses Beyond and Beginning by the identification of the
revelatory word from the Beyond with the creating word of the Beginning. He
identifies the word that becomes flesh with the word "by which all things
are made", as he says in the prologue to his Gospel. Nevertheless, the same
word that has created this world promises a salvation beyond this world,
speaks a truth which is not of this world, wants to establish a kingdom which
is not of this world, and assembles the believers who dwell in this world but
are not of this world. This, says Voegelin, is exactly the problem of
Gnosticism, because the question arises: "Why should a cosmos exist at all,
if man can do no better than live in it as if he were not of it, in order to
make his escape from the prison through death?"
The Ecumenic Age and partly already
in Israel and Revelation Voegelin's
philosophical and historical inquiries have reached a stage where he no longer
hesitates to identify the origins of modern deformation in the biblical texts
themselves. The Gospel of John is not just affected by Gnostic influences, as
Voegelin said earlier; it displays a "Gnostic manifestation in its own
This explains why the modern Gnostics, Schelling and Hegel, do not
refer to the symbols of the ancient Gnostic system-builders Valentinian and
Basilides but to the Gospel of John. Realizing how much the Christian promise
of a salvation beyond this world has aggravated the danger of confusing
Beginning and Beyond, Voegelin takes it even further: "I am inclined to
recognize in the epiphany of Christ the great catalyst that made
eschatological consciousness an historical force, both in forming and
do not have to emphasize the significance of these words and rather return to
the Gnostic experience. Voegelin says:
fallacy at the core of the Gnostic answer to the question is the expansion of
consciousness from the Beyond to the Beginning. In the construction of Gnostic
systems, the immediate experience of divine presence in the mode of the Beyond
is speculatively expanded to comprehend a knowledge of the Beginning that is
accessible only in the mode of mediated experience. In the imagery of the
expansive speculation, the process of reality becomes an intelligible
psychodrama, beginning with a fall in the pneumatic divinity, continuing with
the imprisonment of parts of the pneumatic substance in a cosmos created by an
evil Demiurge, and ending with the liberation of the imprisoned substance
through its return to the pneumatic divinity."
is not the place to discuss the details of the Gnostic psychodramas. Important
is the motivating experience: The Gnostics, just as the Evangelist John, are
motivated by an extremely intense experience of the Beyond. John's
experience of "the divine oneness and its presence in man" is so strong,
that the experience of the cosmos is drawn into it. And equally the Gnostic is
motivated by an "intensely experienced presence of the Beyond."
The more he experiences the Beyond, the more he feels alienated
from the cosmos. Out of his alienation he creates the anticosmic psychodrama
that allows him to integrate the experience of the deficient spatio-temporal
existence into the experience of the Beyond.
The psychodrama, however, is not identical with the myth, as it
takes the cosmogonic events as certain knowledge, and as redemptory gnosis. The difference to the early version of Gnosis-thesis is
apparent. Fifteen years earlier, in Science,
Politics, and Gnosticism, Voegelin said that "in the gnostic movement
man remains shut off from transcendent being".
Now he says exactly the opposite: The Gnostic has "a
consciousness of the movement toward the Beyond of such strength and clarity
that it becomes an obsessive illumination."
Every reader of the Nag Hammadi documents will readily admit that
the primary sources support only the latter solution.
the psychological dimension does not suffice to explain the degree of
alienation from the cosmos as we find it in the Gnostic texts. Voegelin now
provides an analysis of the political context: "In pragmatic history,
Gnosticism arises from six centuries of imperial expansion and civilizational
destruction." One empires destroys and the other;
pragmatic impact of conquest on the traditional forms of existence in society
is abrupt; and its abruptness is not matched by an equally sudden spiritual
response to the situation. The divine authority of the older symbols is
impaired when the societies whose reality of order they express lose their
political independence, while the new imperial order has, at least initially,
no more than the authority of power. Hence, the spiritual and intellectual
lives of the peoples exposed to the events are in danger of separating from
the reality of socially ordered existence."
the psychological and the political ("pragmatic") argument are taken
together, the origin of Gnosticism may be explained by an intense experience
of the divine which can find no symbolic expression and, consequently, gain no
social relevance in a hostile political environment. Under the circumstance of
the ecumenic empires the alienation reaches a degree where it turns into pure
hate against the cosmos. I have to admit that this is the most convincing
explanation of Gnosticism I ever encountered. It provides a true explanation
of the symbolisms in the original sources. It fully explains why the Gnostic
psychodramas extend the political symbolism to cosmology, as it is expressed
in the symbols the archons and the evil demiurge. Not only society, but all
eight Aeons are governed by alien rulers. Salvation means a final victory over
the cosmos, enabled by the sending of a redeemer from the Beyond. Thus, Jesus
says in the Gospel of John: "Though in the cosmos you have affliction, be
confident, for I have been victorious over the cosmos."
the Gnostic solution is not a necessary one. Other reactions are possible,
such as Stoic cosmopolitanism,
which aims to reconcile ecumenic rule and the Hellenic philosophy of the
polis; or actual political resistance against the ecumenic rulers as with the
Maccabees or the Zealots. The most important possibility in this context is
what Voegelin calls the metastatic apocalypse. It expresses the same hate
against the ecumenic empires, but turns to a historical solution instead of a
cosmic one, as in the case of Gnosticism. In the vision of Daniel (Dan. 2),
history is described as a succession of hostile empires. Yet, the faith of the
believer is so strong that it anticipates a future transformation of the world
in a metastatic act which implies the destruction of imperial reality
The alienation from reality is as complete as in the Gnostic case,
but the specific symbolic tradition of Judaism recommends historical rather
than cosmological speculations. Again, this is the tradition in which Joachim
belongs. The decisive novelty is only that, under the circumstances of church
reform, the metastatic transformation of reality -- the creation of a new
world -- is not awaited at the end of times but experienced in the present (in hoc tempore videmus
de novo dominum creasse celum et terram).
Voegelin rightly saw: "From the Ecumenic Age, there emerges a new type of
ecumenic humanity, which, with all its complications of meaning, reaches as a
millennial constant into the modern Western civilization."
However, this new ecumenic humanity finds expression in
different symbolic forms articulating the varying experiences of the ecumenic
situation. Many of these symbolic forms, the Gnostic, apocalyptic, mystic, and
ecclesiastic types, have a long legacy in Western civilization and beyond.
Admittedly, they often merge and interact; but for the sake of historical
clarity and exactness, any unnecessary confusion should be avoided. For a
confusion of symbolic articulations also means a confusion of the underlying
experiences. Therefore, the early version of Voegelin's Gnosis-thesis was a
provides a convincing analysis of ancient Gnosticism. It accounts for the
psychological and spiritual as well as the historical and political context.
It does justice to the sources and the contemporary state of scholarship. Eric
Voegelin was not granted the time to re-evaluate the impact of Gnosticism on
modernity, applying his new understanding of the Gnostic phenomenon. This work
remains to be done and promises interesting results.
To this end, however, the earlier version of the Gnosis-thesis
must finally be abandoned, as Eric Voegelin himself did more than thirty years
impetus to formulate the Gnosis-thesis came from H.U. v. Balthasar's
relatively short introduction to Irenaeus:
Die Geduld des Reifens, 1943. In this text, Balthasar refers to the Gnostic
principle of self-redemption, which became seminal for the application of
the category Gnosticism to modern movements. The copy in Voegelin's
private library (now in the Voegelin Library at University Erlangen)
includes the bill which shows that Voegelin bought it in a bookstore in
Religion, CW 5:295.
Science, and Gnosticism, CW 5:277.
1994: 40-58; see also Robinson's introduction.
For the edition of the first half see: Daniel,
monograph Joachim von Fiore, 2004;
an English summary of the research results forthcoming in Essays in Commemoration of Marjorie Reeves, ed. J. Wannenmacher
(2009), and Brill's Companion to
Joachim of Fiore, ed. M.
Riedl/J. Wannenmacher, (forthcoming 2010).
symbolorum definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum, ed. H.
Denzinger/A. Schönmetzer: 262f., §807.
Wessley 1990: 2,
Cf. my essay „Gioacchino
da Fiore padre della modernità. Le tesi di Eric Voegelin," in Gian Luca
Potestà (ed.), Gioacchino da Fiore nella cultura dell '800 e del '900.
Atti del 6° Congresso internazionale di studi gioachimiti, Rome: Viella,
2005, pp. 219-236.
I,9, ed. Santi: 196, l. 10-25.
Concordiae IV,31, fol.56rb, ed. Daniel:
402, l. 1-9; Sach 4:9; Rev. 7:2; cf. Ezra 3; Hag 1:12-15.
critique of this construction see Coulianu, The Tree of Gnosis (1998), King,
What is Gnostcism? (2003).
futurum quod erit post resurrectionem ascribendum est Spiritui sancto, quia
ibi non solum anime, que natura subtiliores sunt, verum etiam corpora nostra
spiritalia erunt et templa Spiritus sancti, quando et, consumptis universis
corruptionibus carnis, solus idem Spiritus regnabit in eis." Expositio/Introductorius,
fol.6ra; (text of the
„Quod si hi qui
iuxta Salvatoris vocem norunt iudicare faciem celi et terre signa temporum,
aut non cognoscunt aut non credunt agnoscentibus ea, non est meum iudicare
de eis. […] Confiteor tibi, Pater, domine celi et terre, quia abscondisti
hec a sapientibus et prudentibus et revelasti ea parvulis." Expositio/Liber
Introductorius, fol.2va; cf. Mt 11:25, 16:4, Lk 10:21.
notandum quod in tercio statu nuda erunt misteria et aperta fidelibus, quia
per singulas etates mundi multiplicatur scientia, sicut scriptum est:
pertransibunt plurimi et multiplex erit scientia."
Liber Concordiae V,67,
„Das Problem der Christianitas im 12. und 13. Jahrhundert", in: HJ 79
(1960), S.104-123, v.a. S.108ff.; vgl. Beinert 1973, S.80f.; Jordan 1980,
S.12ff.; Ullmann 1960, S.403ff. u.ö.
The following quote illustrates how Joachim relates the
reformation (reformare) of
humanity after the fall to the previous formation (formare) in the creation. The agent of reformation is God and not
man: „Si enim voluit et
potuit formare corpus Ade, qui
fuit pater omnium, de limo terre, cur non possit eodem modo corpora filiorum
Adam reformare de terra? Eras
aliquando pulvis terre et esse cepisti quod non eras -- siquidem in Adam
omnes fueramus a principio pulvis --, et non potest Deus reversum in
pulverem restituere in formam primam,
ut esse incipias sicut eras? An
quia tunc erat Verbum Dei, per quem facta sunt ista, modo autem esse desiit,
ne horum similia operetur? O stulta corda hominum et tarda ad credendum in
omnibus que locuti sunt prophete! Nonne hec pati oportuit genus hominum
propter malum superbie et sic per mortem carnis pertingere ad vitam eternam?
[…] Voluit Omnipotens exercere iudicium hoc in genere humano, non ut
dissiparet opus suum, sed ut ostenderet illi altitudinem magnitudinis sue et
incuteret ei timorem discipline, ut non saperet alta, sciens quia, qui
potens fuerat ad formandum, non erat impotens ad reformandum,
non solum ut restitueret quod
dissolutum erat, verum etiam ut
restituens commutaret in melius." Exp.
I, fol.67vb, my italics, (text corrected according to Selge's
yet unpublished edition); cf. Gen 2:7; Lk 24:25; Rm 12:16.
Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, CW 5:269-271.
tamen cum illo [Christo] regnant zizania, quamuis in ecclesia cum tritico
crescant." De civitate. Dei XX,9.
Enchiridion, ed. Burger: 49,
VIII, fol. 221rb, my
Political Religions, CW 5:50-52; History of Political Ideas 2,
CW 20:126-134. Both chapters do not see Joachim in any Gnostic context.
Surprisingly, Voegelin says at one occasion, that Gnosticism
does not necessarily lead to immanentization but a further component is
needed. He adds: "This further component is the civilization expansiveness
of Western society in the Middle Ages. […] The spiritual growth of the
West through the order since
Reflections, edited with an Introduction, by Ellis Sandoz,
In a conversation with Eric O'Connor in 1976, he takes it even
further: "I paid perhaps undue attention to gnosticism in the first book I
published in English. […] I happened to run into the problem of gnosticism
in my reading of Balthasar. But in the meanwhile we have found that the
apocalyptic tradition is of equal importance, and the Neo-Platonic
tradition, and hermeticism, and magic, and so on." Cited from D. Germino
important primary source, the Papyrus
Berolinensis 8502, was discovered already in 1898 but due to an almost
unbelievable series of mishaps and disasters published only in 1955. Rudolph
The Nag Hammadi Library ...
New Science, CW 5:190f.
Age (1974): 25, note 2.
Codex II,2, ed. Robinson: 124-138;
The Gnostic Gospels: 16; Robinson: 124-26; Jonas: 386.
programmatic prologue (verses 1-3) emphasizes the importance of knowledge
for salvation and the co-substantiality of the inner and outer dimension of
are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas
Thomas wrote down. (1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of
these sayings will not experience death."(2) Jesus said, "Let him who
seeks continue seeking until he find. When he finds, he will become
troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule
all over the all.' (3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you,
‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede
you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede
you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you [cf. Luke … ], and it is outside
of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and
you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But
if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are
that poverty." Ed. Robinson: 126.
Age (1974): 2.
Age (1974): 8.
truth pertains to man's consciousness of his humanity in participatory
tension toward the divine ground, and to no reality beyond this restricted
area. The human carriers of the spiritual outbursts do not always realize
the narrow limits of the area directly affected by the differentiating
process. For the differentiation of consciousness indirectly affects the
image of reality as a whole; and the enthusiastic discoverers of the truth
are sometimes inclined to treat such secondary effects as they believe
themselves to perceive, and not always correctly, as direct insights."
Ibid.: 8; cf. The Beginning and the Beyond, CW 28.
Age (1974): 18.
In this respect Voegelin agrees with Hans Jonas. Jonas 1999:
Politics, and Gnosticism, CW 5:265.
Age (1974): 20.
John 16:32f.; cf. The
Ecumenic Age (1974): 17.
"When the conflict between the revealed truth of order and
the actual disorder of the times becomes too intense, the traumatic
experience can induce the transformation of the mystery into metastatic
Ecumenic Age (1974): 239f.
V,21, fol.70vb; vgl. Expositio VIII, fol.215vb.
The Ecumenic Age (1974): 58.
There are a few interesting remarks in the last and unfinished
volume of Order and History, which show that Voegelin
continues to identify Gnostic elements in modernity, but now clearly keeps
the Gnostic, apocalyptic, and mystic symbolic forms separate. In Search of
Order, CW 18: 47f. and 78.