There are 3 thoughts on “The Teachings of Silvanus: A Little-Known Gem from Nag Hammadi”.

  1. Dennis, thanks for highlighting the Sylvanus document and the theological issues in play within it. I have argued that the theological divide you identify in Sylvanus (or at least aspects of it) were also in play at the time of Lehi. King Josiah and the Deuteronomists were early precursors of late Sylvanus. (You also note this in passing.) Lehi rejected Josiah’s theological revolution and clung to an older theology that was more consistent with early Sylvanus. Since I think the Calvinists most rigorously follow the logic of the theology that emerged with Josiah, I too focus on Calvinism when discussing the divide between our tradition and orthodox Christianity. When all is said and done, the core issue boils down to the question of whether we are of a kind with God and can literally become like him or if God is pure BEING, wholly other, and we his creatures created ex nihilo. What the Calvinists understand more clearly than their fellow orthodox Christians is that if only God IS and if he exists outside of time and space, if creation is ex nihilo, then all things exist precisely in the way that God intended for them to exist, He having created some for salvation, others for damnation, their fates being entirely determined by His creative intent.

    While that was all clear to me, what I didn’t understand as fully as I now do having read your article is how fully the two traditions that were in play in Lehi’s time were still in play at the time of the Sylvanus. In Lehi’s time, the older tradition with its anthropomorphic Gods and Divine Mother was more fully articulated than it was later in early Sylvanus and the Calvinist tradition was less fully articulated. By the time of late Sylvanus, the Calvinist tradition is more fully articulated than it was in the time of Josiah. But both traditions are present in both eras. Your article really makes that clear. So thanks brining this important document to light.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful article!
    You alluded to Theophilus’ formulation of the Trinity, God/Word/Wisdom, (and elsewhere in Ad Autolocus, clarified as God/Logos/Spirit). The distinct prominence of the association between Wisdom and the Holy Spirit anciently makes me wonder if you think the late Silvanus author really did set the record straight on the divine feminine. Or might we be missing something today?

  3. I very much enjoyed your article. It has been many years since I’ve read much about the Nag Hammadi. Your quote from Stephen H. Webb was very interesting. Smith vs. Calvin. I looked up Calvin and he was very well educated, so comparing the two is quite the compliment to Joseph Smith, the “ignorant Plow-boy”. I am sure Calvin would not be please by the comparison.
    Thank you!

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