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Gnostic text as an object of historical and philosophical interpretation

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2018. Vol. 7. No. 5. Pp. 362-374.
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Bakhar S. A.
Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities
15 A Fontanka River Embankment, 191011 St. Petersburg, Russia


Despite the fact that Gnostic texts are included in the sphere of historical and philosophical analysis, Gnosticism has always been and still remains a peripheral theme for historians of philosophy. The reason for this is connected with the fact that the history of philosophy is engaged in the study of philosophical texts by its definition, whereas the works of Gnostics cannot be referred to them. The non-philosophical character of the Gnostic texts is primarily revealed in their irrationality. Nevertheless, this does not deprive the historical and philosophical approach of significance and applicability and in the study of Gnosticism. Most of the Gnostics’ works contain fully rational systems as well as ideas adopted from ancient thinkers contrary to their external illogic on the content-related level. Therefore, the reconstruction of this level is considered to be inconceivable without the use of the historical and philosophical methodology, which makes the historical and philosophical approach not only applicable but also essential in the interpretation of the Gnostic texts. Herewith, it turns out that due to the mutual influence of the Gnostic and philosophical traditions, the historical and philosophical interpretation of the Gnostic texts is necessary not only in relation with the Gnosticism studies but also in the context of the philosophical studies. At the same time, the author of this study considered the specificity of the meaning extracted from the Gnostics’ works by the philosophy historian. The work also reveals the dangers that await the researcher on the way of the historical and philosophical interpretation of the Gnostic texts in connection with this specificity. A recommendation for their overcoming is given as well. The results of this study can be used in the field of history of philosophy, as well as in other spheres of modern science in one way or another connected with the study of Gnosticism.


  • • history of philosophy
  • • Gnostic text
  • • Gnosticism
  • • interpretation


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