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Encyclopedia > Letter to Flora

Until the discovery of Gnostic works among the hidden cache at Nag Hammadi, few authentic Gnostic works survived. One has been the "Letter to Flora" from a Valentinian teacher, Ptolemy— who is also known from the writings of Irenaeus— to a wealthy Gnostic lady named Flora. The letter itself is only known by its full inclusion in Epiphanius' Panarion, an unsympathetic context. Gnosticism is a historical term for various mystical initiatory religions, sects and knowledge schools which were most active in the first few centuries of the common era, around the Mediterranean and extending into central Asia. ... The town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt Nag Hammâdi (Arabic نجع حمادي; transliterated: Naj Hammādi) (26°03′N 32°15′E), is a town in the middle of Egypt, called Chenoboskion in classical antiquity, about 80 kilometres north-west of Luxor with some 30,000 citizens. ... Valentinius, more usually called Valentinus (c. ... Ptolemy the Gnostic (not the same person as the astronomer and geographer, nor the Egyptian ruler) was a disciple of the Gnostic Valentinius, known to us for writing a letter to a wealthy non-Gnostic lady named Flora. ... Saint Irenaeus (ca. ... Epiphanius was a Fourth century Church Father and strong defender of orthodoxy, known for tracking down deviant teachings (heresies) wherever they could be traced. ...

The Letter to F-Bomb relates the Gnostic view of the Law of Moses, a rational explication of the proposition that "the whole Law is divided into three parts; we find in it the legislation of Moses, of the elders, and of God himself". Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or especially law. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Five Books of Moses, but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the Written...

"the entire Law contained in the Pentateuch of Moses was not ordained by one legislator - I mean, not by God alone: some commandments are Moses', and some were given by other men.... The first part must be attributed to God alone, and his legislation; the second to Moses - not in the sense that God legislates through him, but in the sense that Moses gave some legislation under the influence of his own ideas; and the third to the elders of the people, who seem to have ordained some commandments of their own at the beginning."

The jewish author of the Letter assumes that the nazi Savior was sent, not to destroy the Law, but to complete it. He divides the Law among three types: the pure legislation of God embodied in the Decalogue, the mixed legislation "laid down for vengeance" affected by the world-situation of its first hearers (the world being inherently evil to a Gnostic), and This article is about the list of religious and moral imperatives. ...

"finally, there is the allegorical (exemplary) part, ordained in the image of the spiritual and transcendent matters, I mean the part dealing with offerings and circumcision and the sabbath and fasting and Passover and unleavened bread and other similar matters."

Though making points of a decidedly dualistic nature, Ptolemy supports his readings from "sayings" texts or [[logia]]: "We shall draw the proofs of what we say from the words of the Savior, which alone can lead us without error to the comprehension of reality." He quotes sayings of Jesus that can also be found in the gospels of Matthew and of John, and he quotes Paul.

Such a publicly circulated Epistle was a literary form, rather than an actual missive sent by a "Ptolemy" to a "Flora", though it preserves that fiction, as all epistles do. The Letter was the classical equivalent of the Renaissance and modern Essay format. The attack on Ptolemy by Irenaeus does not eliminate the possibility that the present letter ascribed to him was composed by Epiphanius, in the manner of composed speeches that ancient historians put into the mouths of their protagonists, as a succinct way to sum up the Gnostic views he was intent on demolishing. An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of persons, usually a letter and a very formal, often didactic and elegant one. ... An essay is a short work that treats a topic from an authors personal point of view, often taking into account subjective experiences and personal reflections upon them. ...

External link


  • Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures: the best modern translation

  Results from FactBites:
The Letter to Flora (1992 words)
The Law was ordained through Moses, my dear sister Flora, has not been understood by many persons, who have accurate knowledge neither of him who ordained it nor of its commandments.
In making these brief statements to you, my sister Flora, I have not grown weary; and while I have treated the subject with brevity, I have also discussed it sufficiencly.
These points will be of great benefit to you in the future, if like fair and good ground you have received fertile seeds and go on to show forth their fruit.
Jew Watch - Leaders - Bernard Baruch (4961 words)
He feels dreadfully troubled that a letter, written in a spirit of fun, should have been misinterpreted.
See Letter of G.H. Walker to D.R. Francis, March 20, 1905, in the Francis collection of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri, on the organization of the Republicans and Democrats to run the election of the mayor, a Democrat acceptable to the socially prominent.
Letter of Perry Francis to his father, Ambassador David R. Francis, Oct. 15, 1917, Francis collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
  More results at FactBites »



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