Orthodox Gnosiology Essay

Pages: 5 (1593 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Orthodox Gnosiology

Eastern Orthodox theology developed in a string of complications. In many ways, it is a religious theology that plays off of the elements of a philosophical system. Gnosiology branches off the idea that the primary act of life itself is to gain understanding through our experiences. However, it bridges this philosophy with a religious methodology that claims the knowledge we seek in life is to know God and His Word. Still, there are problems because as mere humans, we cannot experience God Himself, nor here is Word. Orthodox Gnosiology aims to solve this problem through our ability to experience the intermediaries of God, including His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We can experience both through the words in the Scriptures and our closeness to Jesus helps facilitate a more intimate knowledge of God Himself.

Orthodox Gnosiology is a phenomenological attempt at understanding through experience. How we perceive gnosiology through our structures of consciousness is highly dependent on our experiences. The concept broken down can be traced back to ancient philosophy. Gnosis is Greek for knowledge, and Logos means word. Essentially, Gnosiology is the knowledge of the Word, God's word. Thus, the concept of gnosiology comes to represent a theory of knowledge. Its theology and doctrine aim to explore how the senses perceive phenomenon and then internalize it into the memory. This, thus, takes it above the measure of a simple philosophical system throughout its development as a methodology. Nous is a major concept within Orthodox Gnosiology. Essentially the term represents our intellect, that perceptive ability to know and learn from our experiences. It represents how the mind works to perceive the objects and phenomenon around it. There are several ways in which the mind can gain essential sense of understanding. One can use reasoning, or one can use experience. Typically, Western philosophy depends on the very act of reasoning in order to facilitate understanding of the world. However, Orthodox Gnosiolgy depends on experiential knowledge. This is also very literally reflected within early Christian texts adopted with a Gnostic perception. Out of the lessons left by the Christian Valentinus, it is "only the begotten Nous alone [who] possesses the possibility of knowing and revealing the Father" (Kelly 23). As such, it is clear that the innate intellect bred within us is what will lead us to our understanding of God. We have to experience Him through the Scriptures in order to truly know him from an experiential perspective.

The primary essence of Orthodox Gnosiology is to know God Himself. This knowledge must come through our experiences of the world and the way that we interpret them. In Orthodox Gnosiology, it is through experiencing Jesus Christ that one can know God. Jesus says himself that he is the way to the light and to God. The early Christian texts discuss "God the Father and Jesus Christ, declaring that there is one God, Who has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, Who is His Word emerging from silence," (Kelly 92). Jesus Christ is represented as the physical embodiment of the Word in which we cannot experience of hear without some facilitation by Jesus himself. It has mystical roots in how the process was first told to the Apostles. Jesus first revealed himself to the Apostles, who then helped him spread the knowledge that he was a way to experience God. The Scriptures then become a representation of mankind's experiences with Jesus Christ and the Father. The Apostles transcribed their own experiences with God so that followers for generations after their life could tap into their knowledge. Literally, these documents are records that give detailed information on how major figures within the Church came close to God, but they also serve as a pathway for individuals within the modern context to know God as well.

Orthodox Gnosiology is also existential in its representation of the concept of the Holy Spirit. The ability for the Holy Spirit to translate and facilitate our experience with God is an important existential element of Orthodox Gnosiology. It makes the concept of the Holy Spirit alike to the role of Jesus Christ, as a way for mankind to be able to know God through our experience of other beings that have stemmed from Him. Thus, the concept of the Spirit is a mystic one. It becomes a way for us to hear the message of God. The Holy Spirit comes to those followers who follow the path that Jesus laid out for mankind via the words of the Apostles within the context of the Scriptures. Thus, God appears in three forms, Himself, His son and the Holy Spirit, which allows Him to best be understood by mankind (Lossky in the Image and Likeness of God 122). This concept of triadology is important within the consciousness of Orthodox thought. The three Holy beings aid us on our journey towards true knowledge of God and His Word (Lossky the Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church 57).

Within the philosophy, the words of the Apostles as recorded in Scripture become the main method of delivering the path towards God. Thus, it is the emphasis on words as a way to shape our own experiences and come closer to God. Yet, we cannot hear God's own words. Here, Lossky argues that "dogmas are addressed to the intelligence; they are intelligible expressions of the reality which surpasses our mode of understanding" (Lossky in the Image and Likeness of God 167). Because we cannot hear God' Word itself, we must facilitate our journey towards him through the written experiences of the Apostles, who came into the closest contact Him via His son, Jesus Christ. The Incarnation was literally the way that God manifested Himself, as seen in the Scriptures. That is then passed down to us through the words of the Apostles, allowing us to be able to know God as they did through experiencing His son.

Yet, this also becomes a way to better understand the concepts of gnosiology itself. It helps validate our personal experiences with God, and comes to be a way for us to interpret internal and external phenomenon that is related to God Himself. The basic concept here is that through the messages, metaphors, psalms, and stories, the Scriptures help shape the mind of the individual follower. Here, Lossky writes that it is our "analysis [that] leads us finally towards the Truth and the Spirit, the Word and the Holy Spirit" (Lossky in the Image and Likeness of God 153). They have a direct impact on the way the individual follower experiences the Christian faith and thus brings that follower closer to God through existential experiences of the Apostles who wrote them. Scriptures become much more than just a religious document. They become a way for our individual nous, our intellect, to grasp the concept of God itself. The Scriptures become a way to experience God. Thus, they are not just a philosophical system, but a methodology of experience.

The primary foundation of Orthodox Gnosiology relies on the heavy impact words have on the experiences of the mind. In this religious tradition, it is not our minds that impact our words, but rather the words of the Apostles and Jesus Christ that impact the way our mind conceives our reality, and most importantly God Himself. In this manner, words help shape the journey of the individual to know God. They become a major force in an otherwise internalized process to know and conceive the deity. These words seem to have the universal ability to shape the experience of those who believe in them.

This, in many ways, contradicts other forms of Christian theology, where there is more emphasis on tradition and relationships with the Church as a way to facilitate knowledge of God. In other… [END OF PREVIEW]

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