Monday, April 28, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 4-28-08

A foolish person does not guard against telling a mystery. A wise person does not blurt out every word. Rather the wise person will be discriminating toward those who listen (to him). Do not mention everything in the presence of those whom you do not know.

Teachings of Silvanus 97.10-18 (Alexandrian text, mid-second century)

3 comments:

JMS Providence said...

Based on my experience, the thing I find interesting about these words you've shared, Dr. D., is that when they're applied to faith or religion (as oppose to business or technology, etc), such methods of preserving what is sacred from the ignorant and foolish, so to speak, is often times perceived negatively, as though such a person was trying to be destructively deceptive in keeping less desirables from knowing what they ought not know (or rather, what they're not ready to know), less, as Jesus says, they turn around and tear you to pieces. This may sound a bit elitist, in some way, I suppose, but how else would success be secured for those who've earned it?

lightseeker said...

I think I understand what jms is saying about elitism. This is a perception problem of so-called "outsiders" toward the early Christian (especially Gnostic) faith.

To me, it means one must use discretion to know the person to whom you would divulge "mysteries" (hidden knowledge - especially sacramental). It's not that a person is less desirable based on class or any other social value. Rather, it is discernment on a spiritual basis - some people (the "wise") are more readily able to grasp deeper spiritual truths than others (the "foolish"). Paul had this same (rather gnostic) idea - "milk" was fed to the "babes in Christ" while the more spiritually advanced "adults" were allowed to be fed "meat." Also, perhaps in an era in which early Christians were persecuted, it was wise not to blab about such mysteries to the wrong people - those who might turn one over to the authorities for punishment or even death!

To those outside a particular Christian community - even to modern orthodox Christians looking back - this might seem elitist in the sense that only those who had been initiated into the "Christian club" of the spiritually advanced "adults" were permitted to be taught the mysteries; they earned that right through catechism and initiation.

But this practice of insiders and outsiders seems to have been common in the ancient world. By using discernment not to "cast them before swine," it was how highly valued, sacred "pearls" were kept sacred.

JMS Providence said...

I appreciate your elaboration, Light. You have very good sense!