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Grooming with the scaffolding exposed.,
This review is from: Pistis Sophia (Kindle Edition)
This is cleverly and subtly constructed: a lengthy and tiresome narrative that's gradually - with much repetition and reiteration -used to validate the heirarchies and mythology (if you're not alert to reality).
It's easy to imagine, one, two, three thousand years ago or more, a charismatic or forceful preacher talking to a small group who've little choice but to nod along as the scene's set of a powerful Jesus (Ra, Baal etc) surrounded by awed sycophants who are used to utter acceptance of a ludicrous fiction that was just a recent version of age-old tales. In the language of a salesperson, all the repetitions are pre-closes against "eh up, that doesn't make sense" because each person in the group has been nodding along throughout.
There's price conditioning too: "if I don't buy into this crock, I'll be victim of those Self-willed basilisks and lions - or be ostracised by my tribe", an early form of Pascal's Wager used against folk powerless to see through it (or say so if they do).
Tiresome as Pistis Sophia is, I have a reluctant admiration for the way it's constructed to gain credibility as an easilly memorised tale that will be revisited time-after-time as the speaker expands his cult's influence over the superstitious society. This is a clear template of the grooming of pre-theory-of-mind children that continues as the principal recruitment method of all religions today: it is eye-opening to see Pistis Sophia translated for us in this book first published at the start of the 1900s.
The translator's preamble is of a similar style to the subject matter itself. Prof(?) Mead is clearly equipped with the intellect to recognise Pistis Sophia as the religious marketing tool it is, but he's overly deferential to the christian mindset of which this 1000-1800-yar-old manuscript is a twig in the tree of history / myth.
Yes, it's worth spending some time grappling with, yet the patience to read through every "and it came to pass..." is a virtue that I admire scholars possessing.
I read this as a result of the excellent biblical scholar Robert M Price's comments. Whether you should too - or read Price, Richard Carrier, Ophelia Benson or even Harry Potter instead - is your choice. However, I will continue to buy these items that expose me to earlier religious documents as they always teach me something (even if it is just to be thankful fo this era of libraries, ebooks, electric light, scientific application of the intellect and pizzas).