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Why You Should Care about Math

“Mathematics,” wrote the agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell, “is, I believe, the chief source of belief in eternal and exact truth.” Of course, there are lots of other reasons to believe in eternal, exact truth, but Russell’s getting at something really interesting: math has consequences for how we think.

Here’s the story.

Pythagoras introduces abstract numbers

PythagorasFor the ancient Greeks, math was one with metaphysics. It all started in the sixth century BC, with Pythagoras—the first of the Greeks to treat numbers as abstract entities existing in their own right. (Before him, numbering was all about the things being numbered, not the numbers themselves—as David Foster Wallace puts it, “the Babylonians and Egyptians were . . . interested in the five oranges rather than the 5.”) In fact, as Russell explains, Pythagorean numbers and math were more real than sensory reality:

“Geometry [derived from Pythagorean math] deals with exact circles, but no sensible [perceptible] object is exactly circular . . . . This suggests the view that all exact reasoning applies to ideal as opposed to sensible objects; it is natural to go further, and to argue that thought is nobler than sense, and the objects of thought more real than those of sense-perception. . . . numbers, if real at all, are eternal and not in time. Such eternal objects can be conceived as God’s thoughts.”

And here’s the important part—for pretty much the first time ever, all this reasoning started spilling over into the observed world. Russell explains:

“Geometry . . . starts with axioms which are (or are deemed to be) self-evident, and proceeds, by deductive reasoning, to arrive at theorems that are very far from self-evident. The axioms and theorems are held to be true of actual space, which is something given in experience. It thus appeared to be possible to discover things about the actual world by first noticing what is self-evident and then using deduction.” (Emphasis added)

It’s largely thanks to Greek math that we have deductive philosophy, the rigor of logic, and the scientific method. Were it not for Pythagoras, Russell writes, “theologians would not have sought logical proofs of God and immortality.” Russell’s conclusion is simple: “I do not know of any other man who has been as influential as he was in the sphere of thought.”

Plato reimagines abstraction as the theory of forms

plato-greek-mathematicsThe Pythagoreans exerted tremendous influence on Plato, whose most important innovation was the theory of forms. Plato held that what’s real in the world is not matter, not individuals, but classes, genres, species. Over two thousand years later, Schopenhauer put it like this: “Whoever hears me assert that the grey cat playing just now in the yard is the same one that did jumps and tricks there five hundred years ago will think what he likes of me, but it is a stranger form of madness to imagine that the present-day cat is fundamentally an entirely different one.”

So here’s the cool part: Plato’s forms are abstract in the same way as Pythagoras’ numbers. As Wallace puts it, “The conceptual move from ‘five oranges’ and ‘five pennies’ to the quantity five and the integer 5 is precisely Plato’s move from ‘man’ and ‘men’ to Man.” (Mathematicians who believe that numbers and mathematical relations exist on their own, outside of human conception, are even called Platonists.) Russell made the same connection: “what appears as Platonism is, when analysed, found to be in essence Pythagoreanism. [Plato’s] whole conception of an eternal world, revealed to the intellect but not to the senses, is derived from him.”

And Plato’s forms, of course, influenced pretty much the whole of Western thought. It’s partially thanks to Greek math, then, that we so readily categorize the world.

Zeno and Aristotle argue about infinity

aristotle-greek-mathematics“There is a concept,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges, “that corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite.” The story gets even more interesting with Zeno, who, working in Pythagoras’ footsteps, was the first to tease out infinity’s corrupting, upsetting properties. He was the one who argued that fleet Achilles could never catch the tortoise—that, first, Achilles would have to cover half the remaining distance, then three-quarters, then seven-eighths, forever approaching but never passing his competitor. The thrust of the problem: Achilles must occupy every point previously occupied by the tortoise, but as soon as he does, the tortoise has moved on and Achilles has—forever—another vanishingly small point left to occupy.

Aristotle, a former star pupil of Plato’s, countered by proposing two senses of the infinite: actual and potential, corresponding to extension and subdivision. No real-life distance, he said, is actually infinite; every distance is potentially so. (An irony: Aristotle also countered Plato’s forms, arguing that if two men are joined by the form Man, the men and Man have something in common—and isn’t there, then, a third form comprising men and Man? And a fourth form comprising men, Man, and the third form that joins them? Aristotle rejected Zeno’s infinite regress as merely potential; he rejected Plato’s forms using an infinite regress that is itself potential.)

Satisfied? Me neither. But, though Aristotle’s answer to Zeno isn’t that compelling, it was enormously influential—by relegating infinity’s tricky parts to the merely potential, it basically let math keep functioning in the presence of the infinite.

Calculus and set theory finish what the Greeks started

Not until Leibniz and Newton invented calculus would Western math develop the tools to start really answering Zeno. And when they did, it was Aristotle’s potential infinities that allowed for infinitesimals—quantities so small they can’t be added, yet somehow big enough to serve as divisors. (Berkeley, the famous empiricist and apologist, argued that calculus, no less than religion, comes down to faith—that “he who can digest a second or third [infinitesimal ratio] . . . need not, methinks, be squeamish about [anything] in divinity.”) Calculus’ notion of limits lets us look at a Zenoan infinite sequence—one-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, one-sixteenth—and prove that the segments add up not to infinity but to one; this answers the paradox, though not in a way that’s philosophically interesting. After all, by relying on infinitesimals, it relies on Aristotle’s old loophole-esque potential infinities.

More interesting is the work of Georg Cantor, who defined an infinite set as that which can be divided into subsets that are also infinite. (Cantor felt that his insights into the infinite had been directly communicated to him by God.) Because no member of the infinite set {10, 20, 30, 40 . . .} lacks a corresponding number in the infinite set {1, 2, 3, 4 . . .}, there are precisely as many multiples of ten as there are of one. The part, infinitely subdivided, is just as large as the whole; there are as many points on Zeno’s racetrack as there are in the whole universe. So check it out: after Cantor, we can conclude that Achilles, despite the longer distance ahead of him, doesn’t need to cover more points. Since both distances’ points are infinite—actually infinite, not just potentially so—the sets are 1:1 matches, and Achilles’ greater speed can win the day. For Russell, this was the first response worthy of being called a true solution.

Thanks to Pythagoras, we can think about numbers as abstract entities existing in their own right. Thanks to Plato, we can apply the same kind of abstraction to forms in general. Thanks to Zeno and Aristotle, we can complete the process of abstraction by thinking about infinity. And thanks to modern calculus (with its Aristotelian infinitesimals) and set theory (with its deeply Zenoan behavior), we can do more than just function in the presence of infinity—we can use it to solve problems.

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5 reasons you should study Greek math

pythagoras-greek-mathematicsIf you’ve found this interesting, it’s worth your time to keep learning about Greek math. Here’s why:

  1. Everyone involved was enormously influential. Pythagoras was, for Russell, the single most influential person in the sphere of thought. Plato and Aristotle are widely considered the fathers of Western philosophy. Zeno’s infinite regress has become something of a philosophical testing ground—it reappears not only in Aristotle but also in Agrippa, Plotinus, Aquinas, Leibniz, Mill, Bradley, Carroll, James, Cantor, and Russell himself.
  2. Greek math contributed to Platonism, and Platonism—through Clement, Origen, Augustine, and others—influenced early Christianity.
  3. Greek math is the context for some of modernity’s most interesting thought. Modern notions of infinity make more sense when you know Zeno’s and Aristotle’s arguments.
  4. These texts represent a remarkable value. You can get the Greek Mathematical Works Collection—which sets you up to study Pythagoras, Zeno, Greek geometry, and more—on Community Pricing for just $14; that’s 58% off. Then add the Works of Plato ($30 | 83% off), and deepen your study with the Select Works of Aristotle ($100 | 62% off). For such rich material, that’s a smart investment.
  5. The Logos editions are the most useful—ever. Math, with its refutations, its shared ideas, and its centuries-long lines of influence, is part of history’s Great Conversation. To study it, you need to be able to make connections. In the past, that would have required flipping through paper books and poring over indexes; not so with Noet, Logos’ philosophy and classics division. You’ll study primary texts alongside commentaries, follow lines of thought from author to author, and record your insights with notes and highlights that show up across all your devices.

Math matters. Understand its origins with the best texts and tools.

Bid on the Greek Mathematical Works Collection, the Works of Plato, and the Select Works of Aristotle, or browse more philosophical resources at Noet.com.

 
Then keep reading—you know why math’s important; what about philosophy?

Celebrate Augustine’s Birthday with His Confessions

Augustine

Augustine was born 1,659 years ago today. To mark the occasion, we’re offering a special deal on one of his most important works: Confessions.

Augustine’s Confessions and Select Letters

Regularly $34.95
Get it for $29.95 with coupon code AUGUSTINE2013 through November 18!

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” —Augustine, Confessions

Augustine’s Confessions represents a cornerstone of Western theological and philosophical thought. Widely recognized as the first Western autobiography, Confessions, which examines Augustine’s sinful youth and conversion to Christianity, represents the most complete record of any single person living in the fourth and fifth centuries. It’s considered the first text to examine the inner self—the idea that looking inward can bring you closer to God.

Augustine's Confessions and Select Letters

The title Confessions has multiple meanings: in Augustine’s time, “to confess” meant both to admit your sins to God and to praise God for his eternal love and forgiveness. Augustine also made his personal story public to combat the accusations of his critics: after all, he had a pagan-influenced education, believed in astrology, and, for a time, was a Manichaean. By confessing his story from sin to redemption, he was showing his critics his true nature and praising God for his conversion to Christianity.

The collection’s other works, Select Letters, offers 62 letters written by Augustine—a remarkable examination of his culture and how he dealt with its issues.

Augustine’s Confessions and Select Letters is not only a powerful narrative of the soul’s redemption, but also a stirring examination of some of the most significant questions of the Western tradition.

Through November 18, use coupon code AUGUSTINE2013 to get Augustine’s Confessions and Select Letters (6 vols.) for only $29.95!

4 Questions to Ask Before Pursuing Your DMin

Logos Mobile EducationDeciding to pursue your DMin requires a lot of consideration. Here are four questions you should ask yourself before going back to school:

1. Do I have the time?
A Doctor of Ministry is a rigorous degree, requiring many hours of study and coursework; it can be difficult to fit this into an already-busy schedule. If you’re working or in ministry full-time, it’s worth considering a distance-education model, like that of Knox Theological Seminary. You’ll better balance your time, without losing inflexible hours sitting in a lecture hall and commuting to and from campus.

2. Am I currently serving in ministry?
Some have described a DMin as a less-rigorous version of a PhD. In reality, this doesn’t hold water; a PhD is a research or academic degree, whereas a DMin is a professional degree. One might compare the DMin to the medical field’s Doctor of Medicine degree, which is designed for surgeons and physicians practicing in their fields. Likewise, a DMin is specifically aimed at those currently serving in ministry, who can practically apply what they’re learning as they study.

3. Do I meet the educational requirements?
You need a master’s degree to be accepted into a DMin program. A Doctor of Ministry makes a wonderful addition to an MDiv or other master’s focused on biblical studies and theology—it builds on the master’s degree’s technical foundations to provide deeper insight and further application. See Knox Theological Seminary’s requirements for their DMin students.

4. Can I afford it?
Any education is an investment, and we’re called to wisely steward not just our time, but also our money. We must ask ourselves if adding another financial burden is a wise use of our resources. Thankfully, a Doctor of Ministry from Knox Theological Seminary and Logos is very competitively priced, not to mention flexible. With low monthly payment plans, you can pursue your DMin without sacrificing other investments. See the tuition options for Knox’s DMin program.

A DMin to meet your needs

Knox Theological Seminary has partnered with Logos Bible Software to offer an outstanding Doctor of Ministry program with rigorous study and world-class professors, fully integrated with Logos Bible Software.

The Knox Doctor of Ministry is:

  • Flexible: With week-long intensive sessions offered several times a year, you’ll work in a cohort model to complete the majority of your studies from wherever you are—you don’t have to uproot your family and leave your ministry.
  • World-class: The professors at Knox are the best in their fields. You’ll learn under such renowned scholars as Haddon Robinson, Bryan Chapell, Bruce Waltke, and Jim Belcher.
  • Practical: The Knox DMin courses are designed to offer you, the worker on the ground, practical training and guidance to benefit the ministry in which you serve. This isn’t a theoretical research degree—it’s designed for you, where you’re at.
  • Affordable: With monthly payments as low as $230, you can be a wise steward of your money and still pursue an education to bless your spiritual life and your ministry.

* * *

Further your education. Further your ministry. Apply today!

On Remembrance and Veterans Day

Veteran's DayAt the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the hostilities of WWI came to an end. Although the war didn’t officially end for another 7 months, countries around the globe commemorate the armistice on Remembrance Day.

This special day is acknowledged throughout Great Britain, Canada, India, South Africa,  Australia, and New Zealand. It’s also observed by other countries who fought alongside the British Empire during WWI, like Kenya, Bermuda, Barbados, and Mauritius.

On November 11, 1919, President Wilson called for the United States to recognize the first Armistice day:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

In the summer of 1926, the United States Congress passed a resolution officially recognizing Armistice Day with the following resolution:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

In 1954, after suffering through WWII (the largest deployment America had ever seen) and the Korean War, veterans’ organizations appealed to the 86th Congress to modify Armistice Day to honor the American veterans of all wars. Congress responded by changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Whether or not you live in a country that observes Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, take a few moments today to thank someone who has served your country and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Last Chance for Reformation Day Deals!

Reformation Day

For just a few more days, you can get discounts on books by Luther and Zwingli, up to $600 off the Calvin 500 Collection, and Luther’s 95 Thesesfree!

But you have to act fast—all Reformation Day deals expire Monday, Nov. 11. Use coupon code REFDAY13 at checkout.

Martin Luther, born on Nov. 10, 1483, revolutionized the beliefs and worship of Christians around the world. In honor of his 530th birthday, you can save on a number of his resources:

  1. luthers-worksTake up to 10% off Luther’s WorksThis 55-volume set includes Luther’s exposition and commentary on Scripture, plus an index of quotes and topics. You won’t find a larger collection of Luther’s works.
  2. Take up to 18% off The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism. This two-volume set encompasses Lutheran orthodoxy. It includes contributions from numerous theologians from 1577–1713, giving you a fair picture of Lutheran theology as a whole.
  3. Pick up the 95 Theses for free! Written 496 years ago, this is one of the most significant documents in Christian history. The Logos edition provides the text in parallel English and Latin versions. Get it free while you can!

Browse all the Reformed products on saleDon’t miss this chance to pick up Reformed resources at massive discounts! Use coupon code REFDAY13 through Monday, November 11.

Pre-Order Camp Logos 2 on DVD

camp-logos-2-dvd-rom

We recently shipped Camp Logos 1 on DVD, and hundreds of users are already learning to get more from their software—from the comfort of their homes. Now you can pre-order the Camp Logos 2 DVDs for only $199.95.

What do you get with Camp Logos 2?

Camp Logos 2 focuses on helping you organize your library. Chances are, you’ve got hundreds or thousands of resources, and that can be overwhelming. Camp Logos 2 teaches you to organize them in the way that works best for you. You’ll get answers to questions like:

  • How do I organize my books for maximum benefit?
  • How are my books indexed?
  • How do I combine and prioritize resources?

If you’ve already been through Camp Logos 1, you may be wondering, “Do I really need Camp Logos 2?” If you want to make use of every book you own, yes. Camp Logos 1 teaches you the basics; Camp Logos 2 teaches you how to get the most out of every single book you own, and how best to incorporate future additions to your library.

“As a ‘power user,’ I found Camp Logos 2 incredibly helpful! It was a giant leap forward from Camp Logos 1, and it made it possible for me to customize the software to perfectly meet my study needs.” —Camp Logos 2 attendee

You’ll also cover topics like text comparison, visual filtering for English words and original-language lemmas, original-language searching, and far more.

Right now, you can get the DVD edition of Camp Logos 2 on Pre-Pub for $199.95. Pre-order it today!

Double Amputee Displays Logos Loyalty

Logos Prosthetic LegAt Logos, we work hard to provide a tool that people feel passionate about. We’re proud to have such loyal customers—in fact, we’ve had some go above and beyond in showing their loyalty. When double-amputee Matthew Jones, a devoted Logos user, requested to add our logo to his new prosthetic legs, we eagerly agreed.

We recently had the chance to chat with Jones about his background and his passion for Logos.

1. What is your personal background?

I was raised in Japan by my missionary parents. I have been married to a gentle-spirited lady named Nina for 32 years. God has blessed us with 13 children. I worked for General Motors in Oklahoma and Michigan until I retired at 38. I am now a stay-at-home dad.

2. What’s the story behind your prosthetic legs?

I lost my legs to diabetes via below-knee amputation. My new legs are made by the world’s best prosthetics crafter—they go the extra mile in personalizing their work. They did a great job placing my two graphics on a pearl-white background.

3. What inspired you to use the Logos logo?

I am happy with my Logos 5 software and like to talk to others about it. The Logos logo represents not only the world’s premier Bible software, but also the fine people who work for Logos. I am hoping the logo will spark conversation with others. I also think it looks pretty cool.

4. What’s the meaning behind the other symbol?

The other graphic is a combination of symbols representing my spiritual heritage. The top symbol is a menorah, representing Israel. The bottom symbol is an ΙΧΘΥΣ fish, representing “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” The base of the menorah intersects the tail of the fish to form the Shield of David in the middle. A cross is in the center of the star. The old covenant and the new covenant meet at the cross.

5. How long have you been using Logos?

I “came home” to Libronix 3 in April of 2008. I was the first person to see Logos 4 when it was newly posted on the website. I quickly updated to Logos 4, and then Logos 5. I am excited to see what the future holds for Logos 6 and beyond.

6. How do you use your Logos library?

If I were a pastor, I would use Logos for sermon preparation and counseling, but I am not. If I were an academic, I would concentrate on reading lists, but I am not. Nor am I an expert linguist, so I do appreciate reverse interlinears.

One benefit of my large Logos library is being able to find something on just about every topic I want to read up on. Many of the resources lend themselves very well to our homeschooling efforts. I use Logos for Bible study and studying background material.

The Passage Guide is a quick and easy way to launch a great study. I like all the guides in Logos 5, but the Passage Guide is my favorite—hands down.

One recurring delight I have with Logos is discovering a resource in my library that I did not know I had. Another delight is learning another new trick from Morris Proctor in weekly emails or in a forum post by one of the many seasoned users.

7. You’re a frequent contributor to our forums—tell us about your involvement there.

I have found a nice community of fellow users in the forums. I learn so much from others—I believe it is an important venue of support and education. The forum community spans across all geographical and cultural divides. There are some very talented and gracious people posting there. I like to associate with these types of people, so I hang out in the forums whenever I get the chance. It is a great feeling to be able to help someone with a problem.

We’re incredibly honored to mean so much to Matthew Jones—and humbled by the loyalty of all our users.

Thank you!

* * *

Right now, you can get 15% off any new Logos 5 base package. Use coupon code GET15OFF today and see what you can get out of your new library.

What Did Ancient Heresy Mean for the Early Church?

Last week, we looked at the Epicureans, who sought to maximize individual pleasure. Two weeks ago, we looked at the Stoics, who sought freedom from the world. Now let’s look at another competitor with early Christianity, this one much closer to home—the Gnostics.

Everyone knows that Gnosticism, popular in the first few centuries AD, was rejected as heresy. What’s really interesting is what it meant for the early church.

Evil world, secret knowledge, layered heavens

irenaeus-gnosticismGnosticism was “a system of religious thought that blended elements of Christianity with Greek philosophy and Zoroastrianism. The basic tenet is that the created world [is] evil and salvation [comes] through secret knowledge (gnosis)” (FSB). But the diversity of Gnostic schools makes the system hard to pin down. Indeed, wrote a sarcastic Irenaeus, “since their teachings and traditions are different, and the newer ones among them claim to be constantly finding something new, and working out what no one ever thought of before, it is hard to describe their views.”

So let’s look at the strangest, most interesting cosmology: that of one of the later Gnostics, Basilides.

Basilides’ heaven was not one but many, concentric. At the distant center was a single god, ruling over seven lesser gods; these seven created a heaven. They also created seven more gods and another, lower heaven, the symmetrical image of the first; the gods of this lower heaven created yet another heaven, with its sevenfold pantheon; these, another, and so on—365 heavens total. (Thus was the problem of evil resolved: by sheer distance between the world and the divine.) At the very bottom was the god of the Hebrew Bible, who, reduced 365 times over, was nothing but a demiurge—a creator god, working not with essences (like the inner gods) but with mere matter.

From there, Gnosticism was characterized by:

  • Dualism between essence and matter, light and darkness, spirit and body. (Most Gnostics, judging all things fleshly as sinful, were ascetics; others, judging all things fleshly as equally sinful, were hedonists.)
  • A focus on enlightenment. The Gnostics thought that they, through divine revelation, possessed secret knowledge that would allow them to pass from earth up through the ringed heavens—enlightenment unavailable in Scripture alone. (Enlightened souls were the only thing on Earth worth redeeming.)
  • A vastly different notion of Christ. God took mercy on darkened, matter-bound humanity, sending a redeemer—a redeemer whose body was, since flesh and pure spirit are incompatible, merely an illusion. Therefore, Jesus’ physical crucifixion was illusory, too.

History tends to record Gnosticism as a subset of Christianity, but, given these radical departures, it’s more accurate (and interesting) to regard it as a standalone worldview. That’s especially true when you consider its diverse heritage.

Where did Gnosticism come from?

plato-gnosticismGnosticism’s three great influences were Platonism, Zoroastrianism, and elements of Christianity.

  1. From Plato, the Gnostics inherited the distinction between spirit and flesh, key to the Gnostic conception of personal enlightenment. Likewise, the Platonic distinction between form and matter influenced the Gnostic distinction between an essential heaven and a material earth. And the demiurge, too, comes to Gnosticism from Plato, who imagined a creator god in his Timaeus.
  2. From Zoroastrianism, the Gnostics inherited the dualism between light and darkness. More generally, Gnostic dualism owes something to Zoroaster’s consolidation of the Iranian pantheon into opposing forces of “illuminating wisdom” and “destructive spirit.”
  3. From Christianity, Gnosticism inherited pieces but by no means the whole: Jesus, but not his physical resurrection; the Bible, but only as an untrustworthy text to be modified by aggressive misreading and supplemented by such forged additions as the Gospel of Judas. (The Gnostic tendency to modify Scripture is unsurprising—they thought of it, after all, as the work of an inferior deity, given to errors, omissions, and deceit.)

Irenaeus’ counterarguments

Alarmed by the Gnostic worldview, Irenaeus set out to disprove it in Against Heresies. He argued that:

  • The church was authoritative because of apostolic succession. According to the Gnostics, only their oral tradition, derived from the apostles, granted divine knowledge; Irenaeus countered that “The Church . . . received from the apostles and their disciples its faith.” Because the church leaders learned from people who’d learned from people who (a few steps earlier) had learned directly from Christ and his apostles, the church was to be trusted.
  • The gospel was reliable because it was written after the apostles came to divine knowledge. The Gnostics thought the gospel was written before the apostles came to full enlightenment; Irenaeus responded that, right after the Resurrection, “the Holy Spirit came upon [the apostles], and they were filled with all things and had perfect knowledge.”
  • The sheer diversity of competing Gnostic viewpoints undermined the Gnostic claim to truth. With so many Gnostics “constantly finding something new, and working out what no one ever thought of before,” how could any one be correct?

Gnosticism’s defeat was decisive—so much so that we know the school primarily through the writings of Irenaeus and other critics.

Gnosticism’s consequences

The debates over Gnosticism helped shape the early church in three ways. They contributed to:

  1. An increased focus on apostolic succession, so important to Irenaeus’ arguments.
  2. A standardized scriptural canon. In AD 150, Marcion proposed his own canon, which omitted the OT and was edited by Marcion himself. Irenaeus responded with a list of 21 canonical books, including the four Gospels.
  3. An emphasis on creeds to separate false from proper belief. The Apostles’ Creed, specifically, not only predates but also answers Gnostic heresy: “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” rejects the Gnostics’ subaltern demiurge and flawed physical world; “Jesus Christ . . . born of the virgin Mary” rejects the Gnostic conception of Jesus’ body as illusory; “I believe in the holy catholic [universal] church” rejects the Gnostic claim that enlightenment is for a select few.

Gnosticism was remarkable not only for its strangeness, its startling diversity of cosmologies, but for its historical consequences. It’s in large part thanks to Gnosticism that the third- and fourth-century Christians solidified the doctrines we now regard as orthodox; that alone makes the Gnostics worth studying.

* * *

prudentius-gnosticismIf you’re interested in church and intellectual history, you should know the rise and fall of Gnosticism. Noet sets you up with many of the school’s most important texts, as well as smart tools for better scholarship.

  1. Understand its Hellenistic origins (and the origins of so much of Western thought) with the 24-volume Works of Plato, on Community Pricing for 83% off.
  2. Examine its rise with Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.
  3. Know the arguments against heresy with Irenaeus’ Against Heresies and the Works of Prudentius (who refuted the dualism of Marcion), on Community Pricing for 73% off.

Or extend your library with Noet’s enormous Classical Foundations Bundle, which sets you up to study antiquity across philosophy, history, and literature.

Then keep reading about early-church context:


 

Get the Newest Books at the Lowest Prices

Logos PrePubThe Pre-Publication program (or “Pre-Pub” for short) gives you the chance to push new books into Logos at the lowest possible prices.

Logos books are more than ordinary ebooks, which are essentially just print books on a screen.

Logos books are robust digital resources. They’re built by real humans—not computer scripts—who know that the phrase “first verse of the first epistle of John” needs to link to 1 John 1:1; that’s just one example of the thousands of decisions that only a real person can make when building a digital text. The result? You get high-quality digital editions that work across all your devices and with all our tools.

As you can imagine, building these kinds of digital editions is very expensive for us. And it’s an even bigger investment when you consider that we ship thousands of new books every year. That’s why, before we invest the resources in building a digital edition, we post the book on Pre-Pub at an extra-low price to see if there’s enough interest.

Or, to put it more briefly, with Pre-Pub:

  • You get the chance to pre-order the newest books at the best prices.
  • We can rest assured that our investment in building new books will benefit the most people.

Six things you need to know about Pre-Pub

  1. You get the lowest prices. In exchange for pre-ordering early—and helping us determine whether we should produce a Logos edition—we reward you with a lower price. In just about every instance, the Pre-Pub price is the lowest price ever for a product.
  2. Prices go up, but they don’t go down. As books get closer to meeting 100% of their costs—and when they go over 100%—prices often go up. If you pre-order early, you’ll be locked in at your price, even if the price goes up later. This means you shouldn’t wait to pre-order something you’ve got your eye on: the price could go up next week or next month—or even this afternoon.
  3. When you pre-order, we don’t charge your credit card. A pre-order is simply a reserved spot at the best price. We’ll only charge your card when we build the Logos edition and deliver it to you, and we’ll be sure to remind you a couple weeks beforehand.
  4. You can cancel at any time. You have nothing to lose by pre-ordering something you’ve got your eye on and then changing your mind later. And by pre-ordering, you’ll lock in today’s price even if the price goes up tomorrow.
  5. You get to be one of the first people to get the new resource. As soon as we produce the book, we deliver it to you and it downloads automatically. You’ll be able to access it on all your devices the moment it’s ready.
  6. You get to help Logos decide which resources to produce next. Products that move over 100% get into the production queue. If there’s a product under 100% you want to see in our format, your pre-order is your vote to move it closer to the front of the line. And it’s not always enough to place a pre-order for yourself—it’s also important that you tell your friends. Even something as simple as dropping a note on Facebook or Twitter can get the few extra orders needed to move something into production.

How to make sure you never miss another Pre-Pub deal

Because Pre-Pub prices go up over time, it’s important to keep up with the newest books and get in early. But with hundreds of new books going up every week, this can be a challenge.

That’s why we created an email list to keep you up to date on all the latest products.

When you sign up, you’ll get one email each weekday morning with a list of the previous day’s new books. You’ll be able to quickly scan the newest products, and you’ll never miss out on the best prices.

Sign up today!





3 Noteworthy Deals (and 200 More)

Logos November Deals

We have over 200 resources on sale all November long! You don’t need a coupon code to take advantage of these awesome deals—just be sure to get them before the month is over.

Calvin and the History of Calvinism Collectioncalvin-and-the-history-of-calvinism-collection

Regularly $249.95
Get it for $164.95 through the end of November (that’s 34% off!)

This collection, containing some of the most important scholarship on Reformation history and the Calvinist movement, is a must no matter your theological bent. Calvinists will love the exploration of their origins. Others will glean a more complete understanding of the important questions that Calvin and others sought to answer. This is the largest discounted collection in the monthly sale; at less than $7/vol., it represents an extraordinary value.

A Compendium of Christian Theologycompendium-of-christian-theology-2nd-ed

Regularly $99.95
Get it for $32.95 through the end of November (that’s 67% off!)

These three volumes, unmatched in fairness and concision, constitute the authoritative textbook on dogmatic theology in the Wesleyan tradition. Your theological library would be incomplete without them.

journal-of-hebrew-scripturesJournal of Hebrew Scriptures

Regularly $179.95
Get it for $65.95 through the end of November (that’s 63% off!)

Only in Logos could you get a peer-reviewed academic journal, devoted to the study of the Hebrew Bible, networked—all 2,500-plus pages—with your entire digital library. Logos 5’s powerful search tools unlock these volumes’ wealth of information—through the end of the month, at a 63% discount.

These are some of the most noteworthy titles on sale this month, but there are many more. Browse all the November deals today!