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Document Details :

Title: The Paradise of Shem (NH VII, 1) as an Ascent Apocalypse
Author(s): ROBERGE, M.
Journal: Le Muséon
Volume: 113    Issue: 1-2   Date: 2000   
Pages: 25-54
DOI: 10.2143/MUS.113.1.519467

Abstract :
Scholars who have dealt with one aspect or another of The Paraphrase of Shem (ParaShem) have been frank about the difficulties they encountered when trying to explain this document. Diverse literary genres, doublets, glosses, backtracking, inconsistencies, fluctuating terminology, and above all, the confusion of interlocutors in the final pages combine to produce the effect of a text in which pieces of diverse provenance and date have been compiled by one or more redactors — none of whom seem to have been concerned with either unity or logical order. Viewed from this perspective, the text offers no more than a series of images which describe the gnostic experience of existence in a suitably symbolic way, and is, just as its title suggests, a great ‘paraphrase’, i.e., a series of various images centred on the single basic theme of the deliverance of the light of Spirit which had fallen into Darkness. In F. Wisse’s view, “The Tractate was not carefully planned and was executed in a haphazard fashion. Other evidence also points at an amateurish effort at composition... This means that a reconstruction of the events is hazardous; there is a great danger of trying to make more sense and provide more order than the author intended or the tractate can support”.

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