I have received the following link from Caleb of Dr McClymond’s review of Illaria Ramelli plus her reply to him. Both were posted by Father Kimel at Eclectic Orthodoxy.
Footnote 7 seems important to me. The fall and restoration of souls found in the Nag Hammadi community that Dr Mike refers to and says Dr Ramelli ignores is not universalist (even if there are affinities between Origen and the Gnostics and some respects – which Dr Ramelli has shown is debatable). I’m not a patristic scholar but when I had a conversation with Dr Mike about this contention I’d did read the sources he was citing at this time to back up his argument about universalism coming from Gnosticism and other relevant sources translated in the Nag Hamadi Library reader. None of these taught universalism as far as I could see.
A note on Williams book ‘Re-thinking Gnosticism’ cited as being very important in Dr Mike’s Footnote:
Williams argues broadly that our current view of the Gnostics has been distorted by the polemics of the Church Father’s against Gnosticism and that a careful reading of the texts that we have will show that there was more diversity and more subtlety amongst Gnostic thinkers than has previously been acknowledged. Dr Mike is obviously referring to the following argument by Williams as something that Dr Ramelli has not taken into account (from the publisher’s blurb):
‘’Williams takes up the question of “gnostic determinism”: the oft-repeated modern assertion that the gnostics believed mankind to be strictly divided into different types (the spirituals, the psychics, the materials) or different races (the race of Seth, the race of Cain), and that the doctrinal upshot of such divisions was that each individual’s potential for salvation was understood to be already determined at birth. Williams shows that this modern notion of Gnostic determinism is not supported by the original texts. A careful reading of the sources shows that one is not “born into” the race of Seth: rather it is a status one may attain or earn. The race of Seth is more a spiritual community than a biological “race” in our modern sense. Likewise with the division into three types: one’s status as a spiritual is seen to be linked to one’s behaviour: one may lose this status through abandoning the truth, and thus to be born as a spiritual is no guarantee of salvation. The assertion that the ancient gnostics were elitists in the sense of believing themselves predestined to salvation (saved in essence) is misguided. Williams demonstrates that there was at least as much flexibility in these gnostic notions as there is in more recent Protestant doctrines of the elect’’.
I’ve read the Chapter from ‘Re-Thinking Gnosticism on Gnostic determinism. It has nothing to say about Universalism. The author does make a good that not all Gnostic sects were rigid in their determinism; that salvation through gnosis was seen as conditional upon diligently effort in seeking and finding; and that even the spiritual ‘elect’ could lose salvation through backsliding. However, with my little knowledge I was always aware that the ‘psychics’ – those with a mental and emotional life who were not yet fully spiritual –could either attain or lose salvation. All that this study does is extend this conditionally to the elect spirituals. The author is less convincing about the fate of those who are merely physical/sarkic/hylical. These are the people who are bound to the cycle of toil – the majority of the population and he does not produce evidence to soften any of the contemptuous texts I have seen towards this large class of people that the Gnostics produced (and dismissed to destruction). It would be interesting to know what Dr Ramelli has written about this new study. However, it does not impact directly on her case for universalism.