T. Markiewicz, K. Uniłowski (red.), "Tajemnice "Słowa i ciała" : szkice o powieści Teodora Parnickiego" (s. 63-76). Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Teodor Parnicki was aware of the complicated situation of the early Christianity.
From the pages of his novel The Word and the Flesh we can recognize
that the problem of theological differences and discrepancies inside the
Christian community was not unfamiliar to him. Moreover, we can also state,
that he possessed in-depth knowledge of both ancient sources and scholarly
discussions of his time. The bulk of available sources and dominant trends in
scholarship drew the main outlines of view in which Gnosticism is presented
in his book. This view differs a lot, because of new sources and findings,
from ideas which we are familiar with. However, there is one more thing that
has to be stressed. Parnicki did not simply copy the passages he had found in
sources or secondary literature. He chose elements he wanted and added his
own ideas to create an entirely new picture. It did not happen without intentional
omissions and misrepresentations of the ancient material.
Regarding ancient writers Parnicki was dependent on, we should first mention
Eusebius and his Church History. Parnicki also used Contra Celsus by
Origen, Tertulian and some others. To sum it up, his knowledge of Gnostics
came mostly from Christian authors. Having built his view of Gnosticism
he was strongly influenced by theories by Adolph von Harnack, although he
was deriving also from Richard August Reitzenstein. Among the main points
which characterize a picture of Gnosticism in Parnicki’s The Word and the
Flesh it is important to underline:
1. It is not Gnosticism of its founders but of their minor successors. Valentinus
and Marcion are only mentioned as heroes of the past.
2. The whole attention is focused on particular persons (usually on leaders)
and not on religious or philosophical movements those persons were
3. Gnosticism in considered as a phenomenon within Christianity.
4. Some oriental elements are present.
5. Gnosticism is almost completely tantamount to the system of Marcion.
6. Gnostic mythology, so important in most of the systems, also in Valentinianism,
is absent in Parnicki’s book.