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Part of the problem with arguing that the ideas of the Qumran sect
influenced Gnosticism, or vice-versa, lies in the basic problem that
"Gnosticism" is a term which is often used fairly indiscriminately to
refer to an enormous range of different groups in the
Mediterranean World from some time before the time of Christ to the
4th century CE and beyond. On a terminological level, the Qumran sect
could be described as proto-gnostic due to the significance in the
sectarian QS of esoteric knowledge/da`at (cf. Greek gnosis); but
many, myself included, would see this as pressing a point too far.
What can be said is that Gnosticism, and its predecessors, was an
enormously disparate series of groups which were found in many parts
of the Mediterranean World, and which drew on ideas which surfaced in
Hellenistic and Jewish texts, notably, in different degrees, in the
texts from Qumran, the New Testament, and (much later) Nag Hammadi. A
more precise answer to the question of Gnostic influence would be
very difficult to pin down.
Department of Biblical Studies,
University of Sheffield.