The Interpretation of Knowledge, a Valentinian text that dates from the late second to early fourth century, addresses a social conflict within a Christian community that has resulted in factionalism between “spiritual” and “ordinary” Christians. In this sustained paraenetic address, the author exhorts both factions to reconciliation. At the close of the tractate, the author shifts from the internal problem to themes of cosmic conflict and persecution, thereby tapping into martyrdom language. In 20.36–38 the author uses a rhetorical question and three consecutive sentences to emphasize his or her moral indignation at those in the community who are causing divisions. By building up to a rhetorical climax, the author discursively aligns these agitators with those cosmic forces that oppose the Christian's soteriological status and the church's harmony. Thus, the paraenesis charges the recipients either to accept the exhortation to unity or to be identified as persecutors rather than as “athletes of the Logos.”

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