Rebecca Lesses: "at the beginning of an article just state - this is what I mean by gnostic, gnosticism, and if you want to know more, see such and such an article that I wrote that explains this exactly with all the details"
Rebecca, I have been doing this. But it doesn't work well. It also limits what I can do or say.
But if I create a category that everyone knows is a modern heuristic device, my analysis will be more transparent. I will be able to identify family relationships better. For instance, take Hermetic materials. There is a genetic link between the religiosity of these lodges and the gnostics. But they aren't gnostics because their creator god isn't oppositional. What they are though are transtheists who are linked to other transtheists (the gnostics) who have taken the hermetic tradition and worked in jewish and samaritan (and eventually christian) exegetical traditions.
Of course I will continue discussing different groups by name when we might know a group. But these groups are not unconnected varieties. Almost every one of them is from Alexandria with some connections with Antioch and Rome and Edessa and Carthage and Lyons. There are genetic connections that need to be worked out, and we need overarching language to be able to identify those characteristics - and the characteristics that uniquely develop with different groups.
Marcion is also a transtheist, but I wouldn't call him a traditional gnostic. Why? Because he is not genetically connected to the Alexandrian group. His Unknown alien god has no connection to the ruler of this world. He just looks down here one day and feels sorry for the plight of humans under the rule of the Yah god and decides to intervene by sending the adult Jesus to save us. He is a god of love and mercy afterall - at least that is Maricon's argument. But his system is a very interesting transtheistic one. If it is studied from that perspective it won't get mixed up with the gnostic systems.
Jared Calaway: "On a somewhat related note, when does the second edition of your Thirteenth Apostle come out? I am slated to teach a class next fall on gospels--using the genre as a lens to discuss, as you say, polydoxy--and I think the second edition of the book could be a great help for undergrads in conceptualizing this."
The second edition of the Thirteenth Apostle is due out by the end of the month as far as I have been told. I still don't see it on Amazon, but it is in press as I write. I can't wait to see the gem. It will be on the back cover in full color, and on the inside in the gem chapter. I made some drawings of other gems for the book which I am also looking forward to seeing. I love visuals, and it is not often that our books get to contain them. So this is extra special.
As for "no biblical demiurgical traditions?!"....that is just what I mean to avoid. I want to open up the discussion of these systems beyond the narrower confines - to explode our expectations. What would happen if we cleared the table? If we started the analysis fresh? If we got away from framing the picture the way it has always been done beginning with the church fathers who were all contorted over the fact that the creator god from the OT was perceived negatively. But when you study these systems, you discover that the thing that is important to these gnostics is that they know a God who is above the fray, and this is a God of pure love, mercy, truth, perfection, etc. And they belong to him-her. The rest of their systems will vary, including their perceptions of the biblical god (if they have one).