(2) As to the speculation of the errorists, it is replied that it is explicable in the lifetime of Paul, that some of the elements of it may have their source in pre-Christian Jewish theories, and that recourse to the developed gnosticism of the 2nd century is unnecessary.
BASILIDES, one of the most conspicuous exponents of Gnosticism, was living at Alexandria probably as early as the first decades of the 2nd century.
Whether Basilides himself had already given this magic tendency to Gnosticism cannot be decided.
Basilides, then, represents that form of Gnosticism that is closest to Persian dualism in its final form.
From most of the other Gnostic sects, with the exception perhaps of the JewishChristian Gnosticism, he is distinguished by the fact that with him the figure of the fallen female god (Sophia Achamoth), and, in general, the idea of a fall within the godhead is entirely wanting.
To The use of the word "life" in a personal sense is usual in Gnosticism; compare the Zcoi 7 of Valentin and el-hayat el-muallama, " the dark life," of Mani in the Fihrist.
The foundation of the system is obviously to be sought in Gnosticism, and more particularly in the older type of that doctrine (known from the serpent symbol as Ophite or Naassene) which obtained in Mesopotamia and Further Asia generally.
In the Gnostic basis itself it is not difficult to recognize the general features of the religion of ancient Babylonia, and thus we are brought nearer a solution of the problem as to the origin of Gnosticism in general.
In the year following his appointment he published a second monograph Der Heilige Bernhard and sein Zeitalter (Berlin, 1813), and then in 1818 his work on Gnosticism (Genetische Entwickelung der vornehmsten gnostischen Systeme).
These lectures, which dealt with such special subjects as Gnosticism and the Apocalypse, attracted considerable attention, and in 1876 he was appointed professor extraordinarius.
The Pythagorean theory of numbers, Neoplatonic ideas of emanation, the Logos, the personified Wisdom, Gnosticism - these and many other features combine to show the antiquity of tendencies which, clad in other shapes, are already found in the old pre-Christian Oriental religions.
The study of the whole subject being wrapped up with Gnosticism and Oriental theosophy, the related literature is immense.
Thinkers chose their doctrines from many sources - from the venerated teaching of Aristotle and Plato, from that of the Pythagoreans and of the Stoics, from the old Greek mythology, and from the Jewish and other Oriental systems. Yet it must be observed that Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, and the other systems which are grouped under the name Alexandrian, were not truly eclectic, consisting, as they did, not of a mere syncretism of Greek and Oriental thought, but of a mutual modification of the two.
While the characteristic features of apocalyptic literature were derived from Judaism, those of Gnosticism sprang partly from Greek philosophy, partly from oriental religions.
With this pantheistic Gnosticism is associated a severe asceticism.
Gnosticism was the result of the attempt to blend with Christianity the religious notions of pagan mythology, mysterology, theosophy and philosophy" (p. 98).
In the later heresy of Manichaeism there were affinities to Gnosticism, but it was a mixture of many elements, Babylonian-Chaldaic theosophy, Persian dualism and even Buddhist ethics (p. 126).
MONTANISM, a somewhat misleading name for the movement in the 2nd century which, along with Gnosticism, occupied the most critical period in the history of the Early Church.
It was the overthrow of Gnosticism and Montanism that made the "Catholic" Church.
It is true that there was no rivalry between the new organization and the old, as in Asia and Phrygia, for the Western Montanists recognized in its main features the Catholic organization as it had been developed in the contest with Gnosticism; but the demand that the "organs of the Spirit" should direct the whole discipline of the congregation contained implicitly a protest against the actual constitution of the Church.
Ix.), the presence of antinomian Gnosticism, denying the doctrine of lordship and " glories " (v.
According to the relative predominance of these two elements arose Gnosticism, the Patristic theology, and the philosophical schools of Neo-Pythagoreanism, Neo-Platonism and eclectic Platonism.
5; English translation under the title of Sources of the Apostolic Canons, 1895.) Meanwhile the rise and rapid spread of Gnosticism produced a great crisis in the Church of the 2nd century, and profoundly affected the ecclesiastical organization.
There is probably some truth in the view that the Church clung to its Four Gospels as a weapon against Gnosticism; it could not afford to reduce the number of its documents.
But in all probability these dates were only one development of those speculations in the region of numbers to which Gnosticism was so prone; and in any case to look for genuine traditions among Egyptian Gnostics, or even in the church of Alexandria, would be to misread the history of Christianity in the 2nd century.
See Gnosticism, Basilides, &c.
We have to come down to Iamblichus and his school before we find complete correspondence with the Christian Gnosticism of the and century; that is to say, it is only in the 4th century that Greek philosophy in its proper development reaches the stage at which certain Greek philosophers who had embraced Christianity had arrived in the and century.
On the whole, then, for an exposition of Gnosticism we are thrown back upon the polemical writings of the Fathers in their controversy with heresy.
Very noteworthy references to Gnosticism are also to be found scattered up and down the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria.
With the 4th century both Gnosticism and the polemical literature directed against it die out.'
It is a mistake to regard the Gnostics as pre-eminently the representatives of intellect amongChristians, and Gnosticism as an intellectual tendency chiefly concerned with philosophical speculation, the reconciliation of religion with philosophy and theology.
It is true that when Gnosticism was at its height it numbered amongst its followers both theologians and men of science, but that is not its main characteristic. Among the majority of the followers of the movement " Gnosis " was understood not as meaning " knowledge " or " understanding," in our sense of the word, but " revelation."
In short, Gnosticism, in all its various sections, its form and its character, falls under the great category of mystic religions, which were so characteristic of the religious life of decadent antiquity.
In Gnosticism as in the other mystic religions we find the same contrast of the initiated and the uninitiated, the same loose organization, the same kind of petty sectarianism and mystery-mongering.
Above all we can see from the original sources of the Mandaean religion, which also represents a branch of Gnosticism, how great a part the sacraments played in the Gnostic sects (Brandt, Mandciische Religion, p. 96 seq.).
All these investigations point clearly to the fact that Gnosticism belongs to the group of mystical religions.
In the case of other systems, owing to the inexactness of our information, we are unable to decide; the later systems of Mandaeism and Manichaeanism, so closely related to Gnosticism, are also based upon a decided dualism.
All these efforts at reconciliation show how clearly the problem of evil was realized in these Gnostic and half-Gnostic sects, and how deeply they meditated on the subject; it was not altogether without reason that in the ranks of its opponents Gnosticism was judged to have arisen out of the question, 7r60ev TO KaK6P; This dualism had not its origin in Hellenic soil, neither is it related to that dualism which to a certain extent existed also in late Greek religion.
The same idea of the fall of mankind in the pagan Gnosticism of " Poimandres "; see Reitzenstein, Poimandres (1904); and the position of the Primal Man (Urmensch) among the Manichaeans is similar.
In Gnosticism, on the contrary, the world of evil is full of active energy and hostile powers.
When Gnosticism recognizes in this corporeal and material world the true seat of evil, consistently treating the bodily existence of mankind as essentially evil and the separation of the spiritual from the corporeal being as the object of salvation, this is an outcome of the contrast in Greek dualism between spirit and matter, soul and body.