(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.
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.
Gnosticism has combined the two, the Greek opposition between spirit and matter, and the sharp Zoroastrian dualism, which, where the Greek mind conceived of a higher and a lower world, saw instead two hostile worlds, standing in contrast to each other like light and darkness.
And out of the combination of these two dualisms arose the teaching of Gnosticism, with its thoroughgoing pessimism and fundamental asceticism.
It is far more probable that the combination which we meet with in Gnosticism is older than Christianity, and was found already in existence by Christianity and its sects.
Even the characteristic dualism of Gnosticism has already proved to be in part of Iranian origin; and now it becomes clear how from that mingling of late Greek and Persian dualism the idea could arise that these seven halfdaemonic powers are the creators or rulers of this material world, which is separated infinitely from the light-world of the good God.
With this fundamental doctrine of Gnosticism is connected, as Anz has shown in his book which we have so often quoted, a side of their religious practices to which we have already alluded.
Gnosticism is to a great extent dominated by the idea that it is above all and in the highest degree important for the Gnostic's soul to be enabled to find its way back through the lower worlds and spheres of heaven ruled by the Seven to the kingdom of light of the supreme deity of heaven.
Another characteristic figure of Gnosticism is that of the Primal Man (rrpWTos ccvOpcorros).
Of all the fundamental ideas of Gnosticism of which we have so far treated, it can with some certainty be assumed that they were in existence before the rise of Christianity and the influence of Christian ideas on the development of Gnosticism.
The main question with which we have now to deal is that of whether the dominant figure of the Saviour (l w-rlip) in Gnosticism is of specifically Christian derivation, or whether this can also be explained apart from the assumption of Christian influence.
In Gnosticism salvation always lies at the root of all existence and all history.
In fact salvation, as conceived in Gnosticism, is always a myth, a history of bygone events, an allegory or figure, but not an historical event.
Thus the essential part of most of the conceptions of what we call Gnosticism was already in existence and fully developed before the rise of Christianity.
But the fundamental ideas of Gnosticism and of early Christianity had a kind of magnetic attraction for each other.
What drew these two forces together was the energy exerted by the universal idea of salvation in both systems. Christian Gnosticism actually introduced only one new figure into the already existing Gnostic theories, namely that of the historical Saviour Jesus Christ.
In this repect the opposition to Gnosticism led to a reactionary movement.
The attitude of Gnosticism to the Old Testament and to the creator-god proclaimed in it had its deeper roots, as we have already seen, in the dualism by which it was dominated.
Here again Gnosticism has exercised an influence on the development of the Church by way of contrast and opposition.
It was just at this point, too, that Gnosticism started a development which was followed later by the Catholic Church.
Through its syncretic origin Gnosticism introduced for the first time into Christianity a whole mass of sacramental, mystical ideas, which had hitherto existed in it only in its earliest phases.
Gnosticism was also the pioneer of the Christian Church in the strong emphasis laid on the idea of salvation in religion.
Finally, it was Gnosticism which gave the most decided impulse to the consolidation of the Christian Church as a church.