Some Gnostics sprinkled the heads of the dying with oil and water to render them invisible to the powers of darkness; but in the East generally, where the need to compete with the Cathar sacrament of Consolatio was less acutely felt, extreme unction is unknown.
Among the Gnostics we meet with the hypothesis of emanation, as, for example, in the curious cosmic theory of Valentinus.
- The system of Origen was formulated in opposition to the Greek philosophers on the one hand, and the Christian Gnostics on the other.
Berthelot, " alchemy rested partly on the industrial processes of the ancient Egyptians, partly on the speculative theories of the Greek philosophers, and partly on the mystical reveries of the Gnostics and Alexandrians."
The earlier fathers, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, believed in chiliasm simply because it was a part of the tradition of the church and because Marcion and the Gnostics would have nothing to do with it.
This book, which is found in the Coptic MS. referred to under Gospel of Mary and contains cosmological disclosures of Christ, is said to have formed the source of Irenaeus' account of the Gnostics of Barbelus (i.
The life and writings of Bardaisan, " the last of the gnostics," and in some sense the father of Syriac literature and especially of Syriac poetry, have been treated in a separate article.
With its character largely determined by Jewish elements, and even more by contact with the dogmas of Christianity, this second Alexandrian school resulted in the speculative philosophy of the Neo-Platonists and the religious philosophy of the Gnostics and early church fathers.
In his work On the Soul, chap. xviii., the aeons and genealogies of the Gnostics are " the sacraments of heretical ideas."
But could Christians sufficiently numerous to deserve a long discussion by St Epiphanius in 374-377, who upheld the Synoptists, stoutly opposed the Gnostics and Montanists, and had escaped every special designation till the bishop nicknamed them the " Alogoi " (irrational rejectors of the Logos-Gospel), dare, in such a time and country, to hold such views, had the apostolic origin been incontestable ?
Both bodies of exposition represent the traditional principle at work in the sub-apostolic age, making for the preservation in relative purity, over against merely subjective interpretations - those of the Gnostics in particular - of the historic or original sense of Christ's teaching, just as Ignatius stood for the historicity of the facts of His earthly career in their plain, natural sense.
Wins, "snake"), known also as Naasenes, an early sect of Gnostics described by Hippolytus (Philosoph.
See King, The Gnostics and their Remains (London, 1887); G.
The views of the Gnostics, and of Marcion as well, seemed to the majority of Christians destructive of the gospel, and it was widely felt that they were too dangerous to be tolerated.
But the Creed was but the condensed essence of the New Testament scriptures, and behind it there lay an appeal to these scriptures, which was especially necessary where (as in the case of the Valentinian Gnostics) the dissident bodies professed to accept the common belief of Christians.
In its conflict with Gnostics, Marcionites and Montanists the Church was led to insist more and more upon its Bible, its own Bible, just as in its older controversy with the Jews it had to insist on the Bible which it inherited from them.
The traditional Western day for the Christmas festival, 25th December, goes back as far as Hippolytus, loc. cit.; the traditional Eastern day, 6th January, as far as the Basilidian Gnostics (but in their case only as a celebration of the Baptism), mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, loc. cit.
- The earliest known calculations, by Basilidian Gnostics, quoted in Clem.
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.
But the method observed by these Gnostics in thinking out the plan and the history of the universe is by no means thoroughgoing.
Plotinus is no dualist, like the Christian Gnostics; he admires the beauty and splendour of the world.
Of the actual writings of the Gnostics, which were extraordinarily numerous,' very little has survived; they were sacrificed to the destructive zeal of their ecclesiastical opponents.
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.
Ahamoth) among the Gnostics (Ophites) in the narrower sense of the word, the Simoniani (the figure of Helena), the Barbelognostics, and in the system of the PistisSophia or the Primal Man, among the Naasseni and the sect, related to them, as described by Hippolytus.'
The Gnostics in Irenaeus i.
At an early period, and notably in the older systems of the Ophites (a fairly exact account of which has been preserved for us by Epiphanius and Hippolytus), among the Gnostics in the narrower sense of the word, the Archontici, the Sethites (there are also traces among the Naasseni, cf.
Similar ideas are to be found among the " Gnostics " of Epiphanius.
The accounts of particular branches of the Gnostics, Nicolaitans, Philionites, Borborites, &c. in Epiphanius, Haer.
Thus in the Poimandres of Hermes man is the most prominent figure in the speculation; numerous pagan and half-pagan parallels (the " Gnostics " of Plotinus, Zosimus, Bitys) have been collected by Reitzenstein in his work Poimandres (pp. 81-116).
It answers the question: how did the portions of light to be found in this lower world, among which certainly belong the souls of the Gnostics, enter into it?
In the genuine fragments of Valentinus (Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte, p. 2 93), the Gnostics of Irenaeus i.
The Gnostics were the " first theologians."
Among the Gnostics and Manichaeans it existed in its most developed type, and in a milder form it is to be found even in the writings of the orthodox teachers.
It was worked by the Assyrians for their engraved cylinder-seals, and was used by the gnostics for amulets.
In the above acceptation of the term, the Neoplatonic doctrine of emanations from the supra-essential One, the fanciful emanation-doctrine of some of the Gnostics (the aeons of the Valentinian system might be mentioned), and the elaborate esoteric system of the Kabbalah, to which the two former in all probability largely contributed, are generally included under the head of theosophy.
In this Baur attempts to prove that the false teachers mentioned in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus are the Gnostics, particularly the Marcionites, of the second century, and consequently that the Epistles were produced in the middle of this century in opposition to Gnosticism.
Partly in consequence of this mystery and partly in accord with widespread superstitions, the Tetragrammaton figures in magical formulae from the time of the Gnostics, and on amulets.
The Gnostics rejected this eschatology as in their view the enlightened spirit already possessed immortality.
They had accepted the teaching of Paul of Samosata, though at a later period the name of Paul was believed to be that of the Apostle; and they were not quite free from the Dualistic principle of the Gnostics, at a later period too much identified with the teaching of Mani.
He well understood the meaning of Christ's saying that He came not into the world to bring peace, but a sword: in a period when a lax spirit of conformity to the world had seized the churches he maintained the " vigor evangelicus " not merely against the Gnostics but against opportunists and a worldly-wise clergy.
In apologetics his principal master was Justin, and in theology proper and in the controversy with the Gnostics, Irenaeus.
After having done battle with heathens, Jews, Marcionites, Gnostics, Monarchians, and the Catholics, he died an old man, carrying with him to the grave the last remains of primitive Christianity in the West, but at the same time in conflict with himself.