The earliest may be called the syncretic; it is the fusion of Jewish or pagan with Christian elements.
Consequently south Palestine has been continuously " Arabized "; and indeed the whole of Syria has been characterized by racial and religious fusions, and by civilization of a singularly syncretic and derived kind, of which the ancient Phoenician is a sufficient example.
It appears in various forms in Indian philosophy, and is the characteristically oriental element in syncretic systems like Neoplatonism and Gnosticism.
We are at first inclined to think of Christianity itself, but it is certainly most improbable that at the time of the rise of Christianity the Babylonian teaching about the seven planet-deities governing the world should have played so great a part throughout all Syria, Asia Minor and Egypt, that the most varying sections of syncretic Christianity should over and over again adopt this doctrine and work it up into their system.
Paul's battle against the law and the narrow national conception of Christianity found a willing following in a movement, the syncretic origin of which directed it towards a universal religion.
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.
Thus this Parseeism always bears a syncretic character; and the supreme god of Zoroastrian theory, Ahuramazda (i.e.