Together with the impossibility of placing the epistles later than the first ten or twenty years of the 2nd century, render it impracticable to detect anything except incipient phases of syncretistic gnosticism behind the polemical allusions.
The name of Hermes seems during the 3rd and following centuries to have been regarded as a convenient pseudonym to place at the head of the numerous syncretistic writings in which it was sought to combine Neo-Platonic philosophy, Philonic Judaism and cabalistic theosophy, and so provide the world with some acceptable substitute for the Christianity which had even at that time begun to give indications of the ascendancy it was destined afterwards to attain.
The disputes to which this attitude gave rise, known in the Church as the Syncretistic controversy, lasted during the whole lifetime of Calixtus, and distracted the Lutheran church, till a new controversy arose with P. J.
" the Good Mind " of Ahura Mazda; or the Bodhisattva Avalokitegvara, who vowed not to enter into final peace till every creature had received the saving truth; sometimes supreme, like Brahma, or Prajapati (" lord of creatures ") in the early Brahmanic theology; or Adi Buddha, or the Zervan Akarana, " boundless time," of a kind of Persian gnosticism; or the Oths whose worship appears among other syncretistic cults of the Roman empire.
(3) The syncretistic character of the creation account (xxv.-xxvi.) betrays Egyptian elements.
The delicate duties attached to this office he discharged with tact and energy; and in the "syncretistic" controversy, by which Protestant Germany was so long vexed, he showed an unusual combination of firmness with liberality, of loyalty to the past with a just regard to the demands of the present and the future.