Whether Basilides himself had already given this magic tendency to Gnosticism cannot be decided.
(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.
3; and the article Gnosticism).
The syncretism of the Babylonian and the Persian religion was also the nursing-ground of Gnosticism.
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.
Here you find articles in the encyclopedia on topics related to gnosticism.
3 But the science of faith, as expounded by him, bears unmistakably the stamp both of Neo-Platonism and of Gnosticism.
He holds that freedom is the inalienable prerogative of the finite spirit; and this is the second point that distinguishes his theology from the heretical Gnosticism.
religion compounded of Christian, heathen and Jewish elements on a type which is essentially that of ancient Gnosticism.
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.
Another prolific source of apocryphal gospels, acts and apocalypses was Gnosticism.
While the characteristic features of apocalyptic literature were derived from Judaism, those of Gnosticism sprang partly from Greek philosophy, partly from oriental religions.
ausserkanonischen Evangelien, 1901, p. 2, which show that it was a product of pantheistic Gnosticism.
With this pantheistic Gnosticism is associated a severe asceticism.
It appears in various forms in Indian philosophy, and is the characteristically oriental element in syncretic systems like Neoplatonism and Gnosticism.
See especially articles Evolution, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism.
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.
Numerous fragments and extracts from Gnostic writings are to be found in the works of the Fathers who attacked Gnosticism.
To the school of Bardesanes belongs the " Book of the Laws of the Lands," which does not, however, contribute much to our knowledge of Gnosticism.
is, of course, already permeated with the Catholic spirit, but has drawn so largely upon sources of a Judaeo-Christian Gnostic character that it comes to a great extent within the category of sources for Gnosticism.
Complete original Gnostic works have unfortunately survived to us only from the period of the decadence of Gnosticism.
viii., 1892; and a new translation by the same in Koptische-gnostische Schriften, i.) which, contrary to the opinion of their editor and translator, the present writer believes to represent, in their existing form, a still later period and a still more advanced stage in the decadence of Gnosticism.
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.
It is also possible that the compiler has himself attempted here and there to harmonize to a certain extent the various Gnostic doctrines, yet in no case is this collection of sources given by Hippolytus to be passed over; it should rather be considered as important evidence for the beginnings of the decay of Gnosticism.
Very noteworthy references to Gnosticism are also to be found scattered up and down the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria.
Among the followers of Hippolytus, Epiphanius in his Panarion gives much independent and valuable information from his own knowledge of contemporary Gnosticism.
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.).
4 passim) who would see in them the central doctrine of Gnosticism.
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).
But on closer examination we can clearly see that it has a wide influence on Gnosticism.
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.
If the growing Christian Church, in quite a different fashion from Paul, laid stress on the literal authority of the Old Testament, interpreted, it is true, allegorically; if it took up a much more friendly and definite attitude towards the Old Testament, and gave wider scope to the legal conception of religion, this must be in part ascribed to the involuntary reaction upon it of Gnosticism.
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.
If here a return was made to the old material view of the resurrection (the apostolic avaaraacs -rijs vapKOS), entirely abandoning the more spiritual conception which had been arrived at as a compromise by Paul, this is probably the result of a reaction from the views of Gnosticism.
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.
But in the long run even genuine Christianity has been unable to free itself from the magic of the sacraments; and the Eastern Church especially has taken the same direction as Gnosticism.
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.
Gnosticism itself is a free, naturally-growing religion, the religion of isolated minds, of separate little circles and minute sects.
A part was also played in this movement by a free theology which arose within the Church, itself a kind of Gnosticism which aimed at holding fast whatever was good in the Gnostic movement, and obtaining its recognition within the limits of the Church (Clement of Alexandria, Origen).
It must be considered as an unqualified advantage for the further development of Christianity, as a universal religion, that at its very outset it prevailed against the great movement of Gnosticism.
Indirectly, however, Gnosticism was certainly one of the most powerful factors in the development of Christianity in the ist century.
As a point of departure for the history of the development of Gnosticism may be taken the numerous little sects which were apparently first included under the name of " Gnostics " in the narrower sense.
But from the little we know of Bardesanes, his system bears no trace of relationship with the complicated Valentinian system, but is rather completely derived from the ordinary Gnosticism, and is distinguished from it apparently only by its more strongly dualistic character.
The systems of Valentinus and his disciples must be considered as a further development of what we have just characterized as the popular Gnosticism, and especially of that branch of it to which the figure of Sophia is already known.
They also exhibit a variation from the characteristic dualism of Gnosticism into monism, in their conception of the fall of Sophia and their derivation of matter from the passions of the fallen Sophia.
This peculiarity the Basilidian system shares with that of Satornil of Antioch, which has only come down to us in a very fragmentary state, and in other respects recalls in many ways the popular Gnosticism.
Among his disciples the speculative and fantastic element of Gnosticism again became more apparent.
As we have already intimated, Gnosticism had such a power 1 For the disciples of Valentinus, especially Marcus, after whom was named a separate sect, the Marcosians, with their Pythagorean theories of numbers and their strong tincture of the mystical, magic, and sacramental, see Valentinus And Valentinians.
Later evidence of the decadence of Gnosticism occurs in the Pistis-Sophia and the Coptic Gnostic writings discovered and edited by Schmidt.
None the less, the stream of the Gnostic religion is not yet dried up, but continues on its way; and it is beyond a doubt that the later Mandaeanism and the great religious movement of Mani are most closely connected with Gnosticism.
These manifestations are all the more characteristic since in them we meet with a Gnosticism which remained essentially more untouched by Christian influences than the Gnostic systems of the 2nd century A.D.
Thus these systems throw an important light on the past, and a true perception of the nature and purpose of Gnosticism is not to be obtained without taking them into consideration.
The various researches which have been made regarding Parsism, the ancient Semitic religions, Gnosticism, &c., are of the greatest importance for the investigation of Manichaeism.
His activity as a Christian falls between 190 and 220, a period of very great moment in the history of the Catholic church; for within it the struggle with Gnosticism was brought to a victorious close, the New Testament established a firm footing within the churches, the " apostolic " rules which thenceforward regulated all the affairs of the church were called into existence, and the ecclesiastical priesthood came to be developed.
The same Tertullian who had fortified the Catholic church against Gnosticism was none the less anxious to protect it from becoming a political organization.
An interesting article on the subject, by Stoyan Krstoff Vatralsky of Boston, Mass., entitled " Mohammedan Gnosticism in America," appeared in the American Journal of Theology for January 1902, pp. 57-58.
The struggle against Gnosticism, which had been going on during the middle part of the century, had compelled the Church both to define her creed and to draw a sharper line of demarcation than heretofore between those writings whose authority she regarded as absolute and all others.
He detected in his bishop Gnosticism, Manichaeism and Sabellianism, and was convinced that he himself was the champion of pure doctrine against heresy.
Bourquin, pp. 55 seq.) have led most scholars to the conclusion that no one system of 2nd-century gnosticism is before the writer's mind.
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.
It was a gnosticism fluctuating not only in its relation to the Church but in its emphasis upon certain ethical and theosophical ideas.
The early Fathers often indeed identify them with later types of gnosticism, but this cannot be taken as any sure clue to the author's meaning.
This mysterious Western, offshoot of Gnosticism had no single feature about it which could soften the hostility of a character such as Martin's, but he resisted the introduction of secular punishment for evil doctrine, and withdrew from communion with those bishops in Gaul, a large majority, who invoked the aid of Maximus against their erring brethren.
In such a movement as early Christian gnosticism, Babylonian elements - modified, to be sure, and transformed - are largely present, while the growth of an apocalyptic literature is ascribed with apparent justice by many scholars to the recrudescence of views the ultimate source of which is to be found in the astral-theology of the Babylonian and Assyrian priests.
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.
In the Mahayana gnosticism was triumphant, and the historic values of Gautama's teaching and personality are lost.
The Mahayana illustrates in part what would have followed the .triumph of gnosticism in Christianity, for not only would the historic value of the life and teaching of Jesus have been lost, but with it the significance of humanity.
Among these are the supposed traces of 2nd-century Gnosticism and " hierarchical " ideas of organization; but especially the argument from the relation of the Roman state to the Christians, which Ramsay has reversed and turned into proof of an origin prior to Pliny's correspondence with Trajan on the subject.
Even after the elimination of Gnosticism the church remained without any uniform Christology; the Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the 3rd century still forming the large majority.
" 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.
But he taught further - and here we trace the influence of the current gnosticism on Marcion - that only the spirit of man is saved by the good God; the body, because material, perishes.
That is Gnosticism; but it is at the same time illogical.
(See MARCION, and GNOSTICISM.)
Indeed, the Clementine romance may most fitly be regarded as an answer to the Great Declaration, the answer of Jewish Gnosticism to the more Hellenized Gnosticism of Samaria.
The non-necessity of martyrdom is mentioned as a feature of early Gnosticism.'
But to push the equation of St Paul with Simon Magus further than we are forced to by the facts of the case is to lose sight of the real character of the Clementines as the counterblast of Jewish to Samaritan Gnosticism and to obscure the greatness of Simon of Gitta, who was really the father of all heresy, a character which has been erroneously attributed to Simon Magus.
The completest type of Gnosticism, the Valentinian, regarded Wisdom as the last of the series of aeons that emanated from the original Being or Father, and the Logos as an emanation from the first two principles that issued from God, Reason (vas) and Truth.
"Acute Hellenizing," we are told, took the form of Gnosticism.
If -Harnack is right in regarding a New Testament canon as one of the " Apostolical authorities " which the Church brought into the field against Gnosticism, we see the truth on historical grounds of the position taught on dogmatic grounds by R.
ancient Gnosticism gnosis is simply the Greek word for " knowledge " .
Many centuries ago, a perfectly sensible and attractive religion called Gnosticism was based on the idea that the Hebrew god was the Devil.
One was early developing Gnosticism that was a great threat to Christianity - don't be afraid of that big word!
What you see today in the feminist agenda is a repackaging, a reincarnation of ancient Gnosticism.
The Greek word gnosis means revealed knowledge, and from it derives the word Gnosticism, a religion of the second and third centuries.
Accounts of the teaching of Basilides are to be found in all the more complete works on Gnosticism (see bibliography to the article GNOSTICISM).
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.
In the first place should be mentioned the treatise Contra Celsum, in which the expositions of Gnosticism by both Origen and Celsus are of interest (see especially v.
As in many mystical religions, so in Gnosticism, the ultimate object is individual salvation, the assurance of a fortunate destiny for the soul after death.
Definite confirmation of this conjecture is afforded us by later sources of the Iranian religion, in which we likewise meet with the characteristic fundamental doctrine of Gnosticism.
In spite of the fact that in a few of its later representatives Gnosticism assumed a more refined and spiritual aspect, and even produced blossoms of a true and beautiful piety, it is fundamentally and essentially an unstable religious syncretism, a religion in which the determining forces were a fantastic oriental imagination and a sacramentalism which degenerated into the wildest superstitions, a weak dualism fluctuating unsteadily between asceticism and libertinism.
In Plato 8rlµcovpyos is the name given to the "creator of the world" (Timaeus, 40) and the word was so adopted by the Gnostics (see Gnosticism).
Docetism springs from the same roots as Gnosticism, and the Gnostics generally held Docetic views (see Gnosticism).
At the same time we ought not to overlook the affinities between the doctrine of Plotinus and that remarkable combination of Greek and Hebrew thought which Philo Judaeus had expounded two centuries before; nor the fact that Neoplatonism was developed in conscious antagonism to the new religion which had spread from Judea, and was already threatening the conquest of the GraecoRoman world, and also to the Gnostic systems (see Gnosticism); nor, finally, that it furnished the chief theoretical support in the last desperate struggle that was made under Julian to retain the old polytheistic worship.
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