Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Gnostics)
Page from the Gospel of Judas
Mandaean Beth Manda (Mashkhanna) in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq in 2016, a contemporary-style mandi

Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός, romanized: gnōstikós, Koine Greek: [ɣnostiˈkos], 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems that coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish and early Christian sects. These various groups emphasized personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) above the proto-orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of religious institutions.

Gnostic cosmogony generally presents a distinction between a supreme, hidden God and a malevolent lesser divinity (sometimes associated with the biblical deity Yahweh)[1] who is responsible for creating the material universe. Consequently, Gnostics considered material existence flawed or evil, and held the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the hidden divinity, attained via mystical or esoteric insight. Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.[2]

Gnostic writings flourished among certain Christian groups in the Mediterranean world around the second century, when the Fathers of the early Church denounced them as heresy.[3] Efforts to destroy these texts proved largely successful, resulting in the survival of very little writing by Gnostic theologians.[4] Nonetheless, early Gnostic teachers such as Valentinus saw their beliefs as aligned with Christianity. In the Gnostic Christian tradition, Christ is seen as a divine being which has taken human form in order to lead humanity back to recognition of its own divine nature. However, Gnosticism is not a single standardized system, and the emphasis on direct experience allows for a wide variety of teachings, including distinct currents such as Valentinianism and Sethianism. In the Persian Empire, Gnostic ideas spread as far as China via the related movement Manichaeism, while Mandaeism, which is the only surviving Gnostic religion from antiquity, is found in Iraq, Iran and diaspora communities.[5] Jorunn Buckley posits that the early Mandaeans may have been among the first to formulate what would go on to become Gnosticism within the community of early followers of Jesus.[6]

For centuries, most scholarly knowledge about Gnosticism was limited to the anti-heretical writings of early Christian figures such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Hippolytus of Rome. There was a renewed interest in Gnosticism after the 1945 discovery of Egypt's Nag Hammadi library, a collection of rare early Christian and Gnostic texts, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John. Elaine Pagels has noted the influence of sources from Hellenistic Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Platonism on the Nag Hammadi texts.[4] Since the 1990s, the category of "Gnosticism" has come under increasing scrutiny from scholars. One such issue is whether Gnosticism ought to be considered one form of early Christianity, an interreligious phenomenon, or an independent religion. Going further than this, other contemporary scholars such as Michael Allen Williams,[7] Karen Leigh King,[8] and David G. Robertson[9] contest whether "Gnosticism" is a valid or useful historical term, or if it was an artificial category framed by proto-orthodox theologians to target miscellaneous Christian heretics.


Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun which means "knowledge" or "awareness."[10] It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge (εἴδειν eídein). A related term is the adjective gnostikos, "cognitive",[11] a reasonably common adjective in Classical Greek.[12]

By the Hellenistic period, it began also to be associated with Greco-Roman mysteries, becoming synonymous with the Greek term musterion. Consequentially, Gnosis often refers to knowledge based on personal experience or perception.[citation needed] In a religious context, gnosis is mystical or esoteric knowledge based on direct participation with the divine. In most Gnostic systems, the sufficient cause of salvation is this "knowledge of" ("acquaintance with") the divine. It is an inward "knowing", comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (neoplatonism), and differs from proto-orthodox Christian views.[13] Gnostics are "those who are oriented toward knowledge and understanding – or perception and learning – as a particular modality for living".[14] The usual meaning of gnostikos in Classical Greek texts is "learned" or "intellectual", such as used by Plato in the comparison of "practical" (praktikos) and "intellectual" (gnostikos).[note 1][subnote 1] Plato's use of "learned" is fairly typical of Classical texts.[note 2]

Sometimes employed in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible, the adjective is not used in the New Testament, but Clement of Alexandria[note 3] who speaks of the "learned" (gnostikos) Christian quite often, uses it in complimentary terms.[15] The use of gnostikos in relation to heresy originates with interpreters of Irenaeus. Some scholars[note 4] consider that Irenaeus sometimes uses gnostikos to simply mean "intellectual",[note 5] whereas his mention of "the intellectual sect"[note 6] is a specific designation.[17][note 7][note 8][note 9] The term "Gnosticism" does not appear in ancient sources,[19][note 10] and was first coined in the 17th century by Henry More in a commentary on the seven letters of the Book of Revelation, where More used the term "Gnosticisme" to describe the heresy in Thyatira.[20][note 11] The term Gnosticism was derived from the use of the Greek adjective gnostikos (Greek γνωστικός, "learned", "intellectual") by St. Irenaeus (c. 185 AD) to describe the school of Valentinus as he legomene gnostike haeresis "the heresy called Learned (gnostic)".[21][note 12]


The origins of Gnosticism are obscure and still disputed. The proto-orthodox Christian groups called Gnostics a heresy of Christianity,[note 13][24] but according to the modern scholars the theology's origin is closely related to Jewish sectarian milieus and early Christian sects.[25][26][note 14][27] Some scholars debate Gnosticism's origins as having roots in Buddhism, due to similarities in beliefs,[28] but ultimately, its origins are unknown.

Some scholars prefer to speak of "gnosis" when referring to first-century ideas that later developed into Gnosticism, and to reserve the term "Gnosticism" for the synthesis of these ideas into a coherent movement in the second century.[29] According to James M. Robinson, no gnostic texts clearly pre-date Christianity,[note 15] and "pre-Christian Gnosticism as such is hardly attested in a way to settle the debate once and for all."[30]

Most popular Gnostic sects were heavily inspired by Zoroastrianism.[31]

Jewish Christian origins[edit]

Contemporary scholarship largely agrees that Gnosticism has Jewish Christian origins, originating in the late first century AD in nonrabbinical Jewish sects and early Christian sects.[32][25][26][note 14] Ethel S. Drower adds, "heterodox Judaism in Galilee and Samaria appears to have taken shape in the form we now call Gnostic, and it may well have existed some time before the Christian era."[33]: xv 

Many heads of Gnostic schools were identified as Jewish Christians by Church Fathers, and Hebrew words and names of God were applied in some gnostic systems.[34] The cosmogonic speculations among Christian Gnostics had partial origins in Maaseh Breshit and Maaseh Merkabah. This thesis is most notably put forward by Gershom Scholem (1897–1982) and Gilles Quispel (1916–2006). Scholem detected Jewish gnosis in the imagery of merkabah mysticism, which can also be found in certain Gnostic documents.[32] Quispel sees Gnosticism as an independent Jewish development, tracing its origins to Alexandrian Jews, to which group Valentinus was also connected.[35]

Many of the Nag Hammadi texts make reference to Judaism, in some cases with a violent rejection of the Jewish God.[26][note 14] Gershom Scholem once described Gnosticism as "the Greatest case of metaphysical anti-Semitism".[36] Professor Steven Bayme said gnosticism would be better characterized as anti-Judaism.[37] Research into the origins of Gnosticism shows a strong Jewish influence, particularly from Hekhalot literature.[38]

Within early Christianity, the teachings of Paul the Apostle and John the Evangelist may have been a starting point for Gnostic ideas, with a growing emphasis on the opposition between flesh and spirit, the value of charisma, and the disqualification of the Jewish law. The mortal body belonged to the world of inferior, worldly powers (the archons), and only the spirit or soul could be saved. The term gnostikos may have acquired a deeper significance here.[39]

Alexandria was of central importance for the birth of Gnosticism. The Christian ecclesia (i. e. congregation, church) was of Jewish–Christian origin, but also attracted Greek members, and various strands of thought were available, such as "Judaic apocalypticism, speculation on divine wisdom, Greek philosophy, and Hellenistic mystery religions."[39]

Regarding the angel Christology of some early Christians, Darrell Hannah notes:

[Some] early Christians understood the pre-incarnate Christ, ontologically, as an angel. This "true" angel Christology took many forms and may have appeared as early as the late First Century, if indeed this is the view opposed in the early chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Elchasaites, or at least Christians influenced by them, paired the male Christ with the female Holy Spirit, envisioning both as two gigantic angels. Some Valentinian Gnostics supposed that Christ took on an angelic nature and that he might be the Saviour of angels. The author of the Testament of Solomon held Christ to be a particularly effective "thwarting" angel in the exorcism of demons. The author of De Centesima and Epiphanius' "Ebionites" held Christ to have been the highest and most important of the first created archangels, a view similar in many respects to Hermas' equation of Christ with Michael. Finally, a possible exegetical tradition behind the Ascension of Isaiah and attested by Origen's Hebrew master, may witness to yet another angel Christology, as well as an angel Pneumatology.[40]

The pseudepigraphical Christian text Ascension of Isaiah identifies Jesus with angel Christology:

[The Lord Christ is commissioned by the Father] And I heard the voice of the Most High, the father of my LORD as he said to my LORD Christ who will be called Jesus, 'Go out and descend through all the heavens...[41]

The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work considered as canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. Jesus is identified with angel Christology in parable 5, when the author mentions a Son of God, as a virtuous man filled with a Holy "pre-existent spirit".[42]

Neoplatonic influences[edit]

In the 1880s Gnostic connections with neo-Platonism were proposed.[43] Ugo Bianchi, who organised the Congress of Messina of 1966 on the origins of Gnosticism, also argued for Orphic and Platonic origins.[35] Gnostics borrowed significant ideas and terms from Platonism,[44] using Greek philosophical concepts throughout their text, including such concepts as hypostasis (reality, existence), ousia (essence, substance, being), and demiurge (creator God). Both Sethian Gnostics and Valentinian Gnostics seem to have been influenced by Plato, Middle Platonism, and Neo-Pythagoreanism academies or schools of thought.[45] Both schools attempted "an effort towards conciliation, even affiliation" with late antique philosophy,[46] and were rebuffed by some Neoplatonists, including Plotinus.

Persian origins or influences[edit]

Early research into the origins of Gnosticism proposed Persian origins or influences, spreading to Europe and incorporating Jewish elements.[47] According to Wilhelm Bousset (1865–1920), Gnosticism was a form of Iranian and Mesopotamian syncretism,[43] and Richard August Reitzenstein (1861–1931) situated the origins of Gnosticism in Persia.[43]

Carsten Colpe (b. 1929) has analyzed and criticised the Iranian hypothesis of Reitzenstein, showing that many of his hypotheses are untenable.[48] Nevertheless, Geo Widengren (1907–1996) argued for the origin of Mandaean Gnosticism in Mazdean (Zoroastrianism) Zurvanism, in conjunction with ideas from the Aramaic Mesopotamian world.[35]

However, scholars specializing in Mandaeism such as Kurt Rudolph, Mark Lidzbarski, Rudolf Macúch, Ethel S. Drower, James F. McGrath, Charles G. Häberl, Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, and Şinasi Gündüz argue for a Palestinian origin. The majority of these scholars believe that the Mandaeans likely have a historical connection with John the Baptist's inner circle of disciples.[33][49][50][51][52][53][54][55] Charles Häberl, who is also a linguist specializing in Mandaic, finds Palestinian and Samaritan Aramaic influence on Mandaic and accepts Mandaeans having a "shared Palestinian history with Jews".[56][57]

Buddhist parallels[edit]

In 1966, at the Congress of Median, Buddhologist Edward Conze noted phenomenological commonalities between Mahayana Buddhism and Gnosticism,[58] in his paper Buddhism and Gnosis, following an early suggestion put forward by Isaac Jacob Schmidt.[59][note 16] The influence of Buddhism in any sense on either the gnostikos Valentinus (c. 170) or the Nag Hammadi texts (3rd century) is not supported by modern scholarship, although Elaine Pagels called it a "possibility".[63]



The Syrian–Egyptian traditions postulate a remote, supreme Godhead, the Monad.[64] From this highest divinity emanate lower divine beings, known as Aeons. The Demiurge arises among the Aeons and creates the physical world. Divine elements "fall" into the material realm, and are latent in human beings. Redemption from the fall occurs when the humans obtain Gnosis, esoteric or intuitive knowledge of the divine.[65]

Dualism and monism[edit]

Gnostic systems postulate a dualism between God and the world,[66] varying from the "radical dualist" systems of Manichaeism to the "mitigated dualism" of classic gnostic movements. Radical dualism, or absolute dualism, posits two co-equal divine forces, while in mitigated dualism one of the two principles is in some way inferior to the other. In qualified monism the second entity may be divine or semi-divine. Valentinian Gnosticism is a form of monism, expressed in terms previously used in a dualistic manner.[67]

Moral and ritual practice[edit]

Gnostics tended toward asceticism, especially in their sexual and dietary practice.[68] In other areas of morality, Gnostics were less rigorously ascetic, and took a more moderate approach to correct behavior. In normative early Christianity, the Church administered and prescribed the correct behavior for Christians, while in Gnosticism it was the internalised motivation that was important. Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora describes a general asceticism, based on the moral inclination of the individual.[note 17] For example, ritualistic behavior was not seen to possess as much importance as any other practice, unless it was based on a personal, internal motivation.[69]

Female representation[edit]

The role women played in Gnosticism is still being explored. The very few women in most Gnostic literature are portrayed as chaotic, disobedient, and enigmatic.[70] However, the Nag Hammadi texts place women in roles of leadership and heroism.[70][71][72]



In many Gnostic systems, God is known as the Monad, the One.[note 18] God is the high source of the pleroma, the region of light. The various emanations of God are called æons. According to Hippolytus, this view was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the Monad, which begat the dyad, which begat the numbers, which begat the point, begetting lines, etc.


Pleroma (Greek πλήρωμα, "fullness") refers to the totality of God's powers. The heavenly pleroma is the center of divine life, a region of light "above" (the term is not to be understood spatially) our world, occupied by spiritual beings such as aeons (eternal beings) and sometimes archons. Jesus is interpreted as an intermediary aeon who was sent from the pleroma, with whose aid humanity can recover the lost knowledge of the divine origins of humanity. The term is thus a central element of Gnostic cosmology.

Pleroma is also used in the general Greek language, and is used by the Greek Orthodox church in this general form, since the word appears in the Epistle to the Colossians. Proponents of the view that Paul was actually a gnostic, such as Elaine Pagels, view the reference in Colossians as a term that has to be interpreted in a gnostic sense.


The Supreme Light or Consciousness descends through a series of stages, gradations, worlds, or hypostases, becoming progressively more material and embodied. In time it will turn around to return to the One (epistrophe), retracing its steps through spiritual knowledge and contemplation.[clarification needed][citation needed]


In many Gnostic systems, the aeons are the various emanations of the superior God or Monad. Beginning in certain Gnostic texts with the hermaphroditic aeon Barbelo,[73][74][75] the first emanated being, various interactions with the Monad occur which result in the emanation of successive pairs of aeons, often in male–female pairings called syzygies.[76] The numbers of these pairings varied from text to text, though some identify their number as being thirty.[77] The aeons as a totality constitute the pleroma, the "region of light". The lowest regions of the pleroma are closest to the darkness; that is, the physical world.[citation needed]

Two of the most commonly paired æons were Christ and Sophia (Greek: "Wisdom"); the latter refers to Christ as her "consort" in A Valentinian Exposition.[78]


In Gnostic tradition, the name Sophia (Σοφία, Greek for "wisdom") refers to the final emanation of God, and is identified with the anima mundi or world-soul. She is occasionally referred to by the Hebrew equivalent of Achamoth [dubiousdiscuss] (this is a feature of Ptolemy's version of the Valentinian gnostic myth). Jewish Gnosticism with a focus on Sophia was active by 90 AD.[79] In most, if not all, versions of the gnostic myth, Sophia births the demiurge, who in turn brings about the creation of materiality. The positive and negative depictions of materiality depend on the myth's depictions of Sophia's actions. Sophia in this highly patriarchal narrative is described as unruly and disobedient, which is due to her bringing a creation of chaos into the world.[72] The creation of the Demiurge was an act done without her counterpart's consent and because of the predefined hierarchy between the two of them, this action contributed to the narrative that she was unruly and disobedient.[80]

Sophia, emanating without her partner, resulted in the production of the Demiurge (Greek: lit. "public builder"),[81] who is also referred to as Yaldabaoth and variations thereof in some Gnostic texts.[73] This creature is concealed outside the pleroma;[73] in isolation, and thinking itself alone, it creates materiality and a host of co-actors, referred to as archons. The demiurge is responsible for the creation of humankind; trapping elements of the pleroma stolen from Sophia inside human bodies.[73][82] In response, the Godhead emanates two savior aeons, Christ and the Holy Spirit; Christ then embodies itself in the form of Jesus, in order to be able to teach humans how to achieve gnosis, by which they may return to the pleroma.[83]


A lion-faced deity found on a Gnostic gem in Bernard de Montfaucon's L'antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures may be a depiction of Yaldabaoth, the Demiurge; however, see Mithraic Zervan Akarana.[84]

The term demiurge derives from the Latinized form of the Greek term dēmiourgos, δημιουργός, literally "public or skilled worker".[note 20] This figure is also called "Yaldabaoth",[73] Samael (Aramaic: sæmʻa-ʼel, "blind god"), or "Saklas" (Syriac: sækla, "the foolish one"), who is sometimes ignorant of the superior god, and sometimes opposed to it; thus in the latter case he is correspondingly malevolent. Other names or identifications are Ahriman, El, Satan, and Yahweh.

This image of this particular creature is again identified in The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John as such

" 17

Now in my vision this is how I saw the horses and their riders. They wore red, blue, and yellow breastplates,* and the horses’ heads were like heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.


By these three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur that came out of their mouths a third of the human race was killed.


For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like snakes, with heads that inflict harm." Revelation Chapter 9 Verses 17-19[86]

This is corroborated in the article above quoting the capricious nature of the form (calling itself many different names) and of Gnosticism founder, Simon Magus, whom in the Biblical Narrative the Acts of the Apostles is quoted as being a magician or sorcerer able to perform great tasks with his mouth but not with the Holy Spirit of YHWH the same Spirit of Yeshuah of Nazareth and Simon Peter, Simon Magus' opponent.[87]

Moral judgements of the demiurge vary from group to group within the broad category of Gnosticism, viewing materiality as being inherently evil, or as merely flawed and as good as its passive constituent matter allows.[88]


In late antiquity some variants of Gnosticism used the term archon to refer to several servants of the demiurge.[82] According to Origen's Contra Celsum, a sect called the Ophites posited the existence of seven archons, beginning with Iadabaoth or Ialdabaoth, who created the six that follow: Iao, Sabaoth, Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos, and Horaios.[89] Ialdabaoth had a head of a lion.[73][90]

Other concepts[edit]

Other Gnostic concepts are:[91]

  • sarkic – earthly, hidebound, ignorant, uninitiated. The lowest level of human thought; the fleshly, instinctive level of thinking.
  • hylic – lowest order of the three types of human. Unable to be saved since their thinking is entirely material, incapable of understanding the gnosis.
  • psychic – "soulful", partially initiated. Matter-dwelling spirits
  • pneumatic – "spiritual", fully initiated, immaterial souls escaping the doom of the material world via gnosis.
  • kenoma – the visible or manifest cosmos, "lower" than the pleroma
  • charisma – gift, or energy, bestowed by pneumatics through oral teaching and personal encounters
  • logos – the divine ordering principle of the cosmos; personified as Christ.
  • hypostasis – literally "that which stands beneath" the inner reality, emanation (appearance) of God, known to psychics
  • ousia – essence of God, known to pneumatics. Specific individual things or being.

Jesus as Gnostic saviour[edit]

Jesus is identified by some Gnostics as an embodiment of the supreme being who became incarnate to bring gnōsis to the earth,[92][83] while others adamantly denied that the supreme being came in the flesh, claiming Jesus to be merely a human who attained enlightenment through gnosis and taught his disciples to do the same.[93] Others believed Jesus was divine, although did not have a physical body, reflected in the later Docetist movement. Among the Mandaeans, Jesus was considered a mšiha kdaba or "false messiah" who perverted the teachings entrusted to him by John the Baptist.[94] Still other traditions identify Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, and Seth, third son of Adam and Eve, as salvific figures.


Three periods can be discerned in the development of Gnosticism:[95]

  • Late-first century and early second century: development of Gnostic ideas, contemporaneous with the writing of the New Testament;
  • mid-second century to early third century: high point of the classical Gnostic teachers and their systems, "who claimed that their systems represented the inner truth revealed by Jesus";[95]
  • end of the second century to the fourth century: reaction by the proto-orthodox church and condemnation as heresy, and subsequent decline.

During the first period, three types of tradition developed:[95]

  • Genesis was reinterpreted in Jewish milieus, viewing Yahweh as a jealous God who enslaved people; freedom was to be obtained from this jealous God;
  • A wisdom tradition developed, in which Jesus' sayings were interpreted as pointers to an esoteric wisdom, in which the soul could be divinized through identification with wisdom.[95][note 21] Some of Jesus' sayings may have been incorporated into the gospels to put a limit on this development. The conflicts described in 1 Corinthians may have been inspired by a clash between this wisdom tradition and Paul's gospel of crucifixion and arising;[95]
  • A mythical story developed about the descent of a heavenly creature to reveal the Divine world as the true home of human beings.[95] Jewish Christianity saw the Messiah, or Christ, as "an eternal aspect of God's hidden nature, his "spirit" and "truth", who revealed himself throughout sacred history".[39]

The movement spread in areas controlled by the Roman Empire and Arian Goths,[97] and the Persian Empire. It continued to develop in the Mediterranean and Middle East before and during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, but decline also set in during the third century, due to a growing aversion from the Nicene Church, and the economic and cultural deterioration of the Roman Empire.[98] Conversion to Islam, and the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), greatly reduced the remaining number of Gnostics throughout the Middle Ages, though Mandaean communities still exist in Iraq, Iran and diaspora communities. Gnostic and pseudo-gnostic ideas became influential in some of the philosophies of various esoteric mystical movements of the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and North America, including some that explicitly identify themselves as revivals or even continuations of earlier gnostic groups.

Relation with early Christianity[edit]

Dillon notes that Gnosticism raises questions about the development of early Christianity.[99]

Orthodoxy and heresy[edit]

The Christian heresiologists, most notably Irenaeus, regarded Gnosticism as a Christian heresy. Modern scholarship notes that early Christianity was diverse, and Christian orthodoxy only settled in the 4th century, when the Roman Empire declined and Gnosticism lost its influence.[100][98][101][99] Gnostics and proto-orthodox Christians shared some terminology. Initially, they were hard to distinguish from each other.[102]

According to Walter Bauer, "heresies" may well have been the original form of Christianity in many regions.[103] This theme was further developed by Elaine Pagels,[104] who argues that "the proto-orthodox church found itself in debates with gnostic Christians that helped them to stabilize their own beliefs."[99] According to Gilles Quispel, Catholicism arose in response to Gnosticism, establishing safeguards in the form of the monarchic episcopate, the creed, and the canon of holy books.[105]

Historical Jesus[edit]

The Gnostic movements may contain information about the historical Jesus, since some texts preserve sayings which show similarities with canonical sayings.[106] Especially the Gospel of Thomas has a significant amount of parallel sayings.[106] Yet, a striking difference is that the canonical sayings center on the coming endtime, while the Thomas-sayings center on a kingdom of heaven that is already here, and not a future event.[107] According to Helmut Koester, this is because the Thomas-sayings are older, implying that in the earliest forms of Christianity, Jesus was regarded as a wisdom-teacher.[107] An alternative hypothesis states that the Thomas authors wrote in the second century, changing existing sayings and eliminating the apocalyptic concerns.[107] According to April DeConick, such a change occurred when the end time did not come, and the Thomasine tradition turned toward a "new theology of mysticism" and a "theological commitment to a fully-present kingdom of heaven here and now, where their church had attained Adam and Eve's divine status before the Fall."[107]

Johannine literature[edit]

The prologue of the Gospel of John describes the incarnated Logos, the light that came to earth, in the person of Jesus.[108] The Apocryphon of John contains a scheme of three descendants from the heavenly realm, the third one being Jesus, just as in the Gospel of John. The similarities probably point to a relationship between gnostic ideas and the Johannine community.[108] According to Raymond Brown, the Gospel of John shows "the development of certain gnostic ideas, especially Christ as heavenly revealer, the emphasis on light versus darkness, and anti-Jewish animus."[108] The Johannine material reveals debates about the redeemer myth.[95] The Johannine letters show that there were different interpretations of the gospel story, and the Johannine images may have contributed to second-century Gnostic ideas about Jesus as a redeemer who descended from heaven.[95] According to DeConick, the Gospel of John shows a "transitional system from early Christianity to gnostic beliefs in a God who transcends our world."[108] According to DeConick, John may show a bifurcation of the idea of the Jewish God into Jesus' Father in Heaven and the Jews' father, "the Father of the Devil" (most translations say "of [your] father the Devil"), which may have developed into the gnostic idea of the Monad and the Demiurge.[108]

Paul and Gnosticism[edit]

Tertullian calls Paul "the apostle of the heretics",[109] because Paul's writings were attractive to gnostics, and interpreted in a gnostic way, while Jewish Christians found him to stray from the Jewish roots of Christianity.[110] In I Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:10), Paul refers to some church members as "having knowledge" (Greek: τὸν ἔχοντα γνῶσιν, ton echonta gnosin). James Dunn writes that in some cases, Paul affirmed views that were closer to Gnosticism than to proto-orthodox Christianity.[111]

According to Clement of Alexandria, the disciples of Valentinus said that Valentinus was a student of a certain Theudas, who was a student of Paul,[111] and Elaine Pagels notes that Paul's epistles were interpreted by Valentinus in a gnostic way, and Paul could be considered a proto-gnostic as well as a proto-Catholic.[91] Many Nag Hammadi texts, including, for example, the Prayer of Paul and the Coptic Apocalypse of Paul, consider Paul to be "the great apostle".[111] The fact that he claimed to have received his gospel directly by revelation from God appealed to the gnostics, who claimed gnosis from the risen Christ.[112] The Naassenes, Cainites, and Valentinians referred to Paul's epistles.[113] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have expanded upon this idea of Paul as a gnostic teacher;[114] although their premise that Jesus was invented by early Christians based on an alleged Greco-Roman mystery cult has been dismissed by scholars.[115][note 22] However, his revelation was different from the gnostic revelations.[116]

Major movements[edit]

Judean–Israelite Gnosticism[edit]

Although Elkesaites and Mandaeans were found mainly in Mesopotamia in the first few centuries of the common era, their origins appear to be Judean–Israelite in the Jordan valley.[117][118][6]


The Elkesaites were a Judeo-Christian baptismal sect that originated in the Transjordan and were active between 100 and 400 AD.[117] The members of this sect performed frequent baptisms for purification and had a Gnostic disposition.[117][119]: 123  The sect is named after its leader Elkesai.[120]

According to Joseph Lightfoot, the Church Father Epiphanius (writing in the 4th century AD) seems to make a distinction between two main groups within the Essenes:[118] "Of those that came before his [Elxai (Elkesai), an Ossaean prophet] time and during it, the Ossaeans and the Nasaraeans."[121]


Mandaeans in prayer during baptism

Mandaeism is a Gnostic, monotheistic and ethnic religion.[122]: 4 [123] The Mandaeans are an ethnoreligious group that speak a dialect of Eastern Aramaic known as Mandaic. They are the only surviving Gnostics from antiquity.[5] Their religion has been practiced primarily around the lower Karun, Euphrates and Tigris and the rivers that surround the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, part of southern Iraq and Khuzestan Province in Iran. Mandaeism is still practiced in small numbers, in parts of southern Iraq and the Iranian province of Khuzestan, and there are thought to be between 60,000 and 70,000 Mandaeans worldwide.[124]

The name 'Mandaean' comes from the Aramaic manda meaning knowledge.[125] John the Baptist is a key figure in the religion, as an emphasis on baptism is part of their core beliefs. According to Nathaniel Deutsch, "Mandaean anthropogony echoes both rabbinic and gnostic accounts."[126] Mandaeans revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, and especially John the Baptist. Significant amounts of original Mandaean Scripture, written in Mandaean Aramaic, survive in the modern era. The most important holy scripture is known as the Ginza Rabba and has portions identified by some scholars as being copied as early as the 2nd–3rd centuries,[119] while others such as S. F. Dunlap place it in the 1st century.[127] There is also the Qolastā, or Canonical Book of Prayer and the Mandaean Book of John (Sidra ḏ'Yahia) and other scriptures.

Mandaeans believe that there is a constant battle or conflict between the forces of good and evil. The forces of good are represented by Nhura (Light) and Maia Hayyi (Living Water) and those of evil are represented by Hshuka (Darkness) and Maia Tahmi (dead or rancid water). The two waters are mixed in all things in order to achieve a balance. Mandaeans also believe in an afterlife or heaven called Alma d-Nhura (World of Light).[128]

In Mandaeism, the World of Light is ruled by a Supreme God, known as Hayyi Rabbi ('The Great Life' or 'The Great Living God').[128][119][125] God is so great, vast, and incomprehensible that no words can fully depict how immense God is. It is believed that an innumerable number of Uthras (angels or guardians),[51]: 8  manifested from the light, surround and perform acts of worship to praise and honor God. They inhabit worlds separate from the lightworld and some are commonly referred to as emanations and are subservient beings to the Supreme God who is also known as 'The First Life'. Their names include Second, Third, and Fourth Life (i.e. Yōšamin, Abathur, and Ptahil).[129][51]: 8 

The Lord of Darkness (Krun) is the ruler of the World of Darkness formed from dark waters representing chaos.[129][119] A main defender of the darkworld is a giant monster, or dragon, with the name Ur, and an evil, female ruler also inhabits the darkworld, known as Ruha.[129] The Mandaeans believe these malevolent rulers created demonic offspring who consider themselves the owners of the seven planets and twelve zodiac constellations.[129]

According to Mandaean beliefs, the material world is a mixture of light and dark created by Ptahil, who fills the role of the demiurge, with help from dark powers, such as Ruha the Seven, and the Twelve.[130] Adam's body (believed to be the first human created by God in Abrahamic tradition) was fashioned by these dark beings, however his soul (or mind) was a direct creation from the Light. Therefore, Mandaeans believe the human soul is capable of salvation because it originates from the World of Light. The soul, sometimes referred to as the 'inner Adam' or Adam kasia, is in dire need of being rescued from the dark, so it may ascend into the heavenly realm of the World of Light.[129]

Baptisms are a central theme in Mandaeism, believed to be necessary for the redemption of the soul. Mandaeans do not perform a single baptism, as in religions such as Christianity; rather, they view baptisms as a ritual act capable of bringing the soul closer to salvation.[131] Therefore, Mandaeans are baptized repeatedly during their lives.[132] Mandaeans consider John the Baptist to have been a Nasoraean Mandaean.[119]: 3 [133][134] John is referred to as their greatest and final teacher.[51][119]

Jorunn J. Buckley and other scholars specializing in Mandaeism believe that the Mandaeans originated about two thousand years ago in the Palestine-Israel region and moved east due to persecution.[135][6][136] Others claim a southwestern Mesopotamia origin.[137] However, some scholars take the view that Mandaeism is older and dates from pre-Christian times.[138] Mandaeans assert that their religion predates Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as a monotheistic faith.[139] Mandaeans believe that they descend directly from Shem, Noah's son,[119]: 182  and also from John the Baptist's original disciples.[140]

Due to paraphrases and word-for-word translations from the Mandaean originals found in the Psalms of Thomas, it is now believed that the pre-Manichaean presence of the Mandaean religion is more than likely.[140]: IX [141] The Valentinians embraced a Mandaean baptismal formula in their rituals in the 2nd century CE.[6] Birger A. Pearson compares the Five Seals of Sethianism, which he believes is a reference to quintuple ritual immersion in water, to Mandaean masbuta.[142] According to Jorunn J. Buckley, "Sethian Gnostic literature ... is related, perhaps as a younger sibling, to Mandaean baptism ideology."[143]

In addition to accepting Mandaeism's Israelite or Judean origins, Buckley adds:

[T]he Mandaeans may well have become the inventors of – or at least contributors to the development of – Gnosticism ... and they produced the most voluminous Gnostic literature we know, in one language... influenc[ing] the development of Gnostic and other religious groups in late antiquity [e.g. Manichaeism, Valentianism].[6]

Samaritan Baptist sects[edit]

According to Magris, Samaritan Baptist sects were an offshoot of John the Baptist.[144] One offshoot was in turn headed by Dositheus, Simon Magus, and Menander. It was in this milieu that the idea emerged that the world was created by ignorant angels. Their baptismal ritual removed the consequences of sin, and led to a regeneration by which natural death, which was caused by these angels, was overcome.[144] The Samaritan leaders were viewed as "the embodiment of God's power, spirit, or wisdom, and as the redeemer and revealer of 'true knowledge'".[144]

The Simonians were centered on Simon Magus, the magician baptised by Philip and rebuked by Peter in Acts 8, who became in early Christianity the archetypal false teacher. The ascription by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and others of a connection between schools in their time and the individual in Acts 8 may be as legendary as the stories attached to him in various apocryphal books. Justin Martyr identifies Menander of Antioch as Simon Magus' pupil. According to Hippolytus, Simonianism is an earlier form of the Valentinian doctrine.[145]

The Quqites were a group who followed a Samaritan, Iranian type of Gnosticism in 2nd-century AD Erbil and in the vicinity of what is today northern Iraq. The sect was named after their founder Quq, known as "the potter". The Quqite ideology arose in Edessa, Syria, in the 2nd century. The Quqites stressed the Hebrew Bible, made changes in the New Testament, associated twelve prophets with twelve apostles, and held that the latter corresponded to the same number of gospels. Their beliefs seem to have been eclectic, with elements of Judaism, Christianity, paganism, astrology, and Gnosticism.

Syrian-Egyptian Gnosticism[edit]

Syrian-Egyptian Gnosticism includes Sethianism, Valentinianism, Basilideans, Thomasine traditions, and Serpent Gnostics, as well as a number of other minor groups and writers.[146] Hermeticism is also a western Gnostic tradition,[98] though it differs in some respects from these other groups.[147] The Syrian–Egyptian school derives much of its outlook from Platonist influences. It depicts creation in a series of emanations from a primal monadic source, finally resulting in the creation of the material universe. These schools tend to view evil in terms of matter that is markedly inferior to goodness and lacking spiritual insight and goodness rather than as an equal force.

Many of these movements used texts related to Christianity, with some identifying themselves as specifically Christian, though quite different from the Orthodox or Roman Catholic forms. Jesus and several of his apostles, such as Thomas the Apostle, claimed as the founder of the Thomasine form of Gnosticism, figure in many Gnostic texts. Mary Magdalene is respected as a Gnostic leader, and is considered superior to the twelve apostles by some gnostic texts, such as the Gospel of Mary. John the Evangelist is claimed as a Gnostic by some Gnostic interpreters,[148] as is even St. Paul.[91] Most of the literature from this category is known to us through the Nag Hammadi Library.


Sethianism was one of the main currents of Gnosticism during the 2nd to 3rd centuries, and the prototype of Gnosticism as condemned by Irenaeus.[149] Sethianism attributed its gnosis to Seth, third son of Adam and Eve and Norea, wife of Noah, who also plays a role in Mandeanism and Manicheanism. Their main text is the Apocryphon of John, which does not contain Christian elements,[149] and is an amalgam of two earlier myths.[150] Earlier texts such as Apocalypse of Adam show signs of being pre-Christian and focus on Seth, third son of Adam and Eve.[151] Later Sethian texts continue to interact with Platonism. Sethian texts such as Zostrianos and Allogenes draw on the imagery of older Sethian texts, but use "a large fund of philosophical conceptuality derived from contemporary Platonism, (that is, late middle Platonism) with no traces of Christian content."[45][note 23]

According to John D. Turner, German and American scholarship views Sethianism as "a distinctly inner-Jewish, albeit syncretistic and heterodox, phenomenon", while British and French scholarship tends to see Sethianism as "a form of heterodox Christian speculation".[152] Roelof van den Broek notes that "Sethianism" may never have been a separate religious movement, and that the term refers rather to a set of mythological themes which occur in various texts.[153]

According to Smith, Sethianism may have begun as a pre-Christian tradition, possibly a syncretic cult that incorporated elements of Christianity and Platonism as it grew.[154] According to Temporini, Vogt, and Haase, early Sethians may be identical to or related to the Nazarenes, the Ophites, or the sectarian group called heretics by Philo.[151]

According to Turner, Sethianism was influenced by Christianity and Middle Platonism, and originated in the second century as a fusion of a Jewish baptizing group of possibly priestly lineage, the so-called Barbeloites,[155] named after Barbelo, the first emanation of the Highest God, and a group of Biblical exegetes, the Sethites, the "seed of Seth".[156] At the end of the second century, Sethianism grew apart from the developing Christian orthodoxy, which rejected the Docetic view of the Sethians on Christ.[157] In the early third century, Sethianism was fully rejected by Christian heresiologists, as Sethianism shifted toward the contemplative practices of Platonism while losing interest in their primal origins.[158] In the late third century, Sethianism was attacked by neo-Platonists like Plotinus, and Sethianism became alienated from Platonism. In the early to mid-fourth century, Sethianism fragmented into various sectarian Gnostic groups such as the Archontics, Audians, Borborites, and Phibionites, and perhaps Stratiotici, and Secundians.[159][45] Some of these groups existed into the Middle Ages.[159]


Valentinianism was named after its founder Valentinus (c. 100 – c. 180), who was a candidate for bishop of Rome but started his own group when another was chosen.[160] Valentinianism flourished after mid-second century. The school was popular, spreading to Northwest Africa and Egypt, and through to Asia Minor and Syria in the east,[161] and Valentinus is specifically named as gnostikos by Irenaeus. It was an intellectually vibrant tradition,[162] with an elaborate and philosophically "dense" form of Gnosticism. Valentinus' students elaborated on his teachings and materials, and several varieties of their central myth are known.

Valentinian Gnosticism may have been monistic rather than dualistic.[note 24] In the Valentinian myths, the creation of a flawed materiality is not due to any moral failing on the part of the Demiurge, but due to the fact that he is less perfect than the superior entities from which he emanated.[165] Valentinians treat physical reality with less contempt than other Gnostic groups, and conceive of materiality not as a separate substance from the divine, but as attributable to an error of perception which becomes symbolized mythopoetically as the act of material creation.[165]

The followers of Valentinus attempted to systematically decode the Epistles, claiming that most Christians made the mistake of reading the Epistles literally rather than allegorically. Valentinians understood the conflict between Jews and Gentiles in Romans to be a coded reference to the differences between Psychics (people who are partly spiritual but have not yet achieved separation from carnality) and Pneumatics (totally spiritual people). The Valentinians argued that such codes were intrinsic in gnosticism, secrecy being important to ensuring proper progression to true inner understanding.[note 25]

According to Bentley Layton "Classical Gnosticism" and "The School of Thomas" antedated and influenced the development of Valentinus, whom Layton called "the great [Gnostic] reformer" and "the focal point" of Gnostic development. While in Alexandria, where he was born, Valentinus probably would have had contact with the Gnostic teacher Basilides, and may have been influenced by him.[166] Simone Petrement, while arguing for a Christian origin of Gnosticism, places Valentinus after Basilides, but before the Sethians. According to Petrement, Valentinus represented a moderation of the anti-Judaism of the earlier Hellenized teachers; the demiurge, widely regarded as a mythological depiction of the Old Testament God of the Hebrews (i.e. Jehova), is depicted as more ignorant than evil.[167]


The Basilidians or Basilideans were founded by Basilides of Alexandria in the second century. Basilides claimed to have been taught his doctrines by Glaucus, a disciple of St. Peter, but could also have been a pupil of Menander.[168] Basilidianism survived until the end of the 4th century as Epiphanius knew of Basilidians living in the Nile Delta. It was, however, almost exclusively limited to Egypt, though according to Sulpicius Severus it seems to have found an entrance into Spain through a certain Mark from Memphis. St. Jerome states that the Priscillianists were infected with it.

Thomasine traditions[edit]

The Thomasine Traditions refers to a group of texts which are attributed to the apostle Thomas.[169][note 26] Karen L. King notes that "Thomasine Gnosticism" as a separate category is being criticised, and may "not stand the test of scholarly scrutiny".[170]


Marcion was a Church leader from Sinope (a city on the south shore of the Black Sea in present-day Turkey), who preached in Rome around 150 CE,[171] but was expelled and started his own congregation, which spread throughout the Mediterranean. He rejected the Old Testament, and followed a limited Christian canon, which included only a redacted version of Luke, and ten edited letters of Paul.[95] Some scholars do not consider him to be a gnostic,[172][note 27] but his teachings clearly resemble some Gnostic teachings.[171] He preached a radical difference between the God of the Old Testament, the Demiurge, the "evil creator of the material universe", and the highest God, the "loving, spiritual God who is the father of Jesus", who had sent Jesus to the earth to free mankind from the tyranny of the Jewish Law.[171][14] Like the Gnostics, Marcion argued that Jesus was essentially a divine spirit appearing to men in the shape of a human form, and not someone in a true physical body.[173] Marcion held that the heavenly Father (the father of Jesus Christ) was an utterly alien god; he had no part in making the world, nor any connection with it.[173]


Hermeticism is closely related to Gnosticism, but its orientation is more positive.[98][147][clarification needed]

Other Gnostic groups[edit]

  • Serpent Gnostics. The Naassenes, Ophites and the Serpentarians gave prominence to snake symbolism, and snake handling played a role in their ceremonies.[171]
  • Cerinthus (c. 100), the founder of a school with gnostic elements. Like a Gnostic, Cerinthus depicted Christ as a heavenly spirit separate from the man Jesus, and he cited the demiurge as creating the material world. Unlike the Gnostics, Cerinthus taught Christians to observe the Jewish law; his demiurge was holy, not lowly; and he taught the Second Coming. His gnosis was a secret teaching attributed to an apostle. Some scholars believe that the First Epistle of John was written as a response to Cerinthus.[174]
  • The Cainites are so-named since Hippolytus of Rome claims that they worshiped Cain, as well as Esau, Korah, and the Sodomites. There is little evidence concerning the nature of this group. Hippolytus claims that they believed that indulgence in sin was the key to salvation because since the body is evil, one must defile it through immoral activity (see libertinism). The name Cainite is used as the name of a religious movement, and not in the usual Biblical sense of people descended from Cain.[175]
  • The Carpocratians, a libertine sect following only the Gospel according to the Hebrews.[176]
  • The school of Justin, which combined gnostic elements with the ancient Greek religion.[177]
  • The Borborites, a libertine Gnostic sect, said to be descended from the Nicolaitans[178]

Persian Gnosticism[edit]

The Persian schools, which appeared in the western Persian Sasanian provice of Asoristan, and whose writings were originally produced in the Eastern Aramaic dialects spoken in Mesopotamia at the time, are representative of what is believed to be among the oldest of the Gnostic thought forms. These movements are considered by most to be religions in their own right and are not emanations from Christianity or Judaism.[citation needed]


Manichean priests writing at their desks, with panel inscription in Sogdian. Manuscript from Qocho, Tarim Basin.

Manichaeism was founded by Mani (216–276). Mani's father was a member of the Jewish Christian sect of the Elcesaites, a subgroup of the Gnostic Ebionites. At ages 12 and 24, Mani had visionary experiences of a "heavenly twin" of his, calling him to leave his father's sect and preach the true message of Christ. In 240–241, Mani travelled to the Indo-Greek Kingdom of the Sakas in what is now Afghanistan, where he studied Hinduism and its various extant philosophies. Returning in 242, he joined the court of Shapur I, to whom he dedicated his only work written in Persian, known as the Shabuhragan. The original writings were written in Syriac, an Eastern Aramaic language, in a unique Manichaean script.

Manichaeism conceives of two coexistent realms of light and darkness that become embroiled in conflict. Certain elements of the light became entrapped within darkness, and the purpose of material creation is to engage in the slow process of extraction of these individual elements. In the end, the kingdom of light will prevail over darkness. Manicheanism inherits this dualistic mythology from Zurvanist Zoroastrianism,[179] in which the eternal spirit Ahura Mazda is opposed by his antithesis, Angra Mainyu. This dualistic teaching embodied an elaborate cosmological myth that included the defeat of a primal man by the powers of darkness that devoured and imprisoned the particles of light.[180]

According to Kurt Rudolph, the decline of Manichaeism that occurred in Persia in the 5th century was too late to prevent the spread of the movement into the east and the west.[129] In the west, the teachings of the school moved into Syria, Northern Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.[note 28] There is evidence for Manicheans in Rome and Dalmatia in the 4th century, and also in Gaul and Spain. From Syria, it progressed further into Syria Palestina, Anatolia, and Byzantine and Persian Armenia.

The influence of Manicheanism was attacked by imperial elects and polemical writings, but the religion remained prevalent until the 6th century, and still exerted influence in the emergence of Paulicianism, Bogomilism, and Catharism in the Middle Ages, until it was ultimately stamped out by the Catholic Church.[129]

In the east, Rudolph relates, Manicheanism was able to bloom, because the religious monopoly position previously held by Christianity and Zoroastrianism had been broken by nascent Islam. In the early years of the Arab conquest, Manicheanism again found followers in Persia (mostly amongst educated circles), but flourished most in Central Asia, to which it had spread through Iran. There, in 762, Manicheanism became the state religion of the Uyghur Khaganate.[129]

Middle Ages[edit]

After its decline in the Mediterranean world, Gnosticism lived on in the periphery of the Byzantine Empire, and resurfaced in the western world. The Paulicians, an Adoptionist group which flourished between 650 and 872 in Armenia and the Eastern Themes of the Byzantine Empire, were accused by orthodox medieval sources of being Gnostic and quasi Manichaean Christian. The Bogomils, emerged in Bulgaria between 927 and 970 and spread throughout Europe. It was as synthesis of Armenian Paulicianism and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church reform movement.

The Cathars (Cathari, Albigenses or Albigensians) were also accused by their enemies of the traits of Gnosticism; though whether or not the Cathari possessed direct historical influence from ancient Gnosticism is disputed. If their critics are reliable the basic conceptions of Gnostic cosmology are to be found in Cathar beliefs (most distinctly in their notion of a lesser, Satanic, creator god), though they did not apparently place any special relevance upon knowledge (gnosis) as an effective salvific force.[verification needed]


Some Sufistic interpretations depict Iblis as ruling the material desires in a manner that resembles the Gnostic Demiurge.

The Quran, like Gnostic cosmology, makes a sharp distinction between this world and the afterlife. God is commonly thought of as being beyond human comprehension. In some Islamic schools of thought, God is identifiable with the Monad.[183][184]

However, according to Islam and unlike most Gnostic sects, not rejection of this world but performing good deeds leads to Paradise. According to the Islamic belief in tawhid ("unification of God"), there was no room for a lower deity such as the demiurge.[185] According to Islam, both good and evil come from one God, a position especially opposed by the Manichaeans. Ibn al-Muqaffa', a Manichaean apologist who later converted to Islam, depicted the Abrahamic God as a demonic entity who "fights with humans and boasts about His victories" and "sitting on a throne, from which He can descend". It would be impossible that both light and darkness were created from one source since they were regarded as two different eternal principles.[186] Muslim theologists countered with the example of a repeating sinner, who says: "I laid, and I repent";[187] this would prove that good can also result out of evil.

Islam also integrated traces of an entity given authority over the lower world in some early writings: Iblis is regarded by some Sufis as the owner of this world and humans must avoid the treasures of this world since they would belong to him.[188]

In the Isma'ili Shi'i work Umm al-Kitab, Azazil's role resembles whose of the demiurge.[189] Like the demiurge, he is endowed with the ability to create a world and seeks to imprison humans in the material world, but here, his power is limited and depends on the higher God.[190] Such anthropogenic[clarification needed] can be found frequently among Isma'ili traditions.[191] In fact, Isma'ilism has been often criticised as non-Islamic.[citation needed] Al-Ghazali characterized them as a group who are outwardly Shia but were adherents of a dualistic and philosophical religion.

Further traces of Gnostic ideas can be found in Sufi anthropogeny.[clarification needed][192] Like the gnostic conception of human beings imprisoned in matter, Sufi traditions acknowledge that the human soul is an accomplice of the material world and subject to bodily desires similar to the way archontic spheres envelop the pneuma.[193] The ruh (pneuma, spirit) must therefore gain victory over the lower and material-bound nafs (psyche, soul, or anima) to overcome its animal nature. A human being captured by its animal desires, mistakenly claims autonomy and independence from the "higher God", thus resembling the lower deity in classical gnostic traditions. However, since the goal is not to abandon the created world, but just to free oneself from lower desires, it can be disputed whether this can still be Gnostic, but rather a completion of the message of Muhammad.[186]

It seems that Gnostic ideas were an influential part of early Islamic development but later lost its influence. However light metaphors and the idea of unity of existence (Arabic: وحدة الوجود, romanizedwaḥdat al-wujūd) still prevailed in later Islamic thought, such as that of ibn Sina.[184]


Gershom Scholem, a historian of Jewish philosophy, wrote that several core Gnostic ideas reappear in medieval Kabbalah, where they are used to reinterpret earlier Jewish sources. In these cases, according to Scholem, texts such as the Zohar adapted Gnostic precepts for the interpretation of the Torah, while not using the language of Gnosticism.[194] Scholem further proposed that there was a Jewish Gnosticism which influenced the early origins of Christian Gnosticism.[195]

Given that some of the earliest dated Kabbalistic texts emerged in medieval Provence, at which time Cathar movements were also supposed to have been active, Scholem and other mid-20th century scholars argued that there was mutual influence between the two groups. According to Dan Joseph, this hypothesis has not been substantiated by any extant texts.[196]

Modern times[edit]

Found today in Iraq, Iran and diaspora communities, the Mandaeans are an ancient Gnostic ethnoreligious group that follow John the Baptist and have survived from antiquity.[197] Their name comes from the Aramaic manda meaning knowledge or gnosis.[125] There are thought to be 60,000 to 70,000 Mandaeans worldwide.[124][129] A number of modern gnostic ecclesiastical bodies have been set up or re-founded since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, including the Ecclesia Gnostica, Apostolic Johannite Church, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, the Gnostic Church of France, the Thomasine Church, the Alexandrian Gnostic Church, and the North American College of Gnostic Bishops.[198] A number of 19th-century thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer,[199] Albert Pike and Madame Blavatsky studied Gnostic thought extensively and were influenced by it, and even figures like Herman Melville and W. B. Yeats were more tangentially influenced.[200] Jules Doinel "re-established" a Gnostic church in France in 1890, which altered its form as it passed through various direct successors (Fabre des Essarts as Tau Synésius and Joanny Bricaud as Tau Jean II most notably), and, though small, is still active today.[citation needed]

Early 20th-century thinkers who heavily studied and were influenced by Gnosticism include Carl Jung (who supported Gnosticism), Eric Voegelin (who opposed it), Jorge Luis Borges (who included it in many of his short stories), and Aleister Crowley, with figures such as Hermann Hesse being more moderately influenced. René Guénon founded the gnostic review, La Gnose in 1909, before moving to a more Perennialist position, and founding his Traditionalist School. Gnostic Thelemite organizations, such as Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica and Ordo Templi Orientis, trace themselves to Crowley's thought. The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library after 1945 has had a huge effect on Gnosticism since World War II. Intellectuals who were heavily influenced by Gnosticism in this period include Lawrence Durrell, Hans Jonas, Philip K. Dick and Harold Bloom, with Albert Camus and Allen Ginsberg being more moderately influenced.[200] Celia Green has written on Gnostic Christianity in relation to her own philosophy.[201] Alfred North Whitehead was aware of the existence of the newly discovered Gnostic scrolls. Accordingly, Michel Weber has proposed a Gnostic interpretation of his late metaphysics.[202]



Prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 Gnosticism was known primarily through the works of heresiologists, Church Fathers who opposed those movements. These writings had an antagonistic bias towards gnostic teachings, and were incomplete. Several heresiological writers, such as Hippolytus, made little effort to exactly record the nature of the sects they reported on, or transcribe their sacred texts. Reconstructions of incomplete Gnostic texts were attempted in modern times, but research on Gnosticism was coloured by the orthodox views of those heresiologists.

Justin Martyr (c. 100/114 – c. 162/168) wrote the First Apology, addressed to Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, which criticised Simon Magus, Menander and Marcion. Since then, both Simon and Menander have been considered as 'proto-Gnostic'.[203] Irenaeus (died c. 202) wrote Against Heresies (c. 180–185), which identifies Simon Magus from Flavia Neapolis in Samaria as the inceptor of Gnosticism. From Samaria he charted an apparent spread of the teachings of Simon through the ancient "knowers" into the teachings of Valentinus and other, contemporary Gnostic sects.[note 29] Hippolytus (170–235) wrote the ten-volume Refutation Against all Heresies, of which eight have been unearthed. It also focuses on the connection between pre-Socratic (and therefore Pre-Incantation of Christ) ideas and the false beliefs of early gnostic leaders. Thirty-three of the groups he reported on are considered Gnostic by modern scholars, including 'the foreigners' and 'the Seth people'. Hippolytus further presents individual teachers such as Simon, Valentinus, Secundus, Ptolemy, Heracleon, Marcus and Colorbasus. Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 230) from Carthage wrote Adversus Valentinianos ('Against the Valentinians'), c. 206, as well as five books around 207–208 chronicling and refuting the teachings of Marcion.

Gnostic texts[edit]

Prior to the discovery at Nag Hammadi, a limited number of texts were available to students of Gnosticism. Reconstructions were attempted from the records of the heresiologists, but these were necessarily coloured by the motivation behind the source accounts. The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of Gnostic texts discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt. Twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer named Muhammed al-Samman.[204] The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation/alteration of Plato's Republic. These codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367.[205] Though the original language of composition was probably Greek, the various codices contained in the collection were written in Coptic. A 1st- or 2nd-century date of composition for the lost Greek originals has been proposed, though this is disputed; the manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries. The Nag Hammadi texts demonstrated the fluidity of early Christian scripture and early Christianity itself.[note 30]

Academic studies[edit]


Prior to the discovery of Nag Hammadi, the Gnostic movements were largely perceived through the lens of the early church heresiologists. Johann Lorenz von Mosheim (1694–1755) proposed that Gnosticism developed on its own in Greece and Mesopotamia, spreading to the west and incorporating Jewish elements. According to Mosheim, Jewish thought took Gnostic elements and used them against Greek philosophy.[47] J. Horn and Ernest Anton Lewald proposed Persian and Zoroastrian origins, while Jacques Matter described Gnosticism as an intrusion of eastern cosmological and theosophical speculation into Christianity.[47]

In the 1880s, Gnosticism was placed within Greek philosophy, especially neo-Platonism.[43] Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930), who belonged to the School of the History of Dogma and proposed a Kirchengeschichtliches Ursprungsmodell, saw Gnosticism as an internal development within the church under the influence of Greek philosophy.[43][207] According to Harnack, Gnosticism was the "acute Hellenization of Christianity".[43]

The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule ("history of religions school", 19th century) had a profound influence on the study of Gnosticism.[43] The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule saw Gnosticism as a pre-Christian phenomenon, and Christian gnosis as only one, and even marginal instance of this phenomenon.[43] According to Wilhelm Bousset (1865–1920), Gnosticism was a form of Iranian and Mesopotamian syncretism,[43] and Eduard Norden (1868–1941) also proposed pre-Christian origins,[43] while Richard August Reitzenstein (1861–1931), and Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) also situated the origins of Gnosticism in Persia.[43] Hans Heinrich Schaeder (1896–1957) and Hans Leisegang (1890–1951) saw Gnosticism as an amalgam of eastern thought in a Greek form.[43]

Hans Jonas (1903–1993) took an intermediate approach, using both the comparative approach of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule and existentialist hermeneutics that predated Rudolph Bultmann's demythologization procedure.[208]: 94-95  Jonas emphasized the duality between the Gnostic God and the world, and concluded that Gnosticism cannot be derived from Platonism nor Judaism.[208] [32] Instead he proposed that Gnosticism manifested an existential situation triggered by the conquests of Alexander The Great and their impact over Greek city-states and "oriental" casts of priests-intellectuals.[209] [208]: 107-108  By contrast, contemporary scholarship largely agrees that Gnosticism has Jewish or Judeo-Christian origins;[32] this theses is most notably put forward by Gershom G. Scholem (1897–1982) and Gilles Quispel (1916–2006).[210]

The study of Gnosticism and of early Alexandrian Christianity received a strong impetus from the discovery of the Coptic Nag Hammadi Library in 1945.[211][212] A great number of translations have been published, and the works of Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, especially The Gnostic Gospels, which detailed the suppression of some of the writings found at Nag Hammadi by early bishops of the Christian church, have popularized Gnosticism in mainstream culture,[web 3][web 4] but also incited strong responses and condemnations from clergical writers.[213]

Definitions of Gnosticism[edit]

According to Matthew J. Dillon, six trends can be discerned in the definitions of Gnosticism:[214]

  • Typologies, "a catalogue of shared characteristics that are used to classify a group of objects together."[214]
  • Traditional approaches, viewing Gnosticism as a Christian heresy[215]
  • Phenomenological approaches, most notably Hans Jonas[216][217]
  • Restricting Gnosticism, "identifying which groups were explicitly called gnostics",[218] or which groups were clearly sectarian[218]
  • Deconstructing Gnosticism, abandoning the category of "Gnosticism"[219]
  • Psychology and cognitive science of religion, approaching Gnosticism as a psychological phenomenon[220]


The 1966 Messina conference on the origins of gnosis and Gnosticism proposed to designate

... a particular group of systems of the second century after Christ" as gnosticism, and to use gnosis to define a conception of knowledge that transcends the times, which was described as "knowledge of divine mysteries for an élite.[221]

This definition has now been abandoned.[214] It created a religion, "Gnosticism", from the "gnosis" which was a widespread element of ancient religions,[note 31] suggesting a homogeneous conception of gnosis by these Gnostic religions, which did not exist at the time.[222]

According to Dillon, the texts from Nag Hammadi made clear that this definition was limited, and that they are "better classified by movements (such as Valentinian), mythological similarity (Sethian), or similar tropes (presence of a Demiurge)."[214] Dillon further notes that the Messian-definition "also excluded pre-Christian Gnosticism and later developments, such as the Mandaeans and the Manichaeans."[214]

Hans Jonas discerned two main currents of Gnosticism, namely Syrian-Egyptian, and Persian, which includes Manicheanism and Mandaeism.[32] Among the Syrian-Egyptian schools and the movements they spawned are a typically more Monist view. Persian Gnosticism possesses more dualist tendencies, reflecting a strong influence from the beliefs of the Persian Zurvanist Zoroastrians. Those of the medieval Cathars, Bogomils, and Carpocratians seem to include elements of both categories. However, scholars such as Kurt Rudolph, Mark Lidzbarski, Rudolf Macúch, Ethel S. Drower and Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley argue for a Palestinian origin for Mandaeism.

Gilles Quispel divided Syrian-Egyptian Gnosticism further into Jewish Gnosticism (the Apocryphon of John)[149] and Christian Gnosis (Marcion, Basilides, Valentinus). This "Christian Gnosticism" was Christocentric, and influenced by Christian writings such as the Gospel of John and the Pauline epistles.[223] Other authors speak rather of "Gnostic Christians", noting that Gnostics were a prominent substream in the early church.[224]

Traditional approaches – Gnosticism as Christian heresy[edit]

The best known example of this approach is Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930), who stated that "Gnosticism is the acute Hellenization of Christianity."[215] According to Dillon, "many scholars today continue in the vein of Harnack in reading gnosticism as a late and contaminated version of Christianity", notably Darrell Block, who criticises Elaine Pagels for her view that early Christianity was wildly diverse.[217]

Phenomenological approaches[edit]

Hans Jonas (1903–1993) took an existential phenomenological approach to Gnosticism. According to Jonas, alienation is a distinguishing characteristic of Gnosticism, making it different from contemporary religions. Jonas compares this alienation with the existentialist notion of geworfenheit, Martin Heidegger's "thrownness", as in being thrown into a hostile world.[217]

Restricting Gnosticism[edit]

In the late 1980s scholars voiced concerns about the broadness of "Gnosticism" as a meaningful category. Bentley Layton proposed to categorize Gnosticism by delineating which groups were marked as gnostic in ancient texts. According to Layton, this term was mainly applied by heresiologists to the myth described in the Apocryphon of John, and was used mainly by the Sethians and the Ophites. According to Layton, texts which refer to this myth can be called "classical Gnostic".[218]

In addition, Alastair Logan uses social theory to identify Gnosticism. He uses Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge's sociological theory on traditional religion, sects and cults. According to Logan, the Gnostics were a cult, at odds with the society at large.[218]

Criticism of "Gnosticism" as a category[edit]

According to the Westar Institute's Fall 2014 Christianity Seminar Report on Gnosticism, there is no group that possesses all of the usually-attributed features. Nearly every group possesses one or more of them, or some modified version of them. There was no particular relationship among any set of groups which one could distinguish as "Gnostic", as if they were in opposition to some other set of groups. For instance, every sect of Christianity on which we have any information on this point believed in a separate Logos who created the universe at God's behest. Likewise, they believed some kind of secret knowledge ("gnosis") was essential to ensuring one's salvation. Likewise, they had a dualist view of the cosmos, in which the lower world was corrupted by meddling divine beings and the upper world's God was awaiting a chance to destroy it and start over, thereby helping humanity to escape its corrupt bodies and locations by fleeing into celestial ones.[225]

According to Michael Allen Williams, the concept of Gnosticism as a distinct religious tradition is questionable, since "gnosis" was a pervasive characteristic of many religious traditions in antiquity, and not restricted to the so-called Gnostic systems.[7] According to Williams, the conceptual foundations on which the category of Gnosticism rests are the remains of the agenda of the heresiologists.[7] The early church heresiologists created an interpretive definition of Gnosticism, and modern scholarship followed this example and created a categorical definition. According to Williams the term needs replacing to more accurately reflect those movements it comprises,[7] and suggests to replace it with the term "the Biblical demiurgical tradition".[219]

According to Karen King, scholars have "unwittingly continued the project of ancient heresiologists", searching for non-Christian influences, thereby continuing to portray a pure, original Christianity.[219]

In light of such increasing scholarly rejection and restriction of the concept of Gnosticism, David G. Robertson has written on the distortions which misapplications of the term continue to perpetuate in religious studies.[226]

Psychological approaches[edit]

Carl Jung approached Gnosticism from a psychological perspective, which was followed by Gilles Quispel. According to this approach, Gnosticism is a map for the human development in which an undivided person, centered on the Self, develops out of the fragmentary personhood of young age. According to Quispel, gnosis is a third force in western culture, alongside faith and reason, which offers an experiential awareness of this Self.[219]

According to Ioan Culianu, gnosis is made possible through universal operations of the mind, which can be arrived at "anytime, anywhere".[227] A similar suggestion has been made by Edward Conze, who suggested that the similarities between prajñā and sophia may be due to "the actual modalities of the human mind", which in certain conditions result in similar experiences.[228]


  1. ^ In Plato's dialogue between Young Socrates and the Foreigner in his The Statesman (258e).
  2. ^ 10x Plato, Cratylus, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman 2x Plutarch, Compendium libri de animae procreatione + De animae procreatione in Timaeo, 2x Pseudo-Plutarch, De musica[web 2]
  3. ^ In Book 7 of his Stromateis
  4. ^ For example A. Rousseau and L. Doutreleau, translators of the French edition (1974)[16]
  5. ^ As in 1.25.6, 1.11.3, 1.11.5.
  6. ^ Adv. haer. 1.11.1
  7. ^ Irenaeus' comparative adjective gnostikeron "more learned", evidently cannot mean "more Gnostic" as a name.[17]
  8. ^ Williams, p. 36: "But several of Irenaeus's uses of the designation gnostikos are more ambiguous, and it is not so clear whether he is indicating the specific sect again or using 'gnostics' now merely as a shorthand reference for virtually all of the groups he is criticizing"; p. 37: "They argue that Irenaeus uses gnostikos in two senses: (1) with the term's 'basic and customary meaning' of 'learned' (savant), and (2) with reference to adherents of the specific sect called 'the gnostic heresy' in Adv. haer. 1.11.1."; p. 271: "1.25.6 where they think that gnostikos means 'learned' are in 1.11.3 ('A certain other famous teacher of theirs, reaching for a doctrine more lofty and learned [gnostikoteron] ...') and 1.11.5 ('... in order that they [i.e.,])."[17]
  9. ^ Of those groups that Irenaeus identifies as "intellectual" (gnostikos), only one, the followers of Marcellina use the term gnostikos of themselves.[18][subnote 2] Later Hippolytus uses "learned" (gnostikos) of Cerinthus and the Ebionites, and Epiphanius applied "learned" (gnostikos) to specific groups.
  10. ^ Dunderberg: "The problems with the term 'Gnosticism' itself are now well known. It does not appear in ancient sources at all"[19]
  11. ^ Pearson: "As Bentley Layton points out, the term Gnosticism was first coined by Henry More (1614–1687) in an expository work on the seven letters of the Book of Revelation.29 More used the term Gnosticisme to describe the heresy in Thyatira."[20]
  12. ^ This occurs in the context of Irenaeus' work On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, (Greek: elenchos kai anatrope tes pseudonymou gnoseos, ἔλεγχος καὶ ἀνατροπὴ τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως) where the term "knowledge falsely so-called" (pseudonymos gnosis) is a quotation of the apostle Paul's warning against "knowledge falsely so-called" in 1 Timothy 6:20, and covers various groups, not just Valentinus.[22]
  13. ^ Clement of Alexandria: "In the times of the Emperor Hadrian appeared those who devised heresies, and they continued until the age of the elder Antoninus."[23]
  14. ^ a b c Cohen & Mendes-Flohr: "Recent research, however, has tended to emphasize that Judaism, rather than Persia, was a major origin of Gnosticism. Indeed, it appears increasingly evident that many of the newly published Gnostic texts were written in a context from which Jews were not absent. In some cases, indeed, a violent rejection of the Jewish God, or of Judaism, seems to stand at the basis of these texts. ... facie, various trends in Jewish thought and literature of the Second Commonwealth appear to have been potential factors in Gnostic origins.[26]
  15. ^ Robinson: "At this stage we have not found any Gnostic texts that clearly antedate the origin of Christianity." J. M. Robinson, "Sethians and Johannine Thought: The Trimorphic Protennoia and the Prologue of the Gospel of John" in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism, vol. 2, Sethian Gnosticism, ed. B. Layton (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981), p. 662.
  16. ^ The idea that Gnosticism was derived from Buddhism was first proposed by the Victorian gem collector and numismatist Charles William King (1864).[60] Mansel (1875) [61] considered the principal sources of Gnosticism to be Platonism, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism.[62]
  17. ^ Ptolemy, in Letter to Flora: "External physical fasting is observed even among our followers, for it can be of some benefit to the soul if it is engaged in with reason (logos), whenever it is done neither by way of limiting others, nor out of habit, nor because of the day, as if it had been specially appointed for that purpose."
  18. ^ Other names include The Absolute, Aion teleos (The Perfect Æon), Bythos (Depth or Profundity, Βυθός), Proarkhe (Before the Beginning, προαρχή), and He Arkhe (The Beginning, ἡ ἀρχή).
  19. ^ The relevant passage of The Republic was found within the Nag Hammadi library,[85] wherein a text existed describing the demiurge as a "lion-faced serpent".[73]
  20. ^ The term dēmiourgos occurs in a number of other religious and philosophical systems, most notably Platonism. The gnostic demiurge bears resemblance to figures in Plato's Timaeus and Republic. In Timaeus, the demiourgós is a central figure, a benevolent creator of the universe who works to make the universe as benevolent as the limitations of matter will allow. In The Republic the description of the leontomorphic "desire" in Socrates' model of the psyche bears a resemblance to descriptions of the demiurge as being in the shape of the lion.[note 19]
  21. ^ According to Earl Doherty, a prominent proponent of the Christ myth theory, the Q-authors may have regarded themselves as "spokespersons for the Wisdom of God, with Jesus being the embodiment of this Wisdom. In time, the gospel-narrative of this embodiment of Wisdom became interpreted as the literal history of the life of Jesus.[96]
  22. ^ The existence of Jesus is explored in other Wikipedia articles, such as: Christ myth theory, Historicity of Jesus, Sources for the historicity of Jesus, Historical Jesus, Quest for the historical Jesus
  23. ^ The doctrine of the "triple-powered one" found in the text Allogenes, as discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library, is "the same doctrine as found in the anonymous Parmenides commentary (Fragment XIV) ascribed by Hadot to Porphyry [...] and is also found in Plotinus' Ennead 6.7, 17, 13–26."[45]
  24. ^ Quotes:
    * Elaine Pagels: "Valentinian gnosticism [...] differs essentially from dualism";[163]
    * Schoedel: "a standard element in the interpretation of Valentinianism and similar forms of Gnosticism is the recognition that they are fundamentally monistic".[164]
  25. ^ Irenaeus describes how the Valentinians claim to find evidence in Ephesians for their characteristic belief in the existence of the Æons as supernatural beings: "Paul also, they affirm, very clearly and frequently names these Æons, and even goes so far as to preserve their order, when he says, "To all the generations of the Æons of the Æon." (Ephesians 3:21) Nay, we ourselves, when at the giving of thanks we pronounce the words, 'To Æons of Æons' (for ever and ever), do set forth these Æons. And, in fine, wherever the words Æon or Æons occur, they at once refer them to these beings." On the Detection and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called Book 1. Ch.3
  26. ^ The texts commonly attributed to the Thomasine Traditions are:
  27. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: "In Marcion's own view, therefore, the founding of his church – to which he was first driven by opposition – amounts to a reformation of Christendom through a return to the gospel of Christ and to Paul; nothing was to be accepted beyond that. This of itself shows that it is a mistake to reckon Marcion among the Gnostics. A dualist he certainly was, but he was not a Gnostic".
  28. ^ Where Augustine was a member of the school from 373–382.[181][182]
  29. ^ This understanding of the transmission of Gnostic ideas, despite Irenaeus' certain antagonistic bias, is often utilized today, though it has been criticized.
  30. ^ According to Layton, "the lack of uniformity in ancient Christian scripture in the early period is very striking, and it points to the substantial diversity within the Christian religion."[206]
  31. ^ Markschies: "something was being called "gnosticism" that the ancient theologians had called 'gnosis' ... [A] concept of gnosis had been created by Messina that was almost unusable in a historical sense."[222]


  1. ^ perseus.tufts.edu, LSJ entry: γνωστ-ικός, ή, όν, A. of or for knowing, cognitive: ἡ -κή (sc. ἐπιστήμη), theoretical science (opp. πρακτική), Pl.Plt.258e, etc.; τὸ γ. ib.261b; "ἕξεις γ." Arist.AP0.100a11 (Comp.); "γ. εἰκόνες" Hierocl.in CA25p.475M.: c. gen., able to discern, Ocell. 2.7. Adv. "-κῶς" Procl.Inst.39, Dam.Pr.79, Phlp.in Ph.241.22.[web 1]
  2. ^ Williams: "On the other hand, the one group whom Irenaeus does explicitly mention as users of this self-designation, the followers of the Second Century teacher Marcellina, are not included in Layton's anthology at all, on the grounds that their doctrines are not similar to those of the "classic" gnostics. As we have seen, Epiphanius is one of the witnesses for the existence of a special sect called 'the gnostics', and yet Epiphanius himself seems to distinguish between these people and 'the Sethians' (Pan 40.7.5), whereas Layton treats them as both under the 'classic gnostic' category."[18]



  1. ^ Pagels 1989, pp. 28–47, "One God, One Bishop: The Politics of Monotheism".
  2. ^ Pagels 1989, p. xx.
  3. ^ Layton 1995, p. 106.
  4. ^ a b Pagels 1989, p. xx.
  5. ^ a b Deutsch 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e Buckley 2010, p. 109.
  7. ^ a b c d Williams 1996.
  8. ^ King, Karen L (2005). What is Gnosticism?. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674017627.
  9. ^ Robertson 2021, p. [page needed].
  10. ^ Liddell Scott entry γνῶσις, εως, ἡ, A. seeking to know, inquiry, investigation, esp. judicial, "τὰς τῶν δικαστηρίων γ." D.18.224; "τὴν κατὰ τοῦ διαιτητοῦ γdeetr." Id.21.92, cf. 7.9, Lycurg.141; "γ. περὶ τῆς δίκης" PHib.1.92.13 (iii B. C.). 2. result of investigation, decision, PPetr.3p.118 (iii B. C.). II. knowing, knowledge, Heraclit.56; opp. ἀγνωσίη, Hp. Vict.1.23 (dub.); opp. ἄγνοια, Pl.R.478c; "ἡ αἴσθησις γ. τις" Arist.GA731a33: pl., "Θεὸς γνώσεων κύριος" LXX 1 Ki.2.3. b. higher, esoteric knowledge, 1 Ep.Cor.8.7,10, Ep.Eph.3.19, etc.; "χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν νοῦν, λόγον, γνῶσιν" PMag.Par.2.290. 2. acquaintance with a person, "πρός τινα" Test. ap.Aeschin.1.50; "τῶν Σεβαστῶν" IPE1.47.6 (Olbia). 3. recognizing, Th.7.44. 4. means of knowing, "αἱ αἰσθήσεις κυριώταται τῶν καθ᾽ ἕκαστα γ." Arist.Metaph.981b11. III. being known, "γνῶσιν ἔχει τι", = "γνωστόν ἐστι", Pl.Tht.206b. 2. fame, credit, Hdn.7.5.5, Luc.Herod.3. IV. means of knowing: hence, statement in writing, PLond.5.1708, etc. (vi A. D.). V. = γνῶμα, Hsch. s. h. v.
  11. ^ LSJ entry γνωστ-ικός, ή, όν, A. of or for knowing, cognitive: ἡ -κή (sc. ἐπιστήμη), theoretical science (opp. πρακτική), Pl.Plt.258b.c., etc.; τὸ γ. ib.261b; "ἕξεις γ." Arist.AP0.100a11 (Comp.); "γ. εἰκόνες" Hierocl.in CA25p.475M.: c. gen., able to discern, Ocell. 2.7. Adv. "-κῶς" Procl.Inst.39, Dam.Pr.79, Phlp.in Ph.241.22.
  12. ^ In Perseus databank 10x Plato, Cratylus, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman 2x Plutarch, Compendium libri de animae procreatione + De animae procreatione in Timaeo, 2x Pseudo-Plutarch, De musica
  13. ^ Ehrman 2003, p. 185.
  14. ^ a b Valantasis 2006, p. [page needed].
  15. ^ Smith 1981.
  16. ^ Rousseau & Doutreleau 1974.
  17. ^ a b c Williams 1996, p. 36.
  18. ^ a b Williams 1996, pp. 42–43.
  19. ^ a b Dunderberg 2008, p. 16.
  20. ^ a b Pearson 2004, p. 210.
  21. ^ Haar 2012, p. 231.
  22. ^ Unger & Dillon 1992, p. 3: "the final phrase of the title 'knowledge falsely so-called' is found in 1 Timothy 6:20".
  23. ^ Huidekoper 1891, p. 331.
  24. ^ Chadwick n.d.
  25. ^ a b Magris 2005, pp. 3515–3516.
  26. ^ a b c d Cohen & Mendes-Flohr 2010, p. 286.
  27. ^ Brakke 2012, p. [page needed].
  28. ^ Merillat 1997, ch. 22.
  29. ^ Wilson 1982, p. 292.
  30. ^ Robinson 1982, p. 5.
  31. ^ Harari 2015, p. 247.
  32. ^ a b c d e Albrile 2005, p. 3533.
  33. ^ a b Drower, Ethel Stephana (1960). The secret Adam, a study of Nasoraean gnosis. London UK: Clarendon Press.
  34. ^ Jacobs, Joseph; Blau, Ludwig (1906). "Gnosticism". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2023-09-10.
  35. ^ a b c Albrile 2005, p. 3534.
  36. ^ Gager, John G. (1985). The origins of anti-semitism: attitudes toward Judaism in pagan and Christian antiquity. Oxford University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-19-503607-7.
  37. ^ Bayme, Steven (1997). Understanding Jewish History: Texts and Commentaries. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. ISBN 978-0-88125-554-6.
  38. ^ Idel, Moshe (1988-01-01). Kabbalah: New Perspectives. Yale University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-300-04699-1.
  39. ^ a b c Magris 2005, p. 3516.
  40. ^ Hannah, Darrell D. (1999). Michael and Christ: Michael Traditions and Angel Christology in Early Christianity. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 214f. ISBN 978-3-16-147054-7.
  41. ^ M.A. Knibb (trans.) (2010). "Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah". In James H. Charlesworth (ed.). The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vol. 2. Hendrickson Publishers. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-59856-490-7.
  42. ^ Papandrea, James L. (2016). The Earliest Christologies: Five Images of Christ in the Postapostolic Age. InterVarsity Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8308-5127-0. The most prominent example of Angel Adoptionism from the early Church would have to be the document known as The Shepherd of Hermass. In The Shepherd, the savior is an angel called the "angel of justification", who seems to be identified with the archangel Michael. Although the angel is often understood to be Jesus, he is never named as Jesus.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Albrile 2005, p. 3532.
  44. ^ Pearson, Birger A. (1984). "Gnosticism as Platonism: With Special Reference to Marsanes (NHC 10,1)". The Harvard Theological Review. 77 (1): 55–72. doi:10.1017/S0017816000014206. JSTOR 1509519. S2CID 170677052.
  45. ^ a b c d Turner 1986, p. 59.
  46. ^ Schenke, Hans Martin. "The Phenomenon and Significance of Gnostic Sethianism" in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism. E.J. Brill 1978
  47. ^ a b c Albrile 2005, p. 3531.
  48. ^ Albrile 2005, pp. 3534–3535.
  49. ^ Rudolph 1987, p. 4.
  50. ^ Gündüz, Şinasi (1994). "The Knowledge of Life: The Origins and Early History of the Mandaeans and Their Relation to the Sabians of the Qur'ān and to the Harranians". Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement. 3. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-922193-6. ISSN 0022-4480.
  51. ^ a b c d Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people (PDF). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195153859.
  52. ^ McGrath, James F.,"Reading the Story of Miriai on Two Levels: Evidence from Mandaean Anti-Jewish Polemic about the Origins and Setting of Early Mandaeism".ARAM Periodical / (2010): 583–592.
  53. ^ Lidzbarski, Mark 1915 Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer. Giessen: Alfred Töpelmann.
  54. ^ Macuch, Rudolf A Mandaic Dictionary (with E. S. Drower). Oxford: Clarendon Press 1963.
  55. ^ R. Macuch, “Anfänge der Mandäer. Versuch eines geschichtliches Bildes bis zur früh-islamischen Zeit,” chap. 6 of F. Altheim and R. Stiehl, Die Araber in der alten Welt II: Bis zur Reichstrennung, Berlin, 1965.
  56. ^ Charles Häberl, "Hebraisms in Mandaic" Mar 3, 2021
  57. ^ Häberl, Charles (2021). "Mandaic and the Palestinian Question". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 141 (1): 171–184. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.141.1.0171. ISSN 0003-0279. S2CID 234204741.Journal of the American Oriental Society 141.1 (2021) pp. 171–184.
  58. ^ Verardi 1997, p. 323.
  59. ^ Conze 1967.
  60. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Clare Goodrick-Clarke G. R. S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest 2005 p. 8. Quote: "The idea that Gnosticism was derived from Buddhism was first postulated by Charles William King in his classic work, The Gnostics and their Remains (1864). He was one of the earliest and most emphatic scholars to propose the Gnostic debt to Buddhist thought."
  61. ^ H. L. Mansel, Gnostic Heresies of the First and Second Centuries (1875); p. 32
  62. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E–J ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley  (1982). Quote: "Mansel ... summed up the principal sources of Gnosticism in these three: Platonism, the Persian religion, and the Buddhism of India." p. 490.
  63. ^ Pagels 1989, p. 21.
  64. ^ "The Apocryphon of John – Frederik Wisse – The Nag Hammadi Library". www.gnosis.org. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  65. ^ Markschies 2003, p. 16–17.
  66. ^ Jonas 1963, p. 42.
  67. ^ Edwards, M. J. (1989). "Gnostics and Valentinians in the Church Fathers". The Journal of Theological Studies. 40 (1): 41. doi:10.1093/jts/40.1.26. ISSN 0022-5185.
  68. ^ Layton 1987, Introduction to "Against Heresies" by St. Irenaeus.
  69. ^ van Gaans, Gijs Martijn (2012). "David Brakke, The Gnostics. Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity, Cambridge, Massachusetts & London: Harvard University Press 2010; xii + 164 pp.; ISBN 978-0-674-04684-9; US$ 29.95 (hardback with jacket)". Vigiliae Christianae. 66 (2): 217–220. doi:10.1163/157007212x613483. ISSN 0042-6032.
  70. ^ a b Lewis, Nicola Denzey (2021-02-18). "Women in Gnosticism". Patterns of Women's Leadership in Early Christianity. Oxford University Press. pp. 109–129. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198867067.003.0007. ISBN 978-0-19-886706-7. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  71. ^ King 2003, p. [page needed].
  72. ^ a b Benjamin H. Dunning, ed. (2019). The Oxford handbook of New Testament, gender, and sexuality. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-021341-1. OCLC 1123192570.
  73. ^ a b c d e f g "The Apocryphon of John". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  74. ^ "Allogenes". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  75. ^ "Trimorphic Protennoia". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  76. ^ "The Pair (Syzygy) in Valentinian Thought". Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  77. ^ Mead 2005, p. [page needed].
  78. ^ "A Valentinian Exposition". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  79. ^ Sumney, Jerry L. (1989). "The Letter of Eugnostos and the Origins of Gnosticism". Novum Testamentum. 31 (2): 172–181. doi:10.1163/156853689X00063. ISSN 0048-1009.
  80. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (1986). Female fault and fulfilment in Gnosticism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-1696-5. OCLC 13009837.
  81. ^ "Demiurge". Catholic encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  82. ^ a b "The Hypostasis of the Archons". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  83. ^ a b Hoeller, Stephan A. "The Gnostic World View: A Brief Summary of Gnosticism". www.gnosis.org. The Gnostic Society. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  84. ^ Campbell 1991, p. 262.
  85. ^ "Plato, Republic 588A–589B". "The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  86. ^ "Revelation, CHAPTER 9 | USCCB". bible.usccb.org. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  87. ^ "Acts of the Apostles, CHAPTER 8 | USCCB". bible.usccb.org. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  88. ^ "Demiurge | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com.
  89. ^ Origen. "Cotra Celsum". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  90. ^ "Mithraic Art". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
  91. ^ a b c Pagels 1975.
  92. ^ Roukema, Riemer (2010). "Jesus′ Origin and Identity – Theodotus [of Byzantium]". Jesus, Gnosis and Dogma. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-567-61585-5. The Saviour, jesus Christ, who from the fullness (the pleroma) of the Father descended on earth, is identified with the Logos, but initially not entirely with the Only Begotten Son. In John 1:14 is written, after all, that his glory was as of the Only Begotten, from which is concluded that his glory must be distinguished from this (7, 3b). When the Logos or Saviour descended, Sophia, according to Theodotus, provided a piece of flesh (sarkion), namely a carnal body, also called 'spiritual seed' (1, 1).
  93. ^ "The Gnostic Gospels". FRONTLINE. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  94. ^ Macuch, Rudolf (1965). Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic. Berlin: De Gruyter & Co. p. 61 fn. 105.
  95. ^ a b c d e f g h i Perkins 2005, p. 3530.
  96. ^ Doherty, Earl (Fall 1997). "The Jesus Puzzle: Pieces in a Puzzle of Christian Origins". Journal of Higher Criticism. 4 (2). Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  97. ^ Halsall 2008, p. 293.
  98. ^ a b c d Magris 2005, p. 3519.
  99. ^ a b c Dillon 2016, p. 36.
  100. ^ Pagels 1979.
  101. ^ Perkins 2005, p. 3529.
  102. ^ Perkins 2005, pp. 3529–3530.
  103. ^ Bauer 1979.
  104. ^ McVey 1981.
  105. ^ Quispel 2004, p. 9.
  106. ^ a b Dillon 2016, pp. 31–32.
  107. ^ a b c d Dillon 2016, p. 32.
  108. ^ a b c d e Dillon 2016, p. 33.
  109. ^ Dunn 2016, p. 107.
  110. ^ Dunn 2016, pp. 107–108.
  111. ^ a b c Dunn 2016, p. 108.
  112. ^ Dunn 2016, p. 109.
  113. ^ Dunn 2016, pp. 109–110.
  114. ^ Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, 1999
  115. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 25–30. ISBN 978-0-06-220644-2
  116. ^ Dunn 2016, p. 111.
  117. ^ a b c Kohler, Kaufmann; Ginzberg, Louis. "Elcesaites". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  118. ^ a b Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1875). "On Some Points Connected with the Essenes". St. Paul's epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: a revised text with introductions, notes, and dissertations. London: Macmillan Publishers. OCLC 6150927.
  119. ^ a b c d e f g Drower, Ethel Stefana. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford At The Clarendon Press, 1937.
  120. ^ "Elkesaite | Jewish sect". Britannica. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  121. ^ "Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book 1". 2015-09-06. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  122. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). "Part I: Beginnings – Introduction: The Mandaean World". The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People. New York: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. pp. 1–20. doi:10.1093/0195153855.003.0001. ISBN 9780195153859. OCLC 57385973.
  123. ^ Ginza Rabba. Translated by Al-Saadi, Qais; Al-Saadi, Hamed (2nd ed.). Germany: Drabsha. 2019. p. 1.
  124. ^ a b Iraqi minority group needs U.S. attention Archived 2007-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, Kai Thaler, Yale Daily News, March 9, 2007.
  125. ^ a b c Rudolph, Kurt (1978). Mandaeism. BRILL. p. 15. ISBN 9789004052529.
  126. ^ Deutsch, Nathaniel. (2003) Mandaean Literature. In The Gnostic Bible (pp. 527–561). New Seeds Books
  127. ^ "Sod, The Son of the Man" Page iii, S. F. Dunlap, Williams and Norgate – 1861
  128. ^ a b Nashmi, Yuhana (24 April 2013). "Contemporary Issues for the Mandaean Faith". Mandaean Associations Union. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  129. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rudolph 1987.
  130. ^ Rudolph 1987, pp. 343–366.
  131. ^ McGrath, James (23 January 2015). "The First Baptists, The Last Gnostics: The Mandaeans". YouTube-A lunchtime talk about the Mandaeans by Dr. James F. McGrath at Butler University. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  132. ^ "Sabian Mandaeans". Minority Rights Group International. November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  133. ^ "Mandaeanism | religion". Britannica. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  134. ^ Hegarty, Siobhan (21 July 2017). "Meet the Mandaeans: Australian followers of John the Baptist celebrate new year". ABC. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  135. ^ Porter, Tom (22 December 2021). "Religion Scholar Jorunn Buckley Honored by Library of Congress". Bowdoin. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  136. ^ Lupieri, Edmondo F. (7 April 2008). "MANDAEANS i. HISTORY". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  137. ^ "Mandaeanism | religion". Britannica. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  138. ^ Etudes mithriaques 1978, p. 545, Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin
  139. ^ "The People of the Book and the Hierarchy of Discrimination". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  140. ^ a b Drower, Ethel Stefana (1953). The Haran Gawaita and the Baptism of Hibil-Ziwa. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  141. ^ Mandaean Society in America (27 March 2013). "The Mandaeans: Their History, Religion and Mythology". Mandaean Associations Union. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  142. ^ Pearson, Birger A. (2011-07-14). "Baptism in Sethian Gnostic Texts". Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism. De Gruyter. pp. 119–144. doi:10.1515/9783110247534.119. ISBN 978-3-11-024751-0.
  143. ^ Buckley, Jorunn J. (2010). Mandaean-Sethian connections. ARAM, 22 (2010) 495–507. doi:10.2143/ARAM.22.0.2131051
  144. ^ a b c Magris 2005, p. 3515.
  145. ^ Hippolytus, Philosophumena, iv. 51, vi. 20.
  146. ^ Magris 2005, pp. 3517–3519.
  147. ^ a b Stephan A. Hoeller, On the Trail of the Winged God. Hermes and Hermeticism Throughout the Ages Archived 2009-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  148. ^ Elaine Pagels, The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis. Heracleon's Commentary on John. Nashville, Tennessee: SBL Monograph Series 17, 1973
  149. ^ a b c Quispel 2005, p. 3510.
  150. ^ Magris 2005, p. 3517.
  151. ^ a b Temporini, Vogt & Haase 1983.
  152. ^ Turner 2001, p. 257.
  153. ^ Broek 2013, p. 28.
  154. ^ Smith 2004.
  155. ^ Turner 2001, pp. 257–258.
  156. ^ Turner 2001, p. 258.
  157. ^ Turner 2001, p. 259.
  158. ^ Turner 2001, pp. 259–260.
  159. ^ a b Turner 2001, p. 260.
  160. ^ Adversus Valentinianos 4.
  161. ^ Green 1985, p. 244.
  162. ^ Markschies 2003, p. 94.
  163. ^ Pagels 1979, p. [page needed].
  164. ^ Schoedel, William (1980). "Gnostic Monism and the Gospel of Truth" in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism, Vol.1: The School of Valentinus, (ed.) Bentley Layton. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  165. ^ a b "Valentinian Monism". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  166. ^ Layton 1987.
  167. ^ Simone Petrement, A Separate God
  168. ^ Schaff, Philip; et al. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Church History of Eusebius/Book IV.
  169. ^ Jon Ma. Asgeirsson, April D. DeConick and Risto Uro (editors), Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity. The Social and Cultural World of the Gospel of Thomas Archived 2017-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, Brill.
  170. ^ King 2003, p. 162.
  171. ^ a b c d Magris 2005, p. 3518.
  172. ^ "Adolf Von Harnack: Marcion". gnosis.org.
  173. ^ a b Harnack, Adolf (2007-12-01). Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God. Translated by Steely, John E.; Bierma, Lyle D. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-55635-703-9.
  174. ^ González, Justo L. (1970). A History of Christian Thought, Vol. I. Abingdon. pp. 132–133
  175. ^ "Cainite | Gnostic sect | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  176. ^ Benko, Stephen (1967). "The Libertine Gnostic Sect of the Phibionites According to Epiphanius". Vigiliae Christianae. 21 (2): 103–119. doi:10.2307/1582042. JSTOR 1582042.
  177. ^ van den Broek, Roelof (2003). "Gospel Tradition and Salvation in Justin the Gnostic". Vigiliae Christianae. 57 (4): 363–388. doi:10.1163/157007203772064568. JSTOR 1584560.
  178. ^ Van Den Broek, Roelof (2006). Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism. Boston: Brill. p. 194. ISBN 978-90-04-15231-1.
  179. ^ Zaehner, Richard Charles (1961). The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-1-84212-165-8.
  180. ^ "Dualism Religion – Definition – Dualistic Cosmology – Christianity". 2018-03-16.
  181. ^ Cross, Frank L.; Livingstone, Elizabeth, eds. (2005). "Platonism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3.
  182. ^ TeSelle, Eugene (1970). Augustine the Theologian. London: Burns & Oates. pp. 347–349. ISBN 978-0-223-97728-0. March 2002 edition: ISBN 1-57910-918-7.
  183. ^ Winston E. Waugh, Sufism, Xulon Press, 2005. ISBN 978-1-597-81703-5, p. 17
  184. ^ a b Nagel 1994, p. 222.
  185. ^ Andrew Philip Smith, The Secret History of the Gnostics: Their Scriptures, Beliefs and Traditions, Duncan Baird Publishers, 2015. ISBN 978-1-780-28883-3
  186. ^ a b Nagel 1994, p. 215.
  187. ^ Nagel 1994, p. 216.
  188. ^ Peter J. Awn, Satan's Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis in Sufi Psychology, Brill, 1983. ISBN 978-90-04-06906-0
  189. ^ Barnstone & Meyer 2009, p. 803.
  190. ^ Barnstone & Meyer 2009, p. 707.
  191. ^ Corbin, Cyclical Time & Ismaili Gnosis, Routledge, 2013. ISBN 978-1-136-13754-9, p. 154
  192. ^ Max Gorman, Stairway to the Stars: Sufism, Gurdjieff and the Inner Tradition of Mankind, Karnac Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-904-65832-0, p. 51
  193. ^ Tobias Churton, Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times, Simon and Schuster, 2005. ISBN 978-1-594-77767-7
  194. ^ Scholem, Gershom. Origins of the Kabbalah, 1987. Pp. 21–22.
  195. ^ Scholem, Gershom. Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and the Talmudic Tradition, 1965.
  196. ^ Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: a Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 24.
  197. ^ Rudolph 1987, p. 343.
  198. ^ Taussig, Hal (2013). A New New Testament: A Reinvented Bible for the Twenty-first Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-547-79210-1.
  199. ^ Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch. XLVIII
  200. ^ a b Smith, Richard. "The Modern Relevance of Gnosticism" in The Nag Hammadi Library, 1990 ISBN 0-06-066935-7
  201. ^ Green, Celia (1981, 2006). Advice to Clever Children. Oxford: Oxford Forum. pp. xxxv–xxxvii.
  202. ^ Michael Weber. Contact Made Vision: The Apocryphal Whitehead Pub. in Michel Weber and William Desmond, Jr. (eds.), Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, Frankfurt / Lancaster, Ontos Verlag, Process Thought X1 & X2, 2008, I, pp. 573–599.
  203. ^ Markschies 2003, p. 37.
  204. ^ Marvin Meyer and James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition. HarperOne, 2007. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-06-052378-6
  205. ^ Robinson 1978, Introduction.
  206. ^ Layton 1987, p. xviii.
  207. ^ Lahe 2006, p. 221.
  208. ^ a b c Sariel, Aviram. "Jonasian Gnosticism." Harvard Theological Review 116.1 (2023): 91-122.
  209. ^ Jonas 1963, pp. 3–27.
  210. ^ Albrile 2005, pp. 3533–3534.
  211. ^ Broek 1996, p. vii.
  212. ^ Albrile 2005, p. 3535.
  213. ^ Quispel 2004, p. 8.
  214. ^ a b c d e Dillon 2016, p. 24.
  215. ^ a b Dillon 2016, p. 25.
  216. ^ Jonas 1963.
  217. ^ a b c Dillon 2016, p. 26.
  218. ^ a b c d Dillon 2016, p. 27.
  219. ^ a b c d Dillon 2016, p. 28.
  220. ^ Dillon 2016, pp. 27–28.
  221. ^ Markschies 2003, p. 13.
  222. ^ a b Markschies 2003, pp. 14–15.
  223. ^ Quispel 2005, p. 3511.
  224. ^ Freke & Gandy 2005.
  225. ^ "Fall 2014 Christianity Seminar Report on Gnosticism". westar institute. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  226. ^ Robertson 2021.
  227. ^ Dillon 2016, pp. 28–29.
  228. ^ Conze 1975, p. 165.

Works cited[edit]

Printed sources[edit]

Web sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Primary sources


External links[edit]