Gnosticism

GnosticGnosticsGnostic ChristianityFathers of Christian GnosticismGnostic textsGnosticism and the New TestamentChristian GnosticismHistory of GnosticismGnostic ChristianGnostic sect
Gnosticism (from gnostikos, "having knowledge") is a collection of ancient religious ideas and systems which originated in the first century AD among some early Christian and Jewish sects.wikipedia
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Gnosis

gnosticknowledge of Goddivine origin
These various groups, labeled "gnostics" by their opponents, emphasised personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) over orthodox teachings, traditions, and ecclesiastical authority.
It is best known from Gnosticism, where it signifies a knowledge or insight into humanity’s real nature as divine, leading to the deliverance of the divine spark within humanity from the constraints of earthly existence.

Demiurge

YaldabaothIaldabaothdemiurgic
Generally, Gnostic cosmogony presents a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe, thereby trapping the divine spark within matter.
The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge".

Western esotericism

esotericesotericismesotericist
They considered the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the supreme divinity, experienced as intuitive or esoteric insight.
The earliest traditions which later analysis would label as forms of Western esotericism emerged in the Eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity, where Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and Neoplatonism developed as schools of thought distinct from what became mainstream Christianity.

Heresy

hereticalhereticheretics
Gnostic writings flourished among certain Christian groups in the Mediterranean world until about the second century, when the Fathers of the early church denounced them as heresy.
He described the community's beliefs and doctrines as orthodox (from ὀρθός, orthos 'straight' + δόξα, doxa 'belief') and the Gnostics' teachings as heretical.

Divine spark

Generally, Gnostic cosmogony presents a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe, thereby trapping the divine spark within matter.
In Gnosticism and other Western mystical traditions, the divine spark is the portion of God that resides within each human being.

Apocryphon of John

Secret Gospel of JohnSecret Revelation of John
Renewed interest in Gnosticism occurred 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.
The Secret Book of John, also called the Apocryphon of John or the Secret Revelation of John, is a second-century Sethian Gnostic Christian text of secret teachings.

Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of ThomasThomasCoptic Gospel of Thomas
Renewed interest in Gnosticism occurred 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.
Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the canonical gospels, while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition.

Clement of Alexandria

ClementClemens AlexandrinusSt. Clement of Alexandria
The adjective is not used in the New Testament, but Clement of Alexandria speaks of the "learned" (gnostikos) Christian in complimentary terms.
His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism.

Plotinus

PlotinianPlotinPlotino
It is an inward "knowing", comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (neoplatonism), and differs from proto-orthodox Christian views.
His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, and Islamic metaphysicians and mystics, including developing precepts that influence mainstream theological concepts within religions, such as his work on duality of the One in two metaphysical states.

Archon (Gnosticism)

ArchonsArchona group of angels and lower gods
The mortal body belonged to the world of inferior, worldly powers (the archons), and only the spirit or soul could be saved.
Archons are, in Gnosticism and religions closely related to it, demonic entities subordinate to the embodiment of evil in the corresponding belief-system.

Irenaeus

Irenaeus of LyonsSt. IrenaeusIrenæus
For centuries, most scholarly knowledge of Gnosticism was limited to the anti-heretical writings of orthodox Christian figures such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Hippolytus of Rome.
Chosen as bishop of Lugdunum, now Lyon, his best-known work is Against Heresies, often cited as Adversus Haereses, an attack on gnosticism, in particular that of Valentinus.

Sethianism

SethianSethiansSethites
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 Valentianism and Sethianism.
The Sethians were one of the main currents of Gnosticism during the 2nd and 3rd century CE, along with Valentinianism.

Valentinus (Gnostic)

ValentinusValentinianValentinius
Nonetheless, early Gnostic teachers such as Valentinus saw their beliefs as aligned with Christianity.
160) was the best known and, for a time, most successful early Christian gnostic theologian.

Gilles Quispel

This thesis is most notably put forward by Gershom Scholem (1897–1982) and Gilles Quispel (1916–2006).
Gilles Quispel (30 May 1916 – 2 March 2006) was a Dutch theologian and historian of Christianity and Gnosticism.

Aeon (Gnosticism)

Aeonsyzygyaeons
From this highest divinity emanate lower divine beings, known as Aeons.
In many Gnostic systems, various emanations of "God" are known by such names as One, Monad, Aion teleos (αἰών τέλεος "The Broadest Aeon"), Bythos (βυθός, "depth" or "profundity"), Proarkhe ("before the beginning", προαρχή), Arkhe ("the beginning", ἀρχή), and Aeons.

Zoroastrianism

ZoroastrianZoroastriansZoroastrian religion
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.
Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious and philosophical systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Buddhism.

Monad (Gnosticism)

MonadBythosBythus
The Syrian–Egyptian traditions postulate a remote, supreme Godhead, the Monad.
The Monad in early Christian gnostic writings is an adaptation of concepts of the Monad in Greek philosophy to Christian gnostic belief systems.

Elaine Pagels

Elaine H. PagelsPagels, ElainePagels
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 (1979) called it a "possibility".
Pagels has conducted extensive research into early Christianity and Gnosticism.

Neoplatonism

NeoplatonicNeoplatonistNeo-Platonic
It is an inward "knowing", comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (neoplatonism), and differs from proto-orthodox Christian views.
The earliest Christian philosophers, such as Justin and Athenagoras, who attempted to connect Christianity with Platonism, and the Christian Gnostics of Alexandria, especially Valentinus and the followers of Basilides, also mirrored elements of neoplatonism, albeit without its rigorous self-consistency.

Sin

sinssinfulsinners
Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.
The concept of original sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon in his controversy with certain dualist Gnostics.

Religious cosmology

Esoteric cosmologycosmologycosmological
The cosmogonic speculations among Christian Gnostics had partial origins in Maaseh Bereshit and Maaseh Merkabah.
Religious cosmologies have often developed into the formal logics of metaphysical systems, such as Platonism, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Daoism, Kabbalah, or the great chain of being.

Proto-orthodox Christianity

proto-orthodoxproto-orthodox Christiansproto-orthodoxy
It is an inward "knowing", comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (neoplatonism), and differs from proto-orthodox Christian views.
Bauer was the first to suggest that what later became known as "orthodoxy" was originally just one out of many early Christian sects (such as the Ebionites, Gnostics and Marcionists), that however was able to eliminate all major opposition by the end of the 3rd century, and managed to establish itself as orthodoxy at the First Council of Nicaea (325) and subsequent ecumenical councils.

Ophites

Ophite
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.
The Ophites or Ophians (Greek Ὀφιανοί Ophianoi, from ὄφις ophis "snake") were members of a Christian Gnostic sect depicted by Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) in a lost work, the Syntagma ("arrangement").

Merkabah mysticism

MerkabahMerkavahMerkaba
Scholem detected Jewish gnosis in the imagery of the merkavah, which can also be found in "Christian" Gnostic documents, for example the being "caught away" to the third heaven mentioned by Paul the Apostle.
Again, there is a significant dispute among historians over whether these ascent and unitive themes were the result of some foreign, usually Gnostic, influence, or a natural progression of religious dynamics within rabbinic Judaism.

Dualistic cosmology

dualismdualisticdualist
Gnostic systems postulate a dualism between God and the world, varying from the "radical dualist" systems of Manichaeism to the "mitigated dualism" of classic gnostic movements.
This is also true for the lesser-known Christian gnostic religions, such as Bogomils, Catharism, and so on.