ANCIENT AND MODERN
ANCIENT GNOSTIC LEADERS; PAULINE CHRISTIAN INTERACTION
Ancient Gnostic leaders:
||Simon Magus: He was one of the earliest Gnostics He was
skilled in the arts of magic. He interpreted the Garden of Eden, exodus
from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea as allegories.
||Marcion: (85-160 CE) He organized a series of Gnostic
congregations in the eastern Mediterranean which survived into the 3rd
century CE. He wrote a book called Antitheses which earned him
excommunication by the Christian leaders of Rome. He rejected the
institution of marriage. He believed that the Demiurge arranged Jesus'
persecution and crucifixion. But the death of Christ on the cross was
only a hallucination, since Jesus did not have a physical body.
||Valentinus: He was born in Egypt, traveled to Rome about 140
CE and then moved to Cyprus. He was the founder of perhaps the largest
and most influential school of Gnosticism which lasted until it was
suppressed in the 4th century CE. He taught that groups of Aeons made up
the "pleroma (fullness) of the High God. One group, the Ogoad are
called: Depth, Silence, Mind, Truth, Word, Life, Man and Church. Another
group was the Decad (10) and Dodecad (12). The last of the Docecad was
Wisdom, also called Sophia.
||Carpocrates: (circa 140 CE); He taught reincarnation. An
individual had to live many lives and adsorb a full range of experiences
before being able to return to God. They practiced free sexuality. They
believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph.
Interactions between Gnostic Christianity and Pauline Christianity:
Some Gnostic beliefs and leaders may have infiltrated Pauline Christianity
and influenced the authors of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
||Some theologians believe that the Carpocratian Gnostics were the
target of Jude's attack about "...certain men" who " have
secretly slipped in among you,". The book of Jude, Verses 4 to 19,
deals mainly with these infiltrators.
||Simon Magus, an early Gnostic, may have been the Simon mentioned in
Acts 8:9-24. Simon believed in Jesus and was baptized with a group of
other believers. But none had received the Holy Spirit until Peter and
John placed their hands on the new converts. Simon asked for the laying on
of the apostles' hands and even offered money. Peter refused, because
Simon's heart was not right with God.
||Matthew 4:8-9 describes how Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain
and offered him all of the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow
down and worship him. This passage has always been difficult to
understand, because it implies that the world belonged to the Devil and
that he was able to give it away to Christ. But the passage matches
Gnostic belief very closely.
Copyright © 1996, 1999, 2000 & 2003 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2000-JUN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson