The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics (Pocket Essential by Sean Martin

By Sean Martin

Gnosticism is the identify given to varied non secular colleges that proliferated within the first centuries after Christ, approximately turning into the dominant type of Christianity, yet finally branded as heretical by means of the rising Christian church. The lengthy and numerous background of Gnosticism is stated right here, in addition to purposes for its endured relevance this day. even if a few Gnostic ideals are just about mainstream Christianity, others tested the following comprise that the area is imperfect since it used to be created by way of an evil god who used to be continually at conflict with the genuine, reliable God; that Christ and devil have been brothers; that reincarnation exists; and that ladies are the equivalent of fellows. additionally lined is the impression Gnostics had at the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the psychologist Carl Jung, the Existentialists, the hot Age circulation, and writers as different as William Blake, W. B. Yeats, Albert Camus, and Philip okay. Dick.

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The Barbeloites belong to a school of Gnosticism that scholars have labelled ‘Sethian’; however, unlike the Barbeloites, the Sethians do seem to have referred to themselves by this name. The Sethians revered the figure of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve after Cain and Abel. After seeing his two brothers fatally come to blows over the issue of offering sacrifices to the creator God, Seth was said to have gained gnosis after being instructed by Adam, who predicted that ‘Seth and his seed’, as the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Adam calls them, would continue to experience the liberating gift of gnosis, but would also experience persecution.

Furthermore, as Eve was the first human to gain gnosis, Gnostic texts generally paint her as being superior to Adam. Some, such as the Nag Hammadi text known as On the Origin of the World, describe her as being the daughter and messenger of Sophia sent to waken her sleeping partner. • 35 • Gnostics 17/10/06 7:19 am Page 36 THE GNOSTICS The Gnostics had a fondness for myth and allegory, and they would have interpreted Adam and Eve not as the first humans whose actual physical existence is proven by the Book of Genesis, but rather as aspects of our psychological and spiritual make-up.

In Hippolytus’ account, the true God emanated a ‘world-seed’, out of which everything came. The emanation is described as being comprised of three ‘Sonships’, the first and lightest of which is able to rejoin the true God, the second requires the help of the Holy Spirit, while the third remains trapped in matter. This third ‘Sonship’ is the divine spark in every soul, whose worldly exile can be brought to an end via the redeeming message of Christ, whose mission it is to gather the Third Sonship together and take it home.

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