Sec. 3. History of Gnosticism and the forms in which it appeared.
In the previous section we have been contemplating Gnosticism as it reached its prime in the great schools of Basilides and Valentinus, and those related to them, at the close of the period we are now considering, and became an important factor in the history of dogma. But this Gnosticism had (1) preliminary stages, and (2) was always accompanied by a great number of sects, schools and undertakings which were only in part related to it, and yet, reasonably enough, were grouped together with it.
To begin with the second point, the great Gnostic schools were flanked on the right and left by a motley series of groups which at their extremities can hardly be distinguished from popular Christianity on the one hand, and from the Hellenic and the common world on the other. On the right were communities such as the Encratites, which put all stress on a strict asceticism, in support of which they urged the example of Christ, but which here and there fell into dualistic ideas. There were further, whole communities which, for decennia, drew their views of Christ from books which represented him as a heavenly spirit who had merely assumed an apparent body. There were also individual teachers who brought forward peculiar opinions without thereby causing any immediate stir in the Churches. On the left there were schools such as the Carpocratians, in which the philosophy and communism of Plato were taught, the son of the founder and second teacher Epiphanes honoured as a God (at Cephallenia), as Epicurus was in his school, and the image of Jesus crowned along with those of Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle. On this left flank are, further, swindlers who take their own way, like Alexander of Abonoteichus, magicians, soothsayers, sharpers and jugglers, under the sign-board of Christianity, deceivers and hypocrites who appear using mighty words with a host of unintelligible formulae, and take up with scandalous ceremonies, in order to rob men of their money and women of their honour. All this was afterwards called "Heresy" and "Gnosticism," and is still so called. And these names may be retained, if we will understand by them nothing else than the world taken into Christianity, all the manifold formations which resulted from the first contact of the new religion with the society into which it entered. To prove the existence of that left wing of Gnosticism is of the greatest interest for the history of dogma, but the details are of no consequence. On the other hand, in the aims and undertakings of the Gnostic right, it is just the details that are of greatest significance, because they shew that there was no fixed boundary between what one may call common Christian and Gnostic Christian. But as Gnosticism, in its contents, extended itself from the Encratites and the philosophic interpretation of certain articles of the Christian proclamation, as brought forward without offence by individual teachers in the communities, to the complete dissolution of the Christian element by philosophy, or the religious charlatanry of the age, so it exhibits itself formally also in a long series of groups which comprised all imaginable forms of unions. There were churches, ascetic associations, mystery cults, strictly private philosophic schools, free unions for edification, entertainments by Christian charlatans and deceived deceivers, who appeared as magicians and prophets, attempts at founding new religions after the model and under the influence of the Christian, etc. But, finally, the thesis that Gnosticism is identical with an acute secularising of Christianity, in the widest sense of the word, is confirmed by the study of its own literature. The early Christian production of Gospel and Apocalypses was indeed continued in Gnosticism yet so that the class of "Acts of the Apostles" was added to them, and that didactic, biographic and "belles lettres," elements were received into them, and claimed a very important place. If this makes the Gnostic literature approximate to the profane, that is much more the case with the scientific theological literature which Gnosticism first produced. Dogmatico-philosophic tracts, theologico-critical treatises, historical investigations and scientific commentaries on the sacred books, were, for the first time in Christendom, composed by the Gnostics, who in part occupied the foremost place in the scientific knowledge, religious earnestness and ardour of the age. They form, in every respect, the counterpart to the scientific works which proceeded from the contemporary philosophic schools. Moreover, we possess sufficient knowledge of Gnostic hymns and odes, songs for public worship, didactic poems, magic formulae, magic books, etc., to assure us that Christian Gnosticism took possession of a whole region of the secular life in its full breadth, and thereby often transformed the original forms of Christian literature into secular. If, however, we bear in mind how all this at a later period was gradually legitimised in the Catholic Church, philosophy, the science of the sacred books, criticism and exegesis, the ascetic associations, the theological schools, the mysteries, the sacred formulae, the superstition, the charlatanism, all kinds of profane literature, etc., it seems to prove the thesis that the victorious epoch of the gradual hellenising of Christianity followed the abortive attempts at an acute hellenising.
The traditional question as to the origin and development of Gnosticism, as well as that about the classification of the Gnostic systems, will have to be modified in accordance with the foregoing discussion. As the different Gnostic systems might be contemporary, and in part were undoubtedly contemporary, and as a graduated relation holds good only between some few groups, we must, in the classification, limit ourselves essentially to the features which have been specified in the foregoing paragraph, and which coincide with the position of the different groups to the early Christian tradition in its connection with the Old Testament religion, both as a rule of practical life, and of the common cultus.
As to the origin of Gnosticism, we see how, even in the earliest period, all possible ideas and principles foreign to Christianity force their way into it, that is, are brought in under Christian rules, and find entrance, especially in the consideration of the Old Testament. We might be satisfied with the observation that the manifold Gnostic systems were produced by the increase of this tendency. In point of fact we must admit that in the present state of our sources, we can reach no sure knowledge beyond that. These sources, however, give certain indications which should not be left unnoticed. If we leave out of account the two assertions of opponents, that Gnosticism was produced by demons and—this, however, was said at a comparatively late period—that it originated in ambition and resistance to the ecclesiastical office, the episcopate, we find in Hegesippus, one of the earliest writers on the subject, the statement that the whole of the heretical schools sprang out of Judaism or the Jewish sects; in the later writers, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus, that these schools owe most to the doctrines of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, etc. But they all agree in this, that a definite personality, viz., Simon the Magician, must be regarded as the original source of the heresy. If we try it by these statements of the Church Fathers, we must see at once that the problem in this case is limited—certainly in a proper way. For after Gnosticism is seen to be the acute secularising of Christianity the only question that remains is, how are we to account for the origin of the great Gnostic schools, that is, whether it is possible to indicate their preliminary stages. The following may be asserted here with some confidence: Long before the appearance of Christianity, combinations of religion had taken place in Syria and Palestine, especially in Samaria, in so far, on the one hand, as the Assyrian and Babylonian religious philosophy, together with its myths, as well as the Greek popular religion, with its manifold interpretations, had penetrated as far as the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and been accepted even by the Jews, and, on the other hand, the Jewish Messianic idea had spread and called forth various movements. The result of every mixing of national religions, however, is to break through the traditional, legal and particular forms. For the Jewish religion syncretism signified the shaking of the authority of the Old Testament by a qualitative distinction of its different parts, as also doubt as to the identity of the supreme God with the national God. These ferments were once more set in motion by Christianity. We know that in the Apostolic age there were attempts in Samaria to found new religions, which were in all probability influenced by the tradition and preaching concerning Jesus. Dositheus, Simon Magus, Cleobius, and Menander appeared as Messiahs or bearers of the Godhead, and proclaimed a doctrine in which the Jewish faith was strangely and grotesquely mixed with Babylonian myths, together with some Greek additions. The mysterious worship, the breaking up of Jewish particularism, the criticism of the Old Testament, which for long had had great difficulty in retaining its authority in many circles, in consequence of the widened horizon and the deepening of religious feeling, finally, the wild syncretism, whose aim, however, was a universal religion, all contributed to gain adherents for Simon. His enterprise appeared to the Christians as a diabolical caricature of their own religion, and the impression made by the success which Simonianism gained by a vigorous propaganda even beyond Palestine into the West, supported this idea. We can therefore understand how, afterwards, all heresies were traced back to Simon. To this must be added that we can actually trace in many Gnostic systems the same elements which were prominent in the religion proclaimed by Simon (the Babylonian and Syrian), and that the new religion of the Simonians, just like Christianity, had afterwards to submit to be transformed into a philosophic, scholastic doctrine. The formal parallel to the Gnostic doctrines was therewith established. But even apart from these attempts at founding new religions, Christianity in Syria, under the influence of foreign religions and speculation on the philosophy of religion, gave a powerful impulse to the criticism of the law and the prophets which had already been awakened. In consequence of this, there appeared, about the transition of the first century to the second, a series of teachers, who, under the impression of the Gospel, sought to make the Old Testament capable of furthering the tendency to a universal religion, not by allegorical interpretation, but by a sifting criticism. These attempts were of very different kinds. Teachers such as Cerinthus, clung to the notion that the universal religion revealed by Christ was identical with undefined Mosaism, and therefore maintained even such articles as circumcision and the Sabbath commandment, as well as the earthly kingdom of the future. But they rejected certain parts of the law, especially, as a rule, the sacrificial precepts, which were no longer in keeping with the spiritual conception of religion. They conceived the creator of the world as a subordinate being distinct from the supreme God, which is always the mark of a syncretism with a dualistic tendency; introduced speculations about AEons and angelic powers, among whom they placed Christ, and recommended a strict asceticism. When, in their Christology, they denied the miraculous birth, and saw in Jesus a chosen man on whom the Christ, that is, the Holy Spirit, descended at the baptism, they were not creating any innovation, but only following the earliest Palestinian tradition. Their rejection of the authority of Paul is explained by their efforts to secure the Old Testament as far as possible for the universal religion. There were others who rejected all ceremonial commandments as proceeding from the devil, or from some intermediate being, but yet always held firmly that the God of the Jews was the supreme God. But alongside of these stood also decidedly anti-Jewish groups, who seem to have been influenced in part by the preaching of Paul. They advanced much further in the criticism of the Old Testament and perceived the impossibility of saving it for the Christian universal religion. They rather connected this religion with the cultus-wisdom of Babylon and Syria, which seemed more adapted for allegorical interpretations, and opposed this formation to the Old Testament religion. The God of the Old Testament appears here at best as a subordinate Angel of limited power, wisdom and goodness. In so far as he was identified with the creator of the world, and the creation of the world itself was regarded as an imperfect or an abortive undertaking, expression was given both to the anti-Judaism and to that religious temper of the time, which could only value spiritual blessing in contrast with the world and the sensuous. These systems appeared more or less strictly dualistic, in proportion as they did or did not accept a slight co-operation of the supreme God in the creation of man; and the way in which the character and power of the world-creating God of the Jews was conceived, serves as a measure of how far the several schools were from the Jewish religion and the Monism that ruled it. All possible conceptions of the God of the Jews, from the assumption that he is a being supported in his undertakings by the supreme God, to his identification with Satan, seem to have been exhausted in these schools. Accordingly, in the former case, the Old Testament was regarded as the revelation of a subordinate God, in the latter as the manifestation of Satan, and therefore the ethic—with occasional use of Pauline formula—always assumed an antinomian form, compared with the Jewish law, in some cases antinomian even in the sense of libertinism. Correspondingly, the anthropology exhibits man as bipartite, or even tripartite, and the Christology is strictly docetic and anti-Jewish. The redemption by Christ is always, as a matter of course, related only to that element in humanity which has an affinity with the Godhead.
It is uncertain whether we should think of the spread of these doctrines in Syria in the form of a school, or of a cultus; probably it was both. From the great Gnostic systems as formed by Basilides and Valentinus they are distinguished by the fact, that they lack the peculiar philosophic, that is Hellenic element, the speculative conversion of angels and AEons into real ideas, etc. We have almost no knowledge of their effect. This Gnosticism has never directly been a historical factor of striking importance, and the great question is whether it was so indirectly. That is to say, we do not know whether this Syrian Gnosticism was, in the strict sense, the preparatory stage of the great Gnostic schools, so that these schools should be regarded as an actual reconstruction of it. But there can be no doubt that the appearance of the great Gnostic schools in the Empire, from Egypt to Gaul, is contemporaneous with the vigorous projection of Syrian cults westwards, and therefore the assumption is suggested, that the Syrian Christian syncretism was also spread in connection with that projection, and underwent a change corresponding to the new conditions. We know definitely that the Syrian Gnostic, Cerdo, came to Rome, wrought there, and exercised an influence on Marcion. But no less probable is the assumption that the great Hellenic Gnostic schools arose spontaneously, in the sense of having been independently developed out of the elements to which undoubtedly the Asiatic cults also belonged, without being influenced in any way by Syrian syncretistic efforts. The conditions for the growth of such formations were nearly the same in all parts of the Empire. The great advance lies in the fact that the religious material as contained in the Gospel, the Old Testament, and the wisdom connected with the old cults, was philosophically, that is, scientifically, manipulated by means of allegory, and the aggregate of mythological powers translated into an aggregate of ideas. The Pythagorean and Platonic, more rarely the Stoic philosophy, were compelled to do service here. Great Gnostic schools, which were at the same time unions for worship, first enter into the clear light of history in this form, (see previous section), and on the conflict with these, surrounded as they were by a multitude of dissimilar and related formations, depends the progress of the development.
We are no longer able to form a perfectly clear picture of how these schools came into being, or how they were related to the Churches. It lay in the nature of the case that the heads of the schools, like the early itinerant heretical teachers, devoted attention chiefly, if not exclusively, to those who were already Christian, that is, to the Christian communities. From the Ignatian Epistles, the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis. III. 7. 1; Sim. VIII. 6. 5; IX. 19. and especially 22) and the Didache (XI. 1. 2) we see that those teachers who boasted of a special knowledge, and sought to introduce "strange" doctrines, aimed at gaining the entire churches. The beginning, as a rule, was necessarily the formation of conventicles. In the first period therefore, when there was no really fixed standard for warding off the foreign doctrines—Hermas is unable even to characterise the false doctrines—the warnings were commonly exhausted in the exhortation: [Greek: kollasthe tois hagiois, hoti hoi kollomenoi autois hagiasthesontai] ["connect yourselves with the saints, because those who are connected with them shall be sanctified"]. As a rule, the doctrines may really have crept in unobserved, and those gained over to them may for long have taken part in a two-fold worship, the public worship of the churches, and the new consecration. Those teachers must of course have assumed a more aggressive attitude who rejected the Old Testament. The attitude of the Church, when it enjoyed competent guidance, was one of decided opposition towards unmasked or recognised false teachers. Yet Irenaeus' account of Cerdo in Rome shews us how difficult it was at the beginning to get rid of a false teacher. For Justin, about the year 150, the Marcionites, Valentinians, Basilideans and Saturninians, are groups outside the communities, and undeserving of the name "Christians." There must therefore have been at that time, in Rome and Asia Minor at least, a really perfect separation of those schools from the Churches (it was different in Alexandria). Notwithstanding, this continued to be the region from which those schools obtained their adherents. For the Valentinians recognised that the common Christians were much better than the heathen, that they occupied a middle position between the "pneumatic" and the "hylic", and might look forward to a kind of salvation. This admission, as well as their conforming to the common Christian tradition, enabled them to spread their views in a remarkable way, and they may not have had any objection in many cases, to their converts remaining in the great Church. But can this community have perceived everywhere and at once, that the Valentinian distinction of "psychic" and "pneumatic" is not identical with the scriptural distinction of children and men in understanding? Where the organisation of the school (the union for worship) required a long time of probation, where degrees of connection with it were distinguished, and a strict asceticism demanded of the perfect, it followed of course that those on the lower stage should not be urged to a speedy break with the Church. But after the creation of the catholic confederation of churches, existence was made more and more difficult for these schools. Some of them lived on somewhat like our freemason-unions, some, as in the East, became actual sects (confessions), in which the wise and the simple now found a place, as they were propagated by families. In both cases they ceased to be what they had been at the beginning. From about 210, they ceased to be a factor of the historical development, though the Church of Constantine and Theodosius was alone really able to suppress them.
4. The most important Gnostic Doctrines.
We have still to measure and compare with the earliest tradition those Gnostic doctrines which, partly at once and partly in the following period, became important. Once more, however, we must expressly refer to the fact, that the epoch-making significance of Gnosticism for the history of dogma, must not be sought chiefly in the particular doctrines, but rather in the whole way in which Christianity is here conceived and transformed. The decisive thing is the conversion of the Gospel into a doctrine, into an absolute philosophy of religion, the transforming of the disciplina Evangelii into an asceticism based on a dualistic conception, and into a practice of mysteries. We have now briefly to shew, with due regard to the earliest tradition, how far this transformation was of positive or negative significance for the following period, that is, in what respects the following development was anticipated by Gnosticism, and in what respects Gnosticism was disavowed by this development.
(1) Christianity, which is the only true and absolute religion, embraces a revealed system of doctrine (positive).
(2) This doctrine contains mysterious powers, which are communicated to men by initiation (mysteries).
(3) The revealer is Christ (positive), but Christ alone, and only in his historical appearance—no Old Testament Christ (negative); this appearance is itself redemption: the doctrine is the announcement of it and of its presuppositions (positive).
(4) Christian doctrine is to be drawn from the Apostolic tradition, critically examined. This tradition lies before us in a series of Apostolic writings, and in a secret doctrine derived from the Apostles, (positive). As exoteric it is comprehended in the regula fidei (positive), as esoteric it is propagated by chosen teachers.
(5) The documents of revelation (Apostolic writings), just because they are such, must be interpreted by means of allegory, that is, their deeper meaning must be extracted in this way (positive).
(6) The following may be noted as the main points in the Gnostic conception of the several parts of the regula fidei.
(a) The difference between the supreme God and the creator of the world, and therewith the opposing of redemption and creation, and therefore the separation of the Mediator of revelation from the Mediator of creation.
(b) The separation of the supreme God from the God of the Old Testament, and therewith the rejection of the Old Testament, or the assertion that the Old Testament contains no revelations of the supreme God, or at least only in certain parts.
(c) The doctrine of the independence and eternity of matter.
(d) The assertion that the present world sprang from a fall of man, or from an undertaking hostile to God, and is therefore the product of an evil or intermediate being.
(e) The doctrine, that evil is inherent in matter, and therefore is a physical potence.
(f) The assumption of AEons, that is, real powers and heavenly persons in whom is unfolded the absoluteness of the Godhead.
(g) The assertion that Christ revealed a God hitherto unknown.
(h) The doctrine that in the person of Jesus Christ—the Gnostics saw in it redemption, but they reduced the person to the physical nature—the heavenly AEon, Christ, and the human appearance of that AEon must be clearly distinguished, and a "distincte agere" ascribed to each. Accordingly, there were some, such as Basilides, who acknowledged no real union between Christ and the man Jesus, whom, besides, they regarded as an earthly man. Others, e.g., part of the Valentinians, among whom the greatest differences prevailed—see Tertull. adv. Valent. 39—taught that the body of Jesus was a heavenly psychical formation, and sprang from the womb of Mary only in appearance. Finally, a third party, such as Saturninus, declared that the whole visible appearance of Christ was a phantom, and therefore denied the birth of Christ. Christ separates that which is unnaturally united, and thus leads everything back again to himself; in this redemption consists (full contrast to the notion of the [Greek: anakephalaiosis]).
(i) The conversion of the [Greek: ekklesia] (it was no innovation to regard the heavenly Church as an AEon) into the college of the pneumatic, who alone, in virtue of their psychological endowment, are capable of Gnosis and the divine life, while the others, likewise in virtue of their constitution, as hylic perish. The Valentinians, and probably many other Gnostics also, distinguished between pneumatic, psychic and hylic. They regarded the psychic as capable of a certain blessedness, and of a corresponding certain knowledge of the supersensible, the latter being obtained through Pistis, that is, through Christian faith.
(k) The rejection of the entire early Christian eschatology, especially the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and Christ's Kingdom of glory on the earth, and, in connection with this, the assertion that the deliverance of the spirit from the sensuous can be expected only from the future, while the spirit enlightened about itself already possesses immortality, and only awaits its introduction into the pneumatic pleroma.
In addition to what has been mentioned here, we must finally fix our attention on the ethics of Gnosticism. Like the ethics of all systems which are based on the contrast between the sensuous and spiritual elements of human nature, that of the Gnostics took a twofold direction. On the one hand, it sought to suppress and uproot the sensuous, and thus became strictly ascetic (imitation of Christ as motive of asceticism; Christ and the Apostles represented as ascetics); on the other hand, it treated the sensuous element as indifferent, and so became libertine, that is, conformed to the world. The former was undoubtedly the more common, though there are credible witnesses to the latter; the frequentissimum collegium in particular, the Valentinians, in the days of Irenaeus and Tertullian, did not vigorously enough prohibit a lax and world-conforming morality; and among the Syrian and Egyptian Gnostics there were associations which celebrated the most revolting orgies. As the early Christian tradition summoned to a strict renunciation of the world and to self-control, the Gnostic asceticism could not but make an impression at the first; but the dualistic basis on which it rested could not fail to excite suspicion as soon as one was capable of examining it.
Literature.—The writings of Justin (his syntagma against heresies has not been preserved), Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Epiphanius, Philastrius and Theodoret; cf. Volkmar, Die Quellen der Ketzergeschichte, 1885.
Lipsius, Zur Quellenkritik des Epiphanios, 1875; also Die Quellen der aeltesten Ketzergeschichte, 1875.
Harnack, Zur Quellenkritik d. Gesch. d. Gnostic, 1873 (continued i. D. Ztschr. f. d. hist. Theol. 1874, and in Der Schrift de Apellis gnosi monarch. 1874).
Of Gnostic writings we possess the book Pistis Sophia, the writings contained in the Coptic Cod. Brucianus, and the Epistle of Ptolemy to Flora; also numerous fragments, in connection with which Hilgenfeld especially deserves thanks, but which still require a more complete selecting and a more thorough discussion (see Grabe, Spicilegium T. I. II. 1700. Heinrici, Die Valentin. Gnosis, u. d. H. Schrift, 1871).
On the (Gnostic) Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, see Zahn, Acta Joh. 1880, and the great work of Lipsius, Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten, I. Vol., 1883; II. Vol., 1887. (See also Lipsius, Quellen d. roem. Petrussage, 1872).
Neander, Genet. Entw. d. vornehmsten gnostischen Systeme, 1818.
Matter, Hist. crit. du gnosticisme, 2 Vols., 1828.
Baur, Die Christl. Gnosis, 1835.
Lipsius, Der Gnosticismus, in Ersch. und Gruber's Allg. Encykl. 71 Bd. 1860.
Moeller, Geschichte d. Kosmologie i. d. Griech. K. his auf Origenes. 1860.
King, The Gnostics and their remains, 1873.
Mansel, The Gnostic heresies, 1875.
Jacobi, Art. "Gnosis" in Herzog's Real Encykl. 2nd Edit.
Hilgenfeld, Die Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums, 1884, where the more recent, special literature concerning individual Gnostics is quoted.
Lipsius, Art. "Valentinus" in Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography.
Harnack, Art. "Valentinus" in the Encycl. Brit.
Harnack, Pistis Sophia in the Texte und Unters. VII. 2.
Carl Schmidt, Gnostische Schriften in koptischer Sprache aus dem Codex Brucianus (Texte und Unters. VIII. 1. 2).
Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des 2 Christl. Jahrhunderts, 2 parts, 1880, 1883.
Renan, History of the Origins of Christianity. Vols. V. VI. VII.
[Footnote 300: We may consider here once more the articles which are embraced in the first ten chapters of the recently discovered [Greek: Didache ton apostolon], after enumerating and describing which, the author continues (II. 1): [Greek: hos an oun elthon didachei umas tauta panta ta proeiremena, dexasthe auton].]
[Footnote 301: It is a good tradition, which designates the so-called Gnosticism, simply as Gnosis, and yet uses this word also for the speculations of non-Gnostic teachers of antiquity (e.g., of Barnabas). But the inferences which follow have not been drawn. Origen says truly (c. Celsus III. 12) "As men, not only the labouring and serving classes, but also many from the cultured classes of Greece, came to see something honourable in Christianity, sects could not fail to arise, not simply from the desire for controversy and contradiction, but because several scholars endeavoured to penetrate deeper into the truth of Christianity. In this way sects arose, which received their names from men who indeed admired Christianity in its essence, but from many different causes had arrived at different conceptions of it."]
[Footnote 302: The majority of Christians in the second century belonged no doubt to the uncultured classes, and did not seek abstract knowledge, nay, were distrustful of it; see the [Greek: logos alethes] of Celsus, especially III. 44, and the writings of the Apologists. Yet we may infer from the treatise of Origen against Celsus that the number of "Christiani rudes" who cut themselves off from theological and philosophic knowledge, was about the year 240 a very large one; and Tertullian says (Adv. Prax. 3): "Simplices quique, ne dixerim imprudentes et idiotae, quae major semper credentium pars est," cf. de jejun. 11: "Major pars imperitorum apud gloriosissimam multitudinem psychicorum."]
[Footnote 303: Overbeck (Stud. z. Gesch. d. alten Kirche. p. 184) has the merit of having first given convincing expression to this view of Gnosticism.]
[Footnote 304: The ability of the prominent Gnostic teachers has been recognised by the Church Fathers: see Hieron. Comm in Osee. II. 10, Opp. VI. i: "Nullus potest haeresim struere, nisi qui ardens ingenii est et habet dona naturae quae a deo artifice sunt creata: talis fuit Valentinus, tails Marcion, quos doctissimos legimus, talis Bardesanes, cujus etiam philosophi admirantur ingenium." It is still more important to see how the Alexandrian theologians (Clement and Origen) estimated the exegetic labours of the Gnostics, and took account of them. Origen undoubtedly recognised Herakleon as a prominent exegete, and treats him most respectfully even where he feels compelled to differ from him. All Gnostics cannot, of course, be regarded as theologians. In their totality they form the Greek society with a Christian name.]
[Footnote 305: Otherwise the rise of Gnosticism cannot at all be explained.]
[Footnote 306: Cf. Bigg, "The Christian Platonists of Alexandria," p. 83: "Gnosticism was in one respect distorted Paulinism."]
[Footnote 307: Joel, "Blick in die Religionsgesch." Vol. I. pp. 101-170, has justly emphasised the Greek character of Gnosis, and insisted on the significance of Platonism for it. "The Oriental element did not always in the case of the Gnostics, originate at first hand, but had already passed through a Greek channel."]
[Footnote 308: The age of the Antonines was the flourishing period of Gnosticism. Marquardt (Roemische Staatsverwaltung Vol. 3, p. 81) says of this age: "With the Antonines begins the last period of the Roman religious development in which two new elements enter into it. These are the Syrian and Persian deities, whose worship at this time was prevalent not only in the city of Rome, but in the whole empire, and, at the same time, Christianity, which entered into conflict with all ancient tradition, and in this conflict exercised a certain influence even on the Oriental forms of worship."]
[Footnote 309: It is a special merit of Weingarten (Histor. Ztschr. Bd 45. 1881. p. 441 f.) and Koffmane (Die Gnosis nach ihrer Tendenz und Organisation, 1881) to have strongly emphasised the mystery character of Gnosis, and in connection with that, its practical aims. Koffmane, especially, has collected abundant material for proving that the tendency of the Gnostics was the same as that of the ancient mysteries, and that they thence borrowed their organisation and discipline. This fact proves the proposition that Gnosticism was an acute hellenising of Christianity. Koffmane has, however, undervalued the union of the practical and speculative tendency in the Gnostics, and, in the effort to obtain recognition for the mystery character of the Gnostic communities, has overlooked the fact that they were also schools. The union of mystery-cultus and school is just, however, their characteristic. In this also they prove themselves the forerunners of Neoplatonism and the Catholic Church. Moehler in his programme of 1831 (Urspr. d. Gnosticismus Tubingen), vigorously emphasised the practical tendency of Gnosticism, though not in a convincing way. Hackenschmidt (Anfange des katholischen Kirchenbegriffs, p. 83 f.) has judged correctly.]
[Footnote 310: We have also evidence of the methods by which ecstatic visions were obtained among the Gnostics, see the Pistis Sophia, and the important role which prophets and Apocalypses played in several important Gnostic communities (Barcoph and Barcabbas, prophets of the Basilideans; Martiades and Marsanes among the Ophites; Philumene in the case of Apelles; Valentinian prophecies, Apocalypses of Zostrian, Zoroaster, etc.) Apocalypses were also used by some under the names of Old Testament men of God and Apostles.]
[Footnote 311: See Koftmane, before-mentioned work, p. 5 f.]
[Footnote 312: See Fragm. Murat. V. 81 f.; Clem. Strom. VII. 17. 108; Orig. Hom. 34. The Marcionite Antitheses were probably spread among other Gnostic sects. The Fathers frequently emphasise the fact that the Gnostics were united against the church: Tertullian de praescr 42: "Et hoc est, quod schismata apud haereticos fere non sunt, quia cum sint, non parent. Schisma est enim unitas ipsa." They certainly also delight in emphasising the contradictions of the different schools; but they cannot point to any earnest conflict of these schools with each other. We know definitely that Bardasanes argued against the earlier Gnostics, and Ptolemaeus against Marcion.]
[Footnote 313: See the collection, certainly not complete, of Gnostic fragments by Grabe (Spicileg.) and Hilgenfeld (Ketzergeschichte). Our books on the history of Gnosticism take far too little notice of these fragments as presented to us, above all, by Clement and Origen, and prefer to keep to the doleful accounts of the Fathers about the "Systems", (better in Heinrici: Valent. Gnosis, 1871). The vigorous efforts of the Gnostics to understand the Pauline and Johannine ideas, and their in part surprisingly rational and ingenious solutions of intellectual problems, have never yet been systematically estimated. Who would guess, for example, from what is currently known of the system of Basilides, that, according to Clement, the following proceeds from him, (Strom. IV. 12. 18): [Greek: hos autos phesin ho Basileides, en meros ek tou legomenou thelematos tou theou hupeilephamen, to egapekenai hapanta. hoti logon aposozousi pros to pan hapanta; heteron de to medenos epithumein, kai to triton misein mede hen], and where do we find, in the period before Clement of Alexandria, faith in Christ united with such spiritual maturity and inner freedom as in Valentinians, Ptolemaeus and Heracleon?]
[Footnote 314: Testament of Tertullian (adv. Valent. 4) shews the difference between the solution of Valentinus, for example, and his disciple Ptolemaeus. "Ptolemaeus nomina et numeros AEonum distinxit in personales substantias, sed extra deum determinatas, quas Valentinus in ipsa summa divinitatis ut sensus et affectus motus incluserat." It is, moreover, important that Tertullian himself should distinguish this so clearly.]
[Footnote 315: There is nothing here more instructive than to hear the judgments of the cultured Greeks and Romans about Christianity, as soon as they have given up the current gross prejudices. They shew with admirable clearness, the way in which Gnosticism originated. Galen says (quoted by Gieseler, Church Hist. 1. 1. 41): "Hominum plerique orationem demonstrativam continuam mente assequi nequeunt, quare indigent, ut instituantur parabolis. Veluti nostro tempore videmus, homines illos, qui Christian! vocantur, fidem suam e parabolis petiisse. Hi tamen interdum talia faciunt, qualia qui vere philosophantur. Nam quod mortem contemnunt, id quidem omnes ante oculos habemus; item quod verecundia quadam ducti ab usu rerum venerearum abhorrent. Sunt enim inter eos feminae et viri, qui per totam vitam a concubitu abstinuerint; sunt etiam qui in animis regendis coercendisque et in accerrimo honestatis studio eo progressi sint, ut nihil cedant vere philosophantibus." Christians, therefore, are philosophers without philosophy. What a challenge for them to produce such, that is to seek out the latent philosophy! Even Celsus could not but admit a certain relationship between Christians and philosophers. But as he was convinced that the miserable religion of the Christians could neither include nor endure a philosophy, he declared that the moral doctrines of the Christians were borrowed from the philosophers (I. 4). In course of his presentation (V. 65; VI. 12. 15-19, 42; VII. 27-35) he deduces the most decided marks of Christianity, as well as the most important sayings of Jesus from (misunderstood) statements of Plato and other Greek philosophers. This is not the place to shew the contradictions in which Celsus was involved by this. But it is of the greatest significance that even this intelligent man could only see philosophy where he saw something precious. The whole of Christianity from its very origin appeared to Celsus (in one respect) precisely as the Gnostic systems appear to us, that is, these really are what Christianity as such seemed to Celsus to be. Besides, it was constantly asserted up to the fifth century that Christ had drawn from Plato's writings. Against those who made this assertion, Ambrosius (according to Augustine, Ep. 31. c. 8) wrote a treatise which unfortunately is no longer in existence.]
[Footnote 316: The Simonian system at most might be named, on the basis of the syncretistic religion founded by Simon Magus. But we know little about it, and that little is uncertain. Parallel attempts are demonstrable in the third century on the basis of various "revealed" fundamental ideas ([Greek: he ek logion philosophia]).]
[Footnote 317: Among these I reckon those Gnostics whom Irenaeus (I. 29-31) has portrayed, as well as part of the so-called Ophites, Peratae, Sethites and the school of the Gnostic Justin (Hippol. Philosoph. V. 6-28). There is no reason for regarding them as earlier or more Oriental than the Valentinians, as is done by Hilgenfeld against Baur, Moeller, and Gruber (the Ophites, 1864). See also Lipsius, "Ophit. Systeme", i. d. Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1863. IV, 1864, I. These schools claimed for themselves the name Gnostic (Hippol. Philosoph. V. 6). A part of them, as is specially apparent from Orig. c. Celsum. VI., is not to be reckoned Christian. This motley group is but badly known to us through Epiphanius, much better through the original Gnostic writings preserved in the Coptic language. (Pistis Sophia and the works published by Carl Schmidt Texte u. Unters. Bd. VIII.). Yet these original writings belong, for the most part, to the second half of the third century (see also the important statements of Porphyry in the Vita Plotini, c. 16), and shew a Gnosticism burdened with an abundance of wild speculations, formulae, mysteries, and ceremonial. However, from these very monuments it becomes plain that Gnosticism anticipated Catholicism as a ritual system (see below).]
[Footnote 318: On Marcion, see the following Chapter.]
[Footnote 319: We know that from the earliest period (perhaps we might refer even to the Epistle to the Romans) there were circles of ascetics in the Christian communities who required of all, as an inviolable law, under the name of Christian perfection, complete abstinence from marriage, renunciation of possessions, and a vegetarian diet. (Clem. Strom. III. 6. 49: [Greek: hupo diabolou tauten paradidosthai dogmatizousi, mimeisthai d' autous hoi megalanchoi phasi ton kurion mete gemanta, mete ti en toi kosmoi ktesamenon, mallon para allous nenoekenai to euangelion kauchomenoi].—Here then, already, imitation of the poor life of Jesus, the "Evangelic" life, was the watchword. Tatian wrote a book, [Greek: peri tou kata ton sotera katartismou], that is, on perfection according to the Redeemer: in which he set forth the irreconcilability of the worldly life with the Gospel). No doubt now existed in the Churches that abstinence from marriage, from wine and flesh, and from possessions, was the perfect fulfilling of the law of Christ ([Greek: bastazein holon ton zugon tou kuriou]). But in wide circles strict abstinence was deduced from a special charism, all boastfulness was forbidden, and the watchword given out: [Greek: hoson dunasai hagneuseis], which may be understood as a compromise with the worldly life as well as a reminiscence of a freer morality (see my notes on Didache, c. 6; 11, 11 and Prolegg. p. 42 ff.). Still, the position towards asceticism yielded a hard problem, the solution of which was more and more found in distinguishing a higher and a lower though sufficient morality, yet repudiating the higher morality as soon as it claimed to be the alone authoritative one. On the other hand, there were societies of Christian ascetics who persisted in applying literally to all Christians the highest demands of Christ, and thus arose, by secession, the communities of the Encratites and Severians. But in the circumstances of the time even they could not but be touched by the Hellenic mode of thought, to the effect of associating a speculative theory with asceticism, and thus approximating to Gnosticism. This is specially plain in Tatian, who connected himself with the Encratites, and in consequence of the severe asceticism which he prescribed, could no longer maintain the identity of the supreme God and the creator of the world (see the fragments of his later writings in the Corp. Apol. ed Otto. T. VI.). As the Pauline Epistles could furnish arguments to either side, we see some Gnostics such as Tatian himself, making diligent use of them, while others such as the Severians, rejected them. (Euseb. H. E. IV. 29. 5, and Orig. c. Cels. V. 65). The Encratite controversy was, on the one hand, swallowed up by the Gnostic, and on the other hand, replaced by the Montanistic. The treatise written in the days of Marcus Aurelius by a certain Musanus (where?) which contains warnings against joining the Encratites (Euseb. H. E. IV. 28) we unfortunately no longer possess.]
[Footnote 320: See Eusebius, H. E. VI. 12. Docetic elements are apparent even in the fragment of the Gospel of Peter recently discovered.]
[Footnote 321: Here, above all, we have to remember Tatian, who in his highly praised Apology, had already rejected altogether the eating of flesh (c. 23) and set up very peculiar doctrines about the spirit, matter, and the nature of man (c. 12 ff.). The fragments of the Hypotyposes of Clem. of Alex. show how much one had to bear in some rural Churches at the end of the second century.]
[Footnote 322: See Clem. Strom III. 2. 5; [Greek: Epiphanes, huios Karpokratous, ezese ta panta ete heptakaideka kai theos en Samei tes Kephallenias tetimetai, entha autoi hieron ruton lithon, bomoi, temene, mouseion, oikodometai te kai kathierotai, kai suniontes eis to hieron hoi Kaphallenes kata noumenian genethlion apotheosin thuousin Epiphanei, spendousi te kai euochountai kai humnoi legontai]. Clement's quotations from the writings of Epiphanes shew him to be a pure Platonist: the proposition that property is theft is found in him. Epiphanes and his father, Carpocrates, were the first who attempted to amalgamate Plato's State with the Christian ideal of the union of men with each other. Christ was to them, therefore, a philosophic Genius like Plato, see Irenaeus I. 25. 5: "Gnosticos autem se vocant, etiam imagines, quasdam quidem depictas, quasdam autem et de reliqua materia fabricatas habent..... et has coronant, et proponent eas cum imaginibus mundi philosophorum, videlicet cum imagine Pythagorae et Platonis et Aristotelis et reliquorum, et reliquam observationem circa eas similiter ut gentes faciunt."]
[Footnote 323: See the "Gnostics" of Hermas, especially the false prophet whom he portrays, Mand. XI., Lucian's Peregrinus, and the Marcus, of whose doings Irenaeus (I. 13. ff.) gives such an abominable picture. To understand how such people were able to obtain a following so quickly in the Churches, we must remember the respect in which the "prophets" were held (see Didache XI.). If one had once given the impression that he had the Spirit, he could win belief for the strangest things, and could allow himself all things possible (see the delineations of Celsus in Orig. c. Cels. VII. 9. 11). We hear frequently of Gnostic prophets and prophetesses, see my notes on Herm. Mand. XI. 1 and Didache XI. 7. If an early Christian element is here preserved by the Gnostic schools, it has undoubtedly been hellenised and secularised as the reports shew. But that the prophets altogether were in danger of being secularised is shewn in Didache XI. In the case of the Gnostics the process is again only hastened.]
[Footnote 324: The name Gnostic originally attached to schools which had so named themselves. To these belonged, above all, the so-called Ophites, but not the Valentinians or Basilideans.]
[Footnote 325: Special attention should be given to this form, as it became in later times of the very greatest importance for the general development of doctrine in the Church. The sect of Carpocrates was a school. Of Tatian Irenaeus says (I. 28. 1): [Greek: Tatianos Ioustinou acroates gegonais ... meta de ten ekeinou marturian apostas tes ekklesias, oiemati didaskalon epartheis ... idion charakter didaskaleiou sunestesato]. Rhodon (in Euseb. H. E. V. 13. 4) speaks of a Marcionite [Greek: didaskaleion]. Other names were, "Collegium" (Tertull. ad Valen 1), "Secta", the word had not always a bad meaning, [Greek: hairesis, ekklesia] (Clem. Strom. VII. 16. 98, on the other hand, VII. 15. 92: Tertull. de praescr. 42: plerique nec Ecclesias habent), [Greek: thiasos] (Iren. I. 13. 4, for the Marcosians). [Greek: sunagoge, sustema, diatribe, hai athropinai suneluseis], factiuncula, congregatio, conciliabulum, conventiculum. The mystery-organisation most clearly appears in the Naassenes of Hippolytus, the Marcosians of Irenaeus, and the Elkasites of Hippolytus, as well as in the Coptic-Gnostic documents that have been preserved. (See Koffmane, above work, pp. 6-22).]
[Footnote 326: The particulars here belong to church history. Overbeck ("Ueber die Anfaenge der patristischen Litteratur" in d. hist. Ztschr. N. F. Bd. XII. p. 417 ff.) has the merit of being the first to point out the importance, for the history of the Church, of the forms of literature as they were gradually received in Christendom. Scientific, theological literature has undoubtedly its origin in Gnosticism. The Old Testament was here, for the first time, systematically and also in part, historically criticised; a selection was here made from the primitive Christian literature; scientific commentaries were here written on the sacred books (Basilides and especially the Valentinians, see Heracleon's comm. on the Gospel of John [in Origen]); the Pauline Epistles were also technically expounded; tracts were here composed on dogmatico-philosophic problems (for example, [Greek: peri dikaiosunes—peri prosphuous psuches—ethika—peri enkrateias he peri eunouchias]), and systematic doctrinal systems already constructed (as the Basilidean and Valentinian); the original form of the Gospel was here first transmuted into the Greek form of sacred novel and biography (see, above all, the Gospel of Thomas, which was used by the Marcosians and Naassenes, and which contained miraculous stories from the childhood of Jesus); here, finally, psalms, odes and hymns were first composed (see the Acts of Lucius, the psalms of Valentinus, the psalms of Alexander the disciple of Valentinus, the poems of Bardesanes). Irenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus have indeed noted, that the scientific method of interpretation followed by the Gnostics, was the same as that of the philosophers (e.g., of Philo). Valentinus, as is recognised even by the Church Fathers, stands out prominent for his mental vigour and religious imagination, Heracleon for his exegetic theological ability, Ptolemy for his ingenious criticism of the Old Testament and his keen perception of the stages of religious development (see his Epistle to Flora in Epiphanius, haer. 33. c. 7). As a specimen of the language of Valentinus one extract from a homily may suffice (in Clem. Strom. IV. 13. 89). [Greek: Ap arches athanatoi este kai tekna zoes este aionias, kai ton thanaton ethelete merisasthai eis heautous, hina dapanesete auton kai analosete, kai apothane ho thanatos en humin kai di' humon, hotan gar ton men kosmon luete, autoi de me kataluesthe, kurieuete tes kriseos kai tes phthoras apases.] Basilides falls into the background behind Valentinus and his school. Yet the Church Fathers, when they wish to summarise the most important Gnostics, usually mention Simon Magus, Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion (even Apelles). On the relation of the Gnostics to the New Testament writings, and to the New Testament, see Zahn, Gesch. des N. T-lichen Kanons I. 2, p. 718.]
[Footnote 327: Baur's classification of the Gnostic systems, which rests on the observation of how they severally realised the idea of Christianity as the absolute religion, in contrast to Judaism and Heathenism, is very ingenious, and contains a great element of truth. But it is insufficient with reference to the whole phenomenon of Gnosticism, and it has been carried out by Baur by violent abstractions.]
[Footnote 328: The question, therefore, as to the time of the origin of Gnosticism, as a complete phenomenon, cannot be answered. The remarks of Hegesippus (Euseb. H. E. IV. 22) refer to the Jerusalem Church, and have not even for that the value of a fixed datum. The only important question here is the point of time at which the expulsion or secession of the schools and unions took place in the different national churches.]
[Footnote 329: Justin Apol. 1. 26.]
[Footnote 330: Hegesippus in Euseb. H. E. IV. 22, Iren. II. 14. 1 f., Tertull. de praescr. 7, Hippol. Philosoph. The Church Fathers have also noted the likeness of the cultus of Mithras and other deities.]
[Footnote 331: We must leave the Essenes entirely out of account here, as their teaching, in all probability, is not to be considered syncretistic in the strict sense of the word, (see Lucius, "Der Essenismus", 1881), and as we know absolutely nothing of a greater diffusion of it. But we need no names here, as a syncretistic, ascetic Judaism could and did arise everywhere in Palestine and the Diaspora.]
[Footnote 332: Freudenthal's "Hellenistische Studien" informs us as to the Samaritan syncretism; see also Hilgenfeld's "Ketzergeschichte", p. 149 ff. As to the Babylonian mythology in Gnosticism, see the statements in the elaborate article, "Manichaismus", by Kessler (Real-Encycl. fuer protest. Theol., 2 Aufl.).]
[Footnote 333: Wherever traditional religions are united under the badge of philosophy a conservative syncretism is the result, because the allegoric method, that is, the criticism of all religion, veiled and unconscious of itself, is able to blast rocks and bridge over abysses. All forms may remain here, under certain circumstances, but a new spirit enters into them. On the other hand, where philosophy is still weak, and the traditional religion is already shaken by another, there arises the critical syncretism in which either the gods of one religion are subordinated to those of another, or the elements of the traditional religion are partly eliminated and replaced by others. Here, also, the soil is prepared for new religious formations, for the appearance of religious founders.]
[Footnote 334: It was a serious mistake of the critics to regard Simon Magus as a fiction, which, moreover, has been given up by Hilgenfeld (Ketzergeschichte, p. 163 ff.). and Lipsius (Apocr Apostelgesch 11. 1),—the latter, however, not decidedly. The whole figure, as well as the doctrines attributed to Simon (see Acts of the Apostles, Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolytus), not only have nothing improbable in them, but suit very well the religious circumstances which we must assume for Samaria. The main point in Simon is his endeavour to create a universal religion of the supreme God. This explains his success among the Samaritans and Greeks. He is really a counterpart to Jesus, whose activity can just as little have been unknown to him as that of Paul. At the same time, it cannot be denied, that the later tradition about Simon was the most confused and biassed imaginable, or that certain Jewish Christians at a later period may have attempted to endow the magician with the features of Paul in order to discredit the personality and teaching of the Apostle. But this last assumption requires a fresh investigation.]
[Footnote 335: Justin, Apol. I. 26: [Greek: kai schedon pantes men Samareis, oligoi de kai en allois ethnesin, hos ton proton theon Simona homologountes, ekeinon kai proskunousin] (besides the account in the Philos and Orig. c. Cels i. 57; VI. 11). The positive statement of Justin that Simon came even to Rome (under Claudius) can hardly be refuted from the account of the Apologist himself, and therefore not at all (See Renan, "Antichrist").]
[Footnote 336: We have it as such in the [Greek: Megale Apophasis] which Hippolytus (Philosoph. VI. 19. 20) made use of. This Simonianism may perhaps have been related to the original, as the doctrines of the Christian Gnostics to the Apostolic preaching.]
[Footnote 337: The Heretics opposed in the Epistle to the Colossians may belong to these. On Cerinthus, see Polycarp, in Iren. III. 3. 2, Irenaeus (I. 26. I.; III. 11. 1), Hippolytus and the redactions of the Syntagma, Cajus in Euseb. III. 28. 2, Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte, p. 411 ff. To this category belong also the Ebionites and Elkasites of Epiphanius (See Chap. 6).]
[Footnote 338: The two Syrian teachers, Saturninus and Cerdo, must in particular be mentioned here. The first (See Iren I. 24. 1. 2, Hippolyt. and the redactions of the Syntagma) was not strictly speaking a dualist, and therefore allowed the God of the Old Testament to be regarded as an Angel of the supreme God, while at the same time he distinguished him from Satan. Accordingly, he assumed that the supreme God co-operated in the creation of man by angel powers—sending a ray of light, an image of light, that should be imitated as an example and enjoined as an ideal. But all men have not received the ray of light. Consequently, two classes of men stand in abrupt contrast with each other. History is the conflict of the two. Satan stands at the head of the one, the God of the Jews at the head of the other. The Old Testament is a collection of prophecies out of both camps. The truly good first appears in the AEon Christ, who assumed nothing cosmic, did not even submit to birth. He destroys the works of Satan (generation, eating of flesh), and delivers the men who have within them a spark of light The Gnosis of Cerdo was much coarser. (Iren. I. 27. 1, Hippolyt. and the redactions). He contrasted the good God and the God of the Old Testament as two primary beings. The latter he identified with the creator of the world. Consequently, he completely rejected the Old Testament and everything cosmic and taught that the good God was first revealed in Christ. Like Saturninus he preached a strict docetism; Christ had no body, was not born, and suffered in an unreal body. All else that the Fathers report of Cerdo's teaching has probably been transferred to him from Marcion, and is therefore very doubtful.]
[Footnote 339: This question might perhaps be answered if we had the Justinian Syntagma against all heresies; but, in the present condition of our sources, it remains wrapped in obscurity. What may be gathered from the fragments of Hegesippus, the Epistles of Ignatius, the Pastoral Epistles and other documents, such as, for example, the Epistle of Jude, is in itself so obscure, so detached, and so ambiguous, that it is of no value for historical construction.]
[Footnote 340: There are, above all, the schools of the Basilideans, Valentinians and Ophites. To describe the systems in their full development lies, in my opinion, outside the business of the history of dogma and might easily lead to the mistake that the systems as such were controverted, and that their construction was peculiar to Christian Gnosticism. The construction, as remarked above, is rather that of the later Greek philosophy, though it cannot be mistaken that, for us, the full parallel to the Gnostic systems first appears in those of the Neoplatonists. But only particular doctrines and principles of the Gnostics were really called in question, their critique of the world, of providence, of the resurrection, etc.; these therefore are to be adduced in the next section. The fundamental features of an inner development can only be exhibited in the case of the most important, viz., the Valentinian school. But even here, we must distinguish an Eastern and a Western branch. (Tertull. adv. Valent. I.: "Valentiniani frequentissimum plane collegium inter haereticos." Iren. I. 1.; Hippol. Philos. VI. 35; Orig. Hom. II. 5 in Ezech. Lomm. XIV. p. 40: "Valentini robustissima secta").]
[Footnote 341: Tertull. de praescr. 42: "De verbi autem administratione quid dicam, cum hoc sit negotium illis, non ethnicos convertendi, sed nostros evertendi? Hanc magis gloriam captant, si stantibus ruinam, non si jacentibus elevationem operentur. Quoniam et ipsum opus eorum non de suo proprio aedificio venit, sed de veritatis destructione; nostra suffodiunt, ut sua aedificent. Adime illis legem Moysis et prophetas et creatorem deum, accusationem eloqui non habent." (See adv. Valent. I init.). This is hardly a malevolent accusation. The philosophic interpretation of a religion will always impress those only on whom the religion itself has already made an impression.]
[Footnote 342: Iren. III. 4. 2: [Greek: Kerdon eis ten ekklesian elthon kai exomologoumenos, houtos dietelete, pote men lathrodidaskalon pote de palin exomologoumenos, pote de eleggomenos eph hois edidaske kakos, kai aphistamenos tes ton adelphon sunodias], see, besides, the valuable account of Tertull. de praescr. 30. The account of Irenaeus (I. 13) is very instructive as to the kind of propaganda of Marcus, and the relation of the women he deluded to the Church. Against actually recognised false teachers the fixed rule was to renounce all intercourse with them (2 Joh. 10. 11, Iren. ep. ad. Florin on Polycarp's procedure, in Euseb. H. E. V. 20. 7; Iren. III. 3. 4) But how were the heretics to be surely known?]
[Footnote 343: Among those who justly bore this name he distinguishes those [Greek: Hoi orthognomenes kata panta christanoi eisin] (Dial. 80).]
[Footnote 344: Very important is the description which Irenaeus (III. 15. 2) and Tertullian have given of the conduct of the Valentinians as observed by themselves (adv. Valent. 1). "Valentiniani nihil magis curant quam occultare, quod praedicant; si tamen praedicant qui occultant. Custodiae officium conscientiae officium est (a comparison with the Eleusinian mysteries follows.) Si bona fide quaeras, concreto vultu, suspenso supercilio, Altum est, aiunt. Si subtiliter temptes per ambiguitates bilingues communem fidem adfirmant. Si scire te subostendas negant quidquid agnoscunt. Si cominus certes, tuam simplicitatem sua caede dispergunt. Ne discipulis quidem propriis ante committunt quam suos fecerint. Habent artificium quo prius persuadeant quam edoceant." At a later period Dionysius of Alex, (in Euseb. H. E. VII. 7) speaks of Christians who maintain an apparent communion with the brethren, but resort to one of the false teachers (cf. as to this Euseb. H. E. VI. 2. 13). The teaching of Bardesanes influenced by Valentinus, who, moreover, was hostile to Marcionitism, was tolerated for a long time in Edessa (by the Christian kings), nay, was recognised. The Bardesanites and the "Palutians" (catholics) were differentiated only after the beginning of the third century.]
[Footnote 345: There can be no doubt that the Gnostic propaganda was seriously hindered by the inability to organise and discipline churches, which is characteristic of all philosophic systems of religion. The Gnostic organisation of schools and mysteries was not able to contend with the episcopal organisation of the churches; see Ignat. ad Smyr. 6. 2; Tertull de praescr. 41. Attempts at actual formations of churches were not altogether wanting in the earliest period; at a later period they were forced on some schools. We have only to read Iren. III. 15. 2 in order to see that these associations could only exist by finding support in a church. Irenaeus expressly remarks that the Valentinians designated the common Christians [Greek: katholikoi] (communes) [Greek: kai ekklesiastikoi], but that they, on the other hand, complained that "we kept away from their fellowship without cause, as they thought like ourselves."]
[Footnote 346: The differences between the Gnostic Christianity and that of the Church, that is, the later ecclesiastical theology, were fluid, if we observe the following points. (1) That even in the main body of the Church, the element of knowledge was increasingly emphasised, and the Gospel began to be converted into a perfect knowledge of the world (increasing reception of Greek philosophy, development of [Greek: pistis] to [Greek: gnosis]). (2) That the dramatic eschatology began to fade away. (3) That room was made for docetic views, and value put upon a strict asceticism. On the other hand, we must note: (1) That all this existed only in germ or fragments within the great Church during the flourishing period of Gnosticism. (2) That the great Church held fast to the facts fixed in the baptismal formula (in the Kerygma), and to the eschatological expectations, further, to the creator of the world as the supreme God, to the unity of Jesus Christ, and to the Old Testament, and therefore rejected dualism. (3) That the great Church defended the unity and equality of the human race, and therefore the uniformity and universal aim of the Christian salvation. (4) That it rejected every introduction of new, especially of Oriental Mythologies, guided in this by the early Christian consciousness and a sure intelligence. A deeper, more thorough distinction between the Church and the Gnostic parties hardly dawned on the consciousness of either. The Church developed herself instinctively into an imperial Church, in which office was to play the chief role. The Gnostics sought to establish or conserve associations in which the genius should rule, the genius in the way of the old prophets or in the sense of Plato, or in the sense of a union of prophecy and philosophy. In the Gnostic conflict, at least at its close, the judicial priest fought with the virtuoso and overcame him.]
[Footnote 347: The absolute significance of the person of Christ was very plainly expressed in Gnosticism (Christ is not only the teacher of the truth, but the manifestation of the truth), more plainly than where he was regarded as the subject of Old Testament revelation. The pre-existent Christ has significance in some Gnostic schools, but always a comparatively subordinate one. The isolating of the person of Christ, and quite as much the explaining away of his humanity, is manifestly out of harmony with the earliest tradition. But, on the other hand, it must not be denied that the Gnostics recognised redemption in the historical Christ: Christ personally procured it (see under 6. h.).]
[Footnote 348: In this thesis, which may be directly corroborated by the most important Gnostic teachers, Gnosticism shews that it desires in thesi (in a way similar to Philo) to continue on the soil of Christianity as a positive religion. Conscious of being bound to tradition, it first definitely raised the question, what is Christianity? and criticised and sifted the sources for an answer to the question. The rejection of the Old Testament led it to that question and to this sifting. It may be maintained with the greatest probability, that the idea of a canonical collection of Christian writings first emerged among the Gnostics (see also Marcion). They really needed such a collection, while all those who recognised the Old Testament as a document of revelation, and gave it a Christian interpretation, did not at first need a new document, but simply joined on the new to the old, the Gospel to the Old Testament. From the numerous fragments of Gnostic commentaries on New Testament writings which have been preserved, we see that these writings there enjoyed canonical authority, while at the same period, we hear nothing of such authority, nor of commentaries in the main body of Christendom (see Heinrici, "Die Valentinianische Gnosis", u. d. h. Schrift, 1871). Undoubtedly, sacred writings were selected according to the principle of apostolic origin. This is proved by the inclusion of the Pauline Epistles in the collections of books. There is evidence of such having been made by the Naassenes, Peratae, Valentinians, Marcion, Tatian, and the Gnostic Justin. The collection of the Valentinians, and the Canon of Tatian must have really coincided with the main parts of the later Ecclesiastical Canon. The later Valentinians accommodated themselves to this Canon, that is, recognised the books that had been added (Tertull. de praescr. 38). The question as to who first conceived and realised the idea of a Canon of Christian writings, Basilides or Valentinus or Marcion or whether this was done by several at the same time, will always remain obscure, though many things favour Marcion. If it should even be proved that Basilides (see Euseb. H. E. IV. 7. 7) and Valentinus himself, regarded the Gospels only as authoritative yet the full idea of the Canon lies already in the fact of their making these the foundation and interpreting them allegorically. The question as to the extent of the Canon afterwards became the subject of an important controversy between the Gnostics and the Catholic Church. The Catholics throughout took up the position that their Canon was the earlier, and the Gnostic collection the corrupt revision of it (they were unable to adduce proof, as is attested by Tertullian's de praescr.) But the aim of the Gnostics to establish themselves on the uncorrupted apostolic tradition gathered from writings was crossed by three tendencies, which, moreover, were all jointly operative in the Christian communities and are therefore not peculiar to Gnosticism. (1) By faith in the continuance of prophecy, in which new things are always revealed by the Holy Spirit (the Basilidean and Marcionite prophets). (2) By the assumption of an esoteric secret tradition of the Apostles (see Clem. Strom. VII. 17. 106, 108, Hipp. Philos. VII. 20, Iren. I. 25. 5, III. 2. 1, Tertull. de praescr. 25. Cf. the Gnostic book [Greek: Pistis Sophia], which in great part is based on doctrines said to be imparted by Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection). (3) By the inability to oppose the continuous production of Evangelic writings in other words by the continuance of this kind of literature and the addition of Acts of the Apostles (Gospel of the Egyptians (?), other Gospels, Acts of John, Thomas, Philip etc. We know absolutely nothing about the conditions under which these writings originated the measure of authority which they enjoyed or the way in which they gained that authority). In all these points which in Gnosticism hindered the development of Christianity to the religion of a new book the Gnostic schools shew that they stood precisely under the same conditions as the Christian communities in general (see above Chap. 3 Sec. 2). If all things do not deceive us, the same inner development may be observed even in the Valentinian school, as in the great Church viz. the production of sacred Evangelic and Apostolic writings, prophecy and secret gnosis, falling more and more into the background, and the completed Canon becoming the most important basis of the doctrine of religion. The later Valentinians (see Tertull. de praescr. and adv. Valent.) seem to have appealed chiefly to this Canon, and Tatian no less (about whose Canon see my Texte u Unters I. 1. 2. pp. 213-218). But finally we must refer to the fact that it was the highest concern of the Gnostics to furnish the historical proof of the Apostolic origin of their doctrine by an exact reference to the links of the tradition (see Ritschl Entstehung der altkath Kirche 2nd ed. p. 338 f.). Here again it appears that Gnosticism shared with Christendom the universal presupposition that the valuable thing is the Apostolic origin (see above p. 160 f.), but that it first created artificial chains of tradition, and that this is the first point in which it was followed by the Church (see the appeals to the Apostle Matthew, to Peter and Paul, through the mediation of "Glaukias," and "Theodas," to James and the favourite disciples of the Lord, in the case of the Naassenes, Ophites, Basilideans and Valentinians, etc., see, further, the close of the Epistle of Ptolemy to Flora in Epiphan H. 33. 7 [Greek: Mathaesae exes kai ten toutou archen te ka kennesin, axioumene tes apostolikes paradoseos. he ek diadoches kai hemeis pareilephamen meta kairou] [sic] [Greek: kanonisai pantas tous logous tei tou soteros didaskalia], as well as the passages adduced above under (2)). From this it further follows that the Gnostics may have compiled their Canon solely according to the principle of Apostolic origin. Upon the whole we may see here how foolish it is to seek to dispose of Gnosticism with the phrase lawless fancies. On the contrary, the Gnostics purposely took their stand on the tradition, nay they were the first in Christendom who determined the range, contents and manner of propagating the tradition. They are thus the first Christian theologians.]
[Footnote 349: Here also we have a point of unusual historical importance. As we first find a new Canon among the Gnostics so also among them (and in Marcion) we first meet with the traditional complex of the Christian Kerygma as a doctrinal confession (regula fidei), that is, as a confession which, because it is fundamental, needs a speculative exposition, but is set forth by this exposition as the summary of all wisdom. The hesitancy about the details of the Kerygma, only shews the general uncertainty which at that time prevailed. But again, we see that the later Valentinians completely accommodated themselves to the later development in the Church (Tertull. adv. Valent. I: communem fidem adfirmant) that is attached themselves, probably even from the first, to the existing forms, while in the Marcionite Church a peculiar regula was set up by a criticism of the tradition. The regula as a matter of course, was regarded as Apostolic. On Gnostic regulae see Iren. I. 21. 5, 31. 3, II. praef. II. 19. 8, III. II. 3, III. 16. 1, 5, Ptolem. ap Epiph. h. 33. 7, Tertull. adv Valent. I. 4, de praescr. 42, adv Marc. I. 1, IV. 5, 17, Ep. Petri ad Jacob in Clem. Hom. c. 1. We still possess in great part verbatim the regula of Apelles, in Epiphan II. 44, 2 Irenaeus (I. 7. 2) and Tertull (de carne. 20) state that the Valentinian regula contained the formula, '[Greek: gennethenta dia Marias]', see on this p. 203. In noting that the two points so decisive for Catholicism the Canon of the New Testament and the Apostolic regula were first, in the strict sense, set up by the Gnostics on the basis of a definite fixing and systematising of the oldest tradition we may see that the weakness of Gnosticism here consisted in its inability to exhibit the publicity of tradition and to place its propagation in close connection with the organisation of the churches.]
[Footnote 350: We do not know the relation in which the Valentinians placed the public Apostolic regula fidei to the secret doctrine derived from one Apostle. The Church in opposition to the Gnostics strongly emphasised the publicity of all tradition. Yet afterwards though with reservations, she gave a wide scope to the assumption of a secret tradition.]
[Footnote 351: The Gnostics transferred to the Evangelic writings, and demanded as simply necessary, the methods which Barnabas and others used in expounding the Old Testament (see the samples of their exposition in Irenaeus and Clement. Heinrici, l. c.). In this way, of course, all the specialties of the systems may be found in the documents. The Church at first condemned this method (Tertull. de praescr. 17-19. 39; Iren. I. 8. 9), but applied it herself from the moment in which she had adopted a New Testament Canon of equal authority with that of the Old Testament. However, the distinction always remained, that in the confrontation of the two Testaments with the views of getting proofs from prophecy, the history of Jesus described in the Gospels was not at first allegorised. Yet afterwards, the Christological dogmas of the third and following centuries demanded a docetic explanation of many points in that history.]
[Footnote 352: In the Valentinian, as well as in all systems not coarsely dualistic, the Redeemer Christ has no doubt a certain share in the constitution of the highest class of men, but only through complicated mediations. The significance which is attributed to Christ in many systems for the production or organisation of the upper world, may be mentioned. In the Valentinian system there are several mediators. It may be noted that the abstract conception of the divine primitive Being seldom called forth a real controversy. As a rule, offence was taken only at the expression.]
[Footnote 353: The Epistle of Ptolemy to Flora is very instructive here. If we leave out of account the peculiar Gnostic conception, we have represented in Ptolemy's criticism the later Catholic view of the Old Testament, as well as also the beginning of a historical conception of it. The Gnostics were the first critics of the Old Testament in Christendom. Their allegorical exposition of the Evangelic writings should be taken along with their attempts at interpreting the Old Testament literally and historically. It may be noted, for example, that the Gnostics were the first to call attention to the significance of the change of name for God in the Old Testament; see Iren. II. 35.. 3. The early Christian tradition led to a procedure directly the opposite. Apelles, in particular, the disciple of Marcion, exercised an intelligent criticism on the Old Testament, see my treatise, "de Apellis gnosi." p. 71 sq., and also Texte u. Unters VI. 3. p. 111 ff. Marcion himself recognised the historical contents of the Old Testament as reliable, and the criticism of most Gnostics only called in question its religious value.]
[Footnote 354: Ecclesiastical opponents rightly put no value on the fact, that some Gnostics advanced to Pan-Satanism with regard to the conception of the world, while others beheld a certain justitia civilis ruling in the world. For the standpoint which the Christian tradition had marked out, this distinction is just as much a matter of indifference, as the other, whether the Old Testament proceeded from an evil, or from an intermediate being. The Gnostics attempted to correct the judgment of faith about the world and its relation to God, by an empiric view of the world. Here again they are by no means "visionaries", however fantastic the means by which they have expressed their judgment about the condition of the world, and attempted to explain that condition. Those, rather are "visionaries" who give themselves up to the belief that the world is the work of a good and omnipotent Deity, however apparently reasonable the arguments they adduce. The Gnostic (Hellenistic) philosophy of religion, at this point, comes into the sharpest opposition to the central point of the Old Testament Christian belief, and all else really depends on this. Gnosticism is antichristian so far as it takes away from Christianity its Old Testament foundation, and belief in the identity of the creator of the world with the supreme God. That was immediately felt and noted by its opponents.]
[Footnote 355: The ecclesiastical opposition was long uncertain on this point. It is interesting to note that Basilides portrayed the sin inherent in the child from birth, in a way that makes one feel as though he were listening to Augustine (see the fragment from the 23rd book of the [Greek: Exegetika] in Clem., Strom. VI. 12. 83). But it is of great importance to note how even very special later terminologies, dogmas, etc., of the Church, were in a certain way anticipated by the Gnostics. Some samples will be given below; but meanwhile we may here refer to a fragment from Apelles' Syllogisms in Ambrosius (de Parad. V. 28): "Si hominem non perfectum fecit deus, unusquisque autcm per industriam propriam perfectionem sibi virtutis adsciscit: nonne videtur plus sibi homo adquirere, quam ei deus contulit?" One seems here to be transferred into the fifth century.]
[Footnote 356: The Gnostic teaching did not meet with a vigorous resistance even on this point, and could also appeal to the oldest tradition. The arbitrariness in the number, derivation and designation of the AEons was contested. The aversion to barbarism also co-operated here, in so far as Gnosticism delighted in mysterious words borrowed from the Semites. But the Semitic element attracted as well as repelled the Greeks and Romans of the second century. The Gnostic terminologies within the AEon speculations were partly reproduced among the Catholic theologians of the third century; most important is it that the Gnostics have already made use of the concept "[Greek: homoousios]"; see Iren., I. 5. 1: [Greek: alla to men pneumatikon me dedunesthai auten morphosai, epeide homoousion huperchen autei] (said of the Sophia): L. 5. 4, [Greek: kai touton einai ton kat' eikona kai homoiosin gegonota; kat' eikona men ton hulikon huparchein, paraplesion men, all' ouch homoousion toi theoi kath' homoiosin de ton psuchikon.] I. 5. 5: [Greek: to de kuema tes metros tes "Achamoth", homoousion huparchon tei metri.] In all these cases the word means "of one substance." It is found in the same sense in Clem., Hom. 20. 7: See also Philos. VII. 22; Clem., Exc. Theod. 42. Other terms also which have acquired great significance in the Church since the days of Origen, (e.g., [Greek: agennetos]), are found among the Gnostics, see Ep. Ptol. ad Floram, 5; and Bigg. (1. c. p. 58, note 3) calls attention to the appearance [Greek: trias] in Excerpt. ex. Theod. Sec. 80, perhaps the earliest passage.]
[Footnote 357: The characteristic of the Gnostic Christology is not Docetism, in the strict sense, but the doctrine of the two natures, that is, the distinction between Jesus and Christ, or the doctrine that the Redeemer as Redeemer was not a man. The Gnostics based this view on the inherent sinfulness of human nature, and it was shared by many teachers of the age without being based on any principle (see above, p. 195 f.). The most popular of the three Christologies briefly characterised above was undoubtedly that of the Valentinians. It is found, with great variety of details, in most of the nameless fragments of Gnostic literature that have been preserved, as well as in Apelles. This Christology might be accommodated to the accounts of the Gospels and the baptismal confession (how far is shewn by the regula of Apelles, and that of the Valentinians may have run in similar terms). It was taught here that Christ had passed through Mary as a channel; from this doctrine followed very easily the notion of the Virginity of Mary, uninjured even after the birth—it was already known to Clem. Alex. (Strom. VII. 16. 93). The Church also, later on, accepted this view. It is very difficult to get a clear idea of the Christology of Basilides, as very diverse doctrines were afterwards set up in his school as is shewn by the accounts. Among them is the doctrine, likewise held by others, that Christ in descending from the highest heaven took to himself something from every sphere through which he passed. Something similar is found among the Valentinians, some of whose prominent leaders made a very complicated phenomenon of Christ, and gave him also a direct relation to the demiurge. There is further found here the doctrine of the heavenly humanity, which was afterwards accepted by ecclesiastical theologians. Along with the fragments of Basilides the account of Clem. Alex. seems to me the most reliable. According to this, Basilides taught that Christ descended on the man Jesus at the baptism. Some of the Valentinians taught something similar: the Christology of Ptolemy is characterised by the union of all conceivable Christology theories. The different early Christian conceptions may be found in him. Basilides did not admit a real union between Christ and Jesus; but it is interesting to see how the Pauline Epistles caused the theologians to view the sufferings of Christ as necessarily based on the assumption of sinful flesh, that is, to deduce from the sufferings that Christ has assumed sinful flesh. The Basilidean Christology will prove to be a peculiar preliminary stage of the later ecclesiastical Christology. The anniversary of the baptism of Christ was to the Basilideans, as the day of the [Greek: epiphaneia], a high festival day (see Clem., Strom. I. 21. 146): they fixed it for the 6th (2nd) January. And in this also the Catholic Church has followed the Gnosis. The real docetic Christology as represented by Saturninus (and Marcion) was radically opposed to the tradition, and struck out the birth of Jesus, as well as the first 30 years of his life. An accurate exposition of the Gnostic Christologies, which would carry us too far here, (see especially Tertull., de carne Christi), would shew, that a great part of the questions which occupy Church theologians till the present day, were already raised by the Gnostics; for example, what happened to the body of Christ after the resurrection? (see the doctrines of Apelles and Hermogenes); what significance the appearance of Christ had for the heavenly and Satanic powers? what meaning belongs to his sufferings, although there was no real suffering for the heavenly Christ, but only for Jesus? etc. In no other point do the anticipations in the Gnostic dogmatic stand out so plainly (see the system of Origen; many passages bearing on the subject will be found in the third and fourth volumes of this work, to which readers are referred). The Catholic Church has learned but little from the Gnostics, that is, from the earliest theologians in Christendom, in the doctrine of God and the world, but very much in Christology, and who can maintain that she has ever completely overcome the Gnostic doctrine of the two natures, nay, even Docetism? Redemption viewed in the historical person of Jesus, that is, in the appearance of a Divine being on the earth, but the person divided and the real history of Jesus explained away and made inoperative, is the signature of the Gnostic Christology—this, however, is also the danger of the system of Origen and those systems that are dependent on him (Docetism) as well as, in another way, the danger of the view of Tertullian and the Westerns (doctrine of two natures). Finally, it should be noted that the Gnosis always made a distinction between the supreme God and Christ, but that, from the religious position, it had no reason for emphasising that distinction. For to many Gnostics, Christ was in a certain way the manifestation of the supreme God himself, and therefore in the more popular writings of the Gnostics (see the Acta Johannis) expressions are applied to Christ which seem to identify him with God. The same thing is true of Marcion and also of Valentinus (see his Epistle in Clem., Strom. II. 20. 114: [Greek: eis de estin agathos. ou parousia he dia tou huiou phanerosis]). This Gnostic estimate of Christ has undoubtedly had a mighty influence on the later Church development of Christology. We might say without hesitation that to most Gnostics Christ was a [Greek: pneuma homoousion toi patri]. The details of the life, sufferings and resurrection of Jesus are found in many Gnostics, transformed, complemented and arranged in the way in which Celsus (Orig., c. Cels. I. II.) required for an impressive and credible history. Celsus indicates how everything must have taken place if Christ had been a God in human form. The Gnostics in part actually narrate it so. What an instructive coincidence! How strongly the docetic view itself was expressed in the case of Valentinus, and how the exaltation of Jesus above the earthly was thereby to be traced back to his moral struggle, is shewn in the remarkable fragment of a letter (in Clem., Strom. III. 7. 59): [Greek: Panta hupomeinas egkrates ten theoteta Iesous eirgazeto. esthien gar kai apien idios ouk apodidous ta bromata, tosaute en autoi tes egkrateias dunamis, hoste kai me phtharenai ten trophen en autoi epei to phtheresthai autos ouk eichen]. In this notion, however, there is more sense and historical meaning than in that of the later ecclesiastical aphtharto-docetism.]
[Footnote 358: The Gnostic distinction of classes of men was connected with the old distinction of stages in spiritual understanding, but has its basis in a law of nature. There were again empirical and psychological views—they must have been regarded as very important, had not the Gnostics taken them from the traditions of the philosophic schools—which made the universalism of the Christian preaching of salvation, appear unacceptable to the Gnostics. Moreover, the transformation of religion into a doctrine of the school, or into a mystery cult, always resulted in the distinction of the knowing from the profanum vulgus. But in the Valentinian assumption that the common Christians as psychical occupy an intermediate stage, and that they are saved by faith, we have a compromise which completely lowered the Gnosis to a scholastic doctrine within Christendom. Whether and in what way the Catholic Church maintained the significance of Pistis as contrasted with Gnosis, and in what way the distinction between the knowing (priests) and the laity was there reached, will be examined in its proper place. It should be noted, however, that the Valentinian, Ptolemy, ascribes freedom of will to the psychic (which the pneumatic and hylic lack), and therefore has sketched by way of by-work a theology for the psychical beside that for the pneumatic, which exhibits striking harmonies with the exoteric system of Origen. The denial by Gnosticism of free will, and therewith of moral responsibility, called forth very decided contradiction. Gnosticism, that is, the acute hellenising of Christianity, was wrecked in the Church on free will, the Old Testament and eschatology.]
[Footnote 359: The greatest deviation of Gnosticism from tradition appears in eschatology, along with the rejection of the Old Testament and the separation of the creator of the world from the supreme God. Upon the whole our sources say very little about the Gnostic eschatology. This, however, is not astonishing; for the Gnostics had not much to say on the matter, or what they had to say found expression in their doctrine of the genesis of the world, and that of redemption through Christ. We learn that the regula of Apelles closed with the words: [Greek: anepte eis ouranon hothen kai heke], instead of [Greek: hothen erchetai krinai zontas kai nekrous]. We know that Marcion, who may already be mentioned here, referred the whole eschatological expectations of early Christian times to the province of the god of the Jews, and we hear that Gnostics (Valentinians) retained the words [Greek: sarkos anastasin], but interpreted them to mean that one must rise in this life, that is perceive the truth (thus the "resurrectio a mortuis", that is, exaltation above the earthly, took the place of the "resurrectio mortuorum"; See Iren. II. 31. 2: Tertull., de resurr. carnis, 19). While the Christian tradition placed a great drama at the close of history, the Gnostics regard the history itself as the drama, which virtually closes with the (first) appearing of Christ. It may not have been the opinion of all Gnostics that the resurrection has already taken place, yet for most of them the expectations of the future seem to have been quite faint, and above all without significance. The life is so much included in knowledge, that we nowhere in our sources find a strong expression of hope in a life beyond (it is different in the earliest Gnostic documents preserved in the Coptic language), and the introduction of the spirits into the Pleroma appears very vague and uncertain. But it is of great significance that those Gnostics who, according to their premises, required a real redemption from the world as the highest good, remained finally in the same uncertainty and religious despondency with regard to this redemption, as characterised the Greek philosophers. A religion which is a philosophy of religion remains at all times fixed to this life, however strongly it may emphasise the contrast between the spirit and its surroundings, and however ardently it may desire redemption. The desire for redemption is unconsciously replaced by the thinker's joy in his knowledge, which allays the desire (Iren. III. 15. 2: "Inflatus est iste [scil. the Valentinian proud of knowledge] neque in coelo, neque in terra putat se esse, sed intra Pleroma introisse et complexum jam angelum suum, cum institorio et supercilio incedit gallinacei elationem habens.... Plurimi, quasi jam perfecti, semetipsos spiritales vocant, et se nosse jam dicunt eum qui sit intra Pleroma ipsorum refrigerii locum"). As in every philosophy of religion, an element of free thinking appears very plainly here also. The eschatological hopes can only have been maintained in vigour by the conviction that the world is of God. But we must finally refer to the fact, that even in eschatology, Gnosticism only drew the inferences from views which were pressing into Christendom from all sides, and were in an increasing measure endangering its hopes of the future. Besides, in some Valentinian circles, the future life was viewed as a condition of education, as a progress through the series of the (seven) heavens; i.e., purgatorial experiences in the future were postulated. Both afterwards, from the time of Origen, forced their way into the doctrine of the Church (purgatory, different ranks in heaven), Clement and Origen being throughout strongly influenced by the Valentinian eschatology.]
[Footnote 360: See the passage Clem. Strom. III. 6, 49, which is given above, p. 238.]
[Footnote 361: Cf. the Apocryphal Acts of Apostles and diverse legends of Apostles (e.g., in Clem. Alex.).]
[Footnote 362: More can hardly be said: the heads of schools were themselves earnest men. No doubt statements such as that of Heracleon seem to have led to laxity in the lower sections of the collegium: [Greek: homologian einai ten men en tei pistei kai politeiai. ten de en phonei; he men oun en phonei homologia kai epi ton exousion ginetai, hen monen homologian hegountai einai hoi polloi, ouch hugios dunantai de tauten ten homologian kai hoi hupokritai homologein.]]
[Footnote 363: See Epiph. h. 26, and the statements in the Coptic Gnostic works. (Schmidt, Texte u Unters. VIII. 1. 2, p. 566 ff.).]
[Footnote 364: There arose in this way an extremely difficult theoretical problem, but practically a convenient occasion for throwing asceticism altogether overboard, with the Gnostic asceticism, or restricting it to easy exercises. This is not the place for entering into the details. Shibboleths, such as [Greek: pheugete ou tas phuseis alla tas gnomas ton kakon], may have soon appeared. It may be noted here, that the asceticism which gained the victory in Monasticism, was not really that which sprang from early Christian, but from Greek impulses, without, of course, being based on the same principle. Gnosticism anticipated the future even here. That could be much more clearly proved in the history of the worship. A few points which are of importance for the history of dogma may be mentioned here: (1) The Gnostics viewed the traditional sacred actions (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) entirely as mysteries, and applied to them the terminology of the mysteries (some Gnostics set them aside as psychic); but in doing so they were only drawing the inferences from changes which were then in process throughout Christendom. To what extent the later Gnosticism in particular was interested in sacraments, may be studied especially in the Pistis Sophia and the other Coptic works of the Gnostics, which Carl Schmidt has edited; see, for example, Pistis Sophia, p. 233. "Dixit Jesus ad suos [Greek: mathetas; amen] dixi vobis, haud adduxi quidquam in [Greek: kosmon] veniens nisi hunc ignem et hanc aquam et hoc vinum et hunc sanguinem." (2) They increased the holy actions by the addition of new ones, repeated baptisms (expiations), anointing with oil, sacrament of confirmation [Greek: apolutrosis]; see, on Gnostic sacraments, Iren. I. 20, and Lipsius, Apokr. Apostelgesch. I. pp. 336-343, and cf. the [Greek: puknos metanosusi] in the delineation of the Shepherd of Hermas. Mand. XI. (3) Marcus represented the wine in the Lord's Supper as actual blood in consequence of the act of blessing: see Iren., I. 13.2: [Greek: poteria oino kekramena prospoioumenos eucharistein kai epi pleon ekteinon ton logon tes epikleseos, porphurea kai eruthra anaphainesthai poiei, hos dokein ten apo ton huper ta hola charin to haima to heautes stazein en ekeino to poterio dia tes epikleseos autou, kai huperimeiresthai tous parontas ex ekeinou geusasthai tou pomatos, hina kai eis autous epombrese he dia tou magou toutou kleizomene charis.] Marcus was indeed a charlatan; but religious charlatanry afterwards became very earnest, and was certainly taken earnestly by many adherents of Marcus. The transubstantiation idea, in reference to the elements in the mysteries, is also plainly expressed in the Excerpt. ex. Theodot. Sec. 82: [Greek: kai ho artos kai to elaion agiazetai te dunamei tou onomatos ou ta auta onta kata to phainomenon dia elephthe, alla du amei eis dunamin pneumatiken metabebletai] (that is, not into a new super-terrestrial material, not into the real body of Christ, but into a spiritual power) [Greek: outos kai to hudor kai to exorkizomenon kai to baptisma ginomenon ou monon chorei to cheiron, alla kai agiasmon proslambanei]. Irenaeus possessed a liturgical handbook of the Marcionites, and communicates many sacramental formula from it (I. c. 13 sq). In my treatise on the Pistis Sophia (Texte u. Unters. VII. 2. pp. 59-94) I think I have shewn ("The common Christian and the Catholic elements of the Pistis Sophia") to what extent Gnosticism anticipated Catholicism as a system of doctrine and an institute of worship. These results have been strengthened by Carl Schmidt (Texte u. Unters. VIII. 1. 2). Even purgatory, prayers for the dead, and many other things, raised in speculative questions and definitely answered, are found in those Coptic Gnostic writings, and are then met with again in Catholicism. One general remark may be permitted in conclusion. The Gnostics were not interested in apologetics, and that is a very significant fact. The [Greek: pneuma] in man was regarded by them as a supernatural principle, and on that account they are free from all rationalism and moralistic dogmatism. For that very reason they are in earnest with the idea of revelation, and do not attempt to prove it or convert its contents into natural truths. They did endeavour to prove that their doctrines were Christian, but renounced all proof that revelation is the truth (proofs from antiquity). One will not easily find in the case of the Gnostics themselves, the revealed truth described as philosophy, or morality as the philosophic life. If we compare therefore, the first and fundamental system of Catholic doctrine, that of Origen, with the system of the Gnostics, we shall find that Origen, like Basilides and Valentinus, was a philosopher of revelation, but that he had besides a second element which had its origin in apologetics.]