Definition:
The term Gnosis is the greek word for knowledge, thus the religious group Gnosticism bases thier salvation by gaining of Special Knowledge through a variety ofnag-hammadi.jpg secret revelations and supernatural experiences rather than faith through Jesus, or the Law of God, like the lesser minded Christians and Jews. Gnosticism is a dualistic religion mean there is a male and female God, and there is the existence of good and evil. The Holy texts used by Gnostics are the Gnostc Gospels and works from the Nag Hammadi Library.



Origin:
- Gnosticism comes derives from an unknowable and Holy God.
- This God was too perfect to concern himself with an imperfect world.
- He created multiple lesser gods named Emenations or Aeons.
- These Emenations included the god of Wisdom named Sophia.
- Sophia desired to make herself known to God’s knowledge and failed to understand.
- In her failure she created an even lesser god that was sent away from the realm of the Aeons.
- This god was call demiurge or Samael- the “god of blindness” and was said to have the head of lion with the body of a serpent.
- The Demiurge went on to create the human world for the lower beings.
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Demiurge




Gnostic Leaders:
- Simon Magus or Simon the Magician was a false teacher during the same time as the Evangelism of Peter.
- Simon had a majority of Samaria convinced he held the power of the true God in his hands because of the sorcery he could conjure
- Simon was believed to be the true Messiah to his followers after the death of Jesus.
- Simonians were followers of Simon and held a religious view very similar to Christianity.
- Simon led the way in thinking that holy experiences were a prominent part of Gnosticism.
- Valentinus c.100-160 C.E. followed in Simon Magus’ footsteps seeking holy experiences and created a school for thought.valentinus.jpg
- Valentinus was educated in Alexandria and moved his way up the hierarchy of the Roman Church and was the closest of any Gnostic teacher to becoming the pope, but his dreams fell short when he was condemned a heretic.
- Many people followed his path of Gnostic beliefs seeking greater individual relation to the gods and search for a higher knowledge.



Gnostic Opposition:
- Peter was the strong Christian opposition to Simon Magus during the first century.
- There are different accounts as to the final showdown between the two Prominent Religious figures. The Christian account shows that Simon levitated in front of a crowd to show his Godliness while Peter prayed for God to strike him down, God did and Simon fell and broke his leg in three places and was then stoned by the viewing pubic.
- The Second account, which is more secular, showed that Simon went off a high tower and flew in the air but fell and split into four. His body was then placed in holding for three days in case he resurrected.
- In the second century a church leader named Irenaeus wrote of the heresies of Gnosticism and their affect on the he attacked Valentinus mainly, but sometimes reached back to Simon Magus’ teachings.



Religious Texts:thomas.jpg
There are many gnostic gospels in circulation but only a few are considered legitimate and were written around the time of Jesus and are based off the his lifes work. Three books from the Nag Hammadi Library are:
-Gospel of Thomas
-Gospel of Philip
-Gospel of Truth
Two more Gospels that were found separate of these books:
-Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)
-Gospel of Judas


Spread of Gnosticism:
Due to the rapid growth of the early Christian church, the early Gnostic church suffered constant attacks by the Christians for claims of heresy. However, unlike the common thinking of the past few centuries Gnosticism and Christianity both developed within the first century so its hard to say who came first. It is clear though that both sects had roots in Judaism and both believed in Jesus, it was only the ideas they held about Jesus differed and the Christians became stronger and discredited Gnostics for fear they would have a significant rival. This pushed the Gnostic church into separation and may sects of this faith were torn apart with a strong group of Mandaeans who were located in modern day Iraq. Unlike other groups under pressure this sect still exists today.