Gnosticism, is the evolution of Jewish thought, stimulated by Greek philosophic speculation.
St. Irenaeus (AD 139-202)
was the first Christian author to use the term Gnostic In reference to the proponents of the new heresy.
Gnosis (γνώσις)is a Greek is word translated as knowledge. In the tradition of the Indo-European language it is rendered "gno," and is also preserved in English word "know," and in Sanskrit as Gnana or in common parlance as vidya. It is traditionally a feminine noun. As such it is referred to in the Old Testament as “Wisdom”
This understanding of Gnosticism is practically defined :
To know the composition of the world, and the operation of the elements; the beginning, end and midst of the times, the alterations of the turning of the sun, and changes of the seasons; the cycles of the years and the positions of stars; the natures of living creatures, and the tempers of wild beasts, the violence of winds and the reasonings of men; the diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots…
And should a man desire much experience, she (wisdom) knoweth things of old, and doth portray what is to come; she knoweth the subtleties of speeches and can expound dark sentences; she foreknoweth signs and wonders, and the issue of seasons and times...
And if one love righteousness, her labors are virtues; for she teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in their life (Wis. 7:17-20; 8:8; 8:7).
Possessing such wisdom is not due to personal merit; it is a gift of God. I prayed, testifies the author of the Wisdom of Solomon, and the spirit of wisdom came to me... And all such things as are either secret or manifest, them I know.
For wisdom, which is the fashioner of all things, taught me, for she is a noetic spirit, holy, only-begotten, manifold, subtle, agile, clear, undefiled, harmless, loving of the good, penetrating, irresistible, beneficent, kind to man, steadfast, sure, free from care, almighty, overseeing all things, and spreading abroad through all noetic, pure, and most subtle spirits...
For she is the effulgence of the everlasting light, the un-spotted mirror of the energy of God, and the image of his goodness. And though being but one, she can do all things; and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new, and in every generation, entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God, and prophets. For God loveth none save him that dwelleth with wisdom (Wis.
The Book of Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom, Book of the Wisdom of Solomon), is considered scripture, classified as deutero-canonical (meaning "second canon", "secondary canon",
or "of secondary authority") by the Roman Catholic Church and similarly, anagignoskomenon (Gr. ἀναγιγνωσκόμενον, meaning "that which is to be read") by the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is to be read for edification and not for doctrinal purposes. Protestant churches generally consider it to be non-canonical (apocryphal), and thus not Biblical "scripture".
For an English translation os LXX see http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, King of Egypt (287-47 BC) had recently established a valuable library at Alexandria. He was persuaded by Demetrius of Phalarus, chief librarian, to enrich it with a copy of the sacred books of the Jews. To win the good graces of this people, Ptolemy, by the advice of Aristeas, an officer of the royal guard, an Egyptian by birth and a pagan by religion, emancipated 100,000 slaves in different parts of his kingdom. He then sent delegates, among whom was Aristeas, to Jerusalem, to ask Eleazar, the Jewish high-priest, to provide him with a copy of the Law, and Jews capable of translating it into Greek. The embassy was successful: a richly ornamented copy of the Law was sent to him and seventy-two Israelites, six from each tribe, were deputed to go to Egypt and carry out the wish of the king. They were received with great honor and during seven days astonished everyone by the wisdom they displayed in answering seventy-two questions which they were asked; then they were led into the solitary island of Pharos, where they began their work, translating the Law, helping one another and comparing translations in proportion as they finished them. At the end of seventy-two days, their work was completed, The translation was read in presence of the Jewish priests, princes, and people assembled at Alexandria, who all recognized and praised its perfect conformity with the Hebrew original.
LXX was originally part of the Jewish mystic tradition.
Oriegon the great Christian scholar himself has republished the Septuagint for the Christians of his time with proper additions and comments.
In several passages Wisdom - Sophia ( as the Gnostics called her) is represented as sitting beside God Himself foreshadowing the Power of the Holy Spirit. “Sophia” in ancient Greek translates to “wisdom,” and from this we derive the words “philosophy” and “sophisticated.” The Hebrew the word for wisdoחmָכ oמ,ְ rָה chokmah, which is also a feminine noun. Sophia is the
the Queen of Wisdom and War Athena for Greeks, and as the Holy Spirit of Wisdom by Christians and Sapientia in Latin.
All things that are one in essence with the Father evolved as emanation as proceeded from Him and is practically part of One Godhead. In Indian terms where the children of Abraham through Keturah brought in these concepts; God, the Lord Siva (Love) is Ardha Nareeswara (Half woman, half man). When separated they are known as Sive (Love) and Sakthi (Power).
“The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works He established me before time;
In the beginning, before He made the earth, even before He made the depths,
before the fountains of the waters came forth, before the mountains were established,
and before all hills, He begat me.
The Lord made lands and uninhabited tracts and the uttermost inhabited parts under heaven.
When He prepared heaven, I was present with Him;
and when He prepared His throne upon the winds, and when He made the clouds above mighty,
and when He secured the fountains of the earth,
and when He strengthened the foundations of the earth, I was by Him, arranging all things;
I was that wherein He took delight,
and daily I rejoiced in His presence continually.
For He rejoiced when He had completed the world, and rejoiced in the children of men...
For my outgoings are the outgoings of life, and in them is prepared favor from the Lord” (Prov. 8:27-31; 35).
Hohkma (Hebrew) Sapienta (Latin) Mother of All (Gnostic)
Holy Spirit (Early Christian)
In the Christian theology Sophia still remain as the Holy Spirit along side of the Son, the redeemer. One thing that we observe in these Wisdom passages is that it never portray Sophia as an autonomous female divine figure. Sophia is and is always presented as co-partner with God, always proceeding from the Father as and when required.
Most literature seem to confuse the Sophia of the Wisdom literature with Saint Sophia and her three daughters. Saint Sophia was an Italian widow who lived in Rome during the time of Emperor Hadrian (117–138). She and her three daughters, Pistis, Elpis and Agape, which means Faith, Hope and Love, who were named after virtues mentioned by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. As the emperor spoke to the three daughters, he attempted to transfer their worship and loyalty from Christ to himself. First to reject Hadrian's sovereignty was Pistis (meaning faith), who was stripped, beaten and beheaded for it. Next was Elpis (hope), who Hadrian's men unsuccessfully attempted to burn before killing her with a sword. Finally, the steadfastness of Agape (love) was punished by hanging and beheading. Saint Sophia is said to have been pleased with the deaths of her daughters, seeing their sacrifice as a gift to the Holy Trinity. Afterwards, Sophia buried her daughters' bodies and remained by their graves for three days until she died herself. Sophia died as a Martyr (died AD 137) and is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on September. But this has no connection with Agia Sophia the female counterpart of God. .
Σίμων ὁ μάγος
The earliest mention we have of the Gnostic origin is in the person of Simon Magus. According to 'Recognitions of Clement, Book II, Chapters, V& VII,
"This Simon's father was Antonius, and his mother Rachel. By nation he is a Samaritan, from a village of the Gettones; by profession a magician yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory, and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the Standing One. And he uses this name as implying that he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity.
Hence, therefore, he is called the Standing One, as though he cannot fall by any corruption."
“But over and above all this, Simon himself is a most vehement orator, trained in the dialectic art. and in the meshes of syllogisms; and what is worse than all, he is greatly skilled in the magic art.” He even claimed to be God and was born of a virgin.
(Recognitions of Clement, Book II chapter V & XIV)
The Gnostic Christianity was started by Simon the Magus who is found in the Acts of Apostles 8, who joined the church.This was the first time the Gnostics came across Christianity. Magi or Magicians or Sorcerers were early scientists and experimenters. They were the people who explained the existence and their various phenomena including the power of the spoken word. Obviously it included Astronomy, Astrology, Prophecy, Interpretation of Dreams etc. etc.
Remember Chemistry came from Alchemy and we still expect prayers rendered in unison will produce the result. Daniel was the Chief of the Magi in his time. Remember it was the Magi who came to worship baby Jesus. They knew that from the stars - astrology.
Simon Magus and Simon Peter
Simon Magus (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος), is a religious figure whose confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24:
“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God." And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) When laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Thus we see that “when Gnosticism came in touch with Christianity, which must have happened almost immediately on its appearance, Gnosticism threw herself with strange rapidity into Christian forms of thought, borrowed its nomenclature, acknowledged Jesus as Savior of the world, simulated its sacraments, pretended to be an esoteric revelation of Christ and His Apostles, flooded the world with apocryphal Gospels, and Acts, and Apocalypses, to substantiate its claim. As Christianity grew within and without the Roman Empire, Gnosticism spread as a fungus at its root, and claimed to be the only true form of Christianity, unfit, indeed, for the vulgar crowd, but set apart for the gifted and the elect.”
The story of Acts 8 is that first encounter. Simon evidently took it to its limit and to a great extent succeeded in supplanting the true doctrines of Christ as is easily seen in the creation of the Hinduism from St.Thomas Christianity.Was not Thomas the twin of God and the author of the Gnostic Thomasine literature of Nag Hamadi?
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost."
But Peter said unto him, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee, for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
Then answered Simon, and said, "Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." Acts 8:9–24
Justin Martyr (in his Apologies , and in a lost work against heresies, which Irenaeus used as his main source) and Irenaeus ( Adversus Haereses ) record that after being cast out by the Apostles, Simon Magus went to Rome where, having joined himself with a woman of the name of Helen, he declared that it was he who appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit.This was during the reign of Claudius and thus must have been between 41CE and 54CE. Writing between 151 and 155CE Justin Martyr wrote as follows concerning Simon of Gitta, a sorcerer from the first century who claimed to be "the Great Power" (cf Acts 8:10.
Hippolytus of Rome (170 - 235 AD) says: Simon was a native of Gitteh, in the province of Samaria, and commenced his career, and soon acquired great influence amongst his countrymen, by practising magic after the "Thrasymedian method" (i.e. jugglery, as previously described by Hippolytus), nay more, by working miracles "through the agency of devils
Having fallen in love with a beautiful courtezan at Tyre, he bought her from her owner, and always carried her about with him, declaring that she was the "Intelligence" (Ἔννοια) that of old was imprisoned in the body of the Grecian Helen, then of the Lost Sheep, but now was restored to him for the salvation of the world.
Even before the preaching of Christianity he had set up for a teacher of a new religion, plagiarised from Moses and Heraclitus the "Obscure," based upon the axiom that Fire was the First Principle of all things, subordinate to which were the "Six Radicals": a curiously compounded mixture of Judaism and Magism, of which Hippolytus gives a full though not very intelligible summary:
"This Simon, after he had ransomed Helen, granted salvation unto men by means of his own knowledge.
For inasmuch as the angels had governed the world ill by reason of their own ambitiousness, he pretended that he was come to set all things right;and having changed his form and made himself like to the Principalities, the Powers, and the Angels, wherefore it was that he showed himself in the form of man although not a man at all, and had suffered the Passion in Judæa, although he had not really suffered it; moreover, that he had manifested himself to the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and amongst the Gentiles in other parts as the Holy Ghost; but he submitted to be called by whatsoever name they pleased.
The Prophets were inspired by the Angels, creators of the world, when they delivered their prophecies; on which account they that believe in Simon and Helen pay no regard to them (the Prophets) even in our times: and they do whatever they please, pretending that they are redeemed through his grace." . .
“Simoni Deo Sancto,”(“To Simon the holy God.” )
"…after Christ’s ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honours.
There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome:– “Simoni Deo Sancto,”(“To Simon the holy God.” )
“And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Meander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetaea, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his.” Justin Martyr1 Apol. 26: "in the reign of Claudius Caesar, through the art of the demons who worked in him, did mighty works of magic in your imperial city of Rome and was thought to be a god; he has been honoured among you as a god with a statue, which statue was erected on the River Tiber, between the two bridges, having this inscription in Roman language: SIMONI DEO SANCTO." (Apologia,
“Eusebius makes a very arresting statement in how Simon was worshiped.
Of whom there is one Simon, a Samaritan, whom we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, who said he was some Great Power. And among the rest of the things written in his volumes, he proclaimed as follows: “I am the Word of God; I am the glorious one, I the Paraclete, the Almighty, I the whole of God.” ix. Hieronymus (In Matthaeum, IV. xxiv. 5). Text: S. Eusebii Hieronymi Comment.;
Migne Patrol. Grec., VII. col. 176.
However, some scholars believe that this was a confusion over a statue dedicated to the Sabine divinity Semo Sancus with that of the historical Simon the Magician. Semo Sancus is an ancient Sabine deity for oaths, contracts, law, matrimony, and legal fidelity. In 1574, an altar dedicated to Semo Sancus was discovered on the island of the Tiber River with the following inscription Semoni Sanco Deo, which translates as “to Semon the Holy God.”
Death of Simon Magus .
There are two tradition concerning the end of Simon
1. Tradition of being buried alive
"Now this same Simon, when he was by his magic arts deceiving many in Samaria, was confuted by the Apostles, and having been cursed by them, he afterwards fell from his reputation and invented these fables. At last, having traveled to Rome, he again ran against the Apostles, and Peter had many encounters with him when he was seducing multitudes through his magical practices. Finally, having gone into the land of Persia, he took up his abode under a plane-tree, and there preached his doctrine. But at last, when he was on the point of being convicted for an impostor, in consequence of his making too long a stay in the same place, he gave out that, if he were buried alive, he would rise again on the third day. And in truth, having caused a pit to be dug by his disciples, he commanded himself to be covered over with earth. They therefore did what he commanded them, but he never came back unto this day, inasmuch as he was not a Christ”
2. Tadition of falling while flying
Simon, realizing that he must do something grand to keep his disciples, makes plans to ascend to heaven and be with his Father. Peter, having been warned in a vision of the upcoming event, comes to the appointed place and watches as Simon profanes Christ, and all the Christians who are present look to Peter for his action.
Simon promised to rise aloft to heaven, and came riding in a demons’ chariot on the air. After Simon has flown around Rome in the sight of everyone, Peter prays, and Simon falls from his great height and breaks his leg in three places. Simon’s credibility is completely shattered (along with his leg), and his fall is both physical and symbolic of the final fall of all the wicked. With the help of friends, Simon is taken to a sorcerer in Aricia. Although he undergoes an operation (possibly to restore his leg), he dies.
Simon met his death in an attempt to fly over Rome as a show of his miraculous power The Fall of Simon Magus at Cathédrale Saint Lazare, Autun (Saône-et-Loire)
From the Gnostic teachings of Simon Magus, flourished the religion of the Simon, a sect of Gnosticism which arose in the 2 nd century. This religion was known as Simoniasm. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and of the sect ‘Simonians’. Justin says that
nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta. Simon himself might have been a disciple of John the Baptist and probably a member of the Mandaens who considered John the Baptist as the Mesiah.
Simonianism and its doctrine were probably heavily influenced by Hellenism and Hebraism; these teachings and ideas were doubtless due to Simon’s studies of Jewish-Arabic medicine in Alexandria coupled with his reading and studies of the Greek philosophers such as Heraclitus of Ephesus. In fact Irenaeus, (bishop of Lyon c.a. 180 A.D.) was so troubled by the presence of Gnostics in his diocese that he devoted volumes of diatribes to combat them. Simon is described by him as " a Christian, a Jew, a pagan and the founder of a new religion; a magician, a sorcerer, a religious philosopher and an arch-heretic; a pseudo-apostle, a pseudo-Messiah and a pretended incarnation of God; and the 'father of all heresies.'"
“The existence of the sect of Simonians called after Simon and related to the other Samaritan sect called after Dositheus, certainly proves the historicity of his existence against the critics who declare him to be a fictitious person and "Simon" to be the pseudonym of Paul. It is remarkable, moreover, that a magician by the name of Simon is mentioned by Josephus as having lived at the very same time as Simon Magus of the Church literature. Felix, appointed governor of Judea by the emperor Claudius between the years 52 and 60, had fallen in love with Drusilla, sister of King Agrippa and wife of King Azizus of Emesa; and he sent Simon, a Jew born in Cyprus and a friend of his who was known for his magical skill, to use incantations (compare the love incantation in Deissman's "Bibelstudien," 1895, p. 21, and Blau, "Das Altjüdische Zauberwesen," 1898, pp. 96-117) to alienate her affection
from her husband and to turn it to Felix. In this way the governor succeeded in obtaining Drusilla's consent to marry him ("Ant." xx. 7, § 2). The only difficulty in identifying this Simon with the other lies in the statement of Josephus that the magician was born in Cyprus. The charges brought against the sect of the Simonians are of such a nature as would point to seductions brought about by witchcraft as well as by Gnostic teachings leading to sexual impurity.”
The Gnostic tradition of Simon Magus through successive disciples can be traced as follows:
0. Simon c.35 AD
When the Simonians divided during the Gnostic schism, Menander called his part of the sect Menandrians, holding the belief that the world was made by angels. His ideas contrasted with those of Satornilus and the Satornilians, who believed the world was made by only seven angels against the will of a “Father on high”. Menander held that a water baptism was essential as the source for eternal youth.Menander held solid to the belief that as head of the church, he was the savior and Power of God. Menander maintained that “the primary power continues unknown to all but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth from the presence of the invisible beings as a savior, for the deliverance of men”.
2. Basilides at Alexandria, (died A.D. 138),
According to Hippolytus, Basilides asserted the beginning of all things to have been pure nothing. He uses every device of language to express absolute nonentity. Nothing then being in existence, "not-being God" willed to make a not-being world out of not-being things. This not-being world was only "a single seed containing within itself all the seed-mass of the world," Within this seed-mass were three parts, or sonships, and were consubstantial with the not-being God. This was the one origin of all future growths; these future growths did not use pre-existing matter, but rather these future growths came into being out of nothing by the voice of the not-being God.
3. Valentinus the "Chief of the Gnostics,"
Gnosticism was not new even at the time of Simon Magus.
Evidently Simon was a scholar in many of the earlier forms of Gnosticism (if not all of them) which included Hebrews, Egypt, Greece, Babylonia, and India
“I say there are many gods, but one God of all these gods,
incomprehensible and unknown to all, ... a Power of immeasurable and ineffable Light, whose greatness is held to be incomprehensible, a Tower which the maker of the world does not know.” This is a fundamental dogma of the Gnôsis in all climes and in all ages.
The demiurgic deity is not the All-Deity, for there is an infinite succession of universes, each having its particular deity
“Not a few scholars have laboured to find the source of Gnostic theories on Hellenistic and, specifically, Alexandrian soil. In 1880 Joel sought to prove that the germ of all Gnostic theories was to be found in Plato. Though this may be dismissed as an exaggeration, some Greek influence on the birth, but especially on the growth, of Gnosticism cannot be denied. In Trismegistic literature, as pointed out by Reitzenstein (Poimandres, 1904), we find much that is strangely akin to Gnosticism. Its Egyptian origin was defended by E. Amélineau, in 1887, and illustrated by A. Dietrich, in 1891 (Abraxas Studien) and 1903 (Mithrasliturgie). The relation of Plotinus's philosophy to Gnosticism was brought out by C. Schmidt in 1901. That Alexandrian thought had some share at least in the development of Christian Gnosticism is clear from the fact that the bulk of Gnostic literature which we possess comes to us from Egyptian (Coptic) sources.”
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
Plato and Aristotle’s in their ongoing musings had, in time, developed a monotheism. They conceived a transcendent, immutable God who is a being rather than becoming. God never change, He is same yesterday, today and for ever. Becoming is the state of human affairs – always changing, never stopping. This would mean God was not directly involved in creation in any sense, a direct contrast with the God of the Christian religion. Whether it be the Platonic Ideal or an Aristotlean “unmoved mover”, the results were the same – “God” did not interact with creation.
This necessitated the concept of the Logos/demiurge who created the cosmos with all the imperfections an emanation could have.
In treating of emanation, evolution, creation or whatever other term may be given to the process of manifestation, therefore, the teachers deal only with one particular universe; the Unmanifested
Root, and Universal Cause of all Universes lying behind, in potentiality (δυναμις), in Incomprehensible Silence (σιγη ακαταληπτος). For on the "Tongue of the Ineffable" are many "Words" (λογοι), each Universe having its own Logos.
Thales was looking for an underlying principle within the universe. Known as an Arche, this one thing would be the first substance from which all other matter was built upon. For Thales, this first substance was water in contraction to that of
The difference between Heraclitus and Thales is that while Thales was looking for a physical substance that all matter was built upon, Heraclitus was more interested in an underlying pattern or principle that put the universe into manageable terms.