The definition of gnosticism was a 2nd-century philosophy that believed that a lesser and imperfect divinity called the Demiurge created the world while Christ was a messenger for a supreme divine being.
The existence of early Christian sects who believed divine knowledge of a supreme being was the way to redemption is an example of Gnosticism.
[ofteng-] an esoteric system of mystical religious and philosophical doctrines, stressing gnosis as essential to salvation, viewing matter as evil, and variously combining ideas derived from mythology, ancient Greek philosophy, ancient religions, and, eventually, Christianity
The doctrines of various religious sects flourishing especially in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in the Near East, teaching that the material world is the imperfect creation of a subordinate power or powers rather than of the perfect and unknowable Divine Being, and that the soul can transcend material existence by means of esoteric knowledge. The Mandaean religion preserves one system of Gnostic belief.
Gnostic + -ism
- (2) As to the speculation of the errorists, it is replied that it is explicable in the lifetime of Paul, that some of the elements of it may have their source in pre-Christian Jewish theories, and that recourse to the developed gnosticism of the 2nd century is unnecessary.
- BASILIDES, one of the most conspicuous exponents of Gnosticism, was living at Alexandria probably as early as the first decades of the 2nd century.
- Whether Basilides himself had already given this magic tendency to Gnosticism cannot be decided.
- Basilides, then, represents that form of Gnosticism that is closest to Persian dualism in its final form.
- From most of the other Gnostic sects, with the exception perhaps of the JewishChristian Gnosticism, he is distinguished by the fact that with him the figure of the fallen female god (Sophia Achamoth), and, in general, the idea of a fall within the godhead is entirely wanting.