The earliest may be called the syncretic; it is the fusion of Jewish or pagan with Christian elements.
We are at first inclined to think of Christianity itself, but it is certainly most improbable that at the time of the rise of Christianity the Babylonian teaching about the seven planet-deities governing the world should have played so great a part throughout all Syria, Asia Minor and Egypt, that the most varying sections of syncretic Christianity should over and over again adopt this doctrine and work it up into their system.
Paul's battle against the law and the narrow national conception of Christianity found a willing following in a movement, the syncretic origin of which directed it towards a universal religion.
Through its syncretic origin Gnosticism introduced for the first time into Christianity a whole mass of sacramental, mystical ideas, which had hitherto existed in it only in its earliest phases.
Yet this consideration should in no way obscure the fact that the prophet lived and worked in the all-pervading atmosphere of the popular syncretic Yahweh religion, intensely national and local in its character.