Compilation on Gnosticism

Compilation on Gnosticism from Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book 1 Chapters 1-7 Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1

Kurtis Dahlin  March 15, 2000

The work of Irenaeus, Against Heresies is one of the most precious remains of early Christian antiquity. It is devoted, on the one hand, to an account and refutation of those multiform Gnostic heresies which prevailed in the latter half of the second century; and, on the other hand, to an exposition and defense of the Catholic faith.  In the prosecution of this plan, the author divides his work into five books. The first of these contains a minute description of the tenets of the various heretical sects, with occasional brief remarks in illustration of their absurdity, and in confirmation of the truth to which they were opposed.[1]

We possess only very scanty accounts of the personal history of Irenaeus. It has been generally supposed that he was a native of Smyrna, or some neighboring city, in Asia Minor. Harvey, however, thinks that he was probably born in Syria, and removed in boyhood to Smyrna. He himself tells us (iii. 3, 4) that he was in early youth acquainted with Polycarp, the illustrious bishop of that city. A sort of clue is thus furnished as to the date of his birth. Dodwell supposes that he was born so early as a.d. 97, but this is clearly a mistake; and the general date assigned to his birth is somewhere between a.d. 120 and a.d. 140.

It is certain that Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons, in France, during the latter quarter of the second century. The exact period or circumstances of his ordination cannot be determined. Eusebius states (Hist. Eccl., v. 4) that he was, while yet a presbyter, sent with a letter, from certain members of the Church of Lyons awaiting martyrdom, to Eleutherus, bishop of Rome; and that (v. 5) he succeeded Pothinus as bishop of Lyons, probably about a.d. 177. His great work Against Heresies was, we learn, written during the episcopate of Eleutherus, that is, between a.d. 182 and a.d. 188, for Victor succeeded to the bishopric of Rome in a.d. 189.[2]

The full title of the principal work of Irenaeus, as given by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., v. 7), and indicated frequently by the author himself, was A Refutation and Subversion of Knowledge falsely so called, but it is generally referred to under the shorter title, Against Heresies.[3]

As has been already stated, the first printed copy of our author was given to the world by Erasmus. This was in the year 1526.[4]
Irenaeus Against Heresies Book I

Chapter I.—Absurd Ideas of the Disciples of Valentinus as to the Origin, Name, Order, and Conjugal Productions of Their Fancied Aeons, with the Passages of Scripture Which They Adapt to Their Opinions.[5]
AEON/BYTHUS: The Eternal and Unbegotten

1. They maintain, then, that in the invisible and ineffable heights above there exists a certain perfect, pre-existent Aeon, whom they call Proarche, Propator, and Bythus, and describe as being invisible and incomprehensible. Eternal and unbegotten, he remained throughout innumerable cycles of ages in profound serenity and quiescence.[6]
Pro in Greek means prior, before or in front of.  Arche in Greek means beginning or ruler.  Pator is Greek for the father.So, Bythus is before the beginning and prior to the father. Sige existed along with him before the beginning.
ENNOEA/SIGE

There existed along with him Ennoea, whom they also call Charis and Sige.[7]

THE ORIGIN OF THE GNOSTIC SYSTEM

Aeon/Bythus, the invisible, eternal, pre-existent one, sent forth from himself  the beginning of all things. He deposited his production in Sige even as a seed is deposited in the womb. Sige became pregnant and gave birth to Nous.

NOUS = Monogenes, Father, Beginning of All things

Nous was both similar and equal to his father, Bythus. Nous was endowed with the capability of comprehending his father’s greatness. Nous was a created being and was not in the beginning with Aeon/Bythus

ALETHEIA

The daughter of Aeon/Bythus and Sige

She then, having received this seed, and becoming pregnant, gave birth to Nous, who was both similar and equal to him who had produced him, and was alone capable of comprehending his father’s greatness. This Nous they call also Monogenes, and Father, and the Beginning of all Things. Along with him was also produced Aletheia; and these four constituted the first and first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, which they also denominate the root of all things. For there are first Bythus and Sige, and then Nous and Aletheia. [8]

 
LOGOS AND ZOE BEGOT ANTHROPOS AND ECCLESIA

 

Nous begins the Pleroma of Aeons. Nous or Monogenes produced from himself Logos and Zoe. By the conjunction of Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia were brought forth.

 

And Monogenes, perceiving for what purpose he had been produced, also himself sent forth Logos and Zoe, being the father of all those who were to come after him, and the beginning and fashioning of the entire Pleroma. By the conjunction of Logos and Zoe were brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia; and thus was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, viz., Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine, as follows: Propator (Bythus) was united by a conjunction with his Ennoea (Sige); then Monogenes, that is Nous, with Aletheia; Logos with Zoe, and Anthropos with Ecclesia.[9]

 
Logos and Zoe sent forth emanations by means of conjunction and produced a total of 12 Aeons.

 

2. These Aeons having been produced for the glory of the Father, and wishing, by their own efforts, to effect this object, sent forth emanations by means of conjunction. Logos and Zoe, after producing Anthropos and Ecclesia, sent forth other ten Aeons, whose names are the following: Bythius and Mixis, Ageratos and Henosis, Autophyes and Hedone, Acinetos and Syncrasis, Monogenes and Macaria. These are the ten Aeons whom they declare to have been produced by Logos and Zoe. [10]
 
Anthropos and Ecclesia produce 12 Aeons for a total of thirty Aeons.

 

They then add that Anthropos himself, along with Ecclesia, produced twelve Aeons, to whom they give the following names: Paracletus and Pistis, Patricos and Elpis, Metricos and Agape, Ainos and Synesis, Ecclesiasticus and Macariotes, Theletos and Sophia.

 

3. Such are the thirty Aeons in the erroneous system of these men; and they are described as being wrapped up, so to speak, in silence, and known to none [except these professing teachers]. Moreover, they declare that this invisible and spiritual Pleroma of theirs is tripartite, being divided into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. [1]

 

    *

      Ogdoad is Greek for a group of 8
    *

      Decad is Greek for a group of 10
    *

      Duodecad is Greek for a group of  12 

 

SOPHIA’S FALL:  Disruption in the Pleroma

 

Sophia was the youngest Aeon from the conjunction of Anthropos and Ecclesia. She had an unresolved passion for communion with Aeon/Bythus, the perfect Father. Her passion was to search into the nature of the Father/Bythus because of her great love for him.

 

This passion, they say, consisted in a desire to search into the nature of the Father; for she wished, according to them, to comprehend his greatness. When she could not attain her end, inasmuch as she aimed at an impossibility, and thus became involved in an extreme agony of mind, while both on account of the vast profundity as well as the unsearchable nature of the Father, and on account of the love she bore him,[2]

 

However, she was restrained from comprehending the Father/Bythus by Horos. Horos was produced by the Father/Bythus through Nous/Monogenes without conjunction with Sige. He can do this.

 

4. The Father afterwards produces, in his own image, by means of Monogenes, the above-mentioned Horos, without conjunction, masculo-feminine. For they maintain that sometimes the Father acts in conjunction with Sige, but that at other times he shows himself independent both of male and female. They term this Horos both Stauros and Lytrotes, and Carpistes, and Horothetes, and Metagoges.[3]

 

Sophia in her passion “brought forth an amorphous substance, such as her female nature enabled her to produce.” The imperfect substance caused much grief and disruption in the Pleroma. A material substance originated from her ignorance, grief, fear and bewilderment.

 

They say that she, having engaged in an impossible and impracticable attempt, brought forth an amorphous substance, such as her female nature enabled her to produce. When she looked upon it, her first feeling was one of grief, on account of the imperfection of its generation, and then of fear lest this should end her own existence. Next she lost, as it were, all command of herself, and was in the greatest perplexity while endeavouring to discover the cause of all this, and in what way she might conceal what had happened. Being greatly harassed by these passions, she at last changed her mind, and endeavoured to return anew to the Father. When, however, she in some measure made the attempt, strength failed her, and she became a suppliant of the Father. The other Aeons, Nous in particular, presented their supplications along with her. And hence they declare material substance had its beginning from ignorance and grief, and fear and bewilderment.[4]

 

The Restoration of Sophia

 

Horos removed Sophia’s passion from her. The formless substance, called the enthymesis, was expelled from the Pleroma to an intermediate place of darkness and emptiness.

 

And by this Horos they declare that Sophia was purified and established, while she was also restored to her proper conjunction. For her enthymesis (or inborn idea) having been taken away from her, along with its supervening passion, she herself certainly remained within the Pleroma; but her enthymesis, with its passion, was separated from her by Horos, fenced off, and expelled from that circle. This enthymesis was, no doubt, a spiritual substance, possessing some of the natural tendencies of an Aeon, but at the same time shapeless and without form, because it had received nothing. And on this account they say that it was an imbecile and feminine production.

 

Nous/Monogenes produces Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 

Knowledge of the unbegotten Aeon/Bythus is the goal even of Aeons.

 

5. After this substance had been placed outside of the Pleroma of the Aeons, and its mother restored to her proper conjunction, they tell us that Monogenes, acting in accordance with the prudent forethought of the Father, gave origin to another conjugal pair, namely Christ and the Holy Spirit (lest any of the Aeons should fall into a calamity similar to that of Sophia), for the purpose of fortifying and strengthening the Pleroma, and who at the same time completed the number of the Aeons. Christ then instructed them as to the nature of their conjunction, and taught them that those who possessed a comprehension of the Unbegotten were sufficient for themselves.[5]

 

HOW JESUS WAS PRODUCED

 

All the Aeons collectively contributed to the creation of Jesus. The Jesus Aeon was the star of the Pleroma, Savior and Logos. To honor the Jesus Aeon multitudes of similar angelic beings were created. The Jesus Aeon is the head and first born of the angels. He is the same nature as angels.

 

Thus, then, they tell us that the Aeons were constituted equal to each other in form and sentiment, so that all became as Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos, and Christus. The female Aeons, too, became all as Aletheia, and Zoe, and Spiritus, and Ecclesia. Everything, then, being thus established, and brought into a state of perfect rest, they next tell us that these beings sang praises with great joy to the Propator, who himself shared in the abounding exaltation. Then, out of gratitude for the great benefit which had been conferred on them, the whole Pleroma of the Aeons, with one design and desire, and with the concurrence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, their Father also setting the seal of His approval on their conduct, brought together whatever each one had in himself of the greatest beauty and preciousness; and uniting all these contributions so as skillfully to blend the whole, they produced, to the honour and glory of Bythus, a being of most perfect beauty, the very star of the Pleroma, and the perfect fruit [of it], namely Jesus. Him they also speak of under the name of Saviour, and Christ, and patronymically, Logos, and Everything, because He was formed from the contributions of all. And then we are told that, by way of honour, angels of the same nature as Himself were simultaneously produced, to act as His body-guard. [6]

 

THE FORMATION OF ACHAMOTH

 

Sophia’s inborn idea or enthymesis was given the name Achamoth. Achamoth was excluded from the Pleroma and banished from light to an intermediate place of emptiness and darkness. She still had no form or figure.

 

Chapter IV.— Account Given by the Heretics of the Formation of Achamoth; Origin of the Visible World from Her Disturbances.

 

1. The following are the transactions which they narrate as having occurred outside of the Pleroma: The enthymesis of that Sophia who dwells above, which they also term Achamoth, being removed from the Pleroma, together with her passion, they relate to have, as a matter of course, become violently excited in those places of darkness and vacuity [to which she had been banished]. For she was excluded from light and the Pleroma, and was without form or figure, like an untimely birth, because she had received nothing [from a male parent].[7]

 

The Christ Aeon took pity on Achamoth and imparted to her a figure and intelligence. She became aware of her suffering apart from the Pleroma. She sought to find the light but again was prevented by Horos.

 

1. Wherefore also she is called by two names—Sophia after her father (for Sophia is spoken of as being her father), and Holy Spirit from that Spirit who is along with Christ. Having then obtained a form, along with intelligence, and being immediately deserted by that Logos who had been invisibly present with her—that is, by Christ—she strained herself to discover that light which had forsaken her, but could not effect her purpose, inasmuch as she was prevented by Horos.[8]

 

THE CREATION OF THE MATERIAL WORLD

 

Achamoth, the outcast enthymesis of Sophia, gave herself over to passion, grief, fear, perplexity and ignorance. As a product of her passion all material substance was formed. Every soul of this world and the Demiurge who was the creator of the world were produced by Achamoth. The intermediate habitation is a place of weeping, sorrow, loneliness, darkness, emptiness, terror and bewilderment.

 

2. This collection [of passions] they declare was the substance of the matter from which this world was formed. For from [her desire of] returning [to him who gave her life], every soul belonging to this world, and that of the Demiurge himself, derived its origin. All other things owed their beginning to her terror and sorrow. For from her tears all that is of a liquid nature was formed; from her smile all that is lucent; and from her grief and perplexity all the corporeal elements of the world. For at one time, as they affirm, she would weep and lament on account of being left alone in the midst of darkness and vacuity; while, at another time, reflecting on the light which had forsaken her, she would be filled with joy, and laughter; then, again, she would be struck with terror; or, at other times, would sink into consternation and bewilderment.[9]

 

When Achamoth returned to her senses, she pleaded to the Christ Aeon for light. The Christ Aeon sent the Jesus Aeon to her assistance.

 

5. They go on to state that, when the mother Achamoth had passed through all sorts of passion, and had with difficulty escaped from them, she turned herself to supplicate the light which had forsaken her, that is, Christ. He, however, having returned to the Pleroma, and being probably unwilling again to descend from it, sent forth to her the Paraclete, that is, the Saviour. This being was endowed with all power by the Father, who placed everything under his authority, the Aeons doing so likewise, so that “by him were all things, visible and invisible, created, thrones, divinities, dominions.”[10]

 

The Jesus Aeon gave her form, intelligence and healed her passions by separating them from her into a consolidated evil substance. The evil substance was placed apart from the good product of her conversion. Achamoth conceived additional beings through conjunction with the angels. The new beings were part Achamoth and part angel.

 

This being was endowed with all power by the Father, who placed everything under his authority, the Aeons doing so likewise, so that “by him were all things, visible and invisible, created, thrones, divinities, dominions.” He then was sent to her along with his contemporary angels. [11]

 

He then imparted to her form as respected intelligence, and brought healing to her passions, separating them from her, but not so as to drive them out of thought altogether. For it was not possible that they should be annihilated as in the former case, because they had already taken root and acquired strength [so as to possess an indestructible existence]. All that he could do was to separate them and set them apart, and then commingle and condense them, so as to transmute them from incorporeal passion into unorganized matter. He then by this process conferred upon them a fitness and a nature to become concretions and corporeal structures, in order that two substances should be formed,—the one evil, resulting from the passions, and the other subject indeed to suffering, but originating from her conversion. And on this account (i.e., on account of this hypostatizing of ideal matter) they say that the Saviour virtually created the world. But when Achamoth was freed from her passion, she gazed with rapture on the dazzling vision of the angels that were with him; and in her ecstasy, conceiving by them, they tell us that she brought forth new beings, partly after her own image, and partly a spiritual progeny after the image of the Saviour’s attendants.[12]

 

As a result of Achamoth’s productivity, three kinds of existences were created: matter, animal soul and spiritual. She also gave form to the Demiurge. The Demiurge gave birth to two substances:  animal soul and matter.

 

1. These three kinds of existence, then, having, according to them, been now formed,—one from the passion, which was matter; a second from the conversion, which was animal; and the third, that which she (Achamoth) herself brought forth, which was spiritual,—she next addressed herself to the task of giving these form. But she could not succeed in doing this as respected the spiritual existence, because it was of the same nature with herself. She therefore applied herself to give form to the animal substance which had proceeded from her own conversion, and to bring forth to light the instructions of the Saviour. And they say she first formed out of animal substance him who is Father and King of all things, both of these which are of the same nature with himself, that is, animal substances, which they also call right-handed, and those which sprang from the passion, and from matter, which they call left-handed. For they affirm that he formed all the things which came into existence after him, being secretly impelled thereto by his mother. From this circumstance they style him Metropator, Apator, Demiurge, and Father, saying that he is Father of the substances on the right hand, that is, of the animal, but Demiurge of those on the left, that is, of the material, while he is at the same time the king of all. For they say that this Enthymesis, desirous of making all things to the honour of the Aeons, formed images of them, or rather that the Saviour did so through her instrumentality. And she, in the image of the invisible Father, kept herself concealed from the Demiurge. But he was in the image of the only-begotten Son, and the angels and archangels created by him were in the image of the rest of the Aeons.[13]

 

The Demiurge is called the Father and God of everything outside the Pleroma. He is creator of all animal soul and material substances. He created seven heavens above which he dwells. The Demiurge is portrayed as ignorant of many things and able to grow in knowledge. He does not know that other spiritual beings exist. He believes he is the only God. The Demiurge is not given the knowledge of his mother, Achamoth. Achamoth continues to dwell in the intermediate place of darkness and imperfection outside the Pleroma yet above the heavens created by the Demiurge. He created the material world and the earthly part of man giving man his animal soul nature. However, Achamoth, secretly placed in the Demiurge without his knowledge, the spiritual product of her visitation of Jesus and the angels. As a result of this secret spiritual imputation by Achamoth some humans are created with a divine spiritual spark.

 

6. But they further affirm that the Demiurge himself was ignorant of that offspring of his mother Achamoth, which she brought forth as a consequence of her contemplation of those angels who waited on the Saviour, and which was, like herself, of a spiritual nature. She took advantage of this ignorance to deposit it (her production) in him without his knowledge, in order that, being by his instrumentality infused into that animal soul proceeding from himself, and being thus carried as in a womb in this material body, while it gradually increased in strength, might in course of time become fitted for the reception of perfect rationality. Thus it came to pass, then, according to them, that, without any knowledge on the part of the Demiurge, the man formed by his inspiration was at the same time, through an unspeakable providence, rendered a spiritual man by the simultaneous inspiration received from Sophia. For, as he was ignorant of his mother, so neither did he recognise her offspring. This [offspring] they also declare to be the Ecclesia, an emblem of the Ecclesia which is above. This, then, is the kind of man whom they conceive of: he has his animal soul from the Demiurge, his body from the earth, his fleshy part from matter, and his spiritual man from the mother Achamoth.[14]

 

In the Gnostic system there are three substances:

 

1.         Material, which will perish

 

2.         Animal soul existence, which passes to the side of its inclination either good or evil.

 

3.         Spiritual, united with the animal soul will be irresistibly saved.

 

The Gnostics deduce that there are three kinds of men, spiritual, material and animal. There are three possible destinies for the various types of people.  The spiritual elect will populate the intermediate habitation until their number is fulfilled and they are irresistibly perfected. The spiritual men will eventually pass with the Mother Achamoth into the Pleroma and be bestowed as brides to the angels. The material people will go into corruption. The animal people will move into the intermediate place with the Demiurge if through faith and discipline they make good choices. The animal people who neglect the life of discipline will be destroyed.

 

4.When all the seed shall have come to perfection, they state that then their mother Achamoth shall pass from the intermediate place, and enter in within the Pleroma, and shall receive as her spouse the Saviour, who sprang from all the Aeons, that thus a conjunction may be formed between the Saviour and Sophia, that is, Achamoth. These, then, are the bridegroom and bride, while the nuptial chamber is the full extent of the Pleroma. The spiritual seed, again, being divested of their animal souls, and becoming intelligent spirits, shall in an irresistible and invisible manner enter in within the Pleroma, and be bestowed as brides on those angels who wait upon the Saviour. The Demiurge himself will pass into the place of his mother Sophia; that is, the intermediate habitation. In this intermediate place, also, shall the souls of the righteous repose; but nothing of an animal nature shall find admittance to the Pleroma. When these things have taken place as described, then shall that fire which lies hidden in the world blaze forth and bum; and while destroying all matter, shall also be extinguished along with it, and have no further existence. They affirm that the Demiurge was acquainted with none of these things before the advent of the Saviour.[15]

 

5. They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal, represented by Cain, Abel, and Seth. These three natures are no longer found in one person, but constitute various kinds [of men]. The material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption. The animal, if it makes choice of the better part, finds repose in the intermediate place; but if the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. But they assert that the spiritual principles which have been sown by Achamoth, being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls (because when given forth by her they were yet but weak), at last attaining to perfection, shall be given as brides to the angels of the Saviour, while their animal souls of necessity rest for ever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the [spiritual] seed; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed.[16]

 
GNOSTIC SOTERIOLOGY

 

The incarnation of the Savior Christ Aeon is only human in appearance. Since matter is inherently evil and not capable of salvation, the Christ Aeon did not assume anything material.

For they affirm that He received the first-fruits of those whom He was to save [as follows], from Achamoth that which was spiritual, while He was invested by the Demiurge with the animal Christ, but was begirt by a [special] dispensation with a body endowed with an animal nature, yet constructed with unspeakable skill, so that it might be visible and tangible, and capable of enduring suffering. At the same time, they deny that He assumed anything material [into His nature], since indeed matter is incapable of salvation. They further hold that the consummation of all things will take place when all that is spiritual has been formed and perfected by Gnosis (knowledge); and by this they mean spiritual men who have attained to the perfect knowledge of God, and been initiated into these mysteries by Achamoth. And they represent themselves to be these persons.[17]

 

Animal men cannot attain unto perfect knowledge. Therefore, animal men must perform good works in order to enter the repose of the intermediate habitation. The spiritual men will be saved irresistibly because they are possessed with an incorruptible spiritual nature.

 

2. Animal men, again, are instructed in animal things; such men, namely, as are established by their works, and by a mere faith, while they have not perfect knowledge. We of the Church, they say, are these persons. Wherefore also they maintain that good works are necessary to us, for that otherwise it is impossible we should be saved. But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature. For, just as it is impossible that material substance should partake of salvation (since, indeed, they maintain that it is incapable of receiving it), so again it is impossible that spiritual substance (by which they mean themselves) should ever come under the power of corruption, whatever the sort of actions in which they indulged. For even as gold, when submersed in filth, loses not on that account its beauty, but retains its own native qualities, the filth having no power to injure the gold, so they affirm that they cannot in any measure suffer hurt, or lose their spiritual substance, whatever the material actions in which they may be involved.

 

3. Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the “most perfect” among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that “they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”[18]

 

The Gnostic elect will be irresistibly saved. No amount of sin can tarnish the spiritual seed. They exalt themselves as the elect. Grace is their personal possession which cannot be taken away by sin. Grace has come to them from above by an indescribable mystery.  Salvation of the elect does not depend on personal choice or conduct.  The spiritual seed sent forth from the Pleroma is sufficient to bring the elect to perfection.

 

5. And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the elect seed. For they declare that we simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them. They maintain, therefore, that in every way it is always necessary for them to practise the mystery of conjunction. And that they may persuade the thoughtless to believe this, they are in the habit of using these very words, “Whosoever being in this world does not so love a woman as to obtain possession of her, is not of the truth, nor shall attain to the truth. But whosoever being of this world has intercourse with woman, shall not attain to the truth, because he has so acted under the power of concupiscence.” On this account, they tell us that it is necessary for us whom they call animal men, and describe as being of the world, to practise continence and good works, that by this means we may attain at length to the intermediate habitation, but that to them who are called “the spiritual and perfect” such a course of conduct is not at all necessary. For it is not conduct of any kind which leads into the Pleroma, but the seed sent forth thence in a feeble, immature state, and here brought to perfection.

 

Concerning the Gnostics Henry Chadwick wrote, “The influence of fatalistic ideas drawn from popular astrology and magic became fused with notions derived from Pauline language about predestination to produce a rigidly deterministic scheme. Redemption was from destiny, not from the consequences of responsible action, and was granted to a pre-determined elect in whom alone was the divine spark” (Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. New York, NY: Dorset Press, 1986 38).
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3.15.2

 

Gnostics know they are elect because they accept the teaching of the Gnostic leaders. Those who refuse their views, such as Irenaeus, are considered animal souls. There are two camps within Gnosticism: those who pretend to strive for goodness and those already perfected who need not good conduct.

 

2. For this is the subterfuge of false persons, evil seducers, and hypocrites, as they act who are from Valentinus. These men discourse to the multitude about those who belong to the Church, whom they do themselves term “vulgar,” and “ecclesiastic.” By these words they entrap the more simple, and entice them, imitating our phraseology, that these [dupes] may listen to them the oftener; and then these are asked regarding us, how it is, that when they hold doctrines similar to ours, we, without cause, keep ourselves aloof from their company; and [how it is, that] when they say the same things, and hold the same doctrine, we call them heretics? When they have thus, by means of questions, overthrown the faith of any, and rendered them uncontradicting hearers of their own, they describe to them in private the unspeakable mystery of their Pleroma. But they are altogether deceived, who imagine that they may learn from the Scriptural texts adduced by heretics, that [doctrine] which their words plausibly teach. For error is plausible, and bears a resemblance to the truth, but requires to be disguised; while truth is without disguise, and therefore has been entrusted to children. And if any one of their auditors do indeed demand explanations, or start objections to them, they affirm that he is one not capable of receiving the truth, and not having from above the seed [derived] from their Mother; and thus really give him no reply, but simply declare that he is of the intermediate regions, that is, belongs to animal natures. But if any one do yield himself up to them like a little sheep, and follows out their practice, and their “redemption,” such an one is puffed up to such an extent, that he thinks he is neither in heaven nor on earth, but that he has passed within the Pleroma; and having already embraced his angel, he walks with a strutting gait and a supercilious countenance, possessing all the pompous air of a cock. There are those among them who assert that that man who comes from above ought to follow a good course of conduct; wherefore they do also pretend a gravity [of demeanor] with a certain superciliousness. The majority, however, having become scoffers also, as if already perfect, and living without regard [to appearances], yea, in contempt [of that which is good], call themselves “the spiritual,” and allege that they have already become acquainted with that place of refreshing which is within their Pleroma.[19]

 

Gnosticism, derived from the Greek, gnostikos, which means one who has gnosis or secret knowledge.

Select humans share the divine substance.  Revelation of one’s elect status is through the mystery of intuition.  The divine spirit in man is awakened by the Aeon/Savior, Jesus in Christianized Gnosticism.

[1] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 311(Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[2] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 312 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[3] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 313 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[4] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 313 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[5] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 316 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[6] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 316(Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[7] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 316 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[8] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[9] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.
[10] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[11]R oberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[12] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[13] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[14] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[15] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[16] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[17] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[18]Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, Book 1. 4.1 320 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[19] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, Book 1.4.2 321 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[20] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[21] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[22] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[23] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[24] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[25] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[26] Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.7.1,5. Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[27] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[28] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

[29] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.