Gnosticism refers to religions that were diverse and syncretistic and believed that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world. This material world created by an imperfect God (demiurge) which is identified with the Abrahamic God rather than the Godhead.

This religion was dualisitic influenced by Hellenic philosophy, Judaism and Christianity.

The faith was considered by some scholars as a heretical branch of Christianity. Alternate theories have proposed traces of this religion existed some centuries before the Christian Era. Sects may have existed earlier than the First Century BC, thus predating the birth of Jesus.

The ideas became influential in the philosophies of various esoteric mystical movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and North America, including some that explicitly identify themselves as revivals or even continuations of earlier groups.

Beliefs were:

The notion of a remote, supreme monadic divinity, source - this figure is known under a variety of names, including Pleroma, Bythos and Abyss.

The introduction by emanation of further divine beings, which are nevertheless identifiable as aspects of the God from which they proceeded; the progressive emanations are often conceived metaphorically as a gradual and progressive distancing from the ultimate source, which brings about an instability in the fabric of the divine nature.

The subsequent identification of the Fall of Man as an occurrence with its ultimate foundations within divinity itself. As mysticism, the modern word for the category of the study of mystic knowledge or gnosis, teaches the fall of man, and the material world are an illusion. Salvation is a radical essentialism and not based on personal choice, action or behavior but rather destiny or fate.

Due to this, salvation does not occur either entirely or partially through any human behavior or agency; this stage in the divine emanation is usually enacted through the recurrent Gnostic figure of Sophia (Greek, "wisdom"), whose presence in a wide variety of Gnostic texts is indicative of her central importance.

The introduction of a distinct creator God or demiurge. Which is an illusion and as a later emanation from the single monad or source, this second God is a lesser and inferior or false God.

Return from Gnosticism to Homepage