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§ 115. Gnosticism. The Literature.


1. Gnostic (of the Valentinian school in the wider sense): Pistis Sopitia; Opus gnosticum e codice Coptico descriptum lat. vertit M. G Schwartze, ed. J. H. Petermann. Berl. 1851. Of the middle of the third century. An account of the fall and repentance of Sophia and the mystery of redemption. Comp. the article of Köstlin in the "Tüb. Theol. Jahrbücher," 1854.—The Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, and Apocalypses are to a large extent of Gnostic origin, e.g. the Acts of St. Thomas (a favorite apostle of the Gnostics), John, Peter, Paul, Philip, Matthew, Andrew, Paul and Thecla. Some of them have been worked over by Catholic authors, and furnished much material to the legendary lore of the church. They and the stories of monks were the religious novels of the early church. See the collections of the apocryphal literature of the N. T. by Fabricius, Thilo, Tischendorf, Max Bonnet, D. William Wright, G. Phillips, S. C. Malan, Zahn, and especially Lipsius: Die Apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostelligenden (Braunschweig, 1883, 2 vols.) Comp. the Lit. quoted in vol. I. 90 sq.; 188 sq., and in Lipsius, I. 34 sqq.

II. Patristic(with many extracts from lost Gnostic writings): Irenaeus: Adv. Hareses. The principal source, especially for the Valentinian Gnosticism. Hippolytus: Refutat. Omnium Haeresium (Philosophumena), ed. Duncker and Schneidewin. Gott. 1859. Based partly on Irenaeus, partly on independent reading of Gnostic works. Tertullian: De praeescriptionibus Haereticorum; Adv. Valentin; Scorpiace; Adv. Marcionem. The last is the chief authority for Marcionism. Clemens Alex.: Stromata. Scattered notices of great value. Origenes: Com. in Evang. Joh. Furnishes much important information and extracts from Heracleon. Epiphanius: Πανάριον. Full of information, but uncritical and fanatically orthodox. Eusebius: Hist. Eccl. Theodoret: Fabulae Haer.

See Fr. Oehler’s Corpus Haereseologicum (a collection of the ancient anti-heretical works of Epiphanius, Philastrus, Augustin, etc.). Berol. 1856–1861, 5 vols.

III. Neo-Platonist: Plotinus: Πρὸς τοὺς γνωστικούς (or Ennead. II. 9).

IV. Critical: R. A. Lipsius: Zur Quellen-Kritik des Epiphanios. Wien 1865. Die Quellen der äItesten Ketzergeschichte. Leipz. 1875 (258 pp.)

Ad. Harnack: Zur Quellen-Kritik der Geschichte des Gnosticismus. Leipz. 1873. Comp. his article in Brieger’s "Zeitschrift für K. Gesell." for 1876, I. Also Hilgenfeld: Ketzergesch. p. 1–83.


Massuet (R.C.): Dissert. de Gnosticorum rebus, prefixed to his edition of Irenaeus; also in Stieren’s edition of Iren. vol. II. pp. 54–180.

Mosheim: Comment. de rebus ante Const. M. pp. 333 sqq.

Neander: Genet. Entwicktlung der gnost. Systeme. Berl. 1818. Comp. the more mature exposition in his Ch. Hist. He first opened a calm philosophical treatment of Gnosticism.

Jaques Matter.: Histoire critique du Gnosticisme et de son influence sur les sectes religieuses el philosophiques des six premiers siècles Par. 1828; second ed. much enlarged. Strasb. and Par. 1844, in 3 vols.

Burton: Bampton Lectures on the Heresies of the Apost. Age. Oxf. 1830,

Möhler (R.C.): Der Ursprung des Gnosticismus. Tüb. 1831 (in his "Vermischte Schriften." I. pp. 403 sqq.)

Baur: Die christliche Gnosis in ihrer geschichtl. Entwicklung. Tüb. 1835. A masterly philosophical analysis, which includes also the systems of Jacob Böhme, Schelling, Schleiermacher, and Hegel. Comp. his Kirchengesch. vol. I. 175–234.

Norton: History of the Gnostics. Boston, 1845.

H. Rossel: Gesch. der Untersuch. ueber den Gnostic.; in his "Theol. Nachlass." published by Neander. Berl. 1847, vol. 2nd, p. 179 sqq.

Thiersch: Kritik der N. Tlichen Schriften. Erl. 1845 (chap. 5, pp. 231 sqq. and 268 sqq.)

R. A. Lipsius: Der Gnosticismus, sein Wesen, Ursprung und Entwicklungsgang. Leipz. 1860 (from Ersch and Gruber’s "Allgem. Encycl." 1. Sect. vol. 71). Comp. his critical work on the sources of Gn. quoted above.

E. Wilh. Möller: Geschirhte des, Kosmologie in der griechischen Kirche bis auf Origenes. Mit specialuntersuchungen ueber die gnostischen Systeme. Halle, 1860 (pp. 189–473).

C. W. King: The Gnostics and their Remains (with illustrations of Gnostic symbols and works of art). Lond., 1864.

Henry L. Mansel (Dean of St. Paul’s, d. 1871): The Gnostic Heresies, ed. by J. B. Lightfoot. London, 1875.

J. B. Lightfoot: The Colossian Heresy, Excursus in his Com. on Colossians and Philemon. London, 187, 5, pp. 73–113. This is the best account of Gnosticism, written by an Englishman, but confined to the apostolic ige.

Renan: L’ église chrétienne (Paris, 1879), Chap. IX. and X. p. 140–185, and XVIII. p. 350–363.

J. L. Jacobi: Gnosis, in the new ed. of Herzog, vol. V. (1879), 204–247, condensed in Schaff’s "Rel. Encycl." 1882, vol. I. 877 sqq.

G. Salmon, in Smith and Wace, II. 678–687.

G. Koffmane: Die Gnosis nach ihrer Tendenz und Organisation. Breslau, 1881. (Theses, 33 pages).

Ad. Hilgenfeld:Die Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums. Liepzig, 1884 (162 sqq.).

A number of monographs on the individual Gnostics, see below.

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