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§ 132. Justin the Gnostic.

Hippolytus: Philos. V. 23–27 (p. 214–233), and X. 15 (p. 516–519).

Hippolytus makes us acquainted with a Gnostic by the name of Justin, of uncertain date and origin.912912    Lipsius regards him as one of the earliest, Salmon (in "Smith & Wace," III. 587), with greater probability, as one of the latest Gnostics. The silence of Irenaeus favors the later date.12 He propagated his doctrine secretly, and bound his disciples to silence by solemn oaths. He wrote a number of books, one called Baruch, from which Hippolytus gives an abstract. His gnosis is mostly based upon a mystical interpretation of Genesis, and has a somewhat Judaizing cast. Hippolytus, indeed, classes him with the Naassenes, but Justin took an opposite view of the serpent as the cause of all evil in history. He made use also of the Greek mythology, especially the tradition of the twelve labors of Hercules. He assumes three original principles, two male and one female. The first is the Good Being; the second Elohim, the Father of the creation; the third is called Eden and Israel, and has a double form, a woman above the middle and a snake below. Elohim falls in love with Eden, and from their intercourse springs the spirit-world of twenty angels, ten paternal and ten maternal, and these people the world. The chief of the two series of angels are Baruch, who is the author of all good, and is represented by the tree of life in Paradise, and Naas, the serpent, who is the author of all evil, and is represented by the tree of knowledge. The four rivers are symbols of the four divisions of angels. The Naas committed adultery with Eve, and a worse crime with Adam; he adulterated the laws of Moses and the oracles of the prophets; he nailed Jesus to the cross. But by this crucifixion Jesus was emancipated from his material body, rose to the good God to whom he committed his spirit in death, and thus he came to be the deliverer.

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