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§ 134. Other Gnostic Sects.


The ancient fathers, especially Hippolytus and Epiphanius, mention several other Gnostic sects under various designations.

1. The Docetae or Docetists taught that the body of Christ was not real flesh and blood, but merely a deceptive, transient phantom, and consequently that he did not really suffer and die and rise again. Hippolytus gives an account of the system of this sect. But the name applied as well to most Gnostics, especially to Basilides, Saturninus, Valentinus, Marcion, and the Manichaeans. Docetism was a characteristic feature of the first antichristian errorists whom St. John had in view (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).916916    For a fuller account see two good articles of Dr. Salmon on Docetae and Docetism, in "Smith & Wace," I. 865-870.16

2. The name Antitactae or Antitactes, denotes the licentious antinomian Gnostics, rather than the followers of any single master, to whom the term can be traced.917917    See Clement of Alex., Strom. III. 526. From ἀντιτάσσεσθαι, to defy, rebel against, the law.17

3. The Prodicians, so named from their supposed founder, Prodicus, considered themselves the royal family,918918    Εὐγενεῖς.18and, in crazy self-conceit, thought themselves above the law, the sabbath, and every form of worship, even above prayer itself, which was becoming only to the ignorant mass. They resembled the Nicolaitans and Antitactae, and were also called Adamites, Barbelitae, Borboriani, Coddiani, Phibionitae, and by other unintelligible names.919919    See Clem. Alex., Strom. I. f. 304; III. f. 438; VII. f. 722; and Epiphan., Haer. 26 (Oehler’s ed. I. 169 sqq.).19

Almost every form of immorality and lawlessness seems to have been practiced under the sanction of religion by the baser schools of Gnosticism, and the worst errors and organized vices of modern times were anticipated by them. Hence we need not be surprised at the uncompromising opposition of the ancient fathers to this radical corruption and perversion of Christianity.



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