The Early Church Gnosticism
The Early Church

A highly variegated religious movement holding that spirit is imprisoned in matter and can be liberated through the application of secret teachings.

Some Gnostics taught that the souls were heavenly light fragments that became imprisoned in matter

A syncretistic congeries of myths, beliefs, and practices, Gnosticism was shaped by streams of thought from Egyptian, Syrian, Babylonian, Jewish, Neo-platonic, and Christian sources. Gnosticism in turn influenced aspects of orthodox Christian thought during the early centuries of the Christian era, although early Christians generally regarded the movement as a whole as antagonistic to Christianity. Basic to most gnosticism was the conviction that the spirit of life is imprisoned in evil matter and that an escape from matter can only be accomplished with the help of secret teachings mediated by a teacher standing in the succession of those who possess this secret knowledge or gnosis. Some gnostics believed that a divine deliverer would come to provide beings enslaved to matter with this knowledge and thus guide them back to the kingdom of light. Valentinus of Rome (second century) and Basilides of Alexandria (second century) were among the theologians most strongly influenced by gnosticism. Followers of both formed sects that claimed to be Christian.

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