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Ophites

(159 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens
[German Version] The Ophites, a Gnostic Christian sect, are first mentioned in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (VII 17.108[2]). The name probably derives from their worship of the serpent in paradise, which conveys salutary knowledge of the transcendent God. Origen ( Cels. VI 24–38) attributes to the group the diagram cited by Celsus, but doubts that Ophites still exist (Hippolytus ignores the sect in Haer. VIII 20.3). Their spiritual father is said to have been Euphrates (called Perat in Hipp. Haer. V 13.9); they would curse Jesus. According to Theodoret, who equates the…

Theodotus the Gnostic

(152 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens
[German Version] Valentinian. The works of Clement of Alexandria include “Excerpts [ Epitomai] from Theodotus and the teachings of the so-called eastern school in the time of Valentinian”; it is hard to determine which sections are ascribed to Theodotus himself. Alongside the sections containing Clement’s own position, other material is generally ascribed to the Valentinians (Valentinianism). A parallel version of the Valentinian myth recorded by Irenaeus of Lyon ( Haer. I 1–8) does not mention its source (Clement Excerpta Theodoti 43.2–65). The passages ascribed to Theodo…

Menander

(147 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens
[German Version] Menander, a Gnostic from Samaria (Kapparetaia); taught in Syrian Antioch around the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries ce. Justin ( 1 Apol. 26, 4) describes him as a pupil of Simon Magus and a magician. According to Irenaeus ( Haer. I 23.5), Menander swore that he could use his power over the angels who created the world. He himself claimed to be the savior ( salvator) sent by the primal power; anyone taking his name at baptism would obtain immortality. His pupils, according to Irenaeus, were Saturninus and Basilides. This information must, howeve…

Valentinus and Valentinians

(10,908 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens
1. Sources and their Problems The Valentinian school represents the most important heretical Christian current of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, whose traces are still evident as late as the 7th and 8th centuries. The name “Valentinians” is first found in Justin ( Dialogus cum Tryphone, 35, 6) and Hegesippus (in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, IV, 22, 5), and also in the form ‘those who stem from Valentinus’ (frequent in Origen), while Irenaeus, → Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and others speak of “Valentinus's school”. The group was distribut…

Hermeticism/Hermetism

(2,928 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Holzhausen, Jens | Lory, Pierre | Blum, Paul Richard | Colpe, Carsten
[German Version] I. Literature – II. History of Influence I. Literature The literature that has come down to us under the name of the Greek-Egyptian god Hermes (Hermes Trismegistus) is not a unity, neither literarily nor in terms of content. Its beginnings reach back into the 3rd century bce to Egypt (III, 2), and its influence extends beyond the Arabic-Islamic and Christian-European Middle Ages into the 18th century (see II below). This literature has been divided into “popular” or “occult” and “scholarly” or “philosophical” writings. The …