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Valentinus and the gnostikoi

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Chapter Summary

One of the few data in the study of Gnosticism that always seemed rather certain was the hypothesis that the &t;mythological Gnosis&t; as represented by the sect of the Gnostikoi of Irenaeus 1.29, the Apocryphon of John and so many other writings found near Nag Hammadi, preceded the more &t;philosophical Gnosis&t; of Valentinus and his pupils. Bentley Layton discusses critically the evidence which seems to point out that Valentinus knew the myth of the Gnostikoi. He has, however, ignored one passage which seems relevant to this problem. Irenaeus quite often mentions the Gnostikoi, mostly together with the Valentinians: according to him they are a separate sect. The chapter quotes passages which prove without any shadow of doubt that the original doctrine of Valentinus is rooted in a preceding mythological Gnosis which he hellenised and christianised. If he was not a Gnostic, he certainly was a gnostic.

Keywords: Bentley Layton; Gnostikoi; Valentinus



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