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Coptic gnostic writings

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Chapter Summary

The term "Coptic Gnostic writings" is a modern term invented by modern scholars to indicate arbitrarily all sorts of currents of Late Antiquity which stressed Gnosis, an intuitive knowledge of revealed mysteries. It ought, however, to be limited to writings of the group which called themselves Gnostics and to products of thinkers like Basilides, Valentinus, and Marcion, who were familiar with the concepts of the "Gnostics" and christianized them. Original works rightly attributed to Gnosticism are all in Coptic, with the exception of the second-century Greek Letter to Flora, by a certain Ptolemaeus, preserved in the Panarion of Epiphanius. The oldest of the Coptic texts are the Codex Askewianus and the Codex Brucianus. Gnosticism seems to have much in common with Neoplatonism and Catholicism: it preaches an Unknown and Unknowable God, rejects the world and aims at salvation.

Keywords: Basilides; Codex Askewianus; Codex Brucianus; coptic gnostic writings; Marcion; Valentinus



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