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Basilides’ ‘Barbarian Cosmogony’: Its Nature And Function Within The Acta Archelai

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the introduction to a long fragment from the Alexandrian theologian Basilides in Acta Archelai (AA) 67.4-6 to try to assess how much the author of the AA knew about Basilides' life, works and theological interests. Basilides' account of this barbarian cosmogony is translated and its relation to the AA's broader anti-Manichaean polemic is briefly indicated, showing why the fragment was included within the text of the AA. The barbarian cosmogony described in the fragment is analyzed and its authenticity and origin are discussed. Some important parallels to the Middle Platonic tradition (particularly Plutarch's treatise De Iside et Osiride) are noted, establishing a focus for future research on the fragment.

Keywords: Acta Archelai (AA); anti-Manichaean polemic; barbarian cosmogony; Basilides; Plutarch



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