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Gnostics And Orphics

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Chapter Summary

The affinity between Orphism and Gnosticism is an old conundrum of the history of religions. It has often been felt that the ideas and general mindset of the Gnostics were foreshadowed by Orphism. Contributing to this feeling have been such Orphic ideas as that of the body being a prison of the soul and Orphic myth which explains how humankind is partly divine. This chapter mainly asks questions, some of which may perhaps lead in the direction of a renewed consideration of relationship between the two enigmatic movements in the history of ancient religions. The first question is whether there are any explicit references to Orphism in Gnostic sources. The answer is that there are none. Only Hippolytus claims, after having described the doctrines of 'Sethians', that 'the whole content of their teaching comes from the ancient theologians, Musaeus, Linus, and Orpheus, who especially made known the rites and mysteries'.

Keywords: enigmatic movements; Gnosticism; Hippolytus; Musaeus; Orphism; Sethians



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