our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a


The Tree of Gnosis

by Ioan Couliano

note: for more on Couliano (Culianu) : see Dorin David, Conceptualizing Culianu's Model
Also the discussion here.
It strikes me -- modeling by way of opposites: perhaps projection (and substance) of our dual nature – a product / circumstance of our mind / brain : see The Master and his Emissary, (which also speaks to Couliano's model re shifts of power in religion.


The Ignorant Demiurge

11. Epitome of the Demiurge Myth

Analyzing the same gnostic commentaries on Genesis that we have focused on so far (HA, SST, AJ, EvEg, Irenaeus’s Ophites), Nils A. Dahl concluded that it would be possible to reconstruct the “archetype” of the Demiurge myth. Such an archetype would consist of ten sequences: the appearance of the Demiurge; his description; his boastfulness; commentary on his boastfulness; rebuttal from the Voice on High; explanation of the rebuttal; provocation launched by the Demiurge to his Mother to reveal what is above; appearance of the image or Light; proposal to create humanity; fabrication of humanity.212 The order of these episodes does not exactly follow that of the Book of Genesis. Bernard Barc thinks that the intention of the authors of HA was to reconstruct a “true Genesis,” as opposed to the “false” one included in the Old Testament.213 Both scholars go in search of an “original text,” and Bernard Barc goes so far as to think that such an archetype must have existed; more cautious, Dahl considers it a simple heuristic fiction.

Their research is particularly important because it has shown that the sequences of gnostic myth are transformations of another myth, that is, the myth of creation according to the Book of Genesis. Indeed, the gnostics wish to establish a revised Genisis, one in which the Archons create man (Gen. 1:26; 2:7), install him in Paradise (2:8), forbid him to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (2:18) , create woman (2:21-23); and then, because the Snake intervenes (3:1-5) and the interdiction is ignored (3:6), the Demiurge chases the human couple away from Paradise (3:23), and so on.

12. The Principle of “Inverse Exegesis”

If the starting point of gnostic myth is the exegesis of the Book of Genesis, it is not an innocent exegesis. On the contrary, this exegesis reverses, constantly and systematically, the received and accepted interpretations of the Bible. “Inverse exegesis” may be singled out as the main hermeneutical principle of the gnostics.

It appears to us as reversed. In reality, gnostics would see it as "restored.” They proceed toward this operation of restoration from a single rule that produces an illimitable number of solutions: The god of Genesis is not the supreme God of the Platonic tradition. This conclusion was revolutionary yet perhaps not surprising; Middle Platonists like Numenius had occasionally contemplated a similar distinction between God and Demiurge.214 Philo had exorcised such radical interpretation in his doctrine of the Logos, yet at the same time he had opened the door to it by calling the Logos Second God. A short presentation of Philo’s Logos-Sophia theology is indispensable at this point.

13. Second God, Second Goddess

Philo of Alexandria (ca. 20 B.C.E.—40 C.E.), with Plutarch of Chaeronea one of the two major Platonic thinkers between Plato and Plotinus, explored Jewish texts and traditions in a new way. Despite the fact that he, like the Middle Platonists, did not use the word hypostasis in his work, Philo took a further step in elaborating on Platonic hypostases. Being an Alexandrian Jew, and well acquainted with the Greek Septuagint (there are doubts over his knowledge of Hebrew), Philo had to reconcile Plato with the Pentateuch, the Timaeus with the Book of Genesis. Obviously the first problem was that Plato’s demiurge-god, who creates the world with a subservient eye on the world of eternal and immovable Ideas, could hardly match the description of the biblical God, primordial and sovereign, who creates everything ex nihilo. Philo had his God create the Ideas, instead of being brought about by them. Consequently the qualification of ontos on (that which really is), which Plato215 bestows on the Ideas, is used by Philo to characterize God.216 God is Being (on), Intellect (nous), Father (pater), Planter (phytourgos), Parent (gennetes), Cause (aitios), Spring (pege), Light (phophos), Lightgiver (phosphoros), Intelligible Sun, Lord of the Powers (kyrios ton dyname on), King of Glory, among others. When God wished to create the world, he first created the kosmos noetos, or “Intelligible World.” This expression, first coined by Philo himself, designates the Platonic world of imperishable, incorporeal, and paradigmatic Ideas, according to which the world itself was created and hence older (presbyteros) than the world, which is in turn younger (neoteros) than it. As H. A. Wolfson notes, the world is thought (noeton) by God, it is the product of his thinking (noesis), which is possible only for someone who possesses a nous, or intellect, to think. Philo calls the Intellect of God Logos, in accordance with Plato217 and in reference to the Septuagint, which speaks of Logos the Word (ha-dabar) of God. However, Philo is not consistent in this terminology and would end up calling Logos the Intelligible World--that is, the ideal prototype of the world, which was created outside God’s own Mind.

The Philonic Logos is a full-blown hypostasis, called the eldest of all things, older than all created things, Firstborn Son of God, Man of God, Image of God, Second God, Second to God. Philo also notices that those who have an imperfect knowledge of the real God would call the Logos God.218 The differences between God and Logos are those between eternal, ungenerated, and incorruptible on the one hand, and simply “‘death-less” (athanatos), generated, and incorruptible on the other. God is Creator of the Logos, Logos is the Mind that thinks the Intelligible World, and Ideas are parts of the whole called the Intelligible World. God is most generic (genikon) absolutely, he is the genus of everything; Logos is most generic (genikon) of all created things, and Ideas are simply generic, in so far as they are the genera of everything: one idea includes innumerable actualizations.

The term Logos is also used by Philo to mean Wisdom (Sophia), in this case the Old Testament Hokmah. But, as usual, he is inconsistent with this terminology as well, and in a few places he distinguishes between Logos and Sophia.

Logos is also called “instrument,” which reflects the use of Aristotelian terminology.219 In Aristotle’s Metaphysics (V:2), the organa are the two intermediate causes (that is, formal and material) between efficient and final. The material cause is the “instrument” of the final cause, and the formal cause is the “instrument” of the efficient cause.

The plural logoi is used by Philo to designate the individual Platonic Ideas, also called ideai, archetypoi ideai, typoi, metra, sphragides, logoi spermatikoi, spermata kai rhizai dynameis, asomatoi dynameis, doryphorci dynameis, angeloi, charites. All of these are sometimes identified with one another and at other times are kept apart. Even if Ideas are innumerable, in one case they are said to be subsumed under six Powers,220 corresponding to the six Cities of refuge: 1. theios logos; 2. he poietike dynamis; 3. he basilike; 4. he hileos; 5. he nomothetike; 6. ho kosmos noetos. Powers 2 and 4 are said to depend on God’s chief attribute of Goodness; Powers 3 and 5 depend on the chief attribute of Justice. These two attributes are equally hypostatized. Whereas God himself is called ho theos, Goodness receives the name of theos, as well as he poietike, agathotes, charistike, euergetis. Justice in turn is called Lord (kyrios), he basilike, arche, exousia, he nomothetike; he kolastike. Goodness and Justice are the two archangels of God, identified with the two cherubim who keep the gates of Paradise221 and with the two angels who entered Sodom. Being God’s attributes, the two Powers do not exist aside from him.222

It has often been noticed that Philo indiscriminately uses the words Logos and Sophia in the same contexts. C. Bigg recommended taking Philo’s own allegorical explanation for this (in De Profugis, 9). In Gen. 24:15, the father of Rebecca is said to be Bethu’el, whose name means “Daughter of God.” Philo interprets this as meaning Sophia (Hokmah), who can be further split into a feminine and a masculine hypostasis: In relation to God, she (Sophia) is feminine, in relation to us, he (Logos) is masculine. Hence it is possible to say that Sophia, God’s Daughter, is a man and a father.

Philo’s influence on early Christian Logos theories was overwhelming.223 Did he influence gnostic mythology as well?

From our perspective, the question as formulated is not relevant. What should be emphasized is that Philonic exegesis is a transformation of the myth of Genesis according to a set of rules deriving from Platonism. Obviously these rules are not the only possible ones, nor is Philonic exegesis the only possible exegesis of the Tanakh, according to the same or to other rules that can be defined as Platonic.
Gnostic exegesis of Genesis admits a definition strikingly similar to Philonic exegesis: It is an interpretation of a Jewish text according to a set of rules derived from Platonism. Yet we may add: If all rules may indeed derive from Platonism, not all of them would be subscribed to by Platonists. This distinction is fundamental.

We already noticed that Philonic biblical exegesis showed occasionally more concern with Judaism than with Platonism. Philo’s biblical God is identified with the world of Ideas, not with the (lower) Platonic demiurge. What would occur if an interpreter instead identified the Creator God of Genesis with the Platonic demiurge? A transformation of Philo would ensue, in which the Philonic Logos would become the God of the Tanakh. The immediate consequence of such a simple operation would be a God superior to the Old Testament god.

A Platonist who moved along this transformative line would stumble upon a problem that Philo scarcely had to face: the repeated declarations of the Tanakh God that he is the only God. This would be quite justifiable in a setting in which other gods made similar claims, but it would certainly be more than suspicious in a situation in which the god who brags about being supreme is known not to be.

An interpreter of the Bible who was basically more Platonic than Jewish would immediately stumble upon this contradiction, which would set in motion the principle of inverse exegesis, in which the content of the Bible is taken not at face value but in the light of previous information that contributes to the escalation of a “hermeneutic of suspicion.” Yet the characteristic of this hermeneutic, of which gnostics seem to be the earliest systematic representatives, is that it is performed not in the name of any reductive principle but in the name of metaphysical antireductionism. In other words, the gnostics would not only criticize Judaism for being a reductive form of Platonism (which is inevitable if Judaism is taken to be a form of Platonism!) but would not hesitate to judge Platonism itself as a reductive form of metaphysics.

By stating that the gnostics were simply the champions of metaphysics in the late Hellenistic world, do we claim an understanding of the rules that produce the different gnostic doctrines as transformations of a Platonizing Jewish myth and of each other? We should proceed along the lines of the system generated from this premise in order to assess whether a Platonic exegesis of Genesis would indeed have a gnostic appearance.

14. Anti-Judaism or Generative Platonism?

The inverse exegesis of the Bible may well be the consequence of a precedent rule, but it soon becomes a rule in itself that generates many transformations of biblical myth and could generate many more, indeed an illimitable array. One possible path is that anything that the Bible calls good is taken to be evil, and vice versa. Some of the most conspicuous cases—-concerning Cain, the Snake, and others—will be analyzed below. Another example could be drawn from the Paraphrase of Shem,224 where the Sodomites appear to be righteous members of the “immovable race” of Seth and therefore the objects of envy and vengeance coming from the Demiurge. Applications of the rule of inverse exegesis extend beyond the Old Testament. The Cainites of Irenaeus225 make Cain and Judas into the only true representatives of the Pleroma, those who plant the seed of gnostic revolution into a world dominated by the laws of the evil Demiurge. Judas, according to an interpretation in which Jorge Luis Borges would have delighted, “was the only one among the apostles to know the truth and fulfill the mystery of treason”; no wonder that a gospel, unfortunately no longer extant, circulated in his name.226

Yet even if this shows the extremes that the system can produce, most gnostics were not as completely revolutionary as these. Without endless hesitations as to possible solutions, which form as many building bricks of gnostic myth, we would not have the impressive array of transformations produced by the gnostic mind and characteristic of its extraordinary freedom. It is interesting to note that a historian and theorist of literature like Harold Bloom understood better than any other scholar the generative processes of Gnosticism when he perceptively defined the latter as a “theory of misprision” and its outcomes “a creative misunderstanding.”227 Indeed, Gnosticism is Platonic hermeneutics so suspicious of tradition that it is willing to break through the borders of tradition, any tradition, including its own. Conversely, regarded through the lens of tradition, any tradition, it appears as “misprision.”

Let us revert to our Platonist who became suspicious of the biblical god. Where will suspicion end? We may assume that a Platonic exegesis of Genesis according to the distinction of Numenius of Apamea, which would make the biblical god into the Platonic demiurge, would call little attention to itself if it were not accompanied by textual analysis. Otherwise the Bible would reject it or it would reject the Bible! Gnosticism can thus be viewed as a continual process in which suspicion tentatively extends over many significant episodes of the Old and New Testaments and would treat them many times, realizing that not one but many “true” answers are possible.

Can this process be characterized as “anti-Judaic”?

Recently several scholars still defined Gnosticism as a case of “acute antisemitism” during the first centuries of the common era. Even considering that many scholars still do not acknowledge the wide spectrum of gnostic attitudes toward Judaism, the term antisemitism is rather misplaced. According to the distinction made by F. Lovsky and Jules Isaac, one should refrain from exchanging theological anti-Judaism with that incendiary set of personal emotions, feelings, and attitudes that characterize antisemitism.228 There is no such thing as a gnostic anti-semitic text (but there are several early Christian ones), and we may add, there is no gnostic writing that could be qualified as anti-Judaic in its totality. As Karl-Wolfgang Troger pertinently noticed, gnostic writings sometimes show anti-Judaic “attitudes,” “ concepts,” “tendencies,” “topoi” and perhaps “trends.”229 Troger is certainly right in maintaining that Gnosticism is not a historical movement that professes anti-Judaism as one of its main slogans.

One can readily list a good number of anti-Judaic topoi in gnostic literature.230 Yet, from the same “hermeneutic of suspicion,” gnostic creative misprision would equally generate a good number of anti-Christian topoi.231

We also cannot say that gnostic biblical criticism is dispassionate. On the contrary, misprision guarantees gnostics the tragic role of rebels caught and ground between the wheels of traditions. Such exegetes well turn nasty. Yet their revolt, no matter how it may degenerate through direct contact with their opponents (especially Christian), originated as Platonic metaphysics.

A legitimate question to ask here is, Why did gnostics, if they were Platonists, have to get so intimately involved with the Bible? The obvious answer is that they would not have done so unless they were Jews—in which case they would rather produce a type of Philonic exegesis, unless they were rebellious toward their tradition—or belonged to some other group that would make regular use of the Bible. “Samaritans” provided an easy answer, but it is not obvious why Samaritans should be Platonists, and in fact it is doubtful that they were. “Christians” is an answer that scholarship, under the influence of the German school of history of religions, tried to avoid for a long time, but in many circumstances it may prove correct. Salvation from the world through a Savior was during that period a rather prominent trait that Gnosticism shares with Christianity. We also know that in the IIIrd century it was fashionable for some Platonists of dubious orthodoxy to produce gnostic texts, and indeed some of them might have found their way into the late Nag Hammadi collection. It should surprise no one that such Platonists, contemptuous of that spurious variety of Pharisaic Platonism that Christianity appeared to be, would eliminate all traces of Christianity from the gnostic myths they invented and in many cases would adopt a variety of Gnosticism (like Sethian Gnosticism) that does not pay much attention to the Bible either. Strangely enough, even they would keep up a Savior, although, for obvious reasons, they would avoid calling him Jesus Christ, as most gnostics do.

Does this mean that Gnosticism was simply a form of Christianity? Certainly not. It shares with the mainstream of Christianity (at least from Ignatius of Antioch onward) the characteristic of being a form of Platonism making use of Jewish texts.232 Jewish Christians were certainly more ready to step into a gnostic type of exegesis than Jews steeped in the hermeneutical subtleties of their own tradition. Christians who were not Jewish at all would continue to misinterpret Judaism creatively, and Neoplatonists would find their reasonings compelling enough to play in the same key, de-Judaizing and de-Christiaflizing it.233

15. “Creative Misprision” and the Old Testament

With all possible nuances, from his radical demonization to his vague exaltation as a necessary intermediary between the Pleroma and Matter, the gnostic Demiurge is explicitly identified by an overwhelming bulk of evidence as the Old Testament god.234 Given that the Law is an emanation of the Demiurge, a relationship exists between his evaluation and the Old Testament’s evaluation. The Valentinian Ptolemy, for example, argues with other gnostics who hold the view that the Law derives from the Devil.235 The Gospel of Philip asserts that the Law is the Tree of Knowledge that kills those who eat from it.236 Epiphanius’s gnostics reject the Old Testament, although they make polemical use of it.237

Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora is an excellent example of that elusive Valentinian doctrine which, still gnostic in its use of myth, comes very close to Platonism and Christianity in its evaluation of the Demiurge.238 The origin of the Law is a difficult question, asserts Ptolemy somewhat in agreement with modem philology, for it is composed not of one but of five different layers: One is the sentences of the individual Moses; another is the sentences of the ancients of Israel; and three parts stem from the Demiurge. These are divided as follows: One is the Decalogue, which is a perfect expression of Justice; another one is the law of “an eye for an eye,” which is a perfect expression of Injustice, in so far as it contradicts the Decalogue, with its commandment not to kill (Exod. 20:13); a third one, figurative and symbolic, was channeled through the Demiurge by the transcendent Pleroma itself. It was always misunderstood, for its proper meaning is spiritual, whereas its interpretations have been material.

What is the situation of the Law under the new order instated by the Savior? The Savior did not abolish all of the Law, only the eye-for-an-eye part of it; he completed the Decalogue and explicated the spiritual meaning of rites and symbols.239 In other words, like Christianity, Valentinianism wishes to have some continuity with Judaism, and in any case would not recommend, like Marcion, that the Old Testament be disposed of.

Once started on the route of “creative misprision,” the gnostics would go very far, indeed farther than anyone else in the ancient world. For once the biblical Demiurge was caught boasting of his uniqueness and became suspect of ignorance of a higher God, the entire Bible, starting obviously from Genesis, had to be reassessed and reinterpreted. But each episode of Genesis admits a plurality of interpretations or building bricks. Gnostics (and it should be recalled that by “gnostics” we mean a group not defined by any institutional, social, or even doctrinal unity but rather those minds working on Genesis with two shared biases— against the principle of the ecosystemic intelligence and against the anthropic principle of the fitness of world to human being) excelled in using as many such bricks as possible, thus coming to a very large number of transformations of myth. Let us examine a few cases.

Cain, for example, is the representative of the good Pleroma according to the Cainites,240 but he is held as an evil character by the Ophites.241 Even more instructive is the evaluation of the Snake. Paradoxically those groups whose names refer to the Snake, such as the Ophites or the Naassenes, take him to be evil: he is the Angel of Iniquity for the Naassenes,242 and the Devil for the Ophites, although Sophia uses him to pass her message to the first human pair. In TT243 he is likewise the Devil, and he is Moluchtas, the evil ophidian Wind in PSem.244

Yet other gnostics believe that the Snake is Sophia herself,245 whereas Epiphanius’s gnostics in their no longer extant Gospel of Eve believe that the Snake imparted knowledge to first woman,246 and HA247 and SST248 assert that the Snake is the Instructor, the Spiritual Woman, Eve of Light, a double of Sophia. For the Perates the Snake is the Savior,249 and for the Sethians both the Demiurge and Logos are serpentlike.250

A similar procedure of “creative misprision” is applied to all other episodes of Genesis that are significant from the viewpoint of the gnostic interpreter. Yet the frequent use of Harold Bloom’s expression (merely for its suggestive power) may create the false impression that gnostic procedures are illegitimate. They are quite illegitimate from the viewpoint of tradition, but they are not so from a logical viewpoint, in so far as they try to make reasonable sense of a mythical narrative that, taken at face value, is full of contradictions. Tradition smooths away these contradictions by having recourse to a number of methods: literalism, suspension of disbelief, historicocultural conditioning of human capacities (“in those days things were very different”), and so on. Gnostics are antitraditional in so far as they do not resort to these illogical tricks. In their attempt at candor (and their lack of unity or orthodoxy), they would not hesitate to multiply the number of transformations to fit the logical range of potentialities offered by any episode. When gnostic Genesis interpretation comes as far as the Snake, the main lines of gnostic narrative are already clear. The Snake may only cover a few logical possibilities: He is good, evil, or neutral. If good, then the Tree of Knowledge has to be good, and for the sake of economy the Snake may only be one of the available good characters of the narrative in disguise, unless an uneconomical solution is chosen and the Snake becomes a new character. Thus he can only be Sophia (or a duplicate thereof), the Savior, or a third representative of the Pleroma. If the Snake is evil, then the Tree of Knowledge must be evil as well, unless a solution of compromise is chosen and the Snake, although evil, would act for a while like a channel for the Pleroma. As evil, the Snake can only be the Devil or the Demiurge or a duplicate (angel) of one of them. As neutral, “the Snake is the Snake” (to paraphrase Lord Byron)—he is just a temporary mouthpiece for someone else’s message. Yet this would be an uneconomical solution that gnostics tend to avoid.

Taken altogether, gnostic hermeneutical candor is total. No limit is imposed on the number of transformations of myth. In the case of the Snake, as well as in other cases, we may say that the number of logical bricks that could be inserted at that point in the narrative sequence has been exhausted. Any other brick would be fanciful or, worse, redundant. Then why does tradition, which appears to be on the wrong side of logic, seem so austere and the antitraditional gnostics, whose logic is almost impeccable, so fantastical? Because a mythical narrative is a multiple-choice sequence, and gnostic thinkers (those who shared the two premises, or rather rejections, mentioned above) were able, at least for a while, to fill in not one but all cases.

Toward the beginning of Islam, gnostics were exhausted, wrung out from history by the relentless pressure of traditional powers and especially the Christians, who had switched from a persecuted religion at the beginning of the IVth century into a totalitarian, persecuting state religion by the end of the same century. Christians were motivated in suppressing gnosticism by that peculiar feeling of guilt one gets from the existence of a brash, heedless, and decidedly troublesome close relative. Yet the system set in motion by the gnostics was not exhausted. Therefore new, so-called dualistic trends sprang up to manifest it, realizing more of its potentialities.


*Sep·tu·a·gint n. A Greek translation of the Old Testament made in the third century B.C. [Latin septu³gint³, seventy (from the traditional number of its translators) : septem, seven; see sept© below + -gint³, ten times.]

**should this be ‘word’?


211. See A. F. Segal’s excellent work Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About
Christianity and Gnosticism (Brill: Leiden, 1977); see also by the same author the articles
“Ruler of This World: Attitudes About Mediator Figures and the Importance of
Sociology for Self—Definition,” in Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, vol. 2: Aspects of
Judaism in the Graeco-Roman World (Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1981), 245—68; and
(with N. A. Dahl) “Philo and the Rabbis on the Names of God,” Journal for the Study of
Judaism 9, 1—28.
212. Nils A. Dahl, “The Arrogant Archon and the Lewd Sophia: Jewish Traditions in Gnostic Revolt,” in The Rediscovery, 2: Sethian Gnosticism, 689—712.
213. Bernard Barc, “Introduction,” L’Hypostase des Archontes: Traitf gnostique sur l’origine de l’homme, du monde et des archontes, ed. and trans. B. Barc, followed by Norea, ed. and trans. M. Roberge (BCNH 5), 1980, 19—27.
214. About Middle-Platonic influence on Gnosticism, see Robert M. Grant, Gods and the One God (Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1986).
215. Phaedrus 247e.
216. Harry Austryn Wolfson, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Harvard Univ. Press: Cambridge, MA, 1947), vol. 1, 210.
217. Timaeus 38c, Sophistes 265c.
218. De Legum Allegoria III 73, in Philo, with an Engllsh translation by F. H. Colson and G.H. Whitaker, 10 vols. (Heinemann and Putnam: London and New York, 1929); vol. 1,207.
219. Organon; De cherubim etflammeo gladio 35, pp. 125—27.
220. De profugis, 18.
221. De cherubim, 9.
222. Charles Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1886),
223. For a reassessment of Philo’s role in Middle Platonism, see now John M. Dillon, The Middle Platonists (Cornell Univ. Press: Ithaca and London, 1977); Robert Berchman,
From Philo to Origen (Scholars Press: Chico, CA, 1984).
224. VII.1.29.
225. Iren. 1.31.1.
226. Ps.-Tert. 2; Epiph., Pan. 38.2.4
227. Harold Bloom, Kabbalah and Criticism (Continuum: New York, 1983), 62.
228. Jules Isaac, Genese de l’antis~mitisme: Essai historique (Calmann-Levy: Paris, 1956), 24.
229. Karl-Wolfgang Troger, “The Attitude of the Gnostic Religion Towards Judaism as Viewed in a Variety of Perspectives,” in Collo que international, 86—98.
230. EvPh 74.5; ApAd 74.lf; PSem 29; ST 62.28f; Iren. 1.25.1 = Hipp. VII.32.1 (Carpocrates);
(Heracleon); Iren. 1.24.5 (Basilideans); Epiph. 40.5.1—6 (Archontics); Epiph. 16.6.1
(Gnostics), etc.
231. See Klaus Koschorke, Die Polemik der Gnostiker gegen dos kirchliche Christentum (NHS
12), 1978, 11—15; 21—22; 37—42; 64ff; Elaine H. Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (Random
House: New York, 1979), 3ff, 38, etc.
232. These characteristics were emphasized in the classic work of Harry Austryn Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, 2 vols. (Harvard Univ. Press: Cambridge, MA, 1956). The combination was often disputed, and continues to be, by scholars like Peter Brown, who emphasize the originality of Christianity as tertium genus and its dependence on Roman inheritance. The problem is too vast to be dealt with in this context.
233. Whoever would object that Simon Magus saw himself as a Savior, yet not a Christian Savior, should be reminded that Simon remains a candidate for the unlikely position of “first gnostic.” We are by no means looking for the roots of Gnosticism in Christianity. We simply ascertain that Christianity, like Gnosticism, was based on Platonic biblical exegesis. It was thus easier to jump from Christianity to Gnosticism than from Judaism or simple Platonism to Gnosticism. Philo remained an isolated case in Jewish thought; Judaism in general was not Platonic. Platonists interested principally in Judaism after Philo were few, including Numenius.
234. Carpocrates: Iren. 1.25.4 = Hipp. VI.32.4; Ophites: Iren. 1.30; Valentinians: Hipp. VI.33; Theodotus: Clem. Exc. 49:1; Archontics: Epiph. 40.5.1; Docetists: Hipp. IX.6, etc.
235. Epiph., Pan. 33.3.2.
236. EvPh 74.5.
237. Pan. 16.6.1.
238. Epiph., Pan. 33.4.14—5.15; see G. Quispel, “La Lettre de Ptolemee h Flora,” in Gnostic Studies I, 70—102.
239. Epiph., Pan. 6.1—6.
240. Iren. 1.31.1; Ps.-Tert. 2; Epiph., Pan. 38.2.4.
241. Iren. 1.30.9.
242. Hipp. V.25.23.
243. TI’ 107.10ff.
244. PSem 34.9ff.
245. Iren. 1.30.15.
246. Epiph., Pan. 16.2.6.
247. HA 89.31—32.
248. SST 118.25ff.
249. Hipp. V.17.2—8.
250. Hipp. V.19.18—20.
251. Ignatius of Tralles, 10; see Koschorke, Die Polemik, 44.
252. See Gianpaolo Romanato and Franco Molinari, Cultura cattolica in Italia, jeri e oggi (Marietti: Turin, 1980).
253. Hipp. VIII.10.6—7.
254. ApPt VII.3 (81.18); see Koschorke, Die Polemik, 20—24.
255. ApPt 83.6ff.
256. Iren. 1.26.1.
257. Basilideans: Iren. 1.24.4.
258. Iren. 1.24.1; Ps.-Tert. 3.
259. Koschorke, Die Polemik, 44—48.
260. See my “A Corpus for the Body,” in Journal of Modern History. March 1991.
261. Quasi aqua per tul’um: Iren. 1.7.2 (Valentinians) = dia so1~uoe in Epiph., Pan. 31.22.1; Iren. 111.11.3; per fistulam: Ps.-Tert. 4.5; per riuum: Filastrius 38.5—6. These expressions have been adequately analyzed in an excellent article by Michel Tardieu, “Comme ~ travers un tuyau: Quelques remarques sur le mythe valentinien de La chair c6leste du Christ,” in Colloque international 151—77.
262. Tardieu, “Comme ~ travers,” 174—75, who believes that the riddle of incarnation admits only five logical solutions, all of them used by different early Christian trends. The solution of auricular conception and birth was not “popular” at all, for it had been preferred by a number of theologians.
263. John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa IV;14, cited by Edina Boz6ki, Le Liore secret des Cathares; Interrogatio lohannis, apocryphe d’origine bogomile (Beauchesne: Paris, 1980),
264. Text in Boz6ki, Le Liore secret, 154.
265. SST 98.11ff.
266. EV 17.5-21.
267. Iren. 1.30.3.
268. The gnostic and Christian exegeses of this episode are condensed in Elaine H. Pagels’s beautiful book Adam, Eoe, and the Serpent (Random House, New York, 1988); see my review in Incognita 1 (1990).
269. Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum 22, pp. 62-63 Grant.
270. TVer (IX.3) 47.20.
271. EvPh 74.5.
272. H. J. Kr~mer, Der Ursprung der Geistmetaphysik; Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Platonismus zwischen Platon und Plotin (Schippers; Amsterdam, 1964), 263.
273. Elaine H. Pagels, “Exegesis and Exposition of the Genesis Creation Accounts in Selected Texts from NH,” in Charles W. Hedrick and Robert Hodgson, Jr., eds., Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, and Early Christianity (Hendrickson; Peabody, MA, 1986),