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A Different Kind of Gnostic: The Valentinians
November 2, 2023
In my last several posts I’ve been talking about Sethian Gnostics, beginning with a description of what they believe and then discussing one Sethian text, the Gospel of Judas. Sethians weren’t the only kind of Gnostic floating around in the second and third century; there may have been lots of other groups (since we only have a limited number of texts, it’s impossible to say how many, or what each of them actually believed). But one that we know about reasonably well are called the Valentinians. Here is what I say about them in the second edition of my book After the New Testament (Oxford University Press).
Unlike the Sethian Gnostics, the Valentinians were named after an actual person, Valentinus, the founder and original leader of the group. We know about the Valentinians from the writings of proto-orthodox heresiologists beginning with Irenaeus and by some of the writings discovered among the Nag Hammadi Library that almost certainly derive from Valentinian authors, including one book that may actually have been written by Valentinus himself (The Gospel of Truth).
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