The Gnostics in early Christian heresiology
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The Gnostics in early Christian heresiology book
Before the discovery of the Berlin Codex in 1892, the Gnostics were known to us only from the writings of their antagonists, together with the few derisive extracts from their own works which are embedded in these polemics. For ancient witnesses the great error of Gnosticism was to narrow, not to exaggerate, the ontological gulf between spirit and matter. Although the pagan haireseis are among the eighty heresies seeking a cure from the Panarion, or Medicine-Chest, of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, he contends that it was the poets, not the philosophers, who inspired the blasphemous fables of the Gnostics. Sparing as his own usage is, Epiphanius informs us that the term gnostikoi was now a self-designation for the followers of Basilides, Satornilus, Colorbasus, Ptolemaeus, Secundus, Carpocrates, and even Valentinus. Valentinus is assigned to the school of Pythagoras, to which Hippolytus annexes that of Plato.