Gnostic vicissitudes in late antiquity
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Gnostic vicissitudes in late antiquity book
The period between the first flourishing of Christian churches ca. 290 ce under the emperor Diocletian and the first territorial expansions of Islam is pivotal in the history of the Gnostic trajectory of thought. The stronger Gnostic schools, both Valentinian and Sethian, were apparently trying to achieve rapprochement with Platonists, Sethians and Plotinus apparently deploying Plato's spurious second Letter to assert their own versions of a fallen Sophia. Church leaders affected by the Alexandrian school of Christian gnosis were ready to eulogize those tolerant emperors who also looked kindly on philosophers, while traditionalist Egyptians longed for their own kingship to return – "out of the Sun". Most classic Gnostics and the Manichaeans took water baptism, as against putting on the garment of light, to be ritually useless, since "it came from the earth". A later derivative of Sethian-related Gnostic activity, admittedly, affected Armenia with the Archontics, whose protagonists purposely simplified their aeonic system.