1902 Encyclopedia > Valentinus (or Valentius)

Valentinus
(also known as: Valentius)
Early Christian gnostic theologian
(c.100 - c.160)
[original article title: Valentines and Valentinians]




VALENTINES AND VALENTINIANS. Valentinus was the most important Christian theologian before Origen. Clement and Origen both were his pupils. In his school all those problems were started which afterwards engrossed the Greek _fathers, and a large proportion of the solutions given by him and his followers subsequently became, though in a modified form, accepted doctrines. The dogmatic of Origen lies at the foundation of the orthodox dogmatic of the church, and it in its turn had its prototype in that of the Valentinian school. Valentinus was the first man in Christendom who for other than merely apologetic purposes sought to fuse together the results of Greek philosophy with the substance of the Gospel, combined the exalted ethic of the Platonic and Neopythagorean schools with the preaching of the evangelical pulpit, and treated the manifestation of Jesus as the keystone in the great structure of thought which Greek science had reared. His theology is, so to speak, the central pier of the bridge con-necting the Jewish with the Christian Alexandrians. He may perhaps be regarded as superior to Philo in sober-mindedness and in acuteness, and as having excelled Origen at once in delicacy of religious and moral perception and in vigour of language, though he was far behind him in learning and in extent of knowledge. His success as a teacher was brilliant. Tertullian tells us that among all the Christian "collegia" that of Valentinus was the most crowded, and the numerous branches into which his scholars soon divided are evidence of the wealth of his influence. Even his enemies have praised his " ingenium et eloquium" (Adv. Valent., 4). Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Jerome, and Adamantius agree in testifying that he was a man of singular gifts. The few extant fragments of his writings fully confirm this : there is not one of them that is not marked by originality and depth. And his disciples, although they have partly deteriorated his teachings by undisciplined fancies and inappropriate mytho-logizing, have, every one of them, something particular and valuable to say. Their influence did not cease until in the catechetical school of Alexandria the church found teachers of her own who were at once scientific theologians and de-fenders of the church of orthodoxy.
Valentinus.—Of Valentinus himself almost nothing is known. That he was an Egyptian by birth and received his education in Alexandria is probable but not certain. He came to Rome under Hyginus about 138, flourished under Pius (140-155), and was still there in the time of Anicetus (c. 155-166). This we learn from Irenaeus (iii. 4, 3), who lets us see that his main activity was in Rome. He further tells us that Polycarp during his sojourn in that city was the means of converting some Valentinians. Tertullian supplements (De Prsescr., 30) Irenaeus with the information that Valentinus originally attached himself in Rome to the main body of the church, but " ob inquietam semper curiositatem qua fratres quoque vitiabat," after having been twice temporarily suspended from communion, he was ultimately cut off. This statement shows that the Roman Church did not, to begin with, possess the standards by which to try Valentinus. The sections of the Shepherd of Hermas which treat of the Gnostics represent them as still continuing to exist within the church, although their dangerous character was already known. It was not, then, until the bishopric of Anicetus that the Roman Church suc-ceeded in ridding itself of the Valentinian collegia. It seems very doubtful whether there is any good foundation for Tertullian's further allegation (Adv. Valent., 4) that Valentinus was ambitious of obtaining the episcopate of Rome and that his failure in this caused him to break with the church. Hippolytus will have it (see Epiphanius and Philaster) that Valentinus afterwards went to Cyprus as a declared heretic. We are not in a position to control this statement; but the words of Irenaeus would almost lead to the conclusion that he died in Rome. At any rate there is no reason to suppose that he was alive much later than 160. Tertullian, in spite of a disposition to bring him down to as recent a period as possible, does not seem to think of him as living in the time of Marcus Aurelius. But in the school of Valentinus it was asserted that their master had been a pupil of Theodas, a yvwpiixos UavXov^ in that case he must have been a very old man in 160.


Valentinus was the author of several epistles, three fragments of which have been preserved by Clement; one of these was addressed to a certain Agathopus. He also composed homilies (one entitled On Friends), of which we possess four fragments. An expression of Tertullian's (Adv. Valent, 2) seems to imply that Valentinus was also the author of a treatise entitled Sophia. Perhaps this is the source from which Irenaeus's systematic account of the Valentinian doctrine (i. 11, 1) was indirectly taken. Tertullian speaks of Psalms of Valentinus (Be Car., xvii. 20); the author of the Muratorian Fragment seems also to refer to these; and in the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (vi. 37) a considerable fragment from them is given. The 11 gospel" of Valentinus is spoken of below.
Sources. —All that we possess of Valentinus and his disciples are the fragments preserved by their opponents, the fathers of the church. We cannot therefore put implicit confidence in all that they tell us, or accept as of primary importance in the doctrine of the Valentinians all that they represent as such. The extant frag-ments of the writings of Valentinus himself, as well as of those of his scholars (Ptolemaeus, Heracleon, Theodotus, and others), fortu-nately enable us to set their theology in a more worthy light than does the fantastic "system" which Irenaeus has given. Of the four ancient treatises against the Valentinians known to Tertullian we possess but one, that of Irenaeus, those of Justin, Miltiades, and Proculus being lost. The loss of Justin is most to be regretted, for he was a contemporary, and wrote his Syntagma probably in Rome at the time when Valentinus was actually labouring there. In Rome some sixty years later the author of the Muratorian Frag-ment also took notice of him. Proculus wrote a special polemic against him, while Miltiades wrote in the same sense in Asia Minor and Irenaeus in Gaul about 180. Tertullian's Adversus Valen-tinianos was composed in Carthage some twenty years later, and Clement engaged in a work of a similar nature almost simultaneously at Alexandria. Against the Marcionite Church the fathers were equally energetic, Marcion and Valentinus during the period between 150 and 230 passing for the most dangerous heretics. Our oldest and at the same time fullest source is the work of Irenaeus, which rests upon a tract of Ptolemaeus and probably makes use of the Syntagma of Justin. In all probability he had read nothing of Valentinus himself. Tertullian's Adversus Valentinianos is largely taken from Irenaeus, but contains some things that are original and of very great value : he had either himself read some Valen-tinian works, or had at least obtained authentic information as to their contents. Our best sources for Valentinus himself are the Stromata and Eclogues of Clement of Alexandria, wdio had read much of Valentinus and something of Heracleon, and gives extracts from both. His Excerpta ex Theodoto are also invaluable. Hip-polytus in both his works against heretics has transcribed Irenams ; yet in his Philosophumena he has followed a new source in describ-ing the Valentinian system. Origen made a careful study of Heracleon's Commentary on John's Gospel, and in his own Com-mentary he frequently refers to it both approvingly and otherwise. The numerous fragments he has preserved have very great value for the historian. Lastly, Irenaeus and Hippolytus have been tran-scribed by Epiphanius, who also has preserved various matters of importance, particularly the letter of Ptolemaeus to Flora.
Valentinians.—The school of Valentinus soon divided into two main branches, that of Italy and that of Asia Minor. Both in turn subdivided into various sections; but the Asiatic branch on the whole preserved most faithfully the teaching of the master. His influence spread even beyond the limits of the schools. Tatian, for example, in his later period indubitably derived much from Valen-tinus, and the fathers of the Alexandrian school were very largely indebted to him. Even in the time of Epiphanius Valentinians still existed in some districts of Egypt. The Italian branch had as heads of its schools Secundus, another master of uncertain name (Colarbasus ? Epiphanius? see íren., i. 11, 3), Ptolemaeus, Herac-leon, Theotimus, and Alexander. Secundus modified the master's doctrine of the aeons and introduced a dualism into it. The anony-mous scholar shows tokens of Pythagorean influence. But the most important, exceeding in the extent of their influence even the master himself, were Ptolemaeus and Heracleon. The former made into hypostases the aeons which Valentinus himself had regarded as impersonal powers of the one Godhead. He is the systematic and Biblical theologian par excellence of the Aralentinian school, con-spicuous for a powerful if also undisciplined phantasy ; and in his letter to Flora he shows how thorough has been his study of the
Old Testament, and how penetrating, how carefully considered, and how pointed his criticism of it. Heracleon, mentioned also by Irenaeus, earned distinction by his Commentary (inroiiv-qtiaTa) on the Gospel according to John, for it is probably the first scientific commentary that Christendom produced. Clement (Strom., iv. 9, 73) calls him the most eminent teacher of the Valentinian school. He appears to have shown much greater sobriety than Ptolemaeus, whose speculations recall those of the later Neoplatonists in a most striking manner, just as we find Valentinianism generally to have anticipated, not only the later scientific theology of the Catholic Church, but also Neoplatonism. Of Theotimus all that we know is Tertullian's remark (Adv. Valent., 4): "multum circa imagines legis operatus est." Tertullian is also our sole informant about Alexander (De Came, 17-20). He seems to have busied himself specially with the Christologieal problem, and to have written under the title of Syllogismi a treatise into wdiich quotations from Valentinus's Psalms were introduced as authorities.
The names mentioned as those of leaders of the Asiatic school are Axionicus, Theodotus, and above all Bardesanes ; we also have some fragments of Valentinian writings belonging to the East, but of wdiich the origin is otherwise unknown. Axionicus at Antioch was the master's most faithful disciple. Clement of Alexandria has preserved excerpts of a very inconsecutive character and in a very corrupt text from a systematic work, and some commentaries of Theodotus ('EK TUV Qeo86rov /cat rijs duaroXiKTJs KaXovjxevns 8i8ao~-/caXiay /cara rods OvaXevrivov xpbvov$ ereiroaat). These excerpts, wdiich constitute one of the most important sources for Gnosticism generally, have not hitherto received the attention they deserve. Zahn (Forschungen,^ iii. p. 123 sq.) has tried to make out that Theodotus is identical with Theodas, Valentinus's master. But from the excerpts it seems hardly probable that they should be the work of a man who must have written at latest under the emperor Trajan. Bardesanes, though originally influenced by Valentinus, ultimately took up peculiar and independent ground of his own, and through him Valentinus exercised a great influence upon the Syrian Church, which continued until the 4th century (see SYRIAC LITERATURE; vol. xxii. p. 827). In Asia Minor the Valentinian collegia continued until past the middle of the 4th century (see Epp. Juliani). The church fathers bring into connexion wdth Valentinus the Magian Marcus, as to wdiose doctrine we are very adequately informed by Irenaeus, but it is questionable whether he can really be reckoned as one of the disciples of that master.
Teaching of Valentinus.—Valentinus made his appearance at a time when the Christian communities were still destitute of any fixed doctrinal system: they were still associations pledged to a holy life on the ground of their faith in the one spiritual God and in His Son Jesus Christ, closely held together by the bonds of brotherly love, and strictly separated from the world and from them that are without by the consciousness of having received the Holy Ghost. But an enormous volume of facts, of sayings, and of thoughts had by this time become current within the church, material drawn from the Old Testament, from the Gospel history, from the Pauline epistles, from other early Christian writings, and from the Hellenistic and apocalyptic literature of the Jews. How this material was to be arranged, how it was to be kept within bounds, and wdth wdiat degree of authority it was to be invested were questions still unsettled. But one thing was certain—Paul had declared it, and every Christian apostle, prophet, and teacher had repeated it—that the Christian faith guaranteed knowledge supreme and complete, and led on from truth to truth. Another tiling was sure—that all human wisdom was but folly in presence of this new " divine " wisdom, wdiich was inclusive of all human knowledge. The means, moreover, by which every saying, every fact was to be turned into a profound thought had for long been known and in use in the Christian communities,—that of allegory. But as yet there was no settled principle fixing the manner in which the allegorical method was to be applied, or determining what were the ruling thoughts of Scripture. The attitude of Christian teachers towards the Jewish wisdom was as indeterminate as it was towards Greek philosophy. The Pauline theology was intelligible only to a very few, and the Old Testament was as it were a veritable sphinx. It was understood to be a superhuman book, but it was also understood that much of its contents, if taken literally, was valueless. In what sense was it to bo under-stood ? How much of it was to be taken literally and how much spiritually ? Was everything to be taken spiritually ? According to wdiat principle was it on this assumption to be interpreted t Was the whole of it the revealed word of the Most High, or were various authors to be recognized ? Might it possibly be that part of it was divine, part heroical, part genial, part natural, part false, and part devilish ? Or was it perhaps true that no part of the book proceeded from the Most High God, that nothing was pneu-matic, but all psychical or carnal ? And, if

to be allegorized, must not the narratives and the sayings of the Gospels be also treated in the same way ? "Was not allegory here also the pathway to the thought ? If the opening chapters of Genesis and the histories of the patriarchs and of the people of Israel were a profound philosophical poem, why should not also the life of Jesus Christ be only the veil of a cosmic mystery ? All these questions had within the period from 60 to 130 exercised, not indeed the great mass of believers, for these were uneducated, but thinking Christians ; and the more the Christian preaching enlarged its scope, the more Christians came into contact wdth Syrian, Samaritan, Egyptian, and Greek wisdom, and the more they found themselves called upon to make comparisons and to bring into clearness that which is peculiar to and distinctive of Christianity, it was inevitable that these questions should stir the minds of educated Christians all the more intensely. Upon the one basis of faith in Jesus Christ accordingly there were about the year 130 a great variety of groups, differing from one another in doctrine, worship, organization, and the like, but differing also in their attitude to Christianity at large, some keeping themselves aloof from it because they regarded it as wholly perverted, others being driven out from it, others again, wdiile remaining within the main body, yet forming special schools, or "mystery" unions, and so on. In Syria, as also in other portions of the Roman empire, the gospel was associated wdth Semitic "eultus wisdom" and with the abstruse speculations of a physical science still in its childhood ; the entire Old Testament was rejected and an attitude of opposition assumed towards fellow-members in the great Christian union.

These developments, however, could reckon on only a relatively small degree of encouragement within the Gneco-Roman world. The barbaric elements they contained were too conspicuous, and on the other hand they were too far removed from Jewish-Christian tradition and from Christian common sense. But the attractiveness must have been very great when, on the basis of Christian tradition and the mysterious traditions of Oriental peoples, a system was set up with the aids of Greek philosophical science for a school of " knowing ones " or " Gnostics," and a eultus organized for a com-munity of the " initiated." This was what Basilides and Valentinus achieved. The importance of Valentinus lies in the facts, firstly, that he recognized the relationship (for such a relationship really existed) between the theogonic-cosmogonic myth-wisdom of western Asia and the Neopythagorean, Platonic, and Philonic philosophy ; secondly, that he touched all this rich and varied material which he had appropriated with the magic wand of the Platonic concep-tion of the universe, and thus transmuted the whole into entities of a purely spiritual character ; and thirdly, that he gave a decisive part to the appearance of Jesus Christ in that great drama wdiich the history of the higher and the lower cosmos presented to his mind. In all this he had no design of setting up a new "confes-sion," and still less any notion (as Marcion had) of utterly remodel-ling Christianity. He was prevented from cherishing any such ideas by his conviction that men were divided by the inalterable constitution of their natures into three classes,—the "pneumatic," men of the spirit, genial natures, in whom sparks of the divinity are found ; the "psychical," moral men, wdio can if they choose be ethically good; and "hylic" or carnal, hopelessly chained to that which is perceived by the senses. The ordinary members of Christendom at large he held to be "psychical," and esteemed them as such. But he did not regard their Christianity as the Christianity, rather only as its exoteric form. Alongside of the exoteric there had all along, according to him, existed an esoteric. The apostles did not say out everything to everybody, but on the contrary communicated to the " spiritual ones " a secret doctrine into wdiich only select persons might be initiated, and that not until after long and careful probation. This secret teaching included a special dogmatic, a special ethic, and a special worship. But it was not out of all connexion wdth the Christianity that was publicly taught. "We can observe in the history of the Valentinian schools the zeal wdth wdiich they strove to adapt themselves to the Chris-tianity publicly professed, and to follow it in all its developments. The Valentinians always, so far as they possibly could, accepted such things as the development of the canon (agitated for by them-selves) within the church at large, the building up of a tradition, the symbols framed, and the like ; to this Irenams, Tertullian, and the Alexandrians all bear witness. In this they present the strongest possible contrast to Marcion and his church, who from the outset took up an attitude of the utmost hostility to the main body of Christians. Hence they expressly even controverted Mareionitism, as the letter of Ptolemseus to Flora and the polemic of Bardesanes against the Marcionite Prepon show. If such was the unvarying attitude of Valentinus's scholars, it is fair to attribute it also to Valentinus himself. In his day indeed the dogmatic, ethical, and legal advances of Christendom at large were still in their most rudimentary stage, but what there was of them must have been valued by him even then as the exoteric form of Christianity, to which he superadded his own Gnostic esoteric form. In this respect he was the forerunner of Clement and Origen, who likewise

distinguish Gnostic from common Christianity, and very probably learned the distinction from Valentinus and his scholars. But his connexion wdth both was of a still more intimate character. They are related not only by virtue of the fact that they all regarded the gospel as the religion of the perfect Hellenically - cultured spiritual man, but also by the large - hearted disposition they cherished, and the settled purpose they manifested, to appropriate everything noble and great in the history of humanity, to rank it according to its proper value, and to find a place for it in the edifice of Christian philosophy. And it is very

very interesting to notice that they completely set aside the Greek and Roman mythologies, regard-ing them as worthless and devilish. The formal peculiarity of the Valentinian Gnosis is that it places all moral and intellectual ideas, possessions, and entities in a descending scheme of genetic develop-ment. "With Valentinus himself they figure as " motus et affectus " of the Godhead, the ultimate cause of all things, the alone Good ; by his scholars they are hypostatized. This descending develop-ment (self-revelation) of the Godhead takes place wdth a holy rhythm. At this point the Pythagorean speculations about num-bers on the one hand and the ancient Semitic astrological wisdom on the other seemed important to Valentinus ; but everything is made spiritual: even the old Semitic antithesis of "male" and "female" is adopted, but wdth an altered meaning. The whole inner development of the primal cause (/3u#os) into the pleroma, the cosmos of perfection, is designed to explain how it was that this world of appearance, of mixture, and of sin arose. Valentinus was a strict monotheist, but at the same time he discerned in the present world the mingling of irreconcilable elements. The prob-lem then was how, while acknowdedging the absolute perfection, goodness, and causality of God, to reconcile with this the existence of the actual pneumatico-psychico-hylic world, and at the same time to show the possibility of redemption in the case of those who are capable of it. Valentinus solved this problem by assum-ing that the self-unfolding of the Godhead is at the same time to lie thought of as a dissipation of energy. God alone is dyevynros. The powers emanating from Him (vovs, dXijSeia, \iyos, fw?), dvBparos = ideal man, iKKhnaia, and so on) are yevvnrd. Hence, although ouoouo-ict wdth the Godhead, they have nevertheless a limitation attaching to them. They are copies of the Godhead in a descend-ing line ; but the copy is never of equal value with the pattern. The thirtieth and last aeon, Sophia, has the element of imperfection in the strongest degree. This belongs to it in the form of "passion" (_n-dBos), the passionate desire after full knowledge of and fusion with the primal God. This passion for the pleroma, having seduced the Eeon into overstepping its proper bounds, is accordingly sepa-rated from it and removed out of oneness wdth it; it thus falls into nothingness, the Kevapta, but gives the impulse to the making of this world. This world is the outward shaping of nothingness, of appearance, through connexion wdth the fallen wisdom. It is a feeble copy of the pleroma without any abiding hold, but it includes pneumatic portions, though these have fallen very low. It was fashioned by the demiurge, an intermediate being brought forth by the fallen wisdom. The demiurge is psychical, and thus has no feeling and no understanding for the pneumatic which adhered to the elements of the wTorld he framed. But over against the sensuous powers included in this world, so far as it is derived from nothingness, the demiurge is the representative of order, righteous-ness, freedom for better things, and the men who have received something of his spirit are those earnest moral natures who strive against their passions and aim at justitia civilis. Far above these stand the pneumatic ones, wdio, like their mother, have the strong passion of genius towards that which is highest, and in this posses-sion, in knowledge and in the desire for knowledge, are raised far above the antithesis of the hylic (the devil) and the psj^chic (the demiurge). They carry within them an indestructible and divine element wdiich is unintelligible to their very maker, but they are placed in a world which is foreign to them ; they are as men im-prisoned and fettered. Here it is that the Christian idea of redemp-tion comes in. Jesus Christ appears. The declarations about Him in the Valentinian school were exceedingly various. "We can find traces in them of all the contemporary and later Christologies of the Christian Church, even of the Adoptian. What they all had in common was (1) the idea that Jesus Christ made manifest was an exceedingly complex Being, in wdiom two or three natures, or even a greater number, had to be distinguished (compare Origen's Christology) ; (2) the conviction that the highest element in the Redeemer was not one of the reons wdiich had somehow parted with some of its potential energy, but was the perfect self-manifestation of the Good, the Supreme God Himself; (3) the conception that

the ply-sieal nature of Jesus Christ was no actual corporeity, hut either something psychical or something pneumatical. This Jesus Christ then delivers all who are pneumatic in the world by com-municating knowdedge. By full knowledge of God, of the world, and of themselves they are raised above the world, enter upon their undying divine life, and finally are brought by Christ into the pleroma. But psychical persons also are redeemed by Him. They who hitherto have been brought up according to the laws of the Old Testament, that is, of the demiurge, now receive the perfect law ; Jesus moreover by His death procured for them the forgiveness of sins. They are now therefore in a position to lead a perfect moral life, and after death, if they have made a right use of their freedom, shall be brought to an abode of bliss. The Valentinian ethic shows a fine combination of spiritual freedom wdth the element of asceticism. Their thesis, that primarily it is not the outward act but the intention that is important, was misunderstood by the fathers of the church as if they had given permission to pneu-matic persons to live in licence, to deny the faith under persecution, and the like. But there is no foundation for this. The fragments we possess from writings of Valentinus and his school show rather that they were second to no Christian body in moral earnestness. The Yalentinians appear to have joined in the religious worship of the main body of the church so long as they were tolerated within it. But along with this they celebrated their own mysteries, in which only the initiated might take part.
In the foregoing sketch only the broad general outlines of the Valentinian theology have been indicated. In all the schools, and even wdth Valentinus himself, it was much richer and more com-plicated than has been indicated. But all was strictly wrought out, and even the apparently abstruse served always for the ex-pression of a weighty thought. Very manifold and various were in particular the doctrines about the fallen wdsdom (Sophia) and about its relations to the world and the demiurge ; very various also were the views of Jesus and of Christ and of their relation to the pleroma of the aeons. Finally their rejiresentations about " Horos " differed widely. " As a harlot daily changes her attire," says Tertullian in his malicious way, "so do the Valentinians change their opinions." But none of these differences affected the oneness of the general view. That the history of redemption con-stitutes along with the history of nature and of the wTorld one grand drama, that it is for scientific cosmology to explain how it is that the "mixtures" have come to pass, and that it is for scientific soteriology to show how the "separations" have been brought about, as to these matters all were at one. Equally were thej' at one in their view of Christ as the absolute revelation of God, and in the persuasion that the creator of the world is identical with the God of the Old Testament, and is an "intermediate" Being. But the various Valentinian schools were above all united in their attitude towards the Scriptures. They were Biblical theologians : that is to say, they started from the conviction that complete wdsdom lay only in the words of Jesus Christ, or, in other words, in the Gospels. They accordingly sought to base their systems throughout on the words of the Lord, applying to these the allegorical method. In a secondary degree they availed themselves also of the writings of the apostles. Their dogmatic claimed—as afterwards did that of Origen—to be evangelical and apostolic ; but, since they interpreted the New Testament after the same method as that which Philo applied to the Old, it was as a rule Platonic thought that they introduced into the plain and simple words of Jesus, and thus the fathers of the church were not without justification in calling them "sectatores Platonis" (Tert., Be Praescr., 30). As their method of exegesis supplied them with the means of everywhere finding the sense that suited them, it is highly improbable that they were at the trouble to prepare any new scriptures. The fathers do not as a rule charge them wdth either fabrication or falsification, but only with perversion of the Word through wrong interpretations. Nor did they dispute or reject the Roman creed ; they simply, by a peculiar interpretation, put their own meaning upon it ; yet at the same time they had alongside of it their own " regula fidei." It is hardly probable that they possessed an "evangelium veritatis" of their own, but it is not impossible. They subjected the Old Testament to an admirable religious criticism. Ptolemaeus dis-tinguished in the law (1) what the demiurge had said, (2) what came from Moses, (3) what the later teachers of the law had added. Amongst those portions wdiich were regarded as having proceeded from the demiurge himself, he again distinguished throe groups :—(a) the Decalogue, which is of perpetual obligation, and wdiich only required to be completed by Christ (in the sermon on the mount); (6) those commands wdiich were given only for a season on account of the shortcomings of the people, and" wdiich were abolished by Christ; (c) the ceremonial law, wdiich had a typical meaning that was fulfilled by Christ. They denied that anything in the Old Testament came from the supreme God, the God of goodness and love.
From the fragments of Valentinus and of Heracleon and Theo-dot,us the student can learn how these Valentinians- anticipated the ecclesiastical speculations of subsequent centuries. The follow-ing points may be mentioned in this connexion:—(1) the specula-tion as to ouoovatos, baoios, erepovo-ws, aytw-nros, and yevv-nros, by wdiich they prepared the way for the Unitarian problem in its scientific shape ; (2) their speculation about "Jesus" and "Christ" and about His various natures, by which they opened the way for later Christology ; (3) their scientific allegorical treatment of the New Testament Scriptures and their undertaking to found their whole system upon the sacred writings of Christianity, thus antici-pating Origen's dogmatic; (4) their distinction of the perficienda, abroganda, and implenda in the Old Testament, wdiich paved the way for the doctrine of Irenams and Tertullian in reference to the law ; (5) their doctrine of baptism ; (6) their doctrine of the Lord's Supper ; (7) their doctrine of purification after death, in which they anticipated the later dogma of purgatory (Origen, Augustine, Gregory I.); (8) their twofold ethic (for psychical and for pneumatic persons ; see Clement and Origen, as also the monachism of the Catholic Church) ; (9) and finally the view destined later to play so large a part within the church, that the soul of the Christian Gnostic is the bride of Christ.
Literature.—The fragments have been collected by Grabe (Spieilegium, ii. 430
sq.) and Hilgenfeld (Ztsehr. f. wiss. Theol., 1880, p. 280; 1881, p. 214; 1883, p.
356). The system is set forth more or less in the wTorks on Gnosticism by
Neander, Matter, Banr, Lipsius, Hilgenfeld, Mansel, and Moller. See also
Heinrici, Die Vateat. Gnosis u. d. heil. Sehrift (1871), and Rossel, Ges. Schriften
(1847). (A. HA.)


Footnotes

I 4 Clem., Strom., vii. 17, 106.


Strom., ii. 8, 36 ; ii. 20, 114 ; iii. 7, 59.
' Strom., iv. 13, 91; iv„ 13, 92 ; vi. 6, 52 ; Hippol., Pililos., vi. 42.
His use of this work, however, is not beyond all question, and it
is impossible to tell the nature and amount of his indebtedness
1 See Hippol., Philos., vi. 35 ; Tert., Adv. Valent., 4.
Hippol., Philos., iv. 35; Adv. Valent., 4.

5 See Epiph., User., iii. 5, 6; Method., nepi avre^ovo-iov; Adamant., De recta in Denm fide.

See tiaruaek, Doijntenyesch., i. p. 171 sq.

The earliest opponents of the Valentinians distinguished them sharply from the "Gnostics." They rightly perceived that the Semitic and mytho-logical element was for the Valentinians merely the material, which they filled with the spirit of Hellenism. Some of the heads of schools, however, dealt with this material in a highly fantastic fashion, and accordingly the church fathers say with justice that " inolescentes doctriine Valentinianorum in silvas jam exoleverunt Gnosticorum" (Tert., Adv. Valent., 89).
The number 30 comes from astronomy: at bottom the aeons of Valentinus are 29J, the number of days in the lunar month.









Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries