Carpocrates

CARPOCRATES

An Alexandrian of the middle of the second century who was said to be a successor of CERINTHUS. Carpocrates, along with his followers, was attacked more for immoral practices than for doctrinal error. Aside from making a general charge concerning the nature of Christ and the identity of the creator of the world, IRENAEUS dwelled on the licentious practices of the Carpocratian sect, especially rejecting their opinion-based justification for such activities.

In a statement disputed by recent commentators, CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA asserted that Carpocrates was instructed in the monadic gnosis. In the recently discovered letter of Clement of Alexandria to an unknown Theodorus, Clement charged Carpocrates with having obtained illegally a copy of a secret gospel of Mark (see MARK, SECRET GOSPEL OF), which he then corrupted and misinterpreted publicly. The lack of evidence in such statements and charges makes it impossible to evaluate them properly.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Foerster, W. Gnosis, trans. R. M. Wilson, pp. 34-40. Oxford, 1972. Griggs, C. W. Early Egyptian Christianity, pp. 47-49. Leiden, 1989.

C. WILFRED GRIGGS

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