WILFRED GRIGGS

Cerinthus

CERINTHUS So little is known of Cerinthus that there is nothing to place him in Egypt other than a reference to him in the Epistula apostolorum (Letter of the Apostles, which some believe originated in Egypt) and a statement by Hippolytus that Cerinthus was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians. The Epistula apostolorum speaks …

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Chaldaean Oracles

CHALDAEAN ORACLES A revelatory poem, written in Greek hexameter verse, composed or edited by a certain magician named Julianus, who lived during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Its importance is twofold: it is the last major sacred book of pagan antiquity, and it had major influence on the development of Neoplatonism from Porphyry to Psellus. …

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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 …

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Sarapion Of Tmuis, Saint

SARAPION OF TMUIS, SAINT, or Serapion A fourth-century bishop of Tmuis who supported the orthodox patriarch Saint ATHANASIUS I THE APOSTOLIC in the Arian controversy (feast day, 21 March). Apparently he received a good education because Saint Jerome claims that the epithet Scholasticus was added to his name because of his eloquence and erudition. He …

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Iamblichus (C. 250-325)

IAMBLICHUS (c. 250-325) Born in Chalcis in Coele-Syria, Iamblichus was a successor of Porphyry in the Neoplatonist tradition. Whereas Plotinus and Porphyry were skeptical and disapproved of magic, he is reported to have defended theurgy, as it was called. Tradition also includes his performing acts of levitation and conjuring spirits. Among his extant writings are …

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Hermes Trismegistus (“Thrice-Greatest Hermes”)

HERMES TRISMEGISTUS (“Thrice-greatest Hermes”) This name is a Greek adaptation of an Egyptian title, Thoth the Very Great, the Egyptian god-name Thoth being translated from at least the time of Herodotus to the Greek Hermes. The literature associated with Hermes Trismegistus is known as the Corpus Hermeticum and comprises some seventeen writings of diverse origin …

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Heresy

HERESY A transliteration of the Greek hairesis, which denoted either a set of principles or those who adhered to such principles as a sect or school. Especially among Christians and Jews, the term came to refer to those holding false doctrines or teachings, obviously so designated by those who professed to have the true doctrines …

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Valentinus

VALENTINUS The founder of a Gnostic sect that bears his name. He was born at Phrebonis in the Nile Delta (c. A.D. 100) and educated in Alexandria. He was well trained in rhetoric and philosophy, perhaps including familiarity with some of the allegorical writings of Philo Judaeus (c. 20 B.C.-c. A.D. 50). After teaching for …

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