The Gnostics; & The Social Structure of the Early Christian Communities

Early Christian thought and societies

J.K. Elliott | Published in 31 Mar 1988
  • The Gnostics
    Tobias Churton - Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987 – xi + 179pp - £10.95
  • The Social Structure of the Early Christian Communities
    Dimitris J. Kyrtatas - Verso, 1987 – xiv + 224pp - £24.95

A narrow definition of gnosticism would restrict it to an Eastern Mediterranean Christian heresy, in which Jesus is seen as the emissary of the supreme God; through Jesus secret knowledge about the origin and destiny of mankind is revealed. This gnostic teaching is known through the writings of the Church fathers (especially Irenaeus of Lyons) and most recently from the Nag Hammadi codices discovered in 1945. Part of Churton's book considers this second- or third-century Egyptian-style gnosticism with special reference to Valentinus. This was the movement that is likely to have acted as a catalyst upon orthodox Christians causing them to tighten their control over organisation, creeds and the canon of scripture. Mr Churton also describes the discovery and significance of the Nag Hammadi texts.

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