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Gnosticism (from the Greek gnōsis [γνῶσις], "knowledge") is the religious philosophy and practice of various movements of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries. Although some scholars have claimed that gnosticism pre-dated Christianity, it is usually defined in a Christian context. It is generally accepted that gnosticism developed into a coherent movement only in the second century CE.

Most gnostic movements saw the material world as created through an intermediary being (the demiurge) rather than directly by God. This demiurge was generally seen as imperfect, and sometimes even as evil. A common characteristic of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis (esoteric or intuitive knowledge) is the way to salvation of the soul from the material world.

Additional resources


  • Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospel.