from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The doctrines of various religious sects flourishing especially in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in the Near East, teaching that the material world is the imperfect creation of a subordinate power or powers rather than of the perfect and unknowable Divine Being, and that the soul can transcend material existence by means of esoteric knowledge. The Mandaean religion preserves one system of Gnostic belief.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The religious and metaphysical system of the Gnostics; belief in or tendency toward Gnostic doctrines.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The system of philosophy taught by the Gnostics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A wide variety of Jewish and early Christian sects having an interest in gnosis, or divine knowledge and generally holding the belief that there is a god greater than the Demiurge, or the creator of the world.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person's spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Gnostic +‎ -ism


  • These conceptions, which grew up both alongside of, and within the Church, have been grouped under the term Gnosticism, a generic term including many widely divergent types of teaching and various interpretations of

    A Source Book for Ancient Church History

  • He was, though admittedly in a comatose state (in which, as described by his nurse, he was surrounded by light), the crucified Christ, who, in alchemy as in Gnosticism, is not really crucified, another being substituted for him.

    Romanticism, Alchemy, and Psychology

  • In alchemy, as in Gnosticism, the division of the hermaphroditic Adam Kadmon into male and female,

    Romanticism, Alchemy, and Psychology

  • The Palm Garden of Dick's Gnosticism is an escape fantasy predicated on the Platonic perfection of the ideal (and spirtual) in contrast with the actual (and material).


  • Gnosticism is actually a kind of parody or echo of a kind of archaic Judaism which we don't have any more, though you can find curious versions of it in the different books of Enoch and other apocryphal literature.

    An Interview with Harold Bloom

  • HB: I suppose the remaining basic conviction of Gnosticism is that there is, besides the divinity to which it is so hard to have access, it is very deep in the rock of the self.

    An Interview with Harold Bloom

  • Gnosticism is that there is an exiled component of the

    An Interview with Harold Bloom

  • The word Gnosticism, so familiar to the reader of the early history of thought in and around the Church, reminds us of this; for while many Gnostics were severe ascetics, others were practical libertines; and the divergent practices sprang from one deep source of error, dishonour of the body.

    Philippian Studies Lessons in Faith and Love from St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians

  • While early church leaders clearly opposed theological stances that were later to be described as Gnosticism, many of those writings had already lost favor in Christian congregations apart from and often before their rejection by ecclesial authorities.

    Where Did The Bible Come From?

  • It is a bit strange, in many ways, that some modern commentators and scholars feel the level of sympathy they do for those alternative systems to Christianity often called Gnosticism which the early Church saw off in its first two or three centuries.

    Early Christianity & Today: some shared questions


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