The Gospel of Truth
Information on Valentinus
Valentinus (1) (OualentinoV), founder of one of the Gnostic sects which originated in the first half of 2nd cent.
1. Biography.--According to the tradition of the Valentinian school witnessed to by Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. vii. 17, 106, p. 898, Potter), Valentinus had been a disciple of Theodas, who himself, it is very improbably said, knew St. Paul. Valentinus cannot have begun to disseminate his Gnostic doctrines till towards the end of the reign of Hadrian (117-138). Before this he is said to have been a Catholic Christian. It must have been, therefore, at most only shortly before his appearance as the head of a Gnostic sect that Valentinus became a hearer of Theodas and received, as he said, his doctrines from him. The Gnostics were fond of claiming for their secret doctrines apostolic tradition and tracing them back to disciples of the apostles. To this otherwise unknown Theodas the Valentinians appealed as an authority in much the same way as Basilides was said to have been a disciple of Glaucias, and he, in turn, an "interpreter of Peter."
Irenaeus (i. 11, 1) speaks of Valentinus as the first who transformed the doctrines of the Gnostic "Heresy" to a peculiar doctrinal system of his own (eis idion carakthra didaskaleiou). By the expression gnwstikh we understand a party which called themselves "Gnostics," whom we may recognize in the so-called Ophites, described by Irenaeus (i. 30), when he remarks that the Valentinian school originated from those unnamed heretics as from the many-headed Lernean Hydra (i. 30, 15). Concerning the home and locality of these so-called "Gnostics" Irenaeus tells us nothing. But we know from other sources that those Ophite parties to whom he refers had their homes both in Egypt and Syria.
Concerning the fatherland of Valentinus himself Epiphanius is the first to give accurate information, which, however, he derived simply, it appears, from oral tradition (Epiph. Haer. xxxi. 2). According to this his native home was on the coast of Egypt, and he received instruction in Greek literature and science at Alexandria. Epiphanius, who makes him begin to teach in Egypt, relates 999
further that he also went to Rome, and appealed as a religious teacher there, but that, both in Egypt and at Rome, he was regarded as orthodox, and first made shipwreck of faith in Cyprus and began to disseminate heretical opinions. But this statement rests merely on a combination of different accounts. According to Irenaeus, Valentinus "flourished" at Rome in the times of Pius and Anicetus. Epiphanius, on the other hand, read (as we learn from Philaster, Haer. 38) in the suntagma of Hippolytus, that Valentinus stood once in the communion of the church, but being drawn by overweening pride into apostasy had, during his residence in Cyprus, propounded his heretical doctrine. But we cannot doubt that when Irenaeus speaks of Valentinus's flourishing at Rome during the times of Pius and Anicetus, he refers to the fact that his chief activity as a religious teacher was then displayed, and that under Anicetus he stood at the head of his own Gnostic school. With this there is no difficulty in reconciling Tertullian's statement, that Valentinus no more than Marcion separated himself from the Church on his arrival at Rome (Praescript. Haeret. 36). For the Gnostics, for the very sake of disseminating their doctrines the more freely, made a great point of remaining in the Catholic church, and made use for that end of a twofold mode of teaching, one exoteric for the simpler sort of believers, the other esoteric for the initiated, as is shewn in the fragments which have come down to us, the most part of which purposely keep the peculiarly Gnostic doctrines in the background.
We may, then, conclude that Valentinus, towards the end of Hadrian's reign (c. 130), appeared as a teacher in Egypt and in Cyprus, and early in the reign of Antoninus Pius he came to Rome, and during the long reign of Antoninus was a teacher there. He had probably developed and secretly prepared his theological system before he came to Rome, whither he doubtless removed for the same motive as led other leaders of sects, e.g. Cerdon and Marcion, to go to Rome--the hope to find a wider field for his activity as a teacher. From a similar motive he attached himself at first to the communion of the Catholic church.
II. History of the Sect.--Valentinus had numerous adherents. They divided themselves, we are told, into two schools--the anatolic or oriental, and the Italian school (Pseud-Orig. Philosoph. vi. 35, p. 195, Miller, cf. Tertullian, adv. Valentinian. c. 11, and the title prefixed to the excerpts of Clemens Ek tou Qeudotou tai thV AnatolikhV kaloumenhV didaskaliaV). The former of these schools was spread through Egypt and Syria, the latter in Rome, Italy, and S. Gaul. Among his disciples, Secundus appears to have been one of the earliest. Tertullian (adv. Valentinian. 4) and the epitomators of Hippolytus mention him after Ptolemaeus (Pseudo-Tertull. Haer. 13; Philast. Haer. 40); the older work, on the other hand, excerpted by Irenaeus is apparently correct in naming him first as Valentines s earliest disciple (Haer. i. 11, 2). Then follows, in the same original work as quoted by Irenaeus (Haer. i. 11, 3), another illustrious teacher (alloV epifanhV didaskaloV), of whom a misunderstanding of later heresiologists has made a Valentinian leader, named Epiphanes; who this illustrious teacher was is matter of dispute. The more probable conjecture is with Neander (Gnostische Systeme, p. 169) and Salmon to suppose it was MARCUS (17), whose first Tetrad exactly corresponds to that of this unnamed teacher (cf. Haer. i. 15, 1, kaQ a proeirhtai). Marcus himself will, in any case, be among the earliest of Valentinus's disciples (Lipsius, Quellen der ältesten Ketzergesch. p. 33). His labours in Asia were probably contemporaneous with Valentinus's residence and activity at Rome, and there a "godly elder and herald of the truth," whom Irenaeus quotes from as an older authority, made him the subject of metrical objurgation as the "forerunner of anti-Christian malice" (Iren. Haer. i. 15, 6).
PTOLEMAEUS, on the other hand, was a contemporary of Irenaeus himself, and one of the leaders of the Italian school (Iren. Haer. Praef. 2, Pseud-Orig. Philos. vi. 35), whom Hippolytus in the Syntagina, and probably on the basis of an arbitrary combination of Iren. i. 8, 5 with 11, 2, puts at the head of all other disciples of Valentinus. HERACLEON was still younger than Ptolemaeus, and the second head of the Italian school. His doctrinal system appears to be that mainly kept in view in the Philosophumena (cf. vi. 29, 35). Irenaeus names him as it were in passing (Haer. ii. 4, 1), while Tertullian designates his relation to his predecessors with the words, Valentinus shewed the way, Ptolemaeus walked along it, Heracleon struck out some side paths (adv. Valentinian. 4). He makes also the like remark concerning Secundus and Marcus. Clemens speaks of Heracleon (c. 193) as the most distinguished among the disciples of Valentinus (Strom. iv. 9, 73, p. 595), meaning, of course, among those of his own time. Origen's statement, therefore, that he had a personal acquaintance with Valentinus (Origen, in Joann. t. ii. 8) is to be received with caution. In part contemporaneously with him appear to have worked the heads of the anatolic (oriental) school Axionikos and Bardesanes ('ArdhsianhV, Philos. vi. 35), who both lived into the first decennia of cent. iii.
Axionikos was still working at Antioch when Tertullian composed his book against the Valentinians, therefore c. 218 (Tertull. l.c.). We cannot here discuss how far the celebrated Edessene Gnostic BARDESANES (ob. 223) is rightly accounted a Valentinian. Tertullian indicates Axionikos as the only one who in his day still represented the original teaching of Valentines. Theotimus, therefore, who is previously mentioned by Tertullian, and seems to have occupied himself much with the "Figures of the Law," was, it appears, an older teacher. The same was also probably the case with Alexander, the Valentinian whose syllogisms Tertullian had in his hands (de Carne Christi cc. 16 sqq.).
Concerning the later history of the Valentinian sect we have but meagre information. Tertullian, writing c. 218, speaks of the Valentinians in his book against them as the "frequentissimum collegium inter haereticos." This is confirmed by what is told us of the 1000 local extension of the sect. From Egypt it seems to have spread to Syria, Asia Minor, and to Rome. Its division into an oriental and an Italian school shews that it had adherents even after the death of its founder, in both the East (Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia) and West (specially at Rome). In Asia Minor the doctrine appears to have been mainly disseminated by Marcus, who was so vigorously attacked (c. 150) by the "godly elder," quoted by Irenaeus (Haer. i. 15, 6). Disciples of Marcus were found by Irenaeus in the Rhone districts (Haer. i. 13, 7), where also he appears to have met with adherents of Ptolemaeus (Haer. Praef. 2). In Rome, c. 223, an important work of the Italian school came into the hands of the writer of the Philosophumena, who speaks of both schools as being in existence in his time (Philos. vi. 35, p. 195). Tertullian also mentions the duae scholae and duae cathedrae of the party in his time (adv. Valent. 11). Remains of the sect were still found in Egypt in the time of Epiphanius (Haer. xxxi. 7). Theodoret, on the other hand (H. f. Praef.), can only speak of the Valentinians as of other Gnostic sects (whom he deals with in his first book) as belonging to the past--palaiaV aireseiV--of whom he possesses a mere historical knowledge.
III. Writings.--The fragments of the writings of Valentinus have been collected by Grabe (Spicilegium, ii. 45-48), and more completely by Hilgenfeld (Ketzergeschichte, pp. 93-207). They consist of fragments of letters and homilies preserved by Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. ii. 8, 36, p. 448; ii. 20, 114, pp. 488 seq.; iii. 7, 59, p. 538; iv. 13, 91, p. 603; vi. 6, 52, p. 767), and of two pieces contained in the Philosophumena, the narrative of a vision (orama) seen by Valentinus (Philos. vi. 42, p. 203), and the fragment of a psalm composed by him (Philos. vi. 37, pp. 197 seq.). Psalms of Valentinus's authorship are mentioned by Tertullian (de Carne Christi, 17, 20).
Remains of the writings of the school of Valentinus are more abundant. Beside the numerous fragments and quotations in Irenaeus and the Philosophumena, and in the excerpts from Theodotus, and the anatolic school, which seem yet to need a closer investigation, we may mention: the letter of Ptolemaeus to Flora (ap. Epiphan. Haer. xxxiii. 3-7), numerous fragments from the commentaries (upomnhmata) of Heracleon on St. Luke (ap. Clem. Alex. Strom. iv. 9, 73 seq., pp. 595 seq.; excerpt. ex prophet. § 25, p. 995), and on St. John (ap. Origen in Joann. passim), collected by Grabe (Spicil. i. 80-117) and Hilgenfeld (Ketzergeschichte, 472-498); lastly, a rather large piece out of an otherwise unknown Valentinian writing preserved by Epiphanius (Haer. xxxi. 5 and 6).
IV. Accounts given by the Fathers.--Statements concerning Valentinus and his school are very numerous, but many are so contradictory that it is difficult to distinguish the original doctrine of Valentinus from later developments. Even in his day Tertullian made the complaint (adv. Valentinian. 4), "Ita nunquam jam Valentinus, et tamen Valentiniani, qui per Valentinum." Among those who before him had controverted the Valentinians, Tertullian enumerates (ib. 5): Justin Martyr, Miltiades, Irenaeus, and the Montanist Proculus. Of the writings of these four on this subject one only has been preserved, the great work of Irenaeus in five books, entitled ElegcoV kai anatroph thV yeudwnumou gnwsewV, which has come down to us in great part only in the ancient Latin version. This work was written (see iii. 3, 3) in the time of the Roman bp. Eleutherus, c. 180-185. The greater part of bk. i., which Epiphanius has preserved to us almost completely, deals exclusively with the Valentinians, and the refutations in the following books are principally concerned with them.
The sources which Irenaeus used are of sufficient variety. In the preface to bk. i. (c. 2 ) he refers to the writings of those who call themselves disciples of Valentinus, adding that he had met some of them himself and heard their opinions from their own mouths. Immediately afterwards he indicates that the contemporary Valentinians, whose doctrine he promises to describe, are those of the school of Ptolemaeus. In bk. i. (c. 8, 5) he introduces into a detailed description of the Valentinian method of interpreting Scripture a large fragment which undertakes to prove the truth of the higher Ogdoad of the Valentinian Pleroma from the prologue of the Gospel of St. John. The concluding notice (found only in the Latin text) expressly ascribes the authorship of this fragment to Ptolemaeus. Irenaeus likewise obtained his information as to the doctrine and practices of the Marcosians partly from a written source, partly from oral communications. We can hardly assume that Marcus was still alive when Irenaeus wrote, but it is not unlikely that adherents of Marcus may have appeared then in the Rhone districts. The section which specially treats of Marcus (i. 12-15) is apparently from a written source; but what he brings to light for the first time (cc. 16-18) concerning the mysteries celebrated by the Marcosians is from oral information.
Next in importance to the statements of Irenaeus, as a source of information concerning Valentinus and his school, are the fragments preserved among the works of Clemens Alexandrinus, and entitled 'Ek tvn Qeodotou kai thV anatolikhV kaloumenhV didaskaliaV epitomai. The text has come down to us in a somewhat forlorn condition. The best ed. is Bunsen's, in Analecta Antinicaena, vol. i. (Lond. 1854), pp. 205-278. The general character of these excerpts is similar to others in other writings of Clemens Alexandrinus, and does not justify the assumption that their present abrupt fragmentary form proceeded from Clemens himself.
Very little is obtainable from the Syntagma of Hippolytus, preserved in the excerpts of Pseudo-Tertullian (Haer. 12) and by Philaster (Haer. 38), as also partly by Epiphanius (Haer. xxxi. 8; cf. Quellen d. alt. Ketzergesch. p. 166). Hippolytus combined Irenaeus (cc. 1-7) with some authority belonging to the older anatolic system.
Pseud-Origines, now almost universally assumed to be HIPPOLYTUS, gives us in the Philosophumena (the larger 'ElegcoV kata pasvn airesewn) a quite peculiar account of the Valentinian system, one mere uniform and 1001
synoptical than that of Irenaeus. The original authority on which this description is based cannot have been the same as that in the Syntagma which belonged to the anatolic school, the former being a product of the Western or Italian. The doctrinal system reproduced by Pseud-Origines is in general akin to the Ptolemaic presented by Irenaeus. But his original authority is entirely independent of the sources used by Irenaeus.
Tertullian's tractate adversus Valentinianos is not an independent authority. Apart from a few personal notices concerning him and his disciples which he may have taken from the lost work of Proculus (c. 4, cf. c. 11), his whole account is a paraphrase of Irenaeus, whom he follows almost word for word, and more or less faithfully from c. 7 onwards.
Epiphanius (Haer. xxxi. 9-32) has incorporated the whole long section of Irenaeus (i. 1-10) in his Panarion. Haer. xxxii. and xxxiv. (Secundus, Marcus) are simply taken from Irenaeus. He follows Irenaeus also in his somewhat arbitrary way in what he says about Ptolemaeus, Colarbasus, Heracleon (Haer. xxxiii. xxxv. xxxvi.). On the other hand, Haer. xxxi. 7, 8, is taken from the Syntagma of Hippolytus: Haer. xxxiii. 3-7 contains the important letter of PTOLEMAEUS to Flora. Haer. xxxi. 5 and 6 gives a fragment of an unknown Valentinian writing, from which the statements in c. 2 are partly derived. This writing, with its barbarous names for the Aeons and its mixture of Valentinian and Basilidian doctrines, shows anatolic Valentinianism as already degenerate.
Later heresiologists, e.g. Theodoret, who (Haer. Fab. i. 7-9) follows Irenaeus and Epiphanius, are not independent authorities.
V. The System.--A review of the accounts given by the Fathers confirms the judgment that, with the means at our command, it is very difficult to distinguish between the original doctrine of Valentinus and the later developments made by his disciples. A description of his system must start from the Fragments, the authenticity of which (apart from the so-called oroV Oualentinou in Dial. de Recta Fide) is unquestioned. But from the nature of these fragments we cannot expect to reconstruct the whole system out of them. From an abundant literature a few relics only have been preserved. Moreover, the kinds of literature to which these fragments belong--letters, homilies, hymns--shew us only the outer side of the system, while its secret Gnostic doctrine is passed over and concealed, or only indicated in the obscurest manner. The modes of expression in these fragments are brought as near as possible to those in ordinary church use. We see therein the evident desire and effort of Valentinus to remain in the fellowship of the Catholic church. Of specific Gnostic doctrines two only appear in their genuine undisguised shape, that of the celestial origin of the spiritual man (the Pneumaticos), and that of the Demiurge; for the docetic Christology was not then, as is clear from Clemens Alexandrinus, exclusively peculiar to the Gnostics. All the more emphatically is the anthropological and ethical side of the system insisted on in these fragments.
As the world is an image of the living Aeon (tou zvntoV aivnoV), so is man an image of the pre-existent man of the anqrwpoV prown. Valentinus, according to Clemens Alexandrinus (Valentini Homil. ap. Clem. Strom. iv. 13, 92), spoke of the Sophia as an artist (zwgrafoV) making this visible lower world a picture of the glorious Archetype, but the hearer or reader would as readily understand the heavenly Wisdom of the Book of Proverbs to be meant by this Sophia as the 12th and fallen Aeon. Under her (according to Valentinus) stand the world-creative angels, whose head is the Demiurge. Her formation (plasma) is Adam created in the name of the 'AnqrwpoV prowm. In him thus made a higher power puts the seed of the heavenly pneumatic essence (sperma thV anwqen ousiaV). Thus furnished with higher insight, Adam excites the fears of the angels; for even as anqropoi are seized with fear of the images made by their own hands to bear the name of God, i.e. the idols, so these angels cause the images they have made to disappear (Ep. ad Amicos ap. Clem. Alex. Strom. ii. 8, 36). The pneumatic seed (pneuma diaferon or genoV diaferon) nevertheless remains in the world, as a race by nature capable of being saved (fusei swzomenon genoV), and which has come down from a higher sphere in order to put an end to the reign of death. Death originates from the Demiurge, to whom the word (Ex. xxxiii. 20) refers that no one can see the face of God without dying. The members of the pneumatic church are from the first immortal, and children of eternal life. They have only assumed mortality in order to overcome death in themselves and by themselves. They shall dissolve the world without themselves suffering dissolution, and be lords over the creation and over all transitory things (Valent. Hom. ap. Clem. Strom. iv. 13, 91 seq.). But without the help of the only good Father the heart even of the spiritual man (the pneumaticos) cannot be cleansed from the many evil spirits which make their abode in him, and each accomplishes his own desire. But when the only good Father visits the soul, it is hallowed and enlightened, and is called blessed because one day it shall see God. This cleansing and illumination is a consequence of the revelation of the Son (ib. ii. 20, 114).
We learn from the fragments only (Valent. Ep. ad Agathopoda ap. Clem. Strom. iv. 7, 59) that Jesus, by steadfastness and abstinence, earned for Himself Deity, and by virtue of His abstinence did not even suffer to be corrupted the food which He received (i.e. it did not undergo the natural process of digestion), because He Himself was not subject to corruption. It must remain undetermined how Valentinus defined the relation of Jesus to the uioV. If the text of the passage quoted above be sound, Jesus put Himself in possession of Godhead by His own abstinence, a notion we should expect in Ebionite rather than in Gnostic circles. But the true reading may be eikazeto (not eirgazeto), and in that case the meaning will be that by an extraordinary asceticism Jesus avoided every kind of material pollution, and so became Himself the image of the incorruptible and 1002 imperishable Godhead. At any rate, this fragment does not tell us whether, according to the teaching of Valentinus, the body of Jesus was pneumatic or psychical. According to another fragment attributed to Valentinus, and preserved by Eulogius of Alexandria (ap. Photium, Bibl. Cod. 230), he appears to have treated with ridicule the opinion of the "Galileans" that Christ had two natures, and to have maintained that He had but one nature composed of the visible and the invisible. Hilgenfeld (l.c. pp. 302 seq.) supposes the Valentinus of this fragment to be the Gnostic, while others take him to have been the Apollinarian. But we have no other instance of any Gnostic giving to Catholic Christians (as did the emperor Julian later) the epithet "Galilean." Further, although Tertullian (adv. Prax. 29) and Origen (de Princip. i. 2, 1) may have spoken of two natures or two substances in Christ, we can hardly imagine Valentinus pronouncing a doctrine ridiculous, and yet it finding acceptance in his school. For we find the Occidental Valentinians actually teaching in very similar terms, that Soter, the common product of the whole Pleroma, united himself with the Christus of the Demiurge the Man Jesus. Could we otherwise assume that the fragment is genuine, it would serve to prove that the doctrine of the Oriental school concerning the pneumatic body of Christ was in fact the original teaching of Valentinus. How Valentinus thought concerning the origin of matter and of evil cannot be made out from existing fragments. When, however, we find him designating the Demiurge as author of death, we can hardly suppose that he derived the transitory nature and other imperfections of the terrestrial universe from an originally evil material substance. The view, moreover, which underlies the psalm of Valentinus, of which the Philosophumena have preserved a fragment (Philos. vi. 37, pp. 197 seq.) is decidedly monastic. He there sees in the spirit how "all things are hanging (kremamena) and are upborne (ocoumena), the flesh hanging on the soul, the soul upborne by the air, the air hanging on the aether, from Bythos fruits produced and from the womb the child." An interpretation of these sayings current in the Valentinian school is appended. According to this interpretation, flesh is the ulh which depends upon the soul (the psychical nature) of the Demiurge. Again the Demiurge hangs from the spirit which is outside the Pleroma, i.e. the Sophia in the kingdom of the Midst, the Sophia from Horus and from the Pleroma, and finally the world of Aeons in the Pleroma from the abyss, i.e. their Father. If this interpretation be, as we may assume, correct, Valentinus must have conceived the whole universe as forming a grand scale of being, beginning with the abysmal ground of all spiritual life, and thence descending lower and lower down to matter. The whole scale then is a descent from the perfect to ever more and more imperfect images; according to the principle expressly laid down by Valentinus, that the cosmos is as inferior to the living Aeon as the image is inferior to the living countenance (ap. Clem. Strom. iv. 13, 92). This view of the nature of the universe exhibits a much nearer relationship to Platonic philosophy than to the Oriental dualism which underlay the older Gnostic systems; and Hippolytus is therefore completely right, when dealing with the psalm of Valentinus, to speak of Platonising Gnostics (Philos. vi. 37, p. 197).
The fragments do not give us any detailed acquaintance with the doctrine of Valentinus concerning the Aeons. The Pathr or BuqoV stands at their head; but what place in the Valentinian Pleroma was assigned to the 'AnqropoV prowm in whose name Adam was created, is difficult to determine.
Of a two-fold Sophia, a higher and a lower, we read nothing. Sophia is the artist (zwgrafoV) who forms the world after the archetype of the living Aeon, in order to be honoured by his name. The world as formed obtains credit and stability through the invisible nature of God (Strom. iv. 13, 92).
To what authority Valentinus made appeal as the source of his doctrine cannot be made out from the fragments. From the Homily to the Friends Clemens Alexandrinus has preserved a sentence which defines "many of the things written in the public books" (dhmosioiV biblioV: he means doubtless the writings of the O.T.) as "found written in the church of God"--"for," he adds, "those things which are common" (i.e. not merely found in books--read, with Heinrici koina instead of kena) "are words from the heart"; and proceeds, "The law written in the heart is the People of the Beloved One, both loved and loving" (Grabe was wrong in proposing to emend laoV into logoV). The meaning is that this "People" is in virtue of the inward revelation of the Logos a law unto itself (cf. Rom. ii. 14). But this inward revelation has reference only to "that which is common" (ta koina), i.e. to the universal ethical truths written in the heart which "the church of God" needs not first to learn from "the public books." But this passage tells us nothing about the sources whence Valentinus derived his Gnosis. For these we must go back to the statement of Clemens (Strom. vii. 17, 106), according to which the Valentinians spoke of their leader as having learned of a certain Theodas, a disciple of St. Paul. But the actual statement of Irenaeus is more to be depended on, that Valentinus was the first who transformed the old doctrines of "the Gnostics" into a system of his own (Haer. i. 11, 1; cf. Tert. adv. Valentinian. 4.). The fragments, moreover, give a series of points of contact with the opinions of these older "Gnostics." We may therefore regard as an axiom to be adhered to in our investigations that of any two Valentinian doctrines, that is the older and more original which approaches more closely to the older and vulgar Gnosis (Iren. i. 30). Yet the system of Valentinus had a peculiar character of its own. He was the first to breathe a really philosophic spirit into the old vulgar Gnosis, by making use of Plato's world of thought to infuse a deeper meaning into the old Gnostic myths. Baur, therefore, was quite right in emphasizing the Platonism of Valentinus (Christliche Gnosis, pp 124 seq.), to which the Philosophumena had already called attention (Philos. vi. 21 sqq.).
Irenaeus completes the information afforded 1003 by the fragments concerning Valentinus's doctrine of the Aeons. At the head of them stands a duaV anonomastoV, the 'ArrhtoV (called also BuqoV and Pater agennhtoV) and his suzugoV the Sigh. From this Dyad proceeds a second Dyad, Pathr and 'Alhqeia, which with the first Dyad forms the highest Tetrad. From this Tetrad a second Tetrad proceeds--LogoV and Zwh, 'AnqrwpoV and 'Ekklhsia, and these complete the First Ogdoad. From LogoV and Zwh proceed a Decad, from AnqrwpoV and 'Ekklhsia a Dodecad of Aeons. In this the number 30 of Aeons forming the Pleroma is completed. The names of the Aeons composing the Decad and the Dodecad are not given. We may, however, venture to assume that the names elsewhere given by Irenaeus (i. 1, 2), and literally repeated by Pseud-Origenes (Philos. vi. 30), and then again by Epiphanius (xxxi. 6) with some differences of detail, in his much later account, did really originate from Valentinus himself. They are as follows: From LogoV and Zwh proceed BuqioV and MixiV, 'AghratoV and 'EnwsiV, AutofnhV and 'Hdonh, 'AkinhtoV and Sugkrasis, MonogenhV and Makaria. From 'AnqrwpoV and 'Ekklhsia proceed: ParaklhtoV and PistiV, PatrikoV and 'ElpiV, MhtrikoV and 'Agape, 'AeinouV and SunesiV, 'EkklhsiastikoV and MakariothV, QelhtoV and Sofia. However arbitrary this name-giving may seem, it is evident that the first four masculine Aeons repeat the notion of the First Principle, and the first four feminine the notion of his syzygy, in various forms of expression. The names MonogenhV and NouV (here 'AeinouV) meet us again among the Valentinians of Irenaeus as expressions for the secend Masculine Principle, and ParaklhtoV as that for the common product of all the Aeons--the Soter. PatrikoV, MhtrikoV, 'EkklhsiastikoV are names simply expressing that the Aeons which bear them are derived from the higher powers within the Pleroma. The feminine names Makaria, PistiV, 'ElpiV, 'Agaph, SunesiV, Sofia, describe generally the perfection of the Pleroma by means of Predicates borrowed from the characteristics of the perfect Pneumaticos. So that all these inferior Aeon names are but a further and more detailed expression of the thought contained in the names of the first and second Tetrad. The first Tetrad expresses the essence of the Upper Pleroma in itself, the second Tetrad divided into two pairs of Aeons expresses its revelation to the Pneumatici and the Pneumatic World.
The last of the 30 Aeons, the Sophia or Mhthr, falls out of the Pleroma. In her remembrance of the better world she gives birth to Christus with a shadow (meta skiaV tinoV), Christus being of masculine nature, cuts away the shadow from himself and hastens back into the Pleroma. The mother, on the other hand, being left behind and alone with the shadow, and emptied of the pneumatic substance, gives birth to another Son the Demiurge, called also Pantokratwr, and at the same time with him a sinistrous archon (the Kosmokratwr). So then from these two elements, "the right and the left," the psychical and the hylical, proceeds this lower world. This the original doctrine of Valentinus appears to have had in common with that of the Ophites (Iren. i. 30), that both doctrines knew of only one Sophia, and that for the Ophites also Christus leaves the Sophia behind and escapes himself into the upper realm of light.
The notion of a fall of the last of the Aeons from the Pleroma, and the consequent formation of this lower world as the fruit of that fall, is new and peculiar to Valentinus in his reconstruction of the older Gnosticism. He set his Platonic Monism in the place of the Oriental Dualism. The Platonic thought of the soul's fall and longing after the lost world of light he combined with the other Platonic thought of the things of this lower world being types and images of heavenly Archetypes, and so obtained a new solution of the old problems of the world's creation and the origin of evil.
The statements of Irenaeus concerning his teaching are, alas! too fragmentary and too uncertain to supply a complete view of the system of Valentinus. But the excerpts in Clemens Alex. taken from Theodotos and the anatolic school contain a doctrine in §§ 1-42, which at any rate stands much nearer to the views of Valentinus than the detailed account of Ptolemaic doctrines which Irenaeus gives in i. 1-8. We have in these excerpts a somewhat complete whole, differing in some important respects from the doctrinal system of the Italic school, and agreeing with that of Valentinus in that it knows of only one Sophia, whose offspring Christus, leaving his mother, enters the Pleroma, and sends down Jesus for the redemption of the forsaken One.
The doctrine of the Aeons stands as much behind the anthropological and ethical problems in these excerpts as it does in the fragments. We find something about the Pleroma in an interpretation of the prologue of St. John's Gospel (Excerpt. §§ 6, 7). By the arch of St. John i. 1, in which the Logos "was," we must understand the MonogenhV "Who is also called God" (the reading o monogenhV qeoV John i. 18 being followed). "The Logos was en arch" means that He was in the Monogenes, in the NouV and the 'Alhqeia--the reference being to the syzygy of LogoV and Zwh which is said to have proceeded from NouV and 'alhqeia. The Logos is called God because He is in God, in the NouV. But when it is said o gegonen en autv zwh hn, the reference is to the Zwh as suzugoV of the Logos. The Unknown Father (pathr agnwstoV) willed to be known to the Aeons. On knowing Himself through His own 'EnqumhsiV, which was indeed the spirit of knowledge (pneuma gnwsewV), He, by knowledge, made to emanate the Monogenes. The Monogenes having emanated from the Gnosis, i.e. the Enthymesis of the Father, is in Himself Gnosis, i.e. Son, for it is through the Son that the Father is known. The pneuma agaphV mingles itself with the pneuma gnwsewV as the Father with the Son (i.e. the Monogenes or NouV) and the Enthymesis with 'Alhqeia, proceeding from the Aletheia as the Gnosis proceeds from the Enthymesis. The monogenhV nioV, Who abides in the bosom of the Father, emanates from the Father's bosom and thereby declares (exhgeitai) the Enthymesis through Gnosis to 1004 the Aeons. Having become visible on earth, He is no longer called by the apostle Monogenes (simply), but wV monogenhV. For though remaining in Himself one and the same, He is in the creation called prwtokotoV, and in the Pleroma MonogenhV, and appears in each locality as He can be comprehended there.
The preceding survey shews that in the first 42 paragraphs or sections of Clemens's fragments from Theodotus we really have a well-connected and consistent doctrinal system. The scattered notices in §§ 1-28 fit tolerably well into the dogmatic whole, and doubtless we have here an account of the so-called anatolic school, and in substance the oldest form of the Valentinian system.
The historical development of the Valentinian doctrine can be traced with only approximate certainty and imperfectly. The roots of the system are to be found in the old vulgar Gnosis. For even if the original dualistic foundation is repressed and concealed by a Platonizing pantheism, it still gives evident tokens of its continued existence in the background. The ulh and "dark waters" into which the Ophitic Sophia sinks down (Iren. i. 30, 3) are here changed into the kenwma or usterhma, which in antithesis to the plhrwma is simply an equivalent for the Platonic mh on.
The notion of a psychical Christus who passes through Mary as water through a conduit (Iren. vii. 2) is to be found everywhere in the Italic school (Philos. vi. 35, pp. 194 seq.).
The centre of gravity of the whole system lies undoubtedly in its speculative interests. The names alone of the 30 Aeons are a proof of this. It deserves notice that the designations NouV and MonogenhV applied to the first masculine principle emanating from the supreme Father do not seem to have been used by Valentinus himself. It was called simply Pathr or 'AnqrwpoV (nioV anqrwpou). It is a genuinely speculative feature that the knowledge of the Father through the Son is derived from a union of the Spirit of Love with the Spirit of Knowledge.
Since the doctrine of Valentinus concerning the Aeons originated in the cosmogonic and astral powers of the old Syrian Gnosis, one cannot doubt that the Aeons were originally thought of as mythological personages and not as personified notions, although Tertullian (adv. Valentin. 4) would refer the former view to Ptolemaeus, and not Valentinus, as its first author.
A yet more widely different conception of the Valentinian doctrine of Aeons is found in the fragment given by Epiphanius (xxxi. 5-6). Here, too, the speculative interest is manifest in the endeavour to follow up in detail the process of the emanation of individual Aeons within the Pleroma from the Autopatwr. But the whole description, bathed as it is in sensuous warmth, with its peculiar plays with numbers and its barbarous names for individual Aeons, appears to be merely a degenerate Marcosian form of Gnosis.
Finally, we have a quite peculiar transformation of the Valentinian system in the doctrine of the so-called Docetae, as preserved in the Philosophumena (viii. 8-11). From the prvtoV qeoV, who is small as the seed of a fig-tree but infinite in power, proceed first of all three Aeons, which by the perfect number ten enlarge themselves to thirty Aeons; from these proceed innumerable other bisexual Aeons, and from these an infinite multiplicity of Ideas, of which those of the third Aeon are expressed and shapen in the lower world of darkness as fwteinai carakthreV.
The Platonic foundation of the Valentinian system is very perceptible in this its last offshoot, though mixed up in a peculiar way with Oriental Dualism. At the same time these Docetae endeavour to reduce the metaphysical distinctions which they maintain to merely gradual ones. No part of Christendom therefore is entirely excluded from the knowledge of the Redeemer, and participation in His Redemption: all, even those of the lower grades of the spirit-world, participate at least ek merouV in the Truth. The way in which all, and each according to his measure, attain knowledge of the truth, is, as in the doctrine of the church, Faith. Since the Redeemer's advent--so we read expressly--"Faith is announced for the forgiveness of sins."
Beside working out philosophical problems, the disciples of Valentinus were much occupied with seeking traces of their Master's doctrine in Holy Scripture. The excerpts of Clemens and abundant notices in Irenaeus tell of an allegorical method of scriptural exposition pursued with great zeal in the Valentinian schools, not limited to the Gospels or the Pauline Epistles, but extending to the O.T., and attaching special significance to the history of creation in Genesis. Valentinian expositors shew a special preference for St. John's Gospel, and above all for its prologue. Some allegorical expositions have been preserved belonging to the anatolic school (Exc. ex Theod. §§ 6, 7) and others derived from Ptolemaeus (Iren. i. 8, 5). But before all we must make mention of the labours of Heracleon, of which Origen has preserved numerous specimens. From Heracleon proceeded the first known commentary on St. John's Gospel.
VI. Literature.--Valentinus occupies a distinguished place in all works on Gnosticism, e.g. in Neander, Baur, Matter, Lipsius, Möhler (Geschichte der Kosmologie in der Christlichen Kirche), Mansel (The Gnostic Heresies of the First and Second Centuries--a posthumous work, ed. by Bp. Lightfoot), and in the Prolegomena of Harvey's ed. of Irenaeus. The best monograph is by Heinrici (Die Valentinianische Gnosis und die Heilige Schrift, Berlin, 1851), with which cf. the review by Lipsius (Protestantische Kirchenzeitung, 1873, pp. 174-186). [HERACLEON; MARCUS (17).]
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