Jesus is identified by some Gnostics as an embodiment of the supreme being who became incarnate to bring gnōsis to the earth. In contrast, others adamantly denied that the supreme being came in the flesh, claiming Jesus to be merely a human who attained enlightenment through gnosis and taught his disciples to do the same. Among the Mandaeans, Jesus was considered a mšiha kdaba or “false messiah” who perverted the teachings entrusted to him by John the Baptist. Still other traditions identify Mani and Seth, third son of Adam and Eve, as salvific figures.
In the course of a century and a half, Gnosticism comes and goes before us like a splendid vision. And yet, its influence upon Christianity was profound and permanent. It gave occasion to a great expansion of Christian thought, to a clearer idea of the historical relation of Christianity to earlier and surrounding religions, and to a better definition of the basis of true faith. Therefore, it deserves a more careful study than it has only recently received.
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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).