Valentinus, founder of one of the Gnostic sects which originated in the first half of 2nd cent. I. Biography.—According to the tradition of the Valentinian school witnessed to by Clemens Alexandrinus, Valentinus had been a disciple of Theodas, who himself, it is very improbably said, knew St. Paul. Valentinus cannot have begun to disseminate his … Read more


Marcion, a noted and permanently influential heretic of the 2nd cent. Life.—Justin Martyr mentions Simon and Menander as having been instigated by demons to introduce heresy into the church, and goes on to speak of Marcion as still living, evidently regarding him as the most formidable heretic of the day. He states that he was … Read more


Carpocrates, a Platonic philosopher who taught at Alexandria early in the 2nd cent., and who, incorporating Christian elements into his system, became the founder of a heretical sect mentioned in one of our earliest catalogues of heresies, the list of Hegesippus, preserved by Eusebius. These heretics are the first of whom Irenaeus expressly mentions that … Read more


Cerdon, a Gnostic teacher of the first half of the 2nd cent., principally known as the predecessor of MARCION. Epiphanius and Philaster assert him to have been a native of Syria, and Irenaeus states that he came to Rome in the episcopate of Hyginus. This episcopate lasted four years, and Lipsius places its termination A.D. … Read more

Ebionism and Ebionites

The name Ebionite first occurs in Irenaeus (c. 180-190). It was repeated, probably from him, by Hippolytus (c. 225-235) and Origen (d. A.D. 254), who first introduced an explanation of the name. Others offered different explanations; while other writers fabricated a leader, “Ebion,” after whom the sect was called. These explanations owe their origin to … Read more


Menander, a Samaritan false teacher in the early part of the 2nd cent. Our knowledge of him is probably all derived, either directly or indirectly, from Justin Martyr. What he tells directly is, that Menander was a native of the Samaritan town Capparatea, and a disciple of Simon, and, like him, had been instigated by … Read more


Basilides, the founder of one of the semi-Christian sects, commonly called Gnostic, which sprang up in the early part of the 2nd cent. I. Biography.—He called himself a disciple of one Glaucias, alleged to be an interpreter of St. Peter. He taught at Alexandria : Hippolytus in general terms mentions Egypt. Indeed Epiphanius enumerates various … Read more


Cerinthus, a traditional opponent of St. John. It will probably always remain an open question whether his fundamentally Ebionite sympathies inclined him to accept Jewish rather than Gnostic additions. Modern scholarship has therefore preferred to view his doctrine as a fusing together and incorporating in a single system tenets collected from Jewish, Oriental, and Christian … Read more


Leucius, the reputed author of large apocryphal additions to the N.T. history, which originated in heretical circles, and which, though now lost, were much current in early times. The fullest account is that given by Photius, who describes a book, called The Circuits of the Apostles, which contained the Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, … Read more


Saturninus. In the section of his work commencing I. 22 Irenaeus gives a list of heretics, apparently derived from Justin Martyr. The first two are the Samaritan heretics, Simon and Menander; the next, as having derived their doctrines from these, Saturninus and Basilides, who taught, the former in the Syrian Antioch, the latter in Egypt. … Read more