Septem Sermones ad Mortuos: Jung's Challenge to Christianity

Due to the lack of any real progress of finding common cause between religionists generally and Classical Jungians the mundane school of psychology/psychiatry is pulling Jung's legacy down an evermore materialistic path.  Concepts which can be taken as statements of Jung's own spirituality are being diminished in favour of a rapprochement with Freudians.  It is true that in Jung's schema of man’s psyche, God could exist but it is not necessarily so; the spirit could exist, but that is also not necessarily so.  However, by using religious perceptions and insights Jung has managed to bring a potential harmony between modern and ancient thought; his ideas can be used by psychiatrists and mystics alike. 

The Freudian response to the claims of homo religiosus is one of confrontation, viz. that religious belief is an identifiable neurosis.  Human nature is driven by animal sexuality which the ego and superego struggle to contain, and it is this battleground from which repression and guilt arise.  This Freudian existentiality allows for no spiritual man with attendant holiness.  In fact the oppressive religious structures which teach holiness only serve to induce unnecessary guilt, the feeling of having sinned.   Juxtaposed is Jung.  Here we have a psychological schema which apprehends religion as proto-psychology, with Jung as the modern day prophet expressing the numen in twentieth century language.  It is this Jungian perspective of constructive criticism of the old by the new, rather than that of sterile confrontation, which sets the scene for a revolution in religious thought.  But herein is the Jungian paradox; being new for Jung means an updating of ancient spirituality and using that as a standpoint for a new critique.

He believed himself to be in the line of the ancient Gnostics and alchemists, with a mission to bring to Christianity certain 'missing' elements.  When he was asked by John Freeman in a TV interview shortly before his death whether or not he believed in God, Jung replied that he knew God exists.  This 'knowledge' is the gnosis of the ancient heretical tradition within early Christianity, the secret understanding of man and his salvation.  This central element in Jung's understanding of the importance of his mission and psychological theories must be fully realised before one can comprehend his overall approach to theological anthropology.  Jung did not see the new as a schism with the past but believed it was the same life-force - the self at the heart of the collective unconscious - which was constantly being reinterpreted and expressed.  To that end one has always to refer to the past in order to correctly orientate oneself: he thought of his own work as a completion of that of his cleric father, his personal incarnation of the incompleteness of Christian doctrine, in particular in relation to the psychological aspects of the Trinity and the nature of evil.  By evaluating Christian doctrine in psychological terms and measuring that evaluation against the Jungian schema it was possible to locate its inherent deficiencies.  Religion is valuable in a therapeutic sense of offering meaning to the individual, in much the same way that Gnostic teaching stressed the internal goal of the person as against the ecclesiological position of orthodoxy.  Holiness is the uniting of the higher spirit with the unknowable deity, not via a corporate body or a set of laws.

During his mid-life crisis, the 'creative illness', out of which comes the foundations of Jungian psychology, Jung experienced a psychic possession of his family home at Bollingen:

The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits.  They were packed right up deep to the door, and the air was so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe.  As for myself, I was all a-quiver with the question: "For God's sake, what in the world is this?" Then they cried out in chorus, "We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought."  That is the beginning of the Septem Sermones. [Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp.215-216, Fontana, London, 1993]

Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (The Seven Sermons to the Dead) is arguably one of Jung's most important works, and is also - paradoxically - the shortest and least referred to.  It is inspirational in the finest sense of the word, akin in its descriptive spiritual terminology to that of many of the great mystics.  Perhaps this is the reason for its diminution, or concealment, over the years; the attempt by Jung and Jungians to defend the charge that he was just a mystic (rather than a 'proper' psychologist).   It was written in just three evenings in the third year of Jung's mid-life crisis, in 1916, and marks the point at which his internal fantasies start to take external expression and cohesion: it is the real genesis of Jung's study of Gnosticism (leading to alchemy) and interest in the mystical art of the mandala.  Of the latter Jung comments, "I had painted the first mandala in 1916 [used as the frontispiece of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious] after writing the Septem Sermones": a pursuit that led him, two to three years later, to  understand the universal representations present in mandalic art.

Although Jung had first come across Gnostic writings in 1909 - before the break with Freud - as a consequence of his famous 'house' dream (in which he discovered continuing lower strata, terminating in a prehistoric cave), he had "ended [his reading] in total confusion".  When the Septem Sermones was first published in 1925 it was a private and restricted edition arranged by John Watkins, the proprietor of the still famous Watkins' (London) book shop, and only after Jung's death did it become available to a wider readership.  And it is the Gnostic connection which is immediately made evident by the pseudonymic author, Basilides "in Alexandria the City where the East toucheth the West", but we are nowhere informed if this ascription is contemporaneous with the writing or publication.  However, as the anonymous script on the back cover notes, "The language and form of the work has something of the cryptic and beautiful quality of Gnostic writing."  From this one may deduce that Jung had not lost his interest in Gnosticism since 1909, but it is this cathartic experience which finally makes sense of his previous studies; and as such the point at which Jung makes psychological sense of the ancient masters - his private epiphany.  He writes in his autobiography:

Very gradually the outlines of an inner change began making their appearance within me.  In 1916 I felt an urge to give shape to something.  I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon.  This is how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos with its peculiar language came into being.  [Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp.214-215, Fontana, London, 1993]

It may be of interest here to explain the figure of Philemon, Jung's 'spirit' guru, the wise angelic anthropomorph, the product of his internal, mid-life crisis fantasies.

Philemon and his spouse Baucis were in fact a couple from Greek mythology who offered refuge to Zeus and Hermes, not knowing them to be gods.  In return Zeus made them guardians of his temple until they died:  Philemon became an oak tree and his wife a linden tree.  Jung relates this mythological tale, in its Roman form, in Psychology and Alchemy (par 561) by way of illustrating the folly of the Nietzsche-like drive for superhuman power (ego inflation):

In his blind urge for superhuman power, Faust brought about the murder of Philemon and Baucis.  Who are these two humble old people?  When the world had become godless and no longer offered a hospitable retreat to the divine strangers Jupiter and Mercury, it was Philemon and Baucis who received the superhuman guests.  And when Baucis was about to sacrifice her last goose for them, the metamorphoses came to pass: the gods made themselves known, the humble cottage was changed into a temple, and the old couple became immortal servitors at the shrine.

When Jung had built the Tower at Bollingen he inscribed over the entrance the words "Philemonis Sacrum - Fausti Poenitentia" (Shrine of Philemon - Repentance of Faust).  Jung had been familiar with Goethe's Faust since his school days, and it was that particular work, with its Gnostic themes,  that had oriented much of his thinking.  We can only guess at the psychological forces which the figure of Philemon came to personify for Jung, but the fact that he had emerged from Elijah and was transmuted into "Basilides of Alexandria" gives the universal threefold development of mystics, the triple shamanic ascent via the axis mundi to the High God.  In fact, his initial descent into the subterranean realm - described by Jung as the Nekyia, Odysseus' journey to the Sojourn of the Dead, "for the unconscious corresponds to the mythic land of the dead, the land of the ancestors" - is the shaman's katabasis, from whence comes the power to tackle the demons that beset mankind. 

The third stage of development personified in Basilides is the point at which the psyche reaches beyond the dichotomous state to the point of unity ("where the East toucheth the West"): this is the Gnostic god Abraxas.  "This is a god whom ye knew not, for mankind forgot it.  We name it by its name ABRAXAS.  It is more indefinite still than god and devil." [Sermo II].  Jerusalem is the centre of incompleteness, of orthodox Christianity, the symbol of demonic and chthonic exclusion.  "They" call out for expression of the whole person, in the teaching of the Gnostics and visually in the mandala.  The historical Basilides was teaching Christian Gnosticism in the early part of the second century AD - maintaining that his doctrine originated from St Peter's interpreter, and by association Peter himself[1]- and really did synthesise eastern and western thought.  Alexandria as a veritable market place of ideas, not just from Egypt, Greece and the Middle East but also from Asia provided all the necessary material for such an inclusive schema.  Besides the usual Gnostic formulation, which is now commonly understood, of a deity beyond the Demiurge, Basilides also taught this Abraxas (or Abraxus or Abrasax) was the ruler of the first of 365 heavens, each with its own colour, all originally contained in the seed of the universe.  (The numerical value he worked on for the Greek alphabet also added up to the number 365.)  Indeed, all potentiality was contained in the seed, centrally the three aspects of 'the Sonship' in differing degrees of subtlety: the first Sonship separated itself from the seed and united itself with the deity Abraxas; the second, due to its less subtle nature, required the winged assistance of the Holy Spirit, but eventually followed the first into union with God; and the third, due to its dense nature, gave birth to the Demiurge and in turn the ethereal - the Ogdoad - and material universes.  The third Sonship, trapped in humans in 'divine sparks', seeks the ultimate theocrasy of the other two, and this is made possible in the gnosis brought by Jesus Christ, the son of the Demiurge.  This teleological urge does not simply result in the original state of non-being, but a new kind of union of self-ordered creation - the state of Great Ignorance - wherein the desire is simply to be what is contained in the created nature.  The Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a contemporary of Jung, developed a mystical theology which uses a similar approach; not least that of the Gnostic Pleroma, the fullness of God Himself and His presence in the creation through His aeons ("in which the substantial one and the created many fuse without confusion in a whole") .  Jung too appropriates this term in the Sermones:

God is not dead.  Now, as ever, he liveth.  God is creatura, for he is something definite, and therefore distinct from the pleroma.  God is the quality of the pleroma, and everything which I said of creatura also is true concerning him.  [Sermo II]

The Jungian self can easily be seen in the oneness which is also the many, the centre which is also the whole.  De Chardin, synchronistically it must be noted, used the same formulation to talk of the noosphere, the collective intelligence and memory of man.  However, he retained the theological overview, rather than an individual pyschological approach, and wrote of the Divine Milieu in which mankind as a whole through the evolution of the spirit, noogenesis, would be united in the Kingdom. And this at the same time that the historian Arnold Toynebee was attempting to clarify his own notion of archetypes and the unified destiny of mankind.

In order to appreciate the internal confusion which gave birth to the Sermones we can do no better than to read Jung's own words:

It began with a restlessness, but I did not know what it meant or what "they" wanted of me.  There was an ominous atmosphere all around me.  I had the strange feeling that the air was filled with ghostly entities.  Then it was if my house began to be haunted.  My eldest daughter saw a white figure passing through the room.  My second daughter, independently of  her elder sister, related that twice in the night her blanket had been snatched away..." [Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.215, Fontana, London, 1993]

"They", the dead, Jung believed, are not the omniscient beings they are often thought to be, but actually souls seeking enlightenment from the living, the incarnate.  One needed  to liberate the past in order to free the present. Although 'the dead' are normally taken to be archetypes at work, Jung did acknowledge lineal ontogenetic accretions in the unconscious - including his own (the feeling of completing a family mission - Memories, Dreams, Reflections - and painting ancestral armorial decorations at Bollingen)  which he proffers as an explanation for spirit possession by ancestors (Collected Works, vol 9, part 1, par 224).  In the Foreword of Father Victor White's God and the Unconscious Jung expresses quite firmly his view of the mutability of the unconscious:

I try to impress on my pupils not to treat their patients as if they were all alike - the population consists of different historical layers.  There are people who, psychologically might just as well have lived in the year 5,000 B.C.

The fact that there are different historical layers must be carefully taken into consideration by the psychologist  and at the same time the possibility of a capacity for further development...

Rather than a simplistic philogenetic Self and ontogenetic ego, Jung is actually postulating a balance of universal/specific in the inherited unconscious, and can be unclear as to just how individual that specificity can be; for example his speculations on the possibility of a kind of ancestral metempsychosis in lineal descendants. In fact his attempts to racial stratify the unconscious [see Analytical Psychology - Its Theory and Practice, page 51] led both to Nazi interest in his theories and commensurate condemnation by his detractors.

The Septem Sermones ad Mortuos is Jung's verbalised self analysis and self therapy, the healing of not just his personal condition but that as a paradigm for the condition of man universal: the striving for psychological wholeness.  His 'mission' in satisfying the Dead is completed with the end of the Sermones: "Whereupon the dead were silent and ascended like the smoke above the herdsman's fire, who through the night kept watch over his flock."  Jung had emerged victorious from the land of the Dead: not only was he internally reborn but the actual external 'hauntings' ceased.

Sermo I talks of the relationship between pleroma and creatura, and the principium individuatonis.   The pleroma like the self is without the contradictions of creatura, the developing ego, but also encompasses all things:

Ye must not forget that the pleroma hath no qualities.  We create them through thinking.  If, therefore, ye strive after difference or sameness, or any qualities whatsoever, ye pursue thoughts which flow to you out of the pleroma; thoughts, namely, concerning non-existing qualities of the pleroma 

Creatura must resist both reintegration in the pleroma and total separation in one-sided distinctiveness:

Hence the natural striving of the creature goeth towards distinctiveness, fighteth against primeval, perilous sameness.  This is called PRINCIPIUM INDIVIDUATONIS.  This principle is the essence of the creature.

Not your thinking, but your being, is distinctiveness.  Therefore not after difference, as ye think it, must ye strive; but after YOUR OWN BEING.

In Sermo II the Dead ask "Is god Dead?" to which 'Basilides' answers emphatically "God is not dead". This is the problem for modern man, self alienation, the loss of the centre and therefore of meaning, to which Jung answered at the end of his long life "I know God exists".  However, God is a Gnostic God:

God and devil are distinguished by the qualities fullness and emptiness, generation and destruction. EFFECTIVENESS is common to both.  Effectiveness, therefore, standeth above both; is a god above god, since in its effect it uniteth fullness and emptiness.

This is a god whom ye know not, for mankind forgot it.  We name it by its name ABRAXAS.  It is more definite still the god and devil.

That god may be distinguished from it, we name god HELIOS or sun.

Jung's insistent petition to Christianity to include the demonic in a divine quaternity, by expanding the Trinity, is here explained, and also orthodox resistance.  The Dead "raised a great tumult, for they were Christians."  This 'incompleteness' was to dog relations between Jung and theologians throughout his life, and raises important questions on both sides.  For Christians, what exactly is the nature of the Trinity and evil, and for Jungians, is the archetype of the trinity always incomplete?  Perhaps the three and the four are descriptive of different states and states of development, and are complementary - another pair of opposites? [See Jung and the Trinitarian Self, Brabazon, Analitische Psychologie 2/2000]  Fr Victor White attempted such a reconciliation writing that God and man are 3 and 4, respectively.  [Page 106, God and the Unconscious, The Harvill Press, London, 1952].

Sermo III opens with the Dead eagerly enquiring about the supreme god, Abraxas.  The unfolding answer contains all the descriptions Jung would later apply to Mercurius, the alchemical designation for the collective unconscious: "Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void, the belittling and dismembering devil";  "Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness"; "It is the monster of the under-world"; "It is the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning; "It is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness."

The Mortuos are now in a state of anguish as the light starts to dawn that they are incomplete, unbalanced - "Now the dead howled and raged, for they were unperfected" - and demand at the beginning of Sermo IV "Tell us of gods and demons!"  Although there are many gods and devils - as many as there are stars in the sky - explains 'Basilides', they are principally a quaternity:

Four is the number of the principal gods, as four is the number of the world's measurements.

One is the beginning, the god-sun.

Two is Eros; for he bindeth twain together and outspreadeth himself in brightness.

Three is the Tree of Life, for it filleth space with bodily forms.

Four is the devil, for he openeth all that is closed.

Here, then, is the basis for Jung's quaternity, which applied to his fourfold typology, doubled by the use of introvert and extrovert, corresponds with the Basilidesian Ogdoad.  The gods and devils are the archetypes which according to differing answers Jung would give in his later life could be as many as there are human situations or basically few in number.  The Dead are advised to live in harmony with ALL the gods, "But woe unto you, who replace these incompatible many by a single god", just as the individual has to live in harmony with the outflow of archetypal drive.  Besides an obvious warning to one-sided Christianity, this could also be directed against Freud who, according to Jung, based his theories on the discovery of a single archetype, viz. the Oedipus complex.

Ironically, it is arguably the Gnostics who provided the theological foundation of the Christian Trinity, a position Jung could have used to demonstrate the central importance of Gnosticism in the origin of what became orthodox Christianity. An obvious development of Basilidian teaching is to be found in the theology of his younger contemporary Valentinus (an Alexandrian educated Egyptian), who some believe was the first to expound a trinitarian doctrine, amongst them Father Leonardo Boff[2].  First there was the incomprehensible Father who united with His Thought (Ennoia), from whence came the third hypostasis, the Pleroma, the source of the material universe.  Here we have the forerunner to the Neoplatonic trinity.  Plotinus held a transcendent First Principle, the One or the Good, and from this One proceeds, the Nous, the Divine Mind.  Finally, from the Nous arises the third of the three hypostases: the universal Soul which is the intermediary between the 'intelligible' world of Nous and the phenomenal world of sense.  In Origen and later Christian doctrine these Neoplatonic Three are equatable to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Plotinus' Trinity contains the same triple stratification of Basilides which is also seen in some of the earlier versions of Christian orthodoxy.  Indeed, this treatment of the Son and Spirit in descending order of importance - subordination - was a principle cause for the later condemnation of Origen's teaching.  Even so, the echo of the Platonic/Gnostic unknowable God lived on in the mystic traditions of the Eastern Church, being the hallmark of Pseudo-Dyonisius[3].

The meaningful correspondence of a supreme Trinity and the triality of the individual and mankind as a whole - which worked its way through Gnosticism and Neoplatonism sharing the same geographical and intellectual space as orthodox Christianity - not only provided the threefold spiritual ladder of Christian mysticism arising out of the Gnostic strongholds of Egypt and Syria, but also an important trinitarian apologetic for St Augustine[4], viz. that man's internal triality was an imprint of a trinitarian deity.   The Augustinian doctrine of predestination is also uncannily similar to the more unbending soteriological positions of Valentinus and Mani[5](216-277).

Bishop Theophilus of Antioch was the first to apply the term triad to God, ca. 170.  However, his threesome of God, His Word (Logos) and His Wisdom (Sophia) is hardly original when viewed against the preexisting trialities Theophilus would have been aware of.  The Third Hypostases was the originator of the physical world in the formulation of Valentinus[6], being an element of Pleroma.  It was against this background that Origen framed his own trinitarian theology, which passed via Gregory Thaumaturgus to the Cappadocian Fathers.  Gregory of Nyssa was to - synchronistically - postulate a psychological triality along the lines of Augustine[7].

Sermo V opens again with the Dead beseeching instruction, but with the hollow arrogance of the once great, the sign of the once reluctant analysand about to succumb, "The dead mocked and cried: teach us, fool, of the church and holy communion."   There are two main drives, explains 'Basilides', which underpin all the works of the gods: spirituality and sexuality, female "MATER COELESTIS" and male "PHALLOS".  The spirit of man is drawn to the celestial mother, whilst the spirit of woman is drawn to the sexuality of the earth; the genesis of the anima/animus.  Because of the powerful nature of these two forces communion is necessary, but in a balance with individuality:

Man is weak , therefore is communion indispensable.  If your communion is not under the sign of the Mother, then it is under the sign of Phallos.

This appears to be the origin of Jung's justification of the church, the Mother, as a necessary protection for the developing individual psyche.  Taken in consideration with Gnosticism there is a logical follow on: the individual develops his or her own spiritually but within the protection of the church, the communion of believers.  Jung is not calling for the dissolution of Mother Church but a new reformation that would put prime importance on individuation and remove the stifling authority of clerical hierarchy and its empty dogma.  One may speculate that the spectre of the "sign of Phallos" could also refer to the sexually based psychology of Freud.

The theme of the two daemons, sexuality and spirituality, continues in Sermo VI, but now as a warning to individual souls as to their working and danger.  Sexuality is like a serpent who "hath a nature like unto a woman", the 'fallen' aspect of the anima, whilst spirituality is "as the white bird", the celestial helper of the Mother, the animus.  Like the anima, the serpent "fleeth our grasp, thus showing us the way, which with our human wits we could not find."

Increasingly, then, the message has been a gradual interiorisation of the celestial powers, which reaches its climax in the final Sermo when Abraxas is identified as the star within.

This is the one god of this one man. This is his world, his pleroma, his divinity.

In this world is man Abraxas, the creator and the destroyer of his own world.

This Star is the god and the goal of man...

Between man and his one god there standeth nothing...  

 

'Basilides' has guided the deceased Christians from their state of confusion to the realisation of the god within, the self: the foreshadowing of Jung's 'Liverpool' dream which also culminated in the self-same discovery.

The Septem Sermones is directed at both Jung's Christian (personal and ancestral) past as well as the existing Church.  It is only through the resurrection of ancient ideas framed in a new language that the construction of a new hermeneutic is possible.  For Jung, the healing quality in modern psychiatry was the inheritor of the Church's mission of curing souls, a mission he found to be sadly sidelined if not ignored.  The fact that he uses a theological system - Gnosticism - as a starting point for his psychological framework argues in favour of his desire not only to find ongoing common ground between the divine doctors and modern psychologists, but to infuse one with the other - a kind of perichoresis.  Perhaps the neologism psychotheology would encapsulate that vision.  I believe that Jung was pursuing his dialogue with the American theologian Father Victor White with this end in mind; a reinvigorated Christianity, expanded to the level of inclusivity of the cosmic religion hoped for by people such as Mircea Eliade, Teilhard de Chardin, Professor Pannikar and Arnold Toynbee.  They are now all counted amongst the Dead: let us hope that like the fortunate souls in the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos they can find the fulfilment of their quest in the land of the living.

The teleology of man's archetypal urge constantly renews his spiritual life, which again is a development of the primal religious function of the eternal renewal of the cosmos.  According to Jung the myth for modern man is man himself as the agent of universal consciousness: the unconscious universe becoming conscious of itself, making itself real.  This teleological function corresponds to the economic appearance of the divine in history, and gives man feelings of grace and holiness.  The challenge to dogmatic Christianity is to accept the archetypes as universal, and not specific to any one religion.

In Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, as the Gnostic Basilides, in whose guise Jung lays his internal foundation for his 'mission',  Jung has risen through the threefold level of spirituality in order to attain to the understanding of and union with the God-image, assisted by biblical and mythological characters, just like the mystic ascending to the state of gracious holiness.  He has shown how ancient experiences can be valorised through psychological analysis rather than a doxological approach.  And it is this foundation of experience which poses the real challenge to inherited religious notions.  There are no end of purely intellectual challenges to standard theology from modern thinkers, but this empirical approach by Jung hits right at the heart of religion - the mystical experience.  But this experience is life-directed: the purpose of the numinous experience is to force a manifestation of the ineffable into the material world.  Holiness will be shaped by the character type of the individual as well as the culture to which he or she adheres.  Because of this Jung never sought to encourage any kind of proselytism or ‘sideways’ conversion: metanoia is a self development mechanism.  In that everyone contains human nature they also contain potential holiness, so grace is afforded to all.  Jung, when pressed, would still declare himself as a (liberal) Christian, but the message he preached was of the Cosmic Christ not the complete, once-and-for-all divine theophany of the Crucifixion.   

Unlike Freudian  psychology which finds no value in religious ideas, Jung was driven by his daemon to goad and assist Christianity to update its thinking and use a vocabulary suited to the modern world.  The challenge he sets for the holders of old religious concepts of man and God is to imbue their theologies with a new valorisation based on empirical research of the unconscious mind.  Ironically, this transformation then puts the theologians in the position of them challenging the modern secular world with its spiritually empty philosophies.  This teleological 'meaning' cannot be rooted primarily in temporality: the archetypes, Jung maintains, can only be experienced as their roots lie outside the world of becoming.  This is the realm of the sacred from which all religious systems draw their sense of holiness.  If Christianity remolded its thinking along psychological lines the relevance of its theology could be interpreted universally rather than being tied to certain cultural manifestations of the common source of human ontology.  "Called or not called" read one of the inscriptions at the Jung home, referring to the presence of God.

EndNotes

[1] p398, n 4, A History of Religious Ideas, vol 2, M Eliade, Univ of Chicago, 1982.

[2] "Tertullian took the technical expression prolatio from Valentinian gnosis, to express the procession of the Son from the Father." p46, Trinity and Society, L Boff, Burns & Oates, 1988.  n6 Boff refers to Harnack, "[he] regards them [the Gnostics] as the first Christian theologians; they were the first to reflect on the Trinity."   The term homoousios was appropriated from the Gnostic theologians by orthodoxy.

[3] For Pseudo-Dyonisius as a Christian gnostic see p370,  A History of Religious Ideas, vol 2, M Eliade, Univ of Chicago, 1982.

[4] pp91-92,  Augustine, H Chadwick, Oxford Univ. Press, 1986.

[5] Brought up in a Gnostic (Elchasite community), which he left  in 240 when he felt his own calling.

[6] The contemporaneous Gnostic Orphite sect held Matter to be the Third hypostases.

[7] pp104-105, Christian Origins, ed. L Ayres and G Jones, Routledge, 1998.

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