of the Gnostizismus (form of the Greek latinisierte γνωστικισμός, gnostikismós, from old Greek γνώσις, gnósis, „[he] the knowledge “; Agnostizismus compares) designates religious theory 2. and 3. Century. The term is used also for modern esoterische movements in the tradition of the Gnostizismus.

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linguistic usage

the terms “Gnosis“,” Gnostik “and “Gnostizismus” are often indiscriminately used. Usually Gnosis designates a religious secret knowledge, which takes the Gnostiker off after own understanding from remaining mankind.

In the Christian literature second and third century was „Gnostiker “a usual name for (Christian, Jewish how pagane) intellectual ones; Gnosis meant realization generally sense. The self designation as „Gnostiker “is often nonspecific. Gnosti movements in the specific sense were called Simonianer or Basilidianer after their leaders or founders Valentinianer, what however foreign designation of critics is probably already, during these groupsprobably simply „Christians “called themselves (so anyhow Justin).

The nonspecific self designation as knowing or recognizing as a result antignostischer Polemik of Christian theologians (in particular Irish from of Lyon) expanded since those mentally intimate groupings and teachings, which faith contents with speculative - philosophical elements provided andunder different regards in dependence or similarity relations to stand seem.

The later literature presupposed often undoubtedly a uniform movement named Gnosis. The term Gnostizismus comes of to the modern times. The English philosopher and theologian Henry More coined/shaped him in 17. Century for the summary of all Christian Häresien. Since that 18. Century serves Gnosis or Gnostizismus also as interpretation category for contemporary religious or philosophical currents (for instance with Ferdinand Christian Baur, Johann God-dear spruce or Rudolf Steiner). Thus turns certainly out the religion-historical phenomenon, which is called in the antique one Gnosis,from the view. On the Gnosis congress of Messina therefore 1966 a more precise phraseology were suggested. Afterwards designate Gnosis „a knowledge around göttliche secrets, which is reserved an elite “, Gnostizismus however „a certain group of systems 2. Century after Christ “, who by historical and typologischeCharacteristics one circumscribes. This suggestion stands not only in conflict with term history (it the religion-historical phenomenon of a Gnosis term useless for historians separates about to that extent), but is also under.

In the recent discussion actual dependent on the historical estimate - disputed whether Gnosiswhen movement is to be seized within the Christian religion (with possibly pre-Christian preliminary stages) (so for instance Harnack) or as world view or religion, which can adapt to different religions (so for instance Quispel and occasional Hans Jonas). Here it is differently judged whether Gnosis an originally independentReligion or an attempt represents to support the Jewish-Christian religion philosophically which ends then in the manichäischen religion. In particular younger text finds sharpened the insight that there is a uniform phenomenon Gnosis only in the context of typologischer constructions (so for instance Markschies). Religion scientists partly keep the termGnostizismus also the more prepared system late 2. and 3. Century before. In the anglo-saxon linguistic usage the term became generally accepted to a large extent gnosticism for religion-scientific containment on specific mythische manifestations.

the material world

  • sees outstanding features of the Gnostizismus of the Gnostizismus as bad creation oneown creator God or assistant, the body is therefore judged, the Gnostiker experiences themselves negatively as strange in the world.
  • From this Demiurgen a perfectly jenseitiger, highest God is differentiated.
  • From this highest God comes a göttliches element, which - as in a mythologischen drama explainsbecomes - when göttlicher spark in humans schlummert.
  • For humans is now crucial to recognize this hidden spark and for the material world not remain arrested.
  • The Gnostizismus is thus teachings, which refer to secret revealing knowledge, which is not generally accessible.

antique Gnostizismus

similarities to and influences on the Christian Gnostizismus discuss one for religious movements in the Syrian, Persian and bright-sneeze-table-Jewish surrounding field. Accurate dependence and influences of these movements among themselves can be recognized with difficulty and disputed; to what extent one can call it already gnostisch, hangsstrongly of it off, as one understands this term. The acceptance of one „Jewish Gnosis “about is disputed contrary to the speech of „Jewish roots of the Gnosis “, because many characteristics and an interest in alttestamentlichen Biblical texts are missing.

One has explanation particularly from the Gnostizismus in the early Christianity, whereby elements of antique Greek philosophy and Religiosität (in particular Mittelplatonismus and Neupythagoräer, soul migration teachings) are to be constituted, Persian (in particular Zoroastrismus ) , Babylonian and Egyptian religions. Also connections with about at the same time the Mahayana developed in north India - Buddhismus are considered.


To in 20. Century were to a large extent dependent historians and religion scientists on text excessive quantities with earlyChristian theologians as Irish from of Lyon, Clemens of Alexandrien, Hippolyt of Rome, Origenes or Epiphanius of salamis or representations in certainly often polarizing mixer distortion for instance with Justin or Tertullian. At original texts particularly in koptischer language to call the Codices Askewianus ( usually called Pistis Sophia ) and Brucianus ( usually books of the Jeû called ) is, that as papyrus Berolinensis of 8502 taken an inventory citizens of Berlin Codex (with the gospel after Maria, the Apokryphon of the Johannes and the Sophia Jesu Christi).

A substantially broader text basis comes into the view, since 1945/1946 with gnaw Hammadi in Egypt a whole library of also gnostischer writings one found, among them parallels to the neutestamentlichen kinds like the Thomas gospel, a Apokalypse of the Paulus and onethe Petrus (all certainly pseudoepigraphisch), the Paraphrase of the Seem.

The moreover one manichäische texts are to be called: the finds from door fan and from the oasis Dakhleh, the library of Medinet Madi, the Cologne Mani Kodex.

Corpus the Hermeticum as well as the Hekhalot - literature are,which concerns its gnostischen character, at least disputed (widergöttliche forces are missing and them to defeating Erlöser, in the second case are missing a mythologisches drama around the göttlichen spark, here are rather of a Nebenform of the antique Judentums to think) in the first case.

And also a partthe finds from Qumran must be besehen and analyzed today in a gnostischen point of view, since they possibly represent preliminary stages of antique gnostischen thinking.

Nichtchristlicher Gnostizismus

of origins (and/or. Influences on the Christian Gnostizismus) one finds in the Zoroastrismus, to that already 600 v. Chr. thatDifference between the bad Demiurgen Ahriman and the good God Ormuzd knew.

The Mandäer is a gnostische religion existing until today in infinitesimal minorities in the Iraq and Iran.

The Manichäismus was a gnostisch coined/shaped antique world religion, into which many Christian gnostische municipalities came up andlater and. A. against the Islam one overlaid and one fought against the largechurch constituted Christianity.

In the Islam some groupings of the extreme Schia ( Ismailiten, Aleviten , Nusairier and glands ) become, as well as from the extreme Schia synkretistischen religions come out, e.g. the Jesiden, toGnostizismus counted.

Christian Gnostizismus

the early largechurch Christianity understood in developing meant the Gnostizismus the danger of a break with the Jewish and neutestamentlichen roots with its Monotheismus, their in principle positive view of the subject and the body (a Inkarnation would be for oneGnostiker inconceivablily) to a esoterischen and elitären internalness, an uncontrolled updating of revealing and a speculative Verfremdung.

One discusses reflexes of the Christian interest in the Gnosis approximately for the Epheserbrief or the Kolosser letter, where Paulus warns forwards „philosophy and empty fraud “(2,8). For that Johannesevangelium accepted for instance Bultmann of elements of gnostischen release teachings, that contradicts however crucial characteristics (no myth of a world creation by a bad Demiurgen, Inkarnation and suffering from the cross instead of Doketismus), although gnostische theologians gladly to the Johannesevangelium refers, approximately because of the beginning with thatErschaffung of the world and a schroffen, only separation between light and darkness, broken through by Christ, above and down.

Early representatives of the Gnosis are Simon Magus, Menander, Saturninus, Basilides.

Large system models and gnostische schools originate in in 2. and 3. Jh., above allthe Valentinianer and the so-called Barbelo Gnostiker, also the Ophiten. For the so-called sethianische Gnosis a group identity is often doubted, particularly since the appropriate texts show differing systems strongly. Marcion differs despite many thing in common in crucial points from them, why its status as„Gnostiker “is disputed. These drafts the attempt is common to express a synthesis of Jewish-Christian theology and vulgärplatonistischer speculation in mythologischem stand whereby göttliche characteristics are personifiziert and terrestrial welfare-historical and himmlischen events are trained.

The Christian Gnostiker classified humans in three categories:

  1. pneumatikoi (πνευματικοί, griech. for spirit people): Gnostiker, which stand can for so their release under the influence of the spirit and be safe.
  2. psychikoi (ψυχικοί, griech. for soul people): Those however the release by realization openly stands for humans, who are no Gnostiker,
  3. hylikoi (υλικοί, griech. for material people): Humans, soby the subject to be dominated that they cannot find release.

These views contained also the thoughts and a pronounced release faith of the Emanation. Therefore the church regarded gnostische teachers such as Marcion as Häretiker and excluded it. Although particularly by the aforementioned ChristianChurch outlawed, there are theologians to today still Christian Gnostiker, above all however a broad history of the impact to the modern trend and present.

modern Gnostizismus

a gnostische religion, which survived from the antique one to today, are the Mandäer.

Gnosti elements becamein the Middle Ages of the Kabbala, the Alchemie, the Bogomilen and the Katharern transferred, in the Islamic range and. A. of glands and Jesiden.

In 19. Century later took over the Mormonismus and the Theosophie different nature courses of the Gnostizismus; from the latter split around thoseTurn of the century the Anthroposophie off. For 20. Century are influences on the rose cruisers, the Existenzialismus, to find Nihilismus and the psychology of Carl Gustav young also in the newer Esoterik, for example with a course in miracles or with the Gralsbewegung. That very muchpopular film matrix takes up likewise gnostisches ideas.

see also mirror-image ritualism (theological)

acquaintance Gnosti religions and philosopher

one differentiates among other things

list mentioned by

see also


  • Robert Haardt: The Gnosis: Nature and certifications. Petrol Mueller publishing house, Salzburg 1967.
  • Briefly Rudolph: The Gnosis - natures and history of an lateantique religion.Leipzig 1977. (3. Aufl. Vandenhoeck &Ruprecht, Goettingen 1994) ISBN 3825215776
  • Jens wood living: Gnostizismus, Gnosis, Gnostiker. A contribution to the antique terminology, in: Yearbook for antique ones and Christianity 44 (2001), S. 58-75
  • Christoph Markschies: The Gnosis. Beck' row 2173. Beck, Munich 2001. ISBN 3406447732
  • Benjamin Walker: Gnosis.Diederich's yellow one rowBd.96. Diederichs, Munich 1995.ISBN 3424011266.
  • Hans Jonas: Gnosis and lateantique spirit.
    • First part: The mythologische Gnosis. Goettingen 1934, 1988. ISBN 3-525-53123-0
    • second part: From the mythology to mystischen philosophy. Goettingen 1954, 1993. ISBN 3-525-53841-3

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