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Valentinus (ca. 100-165 CE) was a Christian scholar educated in Alexandria and founder of a school in Rome whose prominent pupils included Ptolemy, Theodotus, and Heracleon. Valentinus, or the school that developed his thought, is probably the most famous exemplar of what modern scholars have categorized as “Gnosticism.” We see the following elements of Valentinian thought:

  • there is an ineffable transcendent divinity whose self-revelation is through a series of emanations or Aeons
  • there is a total of 30 Aeons in male-female pairs that comprise the totality of the Godhead in the plērōma (fullness)
  • there was a primordial error in judgment committed by the youngest aeon Sophia (wisdom), resulting in the exclusion of Sophia Achamoth from the plērōma and the generation of the ignorant creator of the material world (“Demiurge”)
  • the pneumatic body of Jesus did not inherit the Virgin Mary’s humanity, for he passed through her like “water through a pipe,” and the divine Christ was distinguished from the man Jesus as the former possessed the latter at Jesus’s baptism
  • there is a division of humanity into the fleshly, the soulish or psychical (i.e. lay Christians), and the spiritual or pneumatic (i.e. Valentinians) based on their receptiveness to higher “knowledge” (gnosis) and the last group has the divine spark within them longing to return to their spiritual home
  • the goal of salvation was liberation from the material cosmos, pictured as the reunification of Sophia with her bridegroom the Saviour and the elect with their angelic counterparts  

Valentinian cosmology, Christology, anthropology, ecclesiology, ethics, and exegesis is too complex a topic to summarize in a blog post. Thus, here are some links that will aid you for further study:

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