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Rethinking Sethianism in Light of the Ophite Evidence
Author: Tuomas Rasimus
This book offers a new understanding of Sethianism and the origins of Gnosticism by examining the mythology in and social reality behind a group of texts to which certain leaders of the early church occasionally attached the label ‘Ophite.’ In the unique Ophite mythology, which rewrites the Genesis paradise story and is attested, for example, in Irenaeus’ Adversus haereses 1.30, The Apocryphon of John and On the Origin of the World, the snake’s advice to eat of the tree of knowledge is considered positive, the creator and his angels are turned into demonic beasts and the true Godhead is presented as an androgynous heavenly projection of Adam and Eve. It is argued that Hans-Martin Schenke’s influential model of the ‘Sethian system’ only reveals part of a larger whole to which the Ophite material belongs as an important and organic component.
Second-Century Reception of the Fourth Gospel
Editor: Tuomas Rasimus
This volume investigates the early, second-century reception of the Fourth Gospel. This is an era when its fortunes are surrounded by silence and mystery. It was assumed, until quite recently, that Gnostic and other so-called heterodox groups were the first ones to appreciate this gospel, and hence the mainstream Christians avoided using it until Irenaeus rescued it for the church. Lately, this view has been challenged by several scholars for several reasons. The contributions in this volume, written by leading specialists in their respective fields, offer an approachable, fresh, comprehensive and up-to-date view of the second-century reception of John’s Gospel, in a situation where new understandings about various forms of early Christianity and its multiformity have started to emerge.
Author: Tuomas Rasimus


This article discusses the definition of Ophite Gnosticism, its relationship to Sethian Gnosticism, and argues that Eugnostos, Soph. Jes. Chr., Orig. World, Hyp. Arch. and Ap. John not only have important links with each other but also draw essentially on the mythology the heresiologists called that of the Ophites. Before the Nag Hammadi findings, Ophite Gnosticism was often seen as an important and early form of Gnosticism, rooted in Jewish soil, and only secondarily Christianized. Today, not only are similar claims made of Sethian Gnosticism, but also some of the above-mentioned texts are classified as Sethian. In many recent studies, the Ophite mythology is connected with Sethian Gnosticism, even though the exact relationship between these two forms of Gnosticism has remained unclear. It is argued here that the Sethian Gnostic authors drew on earlier forms of Gnosticism, especially on the Ophite mythology, in composing some of the central Sethian texts.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Mystery and Secrecy in the Nag Hammadi Collection and Other Ancient Literature: Ideas and Practices
In: Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World
In: The Legacy of John
In: The Legacy of John
In: Women and Knowledge in Early Christianity
This Festschrift honors the life and work of John D. Turner (Charles J. Mach University Professor of Classics and History at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln) on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Professor Turner’s work has been of profound importance for the study of the interaction between Greek philosophy and Gnosticism in late antiquity. This volume contains essays by international scholars on a broad range of topics that deal with Sethian, Valentinian and other early Christian thought, as well as with Platonism and Neoplatonism, and offer a variety of perspectives spanning intellectual history, Greek and Coptic philology, and the study of religions.