Commentary. The early Church Fathers, most of whom were fanatics with an axe to grind…

El día de ayer comencé la lectura de un librito cuyo título es por demás atractivo: The Gnostics. The first Christian heretics.

Escrito por Sean Matin, este libro ofrece una visión más o menos bien documentada sobre el gnosticismo, sin preocuparse en demasía por los aspectos más áridos de su tema, y en cambio, sí resaltando los elementos más sórdidos, y que debieran tratarse con un mínimo de cuidado.

Apenas en las primeras páginas, el polemista enconado hace su aparición, en un párrafo por demás cuestionable:

Despite the writings of the early Church Fathers, most of whom were fanatics with an axe to grind, the term ‘Gnostic’ was not universally used by Gnostic teachers such as Valentinus and Marcion, who usually simply referred to themselves as Christians, nor by Church apologists such as Tertullian and Irenaeus, who often called them simply ‘heretics’. The problem is further compounded by the fact that the Gnostics themselves were comprised of diverse groups which did not have a uniform set of beliefs; indeed, diversity is one of the hallmarks of Gnosticism. Furthermore, not all Gnostics were Christian – some were Jews, some Pagan.
Modern scholarship is divided over what is actually meant by the term ‘Gnosticism’. In 1966, a colloquium of scholars met at Messina in Italy to establish exactly what is meant by Gnosticism and gnosis. They concluded that Gnosticism refers to the religious systems developed in the early centuries of the Common Era, while gnosis is the attaining of knowledge. One could therefore have gnosis, but not be a Gnostic. (For the present book, we will try to adhere to the Messina definitions.) The political theorist Eric Voegelin further muddied the waters when he attempted to define Gnosticism as being derived from a general feeling of alienation and disconnectedness with society. As a result, he detected Gnosticism in Marxism, Communism and Nazism, all of which, according to Voegelin, were movements which wanted to bring about apocalypse (he dubbed it ‘immanentising the eschaton’).
Gnostic tendencies have since been spotted in a wide variety of writers, thinkers, political and spiritual movements, and also across the spectrum of popular culture, from Hollywood movies to computer games and comics. This bewilderingly diverse group includes the likes of not only Jung, but also William Blake, Goethe, Herman Melville, Albert Camus, Hegel, Nietzsche, WB Yeats, Franz Kafka, Existentialists, all manner of Theosophists, Jack Kerouac, Philip K Dick, computer games such as the Xenosaga series, comics such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Alan Moore’s Promethea and movies such as The Truman Show and the Matrix trilogy.

Martin, The Gnostics. The first Christian Heretics, pp. 15-17.  2006.

Dejando de lado ese tono sensacionalista, ávido de publicidad y reconocimiento, hay un punto a favor que este libro tiene de manera indudable: obliga al lector a repensar por completo su visión de la Iglesia, y en cuanto tal, ofrece la posibilidad de indicar un sendero de estudio e investigación por demás válido, que quienquiera que esté interesado en el tema podrá sortear, tomando sus propios riesgos y obteniendo también sus propias conclusiones.

La visión panorámica -si bien afectada por ese afán de polémica- de la Historia de la Iglesia de los primeros tiempos, resalta de una manera práctica y también continua los altibajos que adolece dicho periodo histórico. Y sin dudar en llamar a Pablo ‘verdadero fundador del cristianismo’ o al mismo Pablo ‘el primer hereje cristiano’, el autor también repasa los testimonios más importantes sobre el tema, en este libro de divulgación que involuntariamente resulta estar muy bien formado, aunque la argumentación general no se atreve a sacar las últimas conclusiones de semejantes tramas.

Un libro por demás interesante, que puede leerse como una curiosidad, y de la que, escudriñando atentamente, puede obtenerse y sin duda alguna, un gran provecho.

México, Frontera Norte. 9 de Noviembre de 2011.

Möhler. Athanase le Grand et l’église de son temps en lutte avec l’arianisme. 1841.

Athanase le Grand

et l’église de son temps

en lutte avec l’arianisme


Author: Möhler, Johann Adam, 1796-1838; Cohen, Jean, 1781-1848; Gregory, of Nazianzus, Saint
Subject: Athanasius, Saint, Patriarch of Alexandria, d. 373; Arianism; Theology, Doctrinal; Church
Publisher: Bruxelles : Publié par la Société Nationale
Language: French
Call number: AYZ-8548
Digitizing sponsor: University of Ottawa
Book contributor: Kelly – University of Toronto
Collection: kellylibrary; toronto
Notes: No TOC

Hyppolitus. Philosophumena; sive, Omnium Haeresium refutatio. 1851.



sive, Omnium Haeresium refutatio;

Formerly attributed to Origen, but now to Saint Hippolytus

Author: Hippolytus, Antipope, ca. 170-235 or 6; Miller, E. (Emmanuel), 1810-1886; Origen.
Publisher: Oxoniae, e Typ. Acad.
Language: Latin
Call number: AEQ-8949
Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto
Book contributor: Robarts – University of Toronto
Collection: toronto

Vincentius Lirinensis for the antiquity and universality of the Catholic faith against the profane novelties of all heretics. 1899.










VINCENT was born in Gaul, and, like many of his contemporaries, after having lived in the world, felt drawn to the greater strictness of the religious life. He therefore sought and obtained admittance to the celebrated Abbey on the island of Lerins in the Mediterranean, opposite Cannes. Here he became a monk and was ordained priest, becoming also one of the foremost of that band of learned and laborious men who formed and trained so many bishops and leaders of the Church in the troublous times of the fifth century. His death took place about A.D. 450.

The English translation was issued without an editor’s name, but the following account of it appeared in the preface :

“The present translation is a revision of one published in  1651, and preserved in the Bodleian. (8vo. D. 261. Line.) It  has in parts been altered considerably, with the intention of  bringing it nearer to the original. The extract from Bishop  Beveridge has been placed in the commencement, instead  of in its order in the Appendix, as forming a suitable introduction to the argument of Vincentius.”

In reprinting it, little more has been done than verifying, and in a few cases augmenting, the texts of Scripture, and in revising the heads of the chapters so as to bring them into conformity with the Latin text.

NOTE: pages VI and VII missing.

Sancti Irenaei episcopi Lugdunensis Libros quinque adversus haereses

Sancti Irenaei Episcopi Lugdunensis Libros Quinque Adversus Haereses:

Textu Graeco in Locis Nonullis Locupletato, Versione Latina Cum Codicibus Claromontano Ac Arundeliano Denuo Collato, Praemissa de Placitis Gnosicorum Prolusione, Fragmenta Necnon Graece, Syriace, Armeniace, Commentatione Perpetua Et Indicibus Variis Ed, William Wigan Harvey

Author: Irenaeus, William Wigan Harvey
Publisher: typis academicis
Year: 1857

[texts] Sancti Irenaei episcopi Lugdunensis Libros quinque adversus haereses (Volume 1) – Irenaeus, William Wigan Harvey
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[texts] Sancti Irenaei episcopi Lugdunensis Libros quinque adversus haereses (Volume 2) – Irenaeus, William Wigan Harvey
Book digitized by Google from the library of the University of California and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb.
Downloads: 37