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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is based on an understanding of the terms ‘gnōsis’ and ‘Gnostic’ which embraces both mythological and non-mythological texts. It argues for the key significance of the early gnostic Cerinthus for the genesis of the Johannine literature and presents a roughly chronological treatment first of non-Valentinian, then Valentinian, representatives of gnōsis and their knowledge and use of Johannine material, evaluating the claim that the latter were the first to consider John’s Gospel as authoritative, thereby causing Johannophobia among the ‘orthodox’. It will suggest that the Johannine literature was largely peripheral for Gnostics, apart from the Valentinians, and that, while a minority of Gnostics accepted and used Johannine literature as authoritative to support their own theologies, the majority adopted a more critical and supersessionary attitude. Even the Valentinians, closest to the Catholics, tended to focus their attention on the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel.

Keywords: gnosis, Gnostic, Cerinthus, Valentinians, Johannophobia

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