Gnosticism

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    Due to the influence that Gnosticism has had on popular media and Christianity itself in recent decades, an examination of the basic beliefs of the Gnostic worldview would be helpful.

    Core Beliefs[edit | hide | hide all]

    • In the beginning was nothing but a single consciousness. This primordial awareness had no content, as there was nothing in existence of which to be aware. It existed in a timeless, thoughtless state analogous to the Buddhist experience of Nirvana.
    • This consciousness split itself in two. The reasons given are various--desire for companionship, curiosity about itself, or just plain boredom.
    • The two minds, one male and one female, interacted creating a pantheon of deities known as aeons, who inhabited a divine realm of light known as the "Pleroma".
    • The most distant aeon from the Source, named Sophia (Greek for the female wise one), fell into error. Some tellings say that she tried to emanate a universe without her male counterpart, others say that she tried to take on the mind of the Source in its entirety. Whatever the reason, she fell out of communion with the rest of the aeons and became trapped in the primordial material universe.
    • From the matter that solidified out of her divine power, she created an overseer to guide and direct the evolution of the material universe, known as the Demiurge or Yaltabaoth, the Gnostic equivalent of Azathoth (some versions say Sophia created the Demiurge accidentally, and that it was he who created the material world).
    • The world of matter and its laws is governed by this Demiurge who mistakenly believes himself to be the absolute God. This is the deity worshiped by many Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others) who are materialistic and not in possession of true spiritual wisdom. Analogous to Mahabrahma in Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism, who also mistakenly believes himself to be the ultimate authority while the rest of the gods snigger behind his back.
    • Humans are spirits, sparks of divine light from the Pleroma, who are trapped in the material universe and who must endeavor to free themselves and their kin from the shackles of matter. Some versions say the Demiurge originally created soulless humans out of matter, and that Sophia took pity on them and breathed sparks from the Pleroma into them, only to have the sparks become trapped in the material bodies. The Demiurge, and his created servants the Archons, manipulate humanity into violence and misery to feed themselves and further their egotistical projects.
    • Jesus came to Earth to spread the Gospel of the True God, explaining the discrepancy between the Old and New Testaments. Gnostic beliefs about Jesus' nature varied radically. Some believed he was fully divine and his physical form an illusion. Some believed he was a divine being who temporarily inhabited a human shell and was "freed" at death. With the true knowledge of the universe he imparted, others could hope to achieve the same divine state.
    • The essential nature of the universe is an illusion, and the essential task of humanity is to both demonstrate love and compassion and strive to escape from materialism. Gnosis is a specialized form of experiential knowledge that comes to a human being when they recognize the universe as being fundamentally similar to a dream, hologram, or illusion.

    However, it is important to remember that Gnosticism at no point constituted a monolith of doctrine. Mixing and matching from the above list is encouraged, and personal revelation is held to be the paramount authority rather than a scripture or dogma. Gnosticism was also highly syncretic, tending to merge with any other religion it came into contact with creating a new Gnostic sect of that religion or forming a new religion altogether. It was also highly secretive, being practiced mostly by elites who had the leisure time necessary to contemplate its mysteries. Although it is largely extinct today, remnants of it still leave influences. Much of what we know about the Gnostics if fairly fragmentary, few of their original works survive to this day. Furthermore, much of what we have learned about the Gnostics comes from early Christian writings which often critical of these perceived "heretics."

    Gnostic scripture[edit | hide]

    Because the Gnostics had largely died off as a movement during the Middle Ages, there was no one to preserve their texts through reproduction, and many of their texts were lost through time. Until the 1950s, most of what was known about the Gnostic religion as it flourished in ancient times came from the writings of its detractors -- such as St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who wrote a five-volume work Against Heresies in AD 180, explaining what the Gnostics believed and why it conflicted with Christianity. That is, until a remarkable event took place in the Egyptian desert. Two brothers digging for fertilizer in a cave on their way to avenge their father's murder discovered an earthenware jar that contained an ancient book. Before realizing its value, some of the text was used for kindling by the family, but they eventually realized its age and sold it to a collector in Cairo. The manuscripts were split up and traded all over the world. Amazingly, the recovered manuscript contained dozens of books written in Coptic that were still in legible condition. Take a look over here if you'd like to read English translations of the Coptic texts yourself. Standouts include

    • The Gospel of Thomas
    • The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
    • The Hypostasis of the Archons
    • On the Origin of the World
    • The Thunder, Perfect Mind

    Subtypes[edit | hide]

    Syriac-Egyptian This breed of Gnosticism spread into North Africa and the Middle East within 100 years of Jesus' life. It is heavily influenced by Egyptian polytheism, and provides a structure and hierarchy of the Heavens based on Egyptian theology. Tends to be extremely oppositional to Earthly authority, reflecting contempt for the Roman occupation. This form spread east in subsequent years, giving rise to religions like Mandeanism and Manicheanism.

    Valentinian This tradition was deeply influenced by Valentinius, who was a former Bishop of the Marcionites, another offshoot of Christianity. It was a deeply ecumenical school, which preaches universal salvation of all sentient beings. Even the malevolent Demiurge will eventually be rescued from his ignorance, as all things containing the spark of creation are inexorably moving towards redemption. Essentially, the Lighter and Softer flavor of Gnosticism.

    Catharism This is a sect that grew out of Gnostic beliefs in France. There are two major theories as to where they came from--the first is that Gnosticism spread into France very early on, the second being it was brought back by Crusader knights who were influenced by Sufism and other Holy Land mystical faiths. Either way, Catharism became very influential in southern France and amassed a fair amount of wealth, castles, and prestige. This development eventually came to challenge the Catholic Church, who felt threatened by the purity and poverty vows that many Cathars took. For those who were bugged by how the Catholics didn't burn other similar monasteries and condemn Jesus' encouragement of such, remember in those days the Catholic Church was exceedingly corrupt and irrational, and the Cathar ascetics were making them look rather bad. So, the usual campaign of book burning and priest killing was embarked upon with the usual devastating consequences.

    Tropes used in Gnosticism include:

    Light and darkness, life and death, the right and the left are each other's brothers. They cannot separate from one another. Therefore, the good are not good, nor are the evil evil, nor is life life, nor death, death.

    • A God Am I: The Demiurge, who mistakenly believes himself to be the absolute authority. He has the power to create and destroy worlds, but he is still the lowest totem on the celestial pole, beneath the insight of even enlightened humans.
    • All Myths Are True: Gnostic cosmology is a hybrid of personal experience and self-conscious mythology--it's a worldview that seems capable of assimilating any supernatural creature or miracle it runs into. The original Gnostic scriptures seem to contain a patois of Greek philosophy, Egyptian paganism, and Judeo-Christian tradition.
    • All There in the Manual: The Gnostic scriptures are the manual that contain all the knowledge needed for salvation by gnosis. Unfortunately, big chunks of the manual are lost.
    • Alternate Character Interpretation: And how! Gnostic scriptures such as "On the Origin of the World" contain a radically different exegesis of Abrahamic traditions. The Creator is ignorant and malevolent, the Serpent in Eden was Sophia (or Jesus,) Noah was a faithless jerk, and the Creator's angels are agents of violence and repression.
      • The Gospel of Judas has Jesus specifically instructing Judas to betray him, and Judas Wangsting about it.
      • Thomas, not John, was presented as Jesus' favored disciple.
      • Or alternately, Mary Magdalene. Who is also sometimes implied to have a romantic relationship with Jesus. Probably not sexual though--the Gnostics were really into asceticism.
    • Alternate Continuity: The reason for the suppression of the Gnostic teachings by the Roman Catholic Church.
    • Ancient Rome: And Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Africa, et cetera.
    • Anthropomorphic Personification: Many of the aeons represent/are abstract qualities like Bliss, Life, and Silence.
    • Apocalypse How: Several texts describe the end of the world like the On The Origin Of The World (everything obliterated by light).
    • Apocalypse Maiden: Sophia, but subverted by the fact she will do this in order to stop the Big Bad.
    • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Stated goal for souls trapped in the material universe.
    • Beauty Equals Goodness: Especially Sophia, always depicted as beautiful and almost always naked.
    • Body Horror: The Gnostics had great contempt for the flesh. In fact, the flesh, the world, and the Demiurge are the three most reviled things in Gnosticism!
    • Brother-Sister Incest: The Aeon family tree gives you the first male Aeon and first female Aeon emanating two Aeons who emanate two Aeons which starts a pattern for six or seven generations or more.
    • Captured Super Entity: Humans
    • Celibate Hero: Possibly hinted to be averted in the Nag Hammadi. A curious passage in the Gospel of Philip has a disciple asking Jesus, "Why do you love her more than us?" after Jesus and Mary Magdalene share a kiss. Jesus sardonically replies, "Why do I not love you like I love her?"
      • However, the Cathars were encouraged to avoid sexual relationships, and the Perfecti (the ascetic elders of Catharism) were strictly chaste.
    • Celestial Bureaucracy: There is a complex hierarchy of both angels and demons, and there are even references to the administration of the Demiurge.
    • Chaotic Good: The Aeon Christ (not to be confused with his persona, Jesus).
    • Child Eater: According to the ancient Christian writer Epiphanius, at least one Gnostic sect (the Borborites) ritually consumed aborted fetuses as part of their secret ceremonies. However, some modern scholars doubt the reliability of his account.
    • Christianity Is Catholic: The complete and total opposite of this.
    • Cosmic Retcon: The approach of Gnostic scriptures to preexisting Abrahamic views.
    • Crossover Cosmology: The original Gnostic scriptures included many themes from Kemetic and Abrahamic religions, as well as Greek philosophical developments. Modern tales with a Gnostic bent tend towards All Myths Are True.
    • Crucified Hero Shot: Averted, subverted, mocked, and even played straight. Some tellings have Jesus lacking a material body, making his crucifixion an illusion. In others, he trades places with a man named Simon of Cyrene and then stands aside laughing as Simon slowly dies. However, the orthodox Christian position was also held by some.
    • Dark World: The physical universe
    • Dawn of an Era: Sophia will return with Jesus, redeem the souls trapped in the material universe, kick the asses of the Evil God and his Archons, then there will be cake.
    • Did Not Do the Research: Catholic and Orthodox theologians tended to do this, even effecting our knowledge of them if we treat them as reliable source of info.
    • Dirty Coward: The Gnostics were considered this by many because, unlike early Christians such as Ignatius and Polycarp, they were not prepared to suffer martyrdom for their faith.
    • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In one version of Sophia's fall, it's because she wanted to emanate without her male partner.
      • If you look at the table of Aeons, it looks like a male Aeon and a female Aeon emanates new Aeons every so often.
    • Eldritch Abomination: All of the archons' true forms qualify as this.
    • Epiphanic Prison: The material universe. The general gist of it is that the universe wasn't created by God but Her misguided offspring, the Demiurge. Human souls are trapped in the material world and must, through mystical experience, learn the right secrets (hence "gnosis", "knowledge") that will get them past the Archons after they die, so that they can ascend to the higher, spiritual reality where the true God resides and souls originate.
    • Evil Is Cool: The Gnostic sect of the Cainites, who -- you guessed it -- took their name from the first murderer. They believed that since the God of the Bible was evil, everyone who opposed him must be good, so they took up Cain, Pharaoh, the people of Sodom and Gomorrha ... basically every villain in the Old Testament ... as their heroes and role models.
    • Evil Is Sexy: Averted, the Demiurge (Big Bad) is a lion headed serpent who is also really ugly. Unlike modern Christian interpretations of evil, evil in Gnosticism is usually boneheaded and bureaucratic in nature, more like a supernal Soviet Union than a whorehouse. Its paragons have unattractive names like "Quarrelsomeness" and "Bitter Weeping."
      • Also inverted, with Sophia, who is always depicted as beautiful and generally depicted as naked.
    • Evolutionary Levels: In most Gnostic systems, there are three categories of people. First, the Pneumatics, or "Spirit-Men," who will Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. Then, the Psychics, or "Soul-Men," who won't ascend but maybe still live after death somehow (the books contradict themselves on this matter). Finally, the Hylics, or "Flesh-Men," who are soulless cattle who have no real life at all, but are mere puppets of the Demiurge. These are by far the most numerous of the three.
    • Forbidden Fruit: Subverted. Eating the forbidden fruit opened Adam and Eve's eyes to the fact they were prisoners.
    • Ghost in the Machine: The basis for most Westerners having this view of the Soul, as opposed to it being; a) breath, b) your life force, c) your conscience, d) a shield from demons, e) your free will, f) your goodness, g) dependent on your body, h) protection from comas, i) your glamour, j) your ticket to heaven, k) your ticket to surviving death, etc. Some of these aspects are compatible with this view and some are incompatible in and of themselves, but taken as stand alone statements they can lead in a different direction.
      • Also, this is the reason why most people have a concept of Fluffy Cloud Heaven. It is based on a concept of the Soul that was popular before this one predominated due to Existentialism.
      • Also, this belief has been considered heretical several times. Also, ask any follower of a traditional religion about heaven. You will likely get a lot of desriptions that assume that people have bodies in heaven. Even though some will give a desription of heaven consistent with this view.
    • God Is Evil: The Creator of our world is presented at best as ignorant and petty, and at worst as a megalomaniacal sadist.
    • God Is Good: The Monad. Sort of. It is described in the Apocryphon of John as being without quality or quantity, not partaking of goodness but far surpassing it.
    • Jesus Was Way Cool: No matter what their interpretation of Yahweh, all branches of Gnosticism present Jesus as an emissary of the good God.
      • The one exception to this are the Mandaeans who hold Jesus to be a false messiah who perverted the teachings of the prophet John the Baptist, the main figure of the religion. Interestingly despite the heresy Mandaeism is the sole historic gnostic sect which remains extant.
    • Karma: Goes along with Reincarnation.
    • Light Is Good[/]Light Is Not Good: On one side, there's the Aeons, whole live in greater realms of light. On the other, there's the Archons, who are pretty much evil angels, and one of them is a solar deity.
    • Missing Episode: Almost the entire written record of the religion, but for the chance discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts in 1945. Still, many other scriptures are referenced in this extant collection that have not been recovered.
    • Moral Dissonance: Gnosticism tries to solve the problem of God's apparent tyranny in the Old Testament by subverting it completely and presenting the Old Testament God as kind of a dick.
    • More Than Mind Control: Essentially the only power of the Archons and Demiurge is their ability to create illusions, that we souls subsequently participate in and give power.
      • The Church Father Irenaeus of Lyons alleges that a Gnostic cult leader named Marcus used this on his congregation to gather followers.
    • The Multiverse: The material universe is the heaviest and slowest projection of divine energy. Interpenetrating matter are increasingly subtle Heavens, each one an order of magnitude more vast and energetic than the last.
    • Nightmare Fuel: Some Gnostic scriptures, such as the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, portray Jesus as an evil spirit that possessed an unwilling innocent man and preached blasphemies, then left the man behind to be crucified and joined the crowd laughing at him as he died painfully on the cross. To Christians who believe that Jesus was a good savior and redeemer, this would probably be the greatest and most repulsive heresy they would ever read.
    • Omniscient Morality License: Definitively averted.
    • Order Versus Chaos: The Monad and the Aeons are Chaotic Good (or Chaotic Neutral); versus the Lawful Evil Demiurge and Archons.
    • Our Angels Are Different: The Archons, who are the Demiurge's agents and forces of oppression; the most notable appearently correspond to the planets of the solar system, forming a group of seven entities alongside the Demiurge, called the Hebdomad. The Aeons can also be called angels, though they are technically more like gods.
    • Path of Inspiration/The Heretic: Thought to be this by the early Christian church fathers, as well as most modern-day Christian denominations.
    • Pieces of God :
    • Perspective Flip: The Nag Hammadi neatly presents Yahweh as the opposite of everything he's ever claimed to be. Well, except a jealous, violent dictator.
    • Platonic Cave/Ontological Mystery: One of the major themes, with the early Gnostics being influenced by Platonism.
    • Rage Against the Heavens: Certain forms of dualism make the assertion that the thing worshiped as God in this world is actually an evil impostor, but that a true benevolent deity worthy of being called "God" exists beyond this world. The Gnostics believed that God (the deity worshiped by Jews, Greek Pagan philosophers like Platonists and Christians, you could also include Muslims) was really an evil creator or demiurge that stood between us and some greater, more truly benevolent real deity — although there is no reason given why the higher deity is not a creator-god as well, nor why the higher deity allows the realm of the evil demiurge as flawed and unjust to continue to exist. Similarly, Marcionites held beliefs deemed maltheistic in nature, depicting God as represented in the Old Testament as a wrathful, genocidal, malicious demiurge.
    • Reincarnation: Referenced in some Gnostic texts.
    • Satan Is Good: Since Gnostics seek gnosis, that is, spiritual knowledge, many believe that the tempting serpent in Eden was really the spirit of Jesus (sometimes Sophia or her servant Ophis) trying to redeem humanity with knowledge.
      • Gnostics had a complex relationship with the devil. Opinions on the devil, and his relationship to the Demiurge, varied. The Ophites held that he and his demons constantly oppose and thwart the human race, as it was on their account the devil was cast down into this world. According to one variant of the Valentinian system, the Demiurge is besides the maker, out of the appropriate substance, of an order of spiritual beings, the devil, the prince of this world, and his angels. But the devil, as being a spirit of wickedness, is able to recognise the higher spiritual world, of which his maker the Demiurge, who is only animal, has no knowledge. The devil resides in this lower world, of which he is the prince, the Demiurge in the heavens; his mother Sophia in the middle region, above the heavens and below the Pleroma. The Valentinian Heracleon interpreted the devil as the principle of evil, that of hyle (matter). As he writes in his commentary on John 4:21, The mountain represents the Devil, or his world, since the Devil was one part of the whole of matter, but the world is the total mountain of evil, a deserted dwelling place of beasts, to which all who lived before the law and all Gentiles render worship. But Jerusalem represents the creation or the Creator whom the Jews worship. . . . You then who are spiritual should worship neither the creation nor the Craftsman, but the Father of Truth. This vilification of the Creator was held to be inimical to Christianity by the early fathers of the church. In refuting the views of the Gnostics, Irenaeus observed that "Plato is proved to be more religious than these men, for he allowed that the same God was both just and good, having power over all things, and Himself executing judgment."
    • Save the Villain: At least in Valentinian Gnosticism, it's expected that eventually even the most wicked people and deities will be redeemed. Some books, however, do say quite clearly that not all humans even have souls that can be saved.
    • Secret Identity: Several of the female Aeons have a penchant for disguises.
    • Sex Is Evil: Gnostics were a diverse group and had equally diverse opinions on sex. Some were strict ascetics and believed that sex, masturbation, and even wet dreams were vile temptations of the material plane. Others thought sex was a normal part of creation and indeed the world was created through a kind of sexual relationship between dimorphic aeons. And yet more Gnostics were antimonians who believed that all rules were created by an evil God to control his subjects, and so every single sin must be committed before a human can escape from the prison of the world. Whew!
      • Actually, we only know of the anti-nomian sects from Catholic and Orthodox theologians. Whether they existed in fact is up to debate.
      • Some Gnostics believed that the material world was a harsh and evil place, and therefore it was sinful to have children.
    • Shades of Conflict: Depending on if you cast the Aeonic side as Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral and the Archonic side as Lawful Evil or Lawful Neutral gives you four possible scenarios, while ignoring the obvious Order Versus Chaos. White and Black Morality has Aeons as Chaotic Good and Archons as Lawful Evil. White and Gray Morality has Chaotic Good Aeons and Lawful Neutral Archons. Gray and Gray Morality has Chaotic Neutral Aeons who are A Lighter Shade of Gray than the Lawful Neutral Archons. Black and Gray Morality has Chaotic Neutral Aeons and Lawful Evil Archons.
    • Stock Super Powers: All of the Aeons and quite a few of the humans.
    • The Ubermensch: Some of the Aeons have been know to act like this and to encourage other too.
    • The Unfettered: Jesus' sin is an illusion speech in the Gospel of Mary.
    • Through the Eyes of Madness: Gnosis, or personal revelatory experience, is often interpreted by the psychological profession as schizophrenia, due to the incompatibility between theophony and a strictly materialist viewpoint.
    • Turned Against Their Masters: The Archon Sabaoth, who was created to preside over the Sixth Heaven, renounced the Demiurge in disgust upon hearing the voice of Sophia and discovering that the Demiurge was not the ultimate authority he claimed to be.
    • Unreliable Narrator: Heresiologists. The finds at Nag Hammadi showed they got a lot of the cosmology right (though they went out of their way to make it sound stupid).

    Many recent works, especially those of a postmodernist and existentialist bent, reflect Gnostic influences (whether unconsciously or intentional). Characteristic, though not always, of the Gnostic worldview are vast (and often contradictory) cosmologies, uncertainty, unreliable narrators, and the value of personal interpretation. Protagonists slowly come to the realization that the world is not quite what it seems--they are privy to secret, inside information about reality. Due to the reliance on personal revelation implicit in Gnosticism, it is not surprising when multiple narratives tell the same story without quite lining up. Reason is presented as but one tool that humans can use to understand the world, but logical reasoning is not the whole truth. Examples may range from containing some elements/influences to outright endorsement/promotion. These include:

    Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

    • Fullmetal Alchemist mixes Gnostic elements with Eastern and Jewish Kabbalah influences plus Cosmic Horror. It's also subverted, considering how unpleasant it is dealing and facing the Truth.
    • Revolutionary Girl Utena
    • Serial Experiments Lain
    • The Big O
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • Texhnolyze: The further into this series you get, the more Gnostic symbolism and saturation shows up, with some of the darker and more paranoid ideas becoming increasingly warped and played with in a highly Mind Screwy manner. For example, the disturbing way in which Doc increasingly mirrors Sophia, or Kano mirrors the demiurge. And then of course, there's Ran.
      • Who Kano keeps calling "Theoria" for no obvious reason. Naturally, this is yet another Gnostic concept meaningless to a casual viewer.
    • In To Aru Majutsu no Index, some of the magical characters are surprised when they learn of Academy City's ambition to create a Level 6 Esper; it may be a scientific project, but the concept is similar to teachings in Gnosticism.
    • Venus Versus Virus
    • Dead End by Shohei Manabe
    • There are some highly suspicious parallels in Blame to Gnostic ideology, particularly in the later parts of the series.
    • Very surprisingly for a Shonen manga, but a case could definitely be made for Soul Eaters inclusion in this list, particularly as of the Book chapters.
    • Eden: It's an Endless World! draws on Gnosticism to an extent, primarily in character names.
    • Mardock Scramble

    Music[edit | hide]

    • Current 93 makes continual reference to Gnostic texts.
    • Tori Amos references Gnosticism in her album The Beekeeper.
    • Arguably some of Tool's songs touch on Gnostic themes, "Parabola" being an example, though Maynard's lyrics are open to a great deal of interpretation.
    • Coph Nia actually has a song called "Gnostic Mass", whose lyrics draw heavily on Gnostic beliefs (no surprises there.)

    Literature[edit | hide]

    • Discworld
    • His Dark Materials (the universe is, in a sense, self-aware; the Authority and, later, the Regent are demiurges)
    • Naked Lunch
    • Anything written by Philip K. Dick, who had a keen sense of the existential paranoia implicit in the Gnostic scriptures and a working knowledge of the recently-translated Nag Hammadi codices (and don't forget the I Ching). Particularly of note are VALIS, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, and Radio Free Albumeth. However, perspective readers should be warned about the high Mind Screw content and the possibility of their brain turning to liquid, pouring out of their ears, and reassembling itself in a smiley face twenty-five kilometres over the peak of Kilimanjaro--and no, that's not a highly confusing metaphor for insanity.
    • Anything written by Jorge Luis Borges, Carl Jung, William Blake, Umberto Eco and Hermann Hesse, whose novel Demian is what the egg speech in Utena was borrowed from.
    • God have mercy on our souls, but Dan Brown has done as much to raise Gnosticism into the public consciousness as the Wachowski brothers.
      • It might be useful to point out that while the Watchowskis have ushered Gnosticism into the public consciousness through the underlying philosophical discussions in their films [1], Dan Brown has raised awareness of Gnosticism by flinging the term around so liberally in such a vague and arbitrary manner in his books that it drove most of his readers to look it up on The Other Wiki... where most of them found two things: 1) Gnosticism is incredibly detailed, ancient, and so deep and involving that you can spend days on a Wiki Walk just scratching the surface, and 2) Dan Brown has a very bad habit of Completely Missing the Point when it comes to secular and philosophical ideology.
      • Unfortunately, the "gnosticism" presented by Dan Brown in his books tends towards the polar opposite of actual Gnostic beliefs as expressed in their scriptures. He says they believed Jesus was completely human; Gnostics actually tended to think Jesus was completely god without a trace of the human. Dan also thinks the Gnostics respected women; they actually tended more towards the Greek idea that women were an inferior form of life incapable of spiritual understanding.
    • Some works of Iain Banks slide into this area in varying degrees, of note in The Culture novels are Excession, Look To Windward, and Use of Weapons. In other books, The Algebraist is pulled deeply into Gnostic territory with a dark and snarky bent.
    • Pretty much anything by Cormac McCarthy, especially Blood Meridian.

    Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

    • Lost's mythology and underlying metaphysics were heavily rooted in Gnosticism, but the show never drew any explicit parallels to it. Which came back to bite the writers, as it's kind of necessary to understand the finale, especially the part about personal revelation (i.e. what meaning the characters and the audience bring to events) being more important than authorial dogma (the writers telling everyone what happened and shooting down all but one theory).

    Video Games[edit | hide]

    Western Animation[edit | hide]

    • Aeon Flux: From the name of the main character, Aeon, to questioning the nature of reality, to an actual appearance by a being known as The Demiurge.
    • Surprisingly, as of the movies and season 6, Futurama.
    • South Park isn't above moving into Gnostic territory on rare occasions. Rare occasions, mind you.
    1. with said discussion reaching into the fundamental ideology of Gnosticism and debating the arguments for and against the probable nature of reality, the delineation of the borders of reality, and playing with the idea of the demiurge and assessing sentient beings as contributors to the formation of an imperfect consensus reality