Crucifixion, Gnostic Conception of
Gnosticism was a pre-Christian religious movement that
competed with Christianity for a number of centuries, beginning
in the first century C.E. Gnosticism developed its own form
of Christian theology, an alternative to that presented in the
writings later assembled as the New Testament.
A basic tenet of Gnosticism is that the created, material
world is evil. It was not created by the true God but by a lesser
being. Only by escape from the material into the spirtual world
can there be salvation. The Gnostics believed that this exEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Crucifixion, Gnostic Conception of
plained the presence of evil in the world, because the true God
could not have created anything less than perfect.
Because the material body is inferior and evil, the spirit of
an individual is dwelling in an alien environment. This belief
led the Gnostics to view Jesus as a human who received his
Christ component during his lifetime, probably at the moment
of his baptism in the river Jordan. From that time forth, being
supernaturally gifted, Jesus began to work miracles. Before
that, he had been completely ignorant of his mission.
At the Crucifixion, therefore, Christ ascended to God, from
whom he had come, for he did not (and could not) physically
suffer on the cross and die; rather, Simon of Cyrene, who bore
his cross, suffered in his place ‘‘And they compel one Simon
a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father
of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross’’ (Mark 1521).
The Gnostics contended that a portion of the real history of the
Crucifixion was never written.
At the Resurrection, the gnostics believed, the man Jesus
was given another body, made up of ether, which was why the
disciples did not recognize him after the Resurrection. During
his sojourn on earth after he had risen, he received from God
the perfect knowledge of spiritual truth, or gnosis, which he
communicated to the small number of the apostles who were
capable of receiving it.
Lacarriére, Jacques. The Gnostics. London, 1977.
Mead, G. R. S. Pistis Sophia A Gnostic Miscellany. London,
1921. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1974.