Q. 1. What can you tell me about the gnostic heresy of naassenes?
A. 1. The gnostic heresy of naassenes originated from a sect around 100 A.D. It was one of the earliest gnostic heresies in the early Church.
The Naassenes claimed to have been taught their doctrines by Mariamne, a disciple of James the Just. Their heresy was dealt with by Hippolytus of Rome.
The Naassenes had one or more books out of which Hippolytus of Rome largely quotes in the Philosophumena, which professed to contain heads of discourses communicated by James, the brother of Jesus, to Mariamne. They contained treatises of a mystical, philosophic, devotional, and exegetical character, rather than a cosmological exposition. Some of the topics mentioned in their books were the "First Man," the "Three Classes," the "Creation," the "Generation," the "Exegesis," "The Serpent," and "Eden."
For example, regarding the "Three Classes," they taught:
There are three classes of men and three corresponding churches:
- Material (the Bound)—the heathen chiefly captive under the dominion of matter.
- Psychic (the Called)—ordinary Christians.
- Spiritual (the Elect)—out of the many called, the few chosen members of the Naassene sect.