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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What can you tell me about the gnostic heresy of sethian?

A. 1. The gnostic heresy of sethian (not Setianism), is based on the belief that the snake in the Garden of Eden was placed there by the true God in order to bring knowledge of truth to man via the human fall.

Sethianism was a Gnostic sect during the Roman era. The Sethians heresy, at the same time as Valentinianism, was one of the main Gnostic belief during the 2nd to 3rd centuries. Their belief, strongly Judaic in nature, was arguably influenced by Platonism. Sethianism attributed its origin to Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve and Norea, the wife of Noah (who also plays a role in Mandeanism and Manicheanism).

This heresy was condemned by Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Philaster.

The Sethian sect was founded around the Apocalypse of Adam, discovered in 1946 as part of the Nag Hammadi library (codex V.5). This work proclaims one form of Sethian Gnosticism. It is in the context of Jewish Apocalyptic literature. It is unsure if there are further elements of Christian influence in this heresy. While the Coptic manuscript dates to the 4th century, the Greek original may have originated anywhere between the 1st century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D.

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