Gnosticism is the belief that human beings contain a piece of God (the highest good or a divine spark) within themselves, which has fallen from the immaterial world into the bodies of humans. All physical matter is subject to decay, rotting, and death. Those bodies and the material world, created by an inferior being, are therefore evil. Trapped in the material world, but ignorant of its status, the pieces of God require knowledge (gnosis) to inform them of their true status. That knowledge must come from outside the material world, and the agent who brings it is the savior or redeemer.

More about: Gnosticism


  • c. 50 CE - c. 60 CE
    Establishment of various Christian communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Egypt, and at least the city of Rome.
  • c. 65 CE - c. 100 CE
    The tales of the life and work of Jesus (gospels) composed.
  • c. 120 CE - c. 140 CE
    Gnostic schools, including one led by Basilides in Alexandria, flourish.
  • c. 150 CE
    The Gospel of Truth is thought to be written by Valentius, a Gnostic teacher from Alexandria.
  • 312 CE
    Roman emperor Constantine I tolerates Christianity.
  • 1945 CE
    Gnostic writings, collectively known as The Nag Hammadi Library, are discovered.