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ANF05. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
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Chapter XVI.—Heresy of Valentinus; Derived from Plato and Pythagoras.

The heresy of Valentinus649649    Valentinus came from Alexandria to Rome during the pontificate of Hyginus, and established a school there. His desire seems to have been to remain in communion with Rome, which he did for many years, as Tertullian informs us. Epiphanius, however, tells that Valentinus, towards the end of his life, when living in Cyprus, separated entirely from the Church. Irenæus, book i.; Tertullian on Valentinus, and chap. xxx. of his Præscript.; Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom., iv. 13, vi. 6; Theodoret, Hæret. Fab., i. 7; Epiphanius, Hær., xxxi.; St. Augustine, Hær., xi.; Philastrius, Hist. Hærs., c. viii.; Photius, Biblioth., cap. ccxxx.; Clemens Alexandrinus’ Epitome of Theodotus (pp. 789–809, ed. Sylburg). The title is, ᾽Εκ τῶν Θεοδότου καὶ τῆς ἀνατολικῆς καλουμένης διδασκαλίας, κατὰ τοὺς Οὐαλεντίνου χρόνους ἐπιτομαὶ.  See likewise Neander’s Church History, vol. ii. Bohn’s edition. is certainly, then, connected with the Pythagorean and Platonic theory. For Plato, in the Timæus, altogether derives his impressions from Pythagoras, and therefore Timæus himself is his Pythagorean stranger.  Wherefore, it appears expedient that we should commence by reminding (the reader) of a few points of the Pythagorean and Platonic theory, and that (then we should proceed) to declare the opinions of Valentinus.650650    These opinions are mostly given in extracts from Valentinus’ work Sophia, a book of great repute among Gnostics, and not named by Hippolytus, probably as being so well known at the time. The Gospel of Truth, mentioned by Irenæus as used among the Valentinians, is not, however, considered to be from the pen of Valentinus. In the extracts given by Hippolytus from Valentinus, it is important (as in the case of Basilides: see translator’s introduction) to find that he quotes St. John’s Gospel, and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. The latter had been pronounced by the Tübingen school as belonging to the period of the Montanistic disputes in the middle of the second century, that is, somewhere about 25–30 years after Valentinus. For even although in the books previously finished by us with so much pains, are contained the opinions advanced by both Pythagoras and Plato, yet at all events I shall not be acting unreasonably, in now also calling to the recollection of the reader, by means of an epitome, the principal heads of the favourite tenets of these (speculators). And this (recapitulation) will facilitate our knowledge of the doctrines of Valentinus, by means of a nearer comparison, and by similarity of composition (of the two systems). For (Pythagoras and Plato) derived these tenets originally from the Egyptians, and introduced their novel opinions among the Greeks. But (Valentinus took his opinions) from these, because, although he has suppressed the truth regarding his obligations to (the Greek philosophers), and in this way has endeavoured to construct a doctrine, (as it were,) peculiarly his own, yet, in point of fact, he has altered the doctrines of those (thinkers) in names only, and numbers, and has adopted a peculiar terminology (of his own). Valentinus has formed his definitions by measures, in order that he may establish an Hellenic heresy, diversified no doubt, but unstable, and not connected with Christ.


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