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ANF05. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
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Chapter X.—Basilides.

But Basilides also himself affirms that there is a non-existent God, who, being non-existent, has made the non-existent world, that has been formed out of things that are not, by casting down a certain seed, as it were a grain of mustard-seed, having in itself stem, leaves, branches, and fruit. Or this seed is as a peacock’s egg, comprising in itself the varied multitude of colours. And this, say the Basilidians, constitutes the seed of the world, from which all things have been produced. For they maintain that it comprises in itself all things, as it were those that as yet are non-existent, and which it has been predetermined to be brought into existence by the non-existent Deity. There was, then, he says, in the seed itself a threefold Sonship, in all respects of the same substance with the nonexistent God, which has been begotten from things that are not. And of this Sonship, divided into three parts, one portion of it was refined, and another gross, and another requiring purification. The refined portion, when first the earliest putting down of the seed was accomplished by the non-existent God, immediately burst forth, and ascended upwards, and proceeded towards the non-existent Deity. For every nature yearns after that God on account of the excess of His beauty, but different (creatures desire Him) from different causes. The more gross portion, however, still continues in the seed; and inasmuch as it is a certain imitative nature, it was not able to soar upwards, for it was more gross than the subtle part. The more gross portion, however, equipped itself with the Holy Spirit, as it were with wings; for the Sonship, thus arrayed, shows kindness to this Spirit, and in turn receives kindness. The third Sonship, however, requires purification, and therefore this continued in the conglomeration of all germs, and this displays and receives kindness. And (Basilides asserts) that there is something which is called “world,” and something else (which is called) supra-mundane; for entities are distributed by him into two primary divisions. And what is intermediate between these he calls “Conterminous Holy Spirit,” and (this Spirit) has in itself the fragrance of the Sonship.

From the conglomeration of all germs of the cosmical seed burst forth and was begotten the Great Archon, the head of the world, an Æon of inexpressible beauty and size. This (Archon) having raised Himself as far as the firmament, supposed that there was not another above Himself. And accordingly He became more brilliant and powerful than all the underlying Æons, with the exception of the Sonship that had been left beneath, but which He was not aware was more wise than Himself. This one having His attention turned to the creation of the world, first begat a son unto Himself, superior to Himself; and this son He caused to sit on His own right hand, and this these Basilidians allege is the Ogdoad. The Great Archon Himself, then, produces the entire celestial creation. And other Archon ascended from (the conglomeration of) all the germs, who was greater than all the underlying Æon, except the Sonship that had been left behind, yet far inferior to the former one. And they style this second Archon a Hebdomad.  He is Maker, and Creator, and Controller of all things that are beneath Him, and this Archon produced for Himself a Son more prudent and wiser than Himself. Now they assert that all these things exist according to the predetermination of that non-existent God, and that there exist also worlds and intervals that are infinite. And the Basilidians affirm that upon Jesus, who was born of Mary, came the power of the Gospel, which descended and illuminated the Son both of the Ogdoad and of the Hebdomad. And this took place for the purpose of enlightening and distinguishing from the different orders of beings, and purifying the Sonship that had been left behind for conferring benefits on souls, and the receiving benefits in turn. And they say that themselves are sons, who are in the world for this cause, that by teaching they may purify souls, and along with the Sonship may ascend to the Father above, from whom proceeded the first Sonship. And they allege that the world endures until the period when all souls may have repaired thither along with the Sonship. These, however, are the opinions which Basilides, who detailed them as prodigies, is not ashamed to advance.

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