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Gnostic gold amulet with Greek inscription and magic symbols. Dated to about 260 AD, found in Bavaria.

Gnosticism comes from the Greek: gnosis which means knowledge.

Some religions and sects mostly in the few hundred years before and after Jesus are said to be gnostic or practice gnosticism.

This is because these religions believe that there is a special, hidden knowledge that only a few people may have.

There are two problems finding out a lot about believers in gnosticism:

  1. Most Gnostic teachings were secret or hidden (occult);
  2. Most of what we know about Gnostics come from attacks written by non-Gnostic Christians.


Gnosticism says that humans are divine souls trapped in the ordinary physical (or material) world. They say that the world was made by an imperfect spirit.

The imperfect spirit is thought to be the same as the God of Abraham. The imperfect spirit may be seen as evil, or sometimes just not perfect but doing the best it can.

The real God who is good, is distant and not easy to know. In order to get free from the material world, a person has to get gnosis. That is the special secret knowledge given only to a few special people.

Some Gnostic groups saw Jesus as sent by the supreme being, to bring gnosis to the Earth.

Other websites

Ancient Gnosticism

Modern Gnosticism