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CHAPTER III. ON THE EXTERNAL HISTORY OF THE GNOSTICS, AND THE
SOURCES OF INFORMATION CONCERNING THEM. Ikk.vki s pretends, that
all the Gnostics derived their existence from Simon, the magician
of Samaria, who is mentioned in the eighth chapter of the Acts of
the Apostles. He says, that " all heresies had their origin in him
"; ? that he was " the father of all heretics." All those, he says,
who in any way corrupt the truth, or mar the preaching of the
church, are disciples and successors of Simon, the Samaritan
magician; although, as he honestly adds, " they do not acknowledge
him as their master.' The same representation of Simon appears in
other, succeeding fathers. But the information of Irenaeus and his
contemporaries, concerning particular personages and events in the
history of Christianity during the first century, except so far as
it was derived from the Cont. Hasres. Lib. I. c. 23. $ 2. p. 99.
Lib. HI. Pnef. p. 173. Lib. n. Pnef. p. 115. f Lib. I. c. 7. 4. p.
106. New Testament, was very imperfect and uncertain; and their
accounts of Simon are not to be implicitly received. But there is
no doubt, that there was, in the first century, a Simon, a
Samaritan, a pretender to divine authority and supernatural powers,
who, for a time, had many followers, who stood in a certain
relation to Christianity, and who may have held some opinions more
or less similar to those of the Gnostics. Justin Martyr mentions
him and his followers several times, but gives no account of his
doctrines. He only states, that he deceived men by magical arts,
and that almost all the Samaritans (the countrymen of Justin) "
acknowledged and worshipped him as the First God," " over all rule,
authority, and power"; and affirmed, that a woman, whom he carried
about with him, named Helena, ...
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