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Reincarnation in Early Christianity: The Valentinian Gnostics' Perspective.




The Valentinians were a Gnostic Christian sect that emerged in the 2nd century CE, with distinctive beliefs concerning the cosmos, the divine, and the human soul. Although not all Gnostic sects shared identical views, some teachings within Valentinianism included elements reminiscent of the transmigration of the soul.

In the Valentinian cosmology, the spiritual realm is often depicted as a series of emanations or divine beings known as aeons. According to their mythology, a divine being named Sophia (Wisdom) produced a flawed emanation called Achamoth, who, in turn, gave birth to the Demiurge, a lower deity associated with the material world.

Within this cosmological framework, human souls were believed to be spiritual entities originating from a higher, divine realm. These souls became entangled in the material world through a process often referred to as "the fall." Unaware of their true origin, these souls were subjected to cycles of reincarnation or transmigration through various bodies.

The Valentinians emphasized the redemption of these fallen souls and their eventual return to the higher spiritual realm. Knowledge (gnosis) of their divine origin and the teachings of Christ were seen as the means by which individuals could liberate themselves from the material world and ascend through the cosmic spheres.

It's important to note that Valentinianism was just one of several Gnostic schools, and not all Gnostic groups held identical beliefs about cosmology or the fate of the soul. Additionally, Gnostic teachings, including those related to the transmigration of the soul, were considered heterodox by mainstream Christian authorities. The Valentinians, along with other Gnostic groups, were often marginalized in the development of orthodox Christian doctrine.




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