Theosophical Encyclopedia

Basilides

TE-4-basilides

A Christian gnostic teacher of the 2nd century CE. Very little is known for certain about this historical personage. That he lived and worked in the Gnostic tradition is fairly certain. Clement of Alexandria reported that Basilides claimed to have received a secret tradition from Glaucias who was an interpreter of St. Peter; Hippolytus said that the apostle Matthias communicated secret teachings of Jesus to him. Scholars have cast doubt on the theory that Basilides was influenced by Buddhism. Since his claims were anathema to the Christian Church Fathers, it appears that much of his writings were burnt, including 24 volumes of his Interpretation of the Gospels. Helena P. Blavatsky (TG, p. 51), states that the Gospels referred to may not have been those in the New Testament and that therefore important truths were forever lost.

Tertullian (c. 160-220) stated that Basilides taught that the Supreme God is named ABRAXAS, from whom Nous was created. From it came the Word, and from the latter Providence, Virtue and Wisdom. After these were created the Principalities, Powers and Angels. The God of the Old Testament was considered by him to be one of the lower angels. Jesus was sent by Abraxas in a phantasmic body, without flesh. It was Simon who suffered and was crucified.

For more detailed information about Basilides refer to Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, by G. R. S. Mead (University Books, NY 1960).

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