Online Encyclopedia

HERACLEON

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 308 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HERACLEON, a Gnostic who flourished about A.D. 125, probably in the south of Italy or in Sicily, and is generally classed by the early heresiologists with the Valentinian school of heresy. In his system he appears to have regarded the divine nature as a vast abyss in whose pleroma were aeons of different orders and degrees,—emanations from the source of being. Midway between the supreme God and the material world was the Demiurgus, who created the latter, and under whose jurisdiction the lower, animal soul of man proceeded after death, while his higher, celestial soul returned to the pleroma whence at first it issued. Though conspicuously uniting faith in Christ with spiritual maturity, there are evidences that, like other Valentinians, Heracleon did not sufficiently emphasize abstinence from the moral laxity and worldliness into which his followers fell. He seems to have received the ordinary Christian scriptures; and Origen, who treats him as a notable exegete, has preserved fragments of a commentary by him on the fourth gospel (brought together by Grabe in the second volume of his Spicilegium), while Clement of Alexandria quotes from him what appears to be a passage from a commentary on Luke. These writings are remarkable for their intensely mystical and allegorical interpretations of the text.
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