The Naassene Fragment

Estimated Range of Dating: 120-140 A.D.

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This fragment is quoted by Hippolytus in Ref. 5.7.2-9. It is attributed to the Naassene Gnostics, who are thought to have flourished in the time of Hadrian.

Here is the text of Hippolytus.


There is also unquestionably a certain other (head of the hydra, namely, the heresy) of the Peratae, whose blasphemy against Christ has for many years escaped notice. And the present is a fitting opportunity for bringing to light the secret mysteries of such (heretics). These allege that the world is one, triply divided. And of the triple division with them, one portion is a certain single originating principle, just as it were a huge fountain, which can be divided mentally into infinite segments. Now the first segment, and that which, according to them, is (a segment) in preference (to others), is a triad, and it is called a Perfect Good, (and) a Paternal Magnitude. And the second portion of the triad of these is, as it were, a certain infinite crowd of potentialities that are generated from themselves, (while) the third is formal. And the first, which is good, is unbegotten, and the second is a self-producing good, and the third is created; and hence it is that they expressly declare that there are three Gods, three Logoi, three Minds, three Men. For to each portion of the world, after the division has been made, they assign both Gods, and Logoi, and Minds, and Men, and the rest; but that from unorigination and the first segment of the world, when afterwards the world had attained unto its completion, there came down from above, for causes that we shall afterwards declare, in the time of

Herod a certain man called Christ, with a threefold nature, and a threefold body, and a threefold power, (and) having in himself all (species of) concretions and potentialities (derivable) from the three divisions of the world; and that this, says (the Peratic), is what is spoken: “It pleased him that in him should dwell all fulness bodily,” and in Him the entire Divinity resides of the triad as thus divided. For, he says, that from the two superjacent worlds–namely, from that (portion of the triad) which is unbegotten, and from that which is self-producing–there have been conveyed down into this world in which we are, seeds of all sorts of potentialities.

What, however, the mode of the descent is, we shall afterwards declare.

(The Peratic) then says that Christ descended from above from unorigination, that by His descent all things triply divided might be saved. For some things, he says, being borne down from above, will ascend through Him, whereas whatever (beings) form plots against those which are carried down from above are cast off, and being placed in a state of punishment, are renounced. This, he says, is what is spoken: “For the Son of man came not into the world to destory the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The world, he says, he denominates those two parts that are situated above, viz., both the unbegotten (portion of the triad), and the self-produced one. And when Scripture, he says, uses the words, “that we may not be condemned with the world,” it alludes to the third portion of (the triad, that is) the formal world. For the third portion, which he styles the world (in which we are), must perish; but the two (remaining portions), which are situated above, must be rescued from corruption.

The authors of this document described by Hippolytus seem to have depended on the Gospel of John.

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