Demiurge

Demiurge

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Demiurge'
Start a new discussion about 'Demiurge'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic
Platonic
Plato's influence on Western culture was so profound that several different concepts are linked by being called "platonic" or Platonist, for accepting some assumptions of Platonism, but which do not imply acceptance of that philosophy as a whole....

, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic
Middle Platonism
Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Plato's philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC, when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the scepticism of the New Academy, until the development of Neoplatonism under Plotinus in the 3rd century. Middle Platonism absorbed many...

, and Neoplatonic
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

. Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not quite the creator figure in the familiar monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 sense; both the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are considered either uncreated and eternal, or the product of some other being, depending on the system.

The word demiurge is an English word from a Latinized form of the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 δημιουργός,
dēmiourgos, literally "public worker", and which was originally a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but gradually it came to mean "producer" and eventually "creator". The philosophical usage and the proper noun derives from Plato's Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

, written circa 360 BC, in which the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. This is accordingly the definition of the demiurge in the Platonic
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

 (ca. 310 BC-90 BC) and Middle Platonic
Middle Platonism
Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Plato's philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC, when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the scepticism of the New Academy, until the development of Neoplatonism under Plotinus in the 3rd century. Middle Platonism absorbed many...

 (ca. 90 BC-300 AD) philosophical traditions. In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 (third century onwards), the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world, and of the Ideas
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

, but (in most neoplatonic systems) is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil while the non-material world is good. Accordingly, the demiurge is malevolent
Misotheism
Misotheism is the "hatred of God" or "hatred of the gods" . In some varieties of polytheism, it was considered possible to inflict punishment on gods by ceasing to worship them...

.

Platonism and Neoplatonism


Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 has the speaker Timaeus refer to the Demiurge frequently in the Socratic dialogue
Socratic dialogue
Socratic dialogue is a genre of prose literary works developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BC, preserved today in the dialogues of Plato and the Socratic works of Xenophon - either dramatic or narrative - in which characters discuss moral and philosophical problems, illustrating a...

 Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

, circa 360 BC. Plato's Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's cosmology in his Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, syncretically
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 reconciling Hesiod to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. The title character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who “fashioned and shaped” the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, and hence desirous of a world as good as possible. The world remains allegedly imperfect, however, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic
Chaos (cosmogony)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

, indeterminate
Indeterminacy (Philosophy)
Indeterminacy, in philosophy, can refer both to common scientific and mathematical concepts of uncertainty and their implications and to another kind of indeterminacy deriving from the nature of definition or meaning...

 non-being.

Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonism


In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony
Cosmogony
Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

 the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles.

NeoPlatonism


Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

 and the later Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause (see Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

' Dyad
Dyad (symbol)
The Dyad is a title used by the Pythagoreans for the number two, representing the principle of "twoness" or "otherness".Numenius said that Pythagoras gave the name of Monad to God, and the name of Dyad to matter...

). Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind (nous), is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory
Substance theory
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears....

 within Platonic realism
Platonic realism
Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals or abstract objects after the Greek philosopher Plato , a student of Socrates. As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is confusingly also called...

 (also called idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

). Plotinus did this in order to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Platonian philosophy. Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge or nous within the pantheon of the Greek Gods
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 as Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 (Dyeus
Dyeus
*Dyēus is the reconstructed chief deity of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. He was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society....

).

Henology


The first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the One, the source, or the Monad
Monad (Greek philosophy)
Monad , according to the Pythagoreans, was a term for Divinity or the first being, or the totality of all beings, Monad being the source or the One meaning without division....

. This is the Good above the Demiurge, and manifests through the work of the Demiurge. The Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

(consciousness) from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self reflection. This self reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the Demiurge, or creator. The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient
Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel . In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences...

 force or dynamis, also called the one or the Monad. The dyad is energeia emanated by the one that is then the work, process or activity called nous, Demiurge, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, universe, cosmos. Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

 also elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in his Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

 which more correctly is to express the concept of idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous (c.f. pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

).

Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

 is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty (ergon) within man which orders the force (dynamis) into conscious reality. In this he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning, a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text. This tradition of creator God as nous (the manifestation of consciousness), can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius
Numenius of Apamea
Numenius of Apamea was a Greek philosopher, who lived in Apamea in Syria and flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century AD. He was a Neopythagorean and forerunner of the Neoplatonists.- Philosophy :...

, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology (see also Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

).

The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

(mind of God), and is one of the three ordering principles:
  • Arche
    Arche
    Arche is a Greek word with primary senses 'beginning', 'origin' or 'first cause' and 'power', 'sovereignty', 'domination' as extended meanings. This list is extended to 'ultimate underlying substance' and 'ultimate undemonstrable principle'...

    (Gr. "beginning") - the source of all things,
  • Logos
    Logos
    ' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

    (Gr. "word") - the underlying order that is hidden beneath appearances,
  • Harmonia
    Harmonia
    -Art:* Harmonia , an outdoor sculpture by Achim Kühn in Turku, Finland-Antiquity:* Harmonia , the Greek goddess of harmony and concord* Harmonia -Art:* Harmonia (sculpture), an outdoor sculpture by Achim Kühn in Turku, Finland-Antiquity:* Harmonia (mythology), the Greek goddess of harmony and...

    (Gr. "harmony") - numerical ratios in mathematics
    Mathematics
    Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

    .


Before Numenius of Apamea
Numenius of Apamea
Numenius of Apamea was a Greek philosopher, who lived in Apamea in Syria and flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century AD. He was a Neopythagorean and forerunner of the Neoplatonists.- Philosophy :...

 and Plotinus' Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 in Plato's Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

. The idea of Demiurge was, however, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius.

Iamblichus



Later, the Neoplatonist Iamblichus
Iamblichus of Chalcis
Iamblichus, also known as Iamblichus Chalcidensis, was an Assyrian Neoplatonist philosopher who determined the direction taken by later Neoplatonic philosophy...

 changed the role of the "One", effectively altering the role of the Demiurge as second cause or dyad, which was one of the reasons that Iamblichus and his teacher Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

 came into conflict.

The figure of the Demiurge emerges in the theoretic of Iamblichus, which conjoins the transcendent, incommunicable “One,” or Source. Here, at the summit of this system, the Source and Demiurge (material realm) coexist via the process of henosis
Henosis
Henosis is the word for "oneness," "union," or "unity" in classical Greek, and is spelled identically in modern Greek where "Enosis" is particulary connected with the modern political "Unity" movement to unify Greece and Cyprus....

.
Iamblichus describes the One as a monad whose first principle or emanation is intellect (nous), while among "the many" that follow it there's a second, super-existent "One" that is the producer of intellect or soul (psyche).

The "One" is further separated into spheres of intelligence; the first and superior sphere is objects of thought, while the latter sphere is the domain of thought. Thus, a triad is formed of the intelligible
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 nous, the intellective nous, and the psyche
Psyche (psychology)
The word psyche has a long history of use in psychology and philosophy, dating back to ancient times, and has been one of the fundamental concepts for understanding human nature from a scientific point of view. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older...

in order to reconcile further the various Hellenistic philosophical schools of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's actus and potentia of the unmoved mover
Unmoved mover
The unmoved mover is a philosophical concept described by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" is not moved by any prior action...

 and Plato's Demiurge.

Then within this intellectual triad Iamblichus assigns the third rank to the Demiurge, identifying it with the perfect or Divine nous with the intellectual triad being promoted to a hebdomad
Hebdomad
Hebdomad may refer to:* On Hebdomads, a work of the Hippocratic Corpus* hebdomad, a term used by Neoplatonist philosophers such as Iamblichus and Proclus in reference to the intellect...

.

In the theoretic of Plotinus, nous produces nature through intellectual mediation, thus the intellectualizing gods are followed with a triad of psychic gods.

Gnosticism


Gnosticism presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable God and the demiurgic “creator” of the material. Several systems of Gnostic thought present the Demiurge as antagonistic to the will of the Supreme Being: his act of creation occurs in unconscious semblance of the divine model, and thus is fundamentally flawed, or else is formed with the malevolent intention of entrapping aspects of the divine in materiality. Thus, in such systems, the Demiurge acts as a solution to the problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

.

Mythos


One Gnostic mythos describes the declination of aspects of the divine into human form. Sophia (Greek: Σοφια, lit. “wisdom”), the Demiurge’s mother and a partial aspect of the divine Pleroma
Pleroma
Pleroma generally refers to the totality of divine powers. The word means fullness from comparable to πλήρης which means "full", and is used in Christian theological contexts: both in Gnosticism generally, and by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians Colossians 2:9 KJV .Gnosticism holds that the...

or “Fullness,” desired to create something apart from the divine totality
Absolute (philosophy)
The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

, and without the receipt of divine assent. In this abortive act of separate creation, she gave birth to the monstrous Demiurge and, being ashamed of her deed, wrapped him in a cloud and created a throne for him within it. The Demiurge, isolated, did not behold his mother, nor anyone else, and thus concluded that only he himself existed, being ignorant of the superior levels of reality that were his birth-place.

The Demiurge, having stolen a portion of power from his mother, sets about a work of creation in unconscious imitation of the superior Pleromatic realm: He frames the seven heavens, as well as all material and animal things, according to forms furnished by his mother; working however blindly, and ignorant even of the existence of the mother who is the source of all his energy. He is blind to all that is spiritual, but he is king over the other two provinces. The word dēmiourgos properly describes his relation to the material; he is the father of that which is animal like himself.

Thus Sophia’s power becomes enclosed within the material forms of humanity, themselves entrapped within the material universe: the goal of Gnostic movements was typically the awakening of this spark, which permitted a return by the subject to the superior, non-material realities which were its primal source.

Angels


describes a plurality of gods (ʼelōhim
Elohim
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or...

), which an older version in the Septuagint calls the “assembly of the gods,” although it does not indicate that these gods were co-actors in creation. Philo had inferred from the expression, "Let us make man," of Genesis that God had used other beings as assistants in the creation of man, and he explains in this way why man is capable of vice as well as virtue, ascribing the origin of the latter to God, of the former to His helpers in the work of creation.

The earliest Gnostic sects ascribe the work of creation to angels, some of them using the same passage in Genesis. So Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 tells of the system of Simon Magus
Simon Magus
Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Apostle, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in . The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is...

, of the system of Menander, of the system of Saturninus, in which the number of these angels is reckoned as seven, and of the system of Carpocrates
Carpocrates
Carpocrates of Alexandria was the founder of an early Gnostic sect from the first half of the 2nd century. As with many Gnostic sects, we know of the Carpocratians only through the writings of the Church Fathers, principally Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. As the former strongly...

. Again, in his report of the system of Basilides
Basilides
Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 AD, notes that to prove that the heretical sects were "later than the catholic Church," Clement of Alexandria assigns Christ's own teaching to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius; that of the apostles,...

, we are told that our world was made by the angels who occupy the lowest heaven; but special mention is made of their chief, who is said to have been the God of the Jews
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

, to have led that people out of the land of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and to have given them their law. The prophecies are ascribed not to the chief but to the other world-making angels.

The Latin translation, confirmed by Hippolytus, makes Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 state that according to Cerinthus
Cerinthus
Cerinthus was a gnostic and to some, an early Christian, who was prominent as a "heresiarch" in the view of the early Church Fathers. Contrary to proto-orthodox Christianity, Cerinthus's school followed the Jewish law, used the Gospel according to the Hebrews, denied that the Supreme God had made...

 (who shows Ebionite influence), creation was made by a power quite separate from the Supreme God and ignorant of Him. Theodoret
Theodoret
Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

, who here copies Irenaeus, turns this into the plural number “powers,” and so Epiphanius
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

 represents Cerinthus as agreeing with Carpocrates
Carpocrates
Carpocrates of Alexandria was the founder of an early Gnostic sect from the first half of the 2nd century. As with many Gnostic sects, we know of the Carpocratians only through the writings of the Church Fathers, principally Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. As the former strongly...

 in the doctrine that the world was made by angels.

Yaldabaoth


In the Ophite
Ophites
The Ophites or Ophians were members of a Christian Gnostic sect depicted by Hippolytus of Rome in a lost work, the Syntagma....

 and Sethian systems, which have many affinities with that last mentioned, the making of the world is ascribed to a company of seven archons, whose names are given, but their chief, “Yaldabaoth” (also known as "Yaltabaoth" or "Ialdabaoth") comes into still greater prominence.

In the Apocryphon of John
Apocryphon of John
The Secret Book of John is a 2nd-century AD Sethian Gnostic text of secret teachings. Since it was known to the church father Irenaeus, it must have been written before around AD 180. It describes Jesus Christ appearing and giving secret knowledge to the apostle John...

circa 120-180 AD, the Demiurge arrogantly declares that he has made the world by himself:

Now the archon
Archon
Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem ἀρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch, hierarchy, and anarchy.- Ancient Greece :In ancient Greece the...

 (ruler) who is weak has three names. The first name is Yaltabaoth, the second is Saklas (“fool”), and the third is Samael
Samael
Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil...

. And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, "I am God and there is no other God beside me," for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come.


He is Demiurge and maker of man, but as a ray of light from above enters the body of man and gives him a soul, Yaldabaoth is filled with envy; he tries to limit man's knowledge by forbidding him the fruit of knowledge in paradise. The Demiurge, fearing lest Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, whom he had intended as his Messiah, should spread the knowledge of the Supreme God, had him crucified by the Romans. At the consummation of all things all light will return to the Pleroma. But Yaldabaoth, the Demiurge, with the material world, will be cast into the lower depths.

In Pistis Sophia
Pistis Sophia
Pistis Sophia is an important Gnostic text, possibly written as early as the 2nd century. The five remaining copies, which scholars place in the 5th or 6th centuries, relate the Gnostic teachings of the transfigured Jesus to the assembled disciples , when the risen Christ had accomplished eleven...

Yaldabaoth has already sunk from his high estate and resides in Chaos, where, with his forty-nine demons, he tortures wicked souls in boiling rivers of pitch, and with other punishments (pp. 257, 382). He is an archon with the face of a lion, half flame and half darkness.

Yaldabaoth is frequently called "the Lion-faced", leontoeides, with the body of a serpent. We are told also, that the Demiurge is of a fiery nature, the words of Moses being applied to him, “the Lord our God is a burning and consuming fire,” a text used also by Simon.

Under the name of Nebro (rebel), Yaldabaoth is called an angel in the apocryphal Gospel of Judas
Gospel of Judas
The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel that purportedly documents conversations between the Disciple Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ.It is believed to have been written by Gnostic followers of Jesus, rather than by Judas himself, and probably dates from no earlier than the 2nd century, since it...

. He is first mentioned in “The Cosmos, Chaos, and the Underworld” as one of the twelve angels to come “into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld]”. He comes from heaven, his “face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood”. Nebro creates six angels in addition to the angel Saklas to be his assistants. These six in turn create another twelve angels “with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.”

Names


The most probable derivation of the name “Yaldabaoth” is that given by Johann Karl Ludwig Gieseler
Johann Karl Ludwig Gieseler
Johann Karl Ludwig Gieseler, KH was a Protestant German church historian.-Biography:He was born at Petershagen, near Minden, where his father, Georg Christof Friedrich, was preacher...

, “Son of Chaos,” from Hebrew yalda bahut,ילדא בהות.

Samael
Samael
Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil...

” literally means “Blind God” or “God of the Blind” in Aramaic (Syriac sæmʻa-ʼel). This being is considered not only blind, or ignorant of its own origins, but may in addition be evil; its name is also found in Judaica
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 as the Angel of Death and in Christian demon
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

ology. This leads to a further comparison with Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

. Another alternative title for the Demiurge, “Saklas,” is Aramaic for “fool” (Syriac sækla “the foolish one”).

Marcion


According to Marcion
Marcion of Sinope
Marcion of Sinope was a bishop in early Christianity. His theology, which rejected the deity described in the Jewish Scriptures as inferior or subjugated to the God proclaimed in the Christian gospel, was denounced by the Church Fathers and he was excommunicated...

, the title God was given to the Demiurge, who was to be sharply distinguished from the higher Good God. The former was díkaios, severely just, the latter agathós, or loving-kind; the former was the "god of this world" , the God of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, the latter the true God of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. Christ, though in reality the Son of the Good God, pretended to be the Messiah of the Demiurge, the better to spread the truth concerning His heavenly Father. The true believer in Christ entered into God's kingdom, the unbeliever remained forever the slave of the Demiurge.

Valentinus


It is in the system of Valentinus that the name Dēmiourgos is used, which occurs nowhere in Irenaeus except in connexion with the Valentinian system; and we may reasonably conclude that it was Valentinus who adopted from Platonism the use of this word. When it is employed by other Gnostics it may be held either that it is not used in a technical sense, or that its use has been borrowed from Valentinus. But it is only the name that can be said to be specially Valentinian; the personage intended by it corresponds more or less closely with the Yaldabaoth of the Ophites, the great Archon
Abraxas
The word Abrasax was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the “Great Archon” , the princeps of the 365 spheres...

 of Basilides, the Elohim of Justinus, etc.

The Valentinian theory elaborates that from Achamoth (he káta sophía or lower wisdom) three kinds of substance take their origin, the spiritual (pneumatikoí), the animal (psychikoí) and the material (hylikoí). The Demiurge belongs to the second kind, as he was the offspring of a union of Achamoth with matter. And as Achamoth herself was only the daughter of Sophía the last of the thirty Aeons, the Demiurge was distant by many emanations from the Propatôr, or Supreme God.

The Demiurge in creating this world out of Chaos was unconsciously influenced for good by Jesus Soter; and the universe, to the surprise even of its Maker, became almost perfect. The Demiurge regretted even its slight imperfection, and as he thought himself the Supreme God, he attempted to remedy this by sending a Messiah. To this Messiah, however, was actually united Jesus the Saviour, Who redeemed men. These are either hylikoí, or pneumatikoí.

The first, or material men, will return to the grossness of matter and finally be consumed by fire; the second, or animal men, together with the Demiurge as their master, will enter a middle state, neither Pleroma nor hyle; the purely spiritual men will be completely freed from the influence of the Demiurge and together with the Saviour and Achamoth, his spouse, will enter the Pleroma divested of body (hyle) and soul (psyché). In this most common form of Gnosticism the Demiurge had an inferior though not intrinsically evil function in the universe as the head of the animal, or psychic world.

The devil


Opinions on the devil, and his relationship to the Demiurge, varied. The Ophites held that he and his demons constantly oppose and thwart the human race, as it was on their account the devil was cast down into this world. According to one variant of the Valentinian system, the Demiurge is besides the maker, out of the appropriate substance, of an order of spiritual beings, the devil, the prince of this world, and his angels. But the devil, as being a spirit of wickedness, is able to recognise the higher spiritual world, of which his maker the Demiurge, who is only animal, has no knowledge. The devil resides in this lower world, of which he is the prince, the Demiurge in the heavens; his mother Sophia in the middle region, above the heavens and below the Pleroma.

The Valentinian Heracleon
Heracleon
Heracleon was a Gnostic who flourished about AD 175, probably in the south of Italy. He is described by Clement of Alexandria as the most esteemed of the school of Valentinus; and, according to Origen Heracleon was a Gnostic who flourished about AD 175, probably in the south of Italy. He is...

 interpreted the devil as the principle of evil, that of hyle (matter). As he writes in his commentary on ,
The mountain represents the Devil, or his world, since the Devil was one part of the whole of matter, but the world is the total mountain of evil, a deserted dwelling place of beasts, to which all who lived before the law and all Gentiles render worship. But Jerusalem represents the creation or the Creator whom the Jews worship. . . . You then who are spiritual should worship neither the creation nor the Craftsman, but the Father of Truth.


This vilification of the Creator was held to be inimical to Christianity by the early fathers of the church. In refuting the views of the Gnostics, Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 observed that "Plato is proved to be more religious than these men, for he allowed that the same God was both just and good, having power over all things, and Himself executing judgment."

Cathars


Catharism apparently inherited their idea of Satan as the creator of the evil world from Gnosticism. Gilles Quispel
Gilles Quispel
Gilles Quispel was a Dutch theologian, and historian of Christianity and Gnosticism. He became professor emeritus of early Christian history at Utrecht University....

 writes,

Neoplatonism and Gnosticism


Gnosticism attributed falsehood, fallen or evil, to the concept of Demiurge or Creator (see Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

), though sometimes the creator is from a fallen, ignorant or lesser rather than evil perspective (in some Gnosticism traditions) such as that of Valentinius. The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus addressed within his works what he saw as un-Hellenic
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and blasphemous to the demiurge or creator of Plato.

Gnosticism's conception of the Demiurge was criticised by the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

. Plotinus is noted as the founder of Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 (along with his teacher Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas
Ammonius Saccas was a Greek philosopher from Alexandria who was often referred to as one of the founders of Neoplatonism. He is mainly known as the teacher of Plotinus, whom he taught for eleven years from 232 to 243. He was undoubtably the biggest influence on Plotinus in his development of...

), His criticism is contained in the ninth tractate of the second of the Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

. Therein, Plotinus criticizes his opponents for their appropriation of ideas from Plato:

From Plato come their punishments, their rivers of the underworld and the changing from body to body; as for the plurality they assert in the Intellectual Realm—the Authentic Existent, the Intellectual-Principle, the Second Creator and the Soul—all this is taken over from the Timaeus. (Ennead 2.9.vi; emphasis added from A. H. Armstrong
A. H. Armstrong
Arthur Hilary Armstrong FBA was an English educator and author. Armstrong is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the philosophical teachings of Plotinus ca. 205–270 CE. His multi-volume translation of the philosopher's teachings is regarded as an essential tool of classical studies.-...

's introduction to Ennead 2.9)


Of note here is the remark concerning the second hypostasis
Hypostasis
Hypostasis may refer to:* Hypostatic abstraction * Hypostasis , personification of entities* Hypostatic gene* Hypostasis , an Australian-based not-for-profit organization...

 or Creator and third hypostasis or World Soul within Plotinus. Plotinus criticizes his opponents for “all the novelties through which they seek to establish a philosophy of their own” which, he declares, “have been picked up outside of the truth”; they attempt to conceal rather than admit their indebtedness to ancient philosophy, which they have corrupted by their extraneous and misguided embellishments. Thus their understanding of the Demiurge is similarly flawed in comparison to Plato’s original intentions.

Whereas Plato's demiurge is good wishing good on his creation, gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 contends that the demiurge is not only the originator of evil but is evil as well. Hence the title of Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

' refutation "Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

" The Second Ennead, Ninth Tractate - Against Those That Affirm the Creator of the Kosmos and the Kosmos Itself to be Evil: [Generally Quoted as "Against the Gnostics"]. Plotinus marks his arguments with the disconnect or great barrier that is created between the nous or mind's noumenon
Noumenon
The noumenon is a posited object or event that is known without the use of the senses.The term is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to "phenomenon", which refers to anything that appears to, or is an object of, the senses...

 (see Heraclitus
Heraclitus
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom...

) and the material world (phenomenon
Phenomenon
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

) by believing the material world is evil.

The majority view tends to understand Plotinus’ opponents as being a Gnostic sect—certainly, (specifically Sethian
Neoplatonism and Gnosticism
Neoplatonism is the modern term for a school of Hellenistic philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century, based on the teachings of Plato and some of his early followers. Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius...

) several such groups were present in Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and elsewhere about the Mediterranean during Plotinus’ lifetime, and several of his criticisms bear specific similarity to Gnostic doctrine (Plotinus pointing to the gnostic doctrine of Sophia and her emission of the Demiurge is most notable among these similarities).

However, Christos Evangeliou has contended that Plotinus’ opponents might be better described as simply “Christian Gnostics”, arguing that several of Plotinus’ criticisms are as applicable to orthodox Christian doctrine as well. Also, considering the evidence from the time, Evangeliou felt the definition of the term “Gnostics” was unclear. Thus, though the former understanding certainly enjoys the greatest popularity, the identification of Plotinus’ opponents as Gnostic is not without some contention. Of note here is that while Plotinus' student Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

 names Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 specifically in Porphyry's own works, and Plotinus is to have been a known associate of the Christian Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, none of Plotinus' works mention Christ or Christianity. Whereas Plotinus specifically addresses his target in the Enneads as the gnostics.

A. H. Armstrong
A. H. Armstrong
Arthur Hilary Armstrong FBA was an English educator and author. Armstrong is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the philosophical teachings of Plotinus ca. 205–270 CE. His multi-volume translation of the philosopher's teachings is regarded as an essential tool of classical studies.-...

 identified the “Gnostics” that Plotinus was attacking as Jewish and Pagan in his introduction to the tract in his translation of the Enneads
Enneads
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads , is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry . Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism...

. Armstrong alluding to Gnosticism being a Hellenic philosophical heresy of sorts, which later engaged Christianity and Neoplatonism.

John D. Turner, professor of religious studies at the University of Nebraska and famed translator and editor of the Nag Hammadi library
Nag Hammadi library
The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. That year, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local peasant named Mohammed Ali Samman...

, stated that the text Plotinus and his students read was Sethian gnosticism which predates Christianity. It appears that Plotinus attempted to clarify how the philosophers of the academy had not arrived at the same conclusions (such as Dystheism or misotheism
Misotheism
Misotheism is the "hatred of God" or "hatred of the gods" . In some varieties of polytheism, it was considered possible to inflict punishment on gods by ceasing to worship them...

 for the creator God as an answer to the problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

) as the targets of his criticism.

Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

 also write his "Le mauvais démiurge (The evil Demiurge)" published in 1969, influenced by gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 and Schopenhauerian interpretation of Platonic ontology as well as that of Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

.

External links