Week one of a two week series on major Gnostic sects (the other "major" sect, Mandaeism, was earlier this year).
Valentinianism is a Gnosticism-family heresy, starting in the 2nd century. It was one of the major Gnostic sects. Valentinianism is a very complex system of Aeons (heavenly archtypes representing 15 syzygies, or sexually complementary pairs), of whom Sophia is the most important (even though her weakness caused her to fall from Pleroma, the ‘fullness’). Like with most Gnostic sects, the Old Testament God was the Demiurge, the imperfect creator of the world. As man was the highest being created, he could participate in both the spiritual and material realms. Redemption consists of freeing oneself from the material world. Redemption is achieved by gaining gnosis, or knowledge. Knowledge, not faith, was the key to salvation. Many of what we consider today to be Gnostic Gospels came from the Valentinian sect. Sethianism is considered to be the forerunner of Valentinianism, and it is related to Basilidianism. Bardaisanitism is believed to have influenced Valentinianism.