Cerdo, or Cerdon

Cerdo, Or Cerdon, a Gnostic of the second century. Little is known of his history. Irenaeus says that he came to Rome from Syria in the time of Hyginus, A.D. 140. Lardner gathers the testimonies of the fathers with regard to his heresy as follows: Cerdon taught, according to Irenaeus, that "the God declared in the law and the prophets is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he was well known, the latter unknown; the former was just, the latter good". (Irenaeus, as cited by Eusebius (Hist. Ecclesiastes 4:11). Epiphanius's summary is to this purpose (Haer. 41): "That Cerdon learned his doctrine from Heracleon, making, however, some additions of his own; that he came from Syria to Rome, and there spread his notions in the time of Hyginus. He held two contrary principles; he said that Christ was not born. He denied the resurrection of the dead, and rejected the Old Testament." In his larger article Epiphanius writes that "Cerdon succeeded Heracleon, and came from Syria to Romce in the time of Hyginus, the ninth bishop after the apostles; that, like many other heretics, he held two principles and two gods: one good and unknown, the Father of Jesus; the other the Creator, evil and known, who spake in the law, appeared to the prophets, and was often seen. He taught, moreover, that Jesus was not born of Mary, and that he had flesh in appearance only. He denied the resurrection of the body, and rejected the Old Testament. He said that Christ descended from the unknown Father; that he came to overthrow the empire and dominion of the Creator of the world, as many other heretics do; and, having been a short time at Rome, he transmitted his venom to Marcion, who succeeded him." Theodoret's account of Cerdon is to this effect: "He was in the time of tie first Antoniuus. He taught that there is one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, unknown to the prophets; another, the Maker of the universe, the giver of the Mosaic law; and this last is just, the other good. For he in the law orders 'that an eye should be given for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;' but the good God in the Gospels commands that 'to him who smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn the other also;' and that to him who would take away thy coat, thou shouldest give thy cloak also. He in the law directs to love a friend and hate an enemy; but the other, to love even our enemies. 'Not observing,' says Theodoret, 'that in the law it is directed that if a man meet his enemy's ox going astray, he should bring him back; and not forbear to help his beast when Iving under his burden;' and that he who, according to him, is alone good, threatens 'hell-fire to him who calls his brother fool;' and showing himself to be just, said, 'With what measure ye mete, it shall be meted to you again.' " Irenaeus says that when Cerdon was at Rome, he several times renounced his errors; but at length, for returning to them again, or for teaching them in a clandestine manner, he was finally excluded from the Church. Cerdo's views were adopted and amplified by Marcion. See Mosheim, Commentaries, cent. 2, § 63; Lardner, Works, 8:444 sq.; Baur, Die Christliche Gnosis, p. 101, 278 sq.; and the articles SEE GNOSTICS; SEE MARCION.

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