Peratae were a very obscure Gnostic sect, related to the Ophit (q.v.). They are first named by Clement of Alexandria, and definitely described, i.e. in some detail, by Hippolytus (Refut. v. 124). The latter was followed by Theodoret, but no new information about them was added by him (Haeret. fab. 1:17). This sect appears to have been called Peratae, or Peratici, in the first instance, from the country to which they belonged, Eubcea, i.e. the land beyond (πέραν ) the continent, as Peraea was the district beyond Jordan; and this is the only fact stated about them by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 7:17, ad fin.). But they afterwards gave another meaning to the name, that of "Transcendentalists" (Περᾶσαι), because, through their knowledge of the divine mysteries, they were qualified to "proceed through the pass beyond destruction." Hippolytus says they originated with Euphrates the Peratic and Celbes the Carystian (the latter being also called Ademes and Acembes the Carystian both by Hippolytus and Theodoret), but no particulars are given about either.

The Peratae appear to have been a local sect, and their peculiar γνῶσις was a recondite philosophy founded on theories associated with the constellations of astronomers, and on serpent-worship. Hippolytus says that they and their doctrine had been very little known until he described them, and that the latter were so intricate that it was difficult to give a compendious notion of them. But, after stating many details of their strange system, he goes on to sum it up in the following terms, which make it evident that their system was only a modification of the general Ophitic notions. They held that the universe is Father, Son, and Matter, each of the three having endless capacities in itself; intermediate between Matter and the Father sits the Son — the Logos, the Serpent — always being in motion towards the unmoving Father and towards moving Matter. At one time the Son is turned towards the Father, and receives powers into his own person; at another time he takes up these powers, and turns towards Matter. Then Matter, devoid of attribute, and being unfashioned, molds itself into forms from the Son, which the Son molded from the Father. They believed, further, in a Demiurge, who works destruction and death, and that men could be saved from his power only through the Son, who is the Serpent. In addition to this fundamental corruption of Christianity, the Peratee had also many secret mysteries, which Hippolytus says could not be mentioned by him on account of their profanity (Philosoph. v. 7-13; 10:6). See Baxmann, in Illgen's Zeitschr. f. historische Theologie, 1860; Taylor, Hippolytus, p. 84; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1:280-285.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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