Saturninians, Saturnians, or Saturnines

Saturninians, Saturnians, Or Saturnines an early sect of Syrian Gnostics, followers of Saturninus (q.v.) or Saturnilus. The theories of Saturninus are only known through the work of Irenaeus Against Heresies. In this he states that Saturninus, like Menander, taught that there is one supreme Unknown, the Father (Πατὴρ ἄγνωστος) The Father, he taught, was without origin, bodiless and formless, and never had in reality appeared to men; the God of the Jews was only an angel. A number of spiritual beings were created by him in successive gradations, in the lowest of which came the spirits of the seven planets. These seven, of whom the God of the Jews was chief, created the world, man, and all things. They had not power to make man an erect being, and so he continued to crawl upon the earth like a worm until the Supreme sent forth a spark of life, which gave him an erect posture, compacted his joints, and made him to live. Man now for the first time becomes possessed of a soul, and the godlike germ is destined to unfold itself in those human natures where it has been implanted, to distinct personality, and to return after a determinate period to the original Fountain of Life. Saturninus taught that the Savior, whom he calls Aeon, νοῦς came to destroy the Demiurge, who was the God of the Jews; that he was without birth, without body, without figure, and only in appearance a man. He accounted for the existence of good and evil men by affirming that they were originally created of two kinds, the one good, whom Christ came to save, the other wicked, whom the devils succor, and whom Christ will destroy. The Saturninians considered marriage to be of Satan; they abstained from animal food, and taught that some prophecies came from the spirits who made the world, and some from Satan. Their doctrines led to a strict asceticism, and also to the celibacy of. following times; they were based on dualism, and resembled those of the Docetae. As these heretics are not mentioned by St. Clement of Alexandria, it is probable — that they were not much known out of Syria, and that they were few in number. See Blunt, Hist. of Sects, s.v.; Gardner, Faiths of the World, s.v.; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1, 280 sq.

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