A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Bardesanistes

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BARDESANISTES, a denomination in the second century, the followers of Bardesanes, a native of Edessa, and a man of a very acute and penetrating genius.

The sum of his doctrine was as follows:

I. That there is a Supreme God, pure and benevolent, absolutely free from all evil and imperfection; and that there is also a prince of darkness, the fountain of all evil, disorder, and misery.

II. That the Supreme God created the world without any mixture of evil in its composition; he gave existence also to its inhabitants, who came out of his forming hand, pure and incorrupt, endued with subtle ethereal bodies, and spirits of a celestial nature.

III. That, when the prince of darkness had enticed men to sin, then the Supreme God permitted them to fall into sluggish and gross bodies, formed of corrupt matter by the evil principle. He permitted also the depravation and disorder, which this malignant being introduced, both into the natural and moral world; designing, by this permission, to punish the degeneracy and rebellion of an apostate race. And hence proceeds the perpetual conflict between reason and passion, in the mind of man.

IV. That, on this account, Jesus descended from the upper regions, clothed not with a real, but with a celestial and aerial body, and taught mankind to subdue that body of corruption, which they carry about with them in this mortal life; and by abstinence, fasting, and contemplation, to disengage themselves from the servitude and dominion of that malignant matter, which chained down the soul to low and ignoble pursuits.

V. That those, who submit themselves to the discipline of this Divine Teacher, shall, after the dissolution of this terrestrial body, mount up to the mansions of felicity, clothed with ethereal vehicles, or celestial bodies.

This denomination was a branch of the Gnostics.[1] See Gnostics.

  1. Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. vol. i. p. 179, 180.