A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Ophians
OPHIANS, OPHITES or SERPENTARIANS, seems to be the name of serveral sects, so called from their reverence, and in many cases worship, of the serpent. Mr. Bryant thinks this almost universally prevailed in the heathen world, and names many countries which adopted it, particularly Egypt. The cause seems to have had its origin in the opinion, that the serpent was "more subtle than any other beast of the field." It is not difficult to account, therefore, for the serpent being an early emblem of wisdom.
There were also Ophites who were a sort of mongrel christians, and perhaps revered the serpent as a type of Christ, as the brazen serpent is still considered. (John iii. 14, 15.) The Ophites are considered by many authors, as a kind of Gnostics.
- Holwell's Mytholog. Dict. p. 303.
- Lardner's Heretics, p. 352.