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The Gnostic Gospels Historical Context

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Jerusalem in Palestine served as the originating center of Christianity (until the Roman army destroyed the city around A.D. 70), and the new religion spread from the city to outposts around the Mediterranean region and the rest of the Roman Empire. Up until the second century, its main practitioners were Jews who saw Christianity as part of what God had promised in the Old Testament. By the middle of the second century, orthodox Christian communities began to function under very specific hierarchies with bishops assuming authority.

Gnostic Christians claimed to have secret knowledge about God and spirituality that separated them from orthodox Christians. The philosophical elements in Gnosticism came from a wide array of sources, including Asian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek religions as well as Judaism and Christianity. Orthodox Christians considered Gnostics heretics for a number of reasons, including the Gnostic interpretation of...

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This section contains 622 words
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The Gnostic Gospels from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.