Abelonians

An obscure sect in Roman North Africa known of only from Augustine (Heresies 87), formerly active in the country around Hippo, but defunct when he wrote in 428 through the recent conversion of its last adherents to the Catholic Church. Both marriage and total sexual abstinence were obligatory for its members. Each couple was required to adopt a boy and a girl, who after the death of both adoptive parents formed a new pair and themselves adopted children. Augustine believed the sect's name derived from Punic, but knew that others connected it with Abel (whence they were called also Abelians or Abeloites), presumably because in Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic legends Abel died not only childless but also in unsullied chastity though (in some versions) married (cf. L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 5, 1925). The sect was perhaps related to the Gnostic-Manichaean tradition in Africa.