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Gnostic* thinker who taught in Alexandria during the reign of Hadrian (117-38). Different accounts of his teaching are given by Irenaeus and Hippolytus, but most scholars agree that Hippolytus more accurately represents Basilides, and Irenaeus the popularized system of his school. Basilides's system, though philosophically expressed, is a characteristic Gnostic myth which he claimed was descended from Peter. A nonexistent God generated out of nonexistence a Triple Sonship from which emerged Archons with authority over the universe and the world. These Archon-gods were ignorant of the nonexistent God, but the Gospel of Light descended to them and thence to Jesus. Through Jesus all “men of the Sonship” return above, but those left behind have no hope of salvation. The school of Basilides adopted a churchlike form and was characterized by practices of magical ritual. It survived in Alexandria at least until the end of the second century.

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