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The name given to a Christian-Gnostic sect, derived from their supposed object of worship-the “serpent” of Genesis 3:1ff., the alleged divine seducer and impregnator of Eve. The materials concerning this group, however, give little evidence of their own self-image as being expressible in such terms, and the title may well be their opponent's deprecation. What is known is given in Hippolytus's Refutation, where one of their hymns is cited. This shows that remnant of awareness of a more ancient but exterminated Near Eastern religiousness undergoing the Gnosticizing interpretation of quasi-philosophical allegorization, with the assistance of scriptural data. The Gospel of Thomas may originate from within this circle.

See also Ophites.