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What is Valentinianism?
This was a very early form of Christian Gnosticism led by an Egyptian man named Valentinus. By 140 CE Valentinus was a well-known Christian leader in Rome, and when he was not elected as the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. Pope), he broke away from catholicism and formed his own Christian Gnostic movement. After his death, several of his most successful disciples established Valentinian churches around the Mediterranean. They were churches akin to the catholic yet offering advanced initiation or second baptism into the great mysteries of God. This second baptism was called "redemption" and included astral ascent to the transcendent realm where marriage occurred between the initiate and his or her angel twin. On earth, marriage was considered a sacrament and sex a sacred act that, when prayerfully performed, would conceive children with strong spirits.
The following publications address my works on Valentinianism
2008. “Conceiving Spirits. The Mystery of Valentinian Sex.” Pages 23-48 in Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in Western Esotericism. Edited by W. Hanegraaff & J. Kripal. Leiden: Brill.
Abstract: This article explores further Valentinian views about sex and procreation. Why were the Valentinians so concerned about conceiving souls implanted with a superior spirit like the Lord’s, one that might be “elect” or, at least, inclined to live morally? Because this would increase the number of souls that had the opportunity to convert to Christianity and be redeemed. DeConick argues further that the Valentinians may not have been against eros. Based on a passage from one of the Valentinian texts, she says that the Valentinian lovers appear to have made a distinction between eros and epithumia, between sexual pleasure and lust, between lovemaking and hedonism. They were against carnality for certain, but perhaps not sexual pleasure between married partners. We do not hear in the Valentinian texts anything approaching Augustine’s reproach of eros, that ideal sex should be nothing more than a handshake. For the Valentinians, sex seems to be understood as a delightful and sacred experience all at once, when the souls of the parents mingled with the heavenly powers and resulted in the conception of a spiritually superior child, one who would be morally-inclined and redeemable, if not elect.
2003. “The Great Mystery of Marriage: Sex and Conception in Ancient Valentinian Traditions.” Pages 307-342 in Vigiliae Christianae 57.
Abstract: Using medical literature from antiquity, this article is able to answer the perennial question whether or not the Valentinians were abstinent or sexually active. The answer is that they were engaged in sexually active monogamous marriages. The sexual activity was understood to be sacramental, a mystery, because of its procreative power. The sexual act had strict prescriptions in order to safeguard this procreative power and its abuse. The dominant prescription was that sex within marriage had to be pure rather than carnal. This meant that during the sexual act, when a child was being conceived, the parents were required to lift their thoughts to God above and contemplate the higher mysteries. In so doing, they would conceive children with higher grade souls.
2001. “The True Mysteries: Sacramentalism in the Gospel of Philip.” Pages 225-261 in Vigiliae Christianae 55.
Abstract: DeConick writes about the sacraments in the Gospel of Philip, connecting them to esoteric Temple traditions. It appears that the Valentinians engaged in the same rituals as other Christians (baptism, chrism, eucharist), although they also believed marriage to be a sacramental state reflecting the sacred marriages of the Aeons in the Pleroma. The Bridal Chamber is not a physical ritual, but an event that will take place at the End of the World when the Pleroma opens up to the wedded spirits as a bridal chamber.
“Heavenly Temple Traditions and Valentinian Worship: A Case for First-Century Christology in the Second Century”
1999. “Heavenly Temple Traditions and Valentinian Worship: A Case for First-Century Christology in the Second Century.” Pages 308-341 in Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus Conference Volume, St. Andrews, Scotland 1998. Edited by J. Davila and C. Newman. Supplements to JSJ. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Abstract: This paper represents DeConick's initial attempt to unravel Valentinian Christology in light of Jewish mystical traditions. She analyzes the Christology through the lens of Heavenly Temple cosmology. She covers descriptions of Jesus-Christ as the Only-Begotten Son, the Face of God, the Boundary of God, the Aeon Jesus (his body and the body of the ecclesia), the Perfect Man, and the High Priest.