Defining the term Gnosis and its relationship to Gnosticism, this book indicates why Gnosis may be preferable and sketches out the main problems. It then treats the sources, both those in the church fathers and heresiologists, and the more recent Nag Hammadi finds. It goes on to discuss early forms of Gnosis in antiquity, Jewish and Christian (New Testament) and the early Gnostics; the main representatives of Gnosis, especially Valentinus and Marcion; Manichaeism as the culmination and end-point of Gnosis; ancient communities of Gnostics; and finally Gnosis in antiquity and the present.
"I agree with the blurbs on the back of this book. Maurice Wiles finds that the Gnostics presented here are neither bizarre eccentrics nor evil enemies of the Christianity, but rather credible participants in ancient dialogue about meaningful Christiantiy. Gerd Theissen lauds the book as an introduction to an ancient movement and a balanced summary of recent scholarship on that movement. I too recomment this book to anyone interested in early Christian history and ancient intellectual history."-Catholic Book Reviews Online, January 2004