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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


A denomination, in the second century, from Basilides, chief of the Egyptian Gnostics. He acknowledged the existence of one Supreme God, perfect in goodness and wisdom, who produced from his own substance seven beings, or aions, of a most excellent nature. Two of these aions, called Dynamis and Sephiz (i.e. power and wisdom, ) engendered the angels of the highest order. These angels formed a heaven for their habitation, and brought forth other angelic beings of a nature somewhat inferior to their own. Many other generations of angels followed these. New heavens were also created, until the number of angelic orders, and of their respective heavens, amounted to three hundred and sixty-five, and thus equalled the days of the year. All these are under the empire of an omnipotent Lord, whom Basilides called Abraxas. The inhabitants of the lowest heavens, which touched upon the borders of the eternal, malignant, and self-animated matter, conceived the design of forming a world from that confused mass, and of creating an order of beings to people it.

This design was carried into execution, and was approved by the Supreme God, who to the animal life, with which only the inhabitants of this new world were at first endowed, added a reasonable soul, giving at the same time to the angels the empire over them. These angelic beings, advanced to the government of the world which they had created, fell by degrees from their original purity, and soon manifested the fatal marks of their depravity and corruption. They not only endeavoured to efface in the minds of men their knowledge of the Supreme Being, that they might be worshipped in his stead, but also began to war against each other, with an ambitious view to enlarge every one the bounds of his respective dominion. The most arrogant ant turbulent of all these angelic spirits was that which presided over the Jewish nation.

Hence, the Supreme God, beholding with compassion the miserable state of rational beings, who groaned under the contest of these jarring powers, sent from heaven his son Nus, or Christ, the chief of the aions, that, joined in a substantial union with the man Jesus, he might restore the knowledge of the Supreme God, destroy the empire of those angelic natures which presided over the world, and particularly that of the arrogant leader of the Jewish people. The god of the Jews alarmed at this, sent forth his ministers to seize the man Jesus, and put him to death. They executed his commands: but their cruelty could not extend to Christ, against whom their efforts were vain. Those souls who obey the precepts of the Son of God, shall, after the dissolution of their mortal frame, ascend to the Father while their bodies return to the corrupt mass of matter whence they were formed. Disobedient spirits, on the contrary, shall pass successively into other bodies.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Basilidians'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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