After the coming of Christ, when traditions until then hermetic were partially released from secrecy, some of them were incorporated in the doctrines of schools which were attempting ro synthesize a Greco-Judaeo-Christian gnosis. A powerful movement of thought was launched by Simon Magus, a Samaritan whose personality remains shrouded in legend, A few fragments of the doctrine he elaborated with Menander's help were passed down to us by Satornil, a disciple of the latter. After an absurd and complicated account of the events which preceded Creation, he relates that the first man crawled. He said that later the Virtue from above had pity on him because he was created in His image; that He gave him a spark of Life which allowed him to stand upright and enabled him to live. This spark of Life —so Satornil taught—reascends after death towards the higher beings to whom it is related.29 This fragment, which on the whole agrees with canonical Tradition, was placed in a most fanciful framework. The error of the heretical gnostics, as we know them from criticisms by the Fathers of the Church, their adversaries — among whom we can quote Saint Irenaeus and Saint Clement of Alexandria—took the form of intellectually detaching man from the Cosmos in which he lived. The problem was thus reduced to the personal fate of the individual. On the other hand the imperfection of the phenomenal world was naively explained either by a celestial catastrophe or as an error of God or as a result of His wickedness. This error of conception has already been described in the first volume of Gnosis. We recognize here the influence of Hellenistic thought which, after the time of Homer, attributed human motives to the Gods. Neither was this tendency foreign to the Jewish mind, which went as far as making God repent of having created Man, and attributed fear ' and vengeance to him. The more important the question studied, the more it should be considered in all its aspects; otherwise synthesis, the only thing that can resolve it, becomes impossible since the value of elements analysed in isolation is always debatable — because they have then been arbitrarily detached from other elements which must be considered to obtain a complete picture. This represents them in a faulty way. The problem of man immeasurably exceeds his immediate interests here below and even in the hereafter. To understand this problem, we must turn to the source of the Tradition, to: the wisdom of Cod in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, wisdom, as St Paul said, which none of the princes of this world knew. This is the only way to avoid falling into heresy when studying these matters.
Gnosis II, Chapter 1