« Proculus, bp. of Marseilles Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher Prosper, St., a native of Aquitaine »

Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher

Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher of 2nd cent., concerning whom trustworthy information is very scanty. He is not mentioned by the principal writers on heresies, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, or Philaster. Tertullian twice mentions him (Scorpiace 15; adv. Prax. 3), both times in company with Valentinus, in such a way as to suggest that he regarded the two heretics as of the same school. In the first passage Prodicus and Valentinus are spoken of as teaching that Christ did not wish His disciples to confess Him publicly if that would expose their lives to danger; in the second they are described as introducing in opposition to the Creator, not a single rival god like Marcion, but a multiplicity of gods. Our only other trustworthy information about Prodicus is in three notices by Clement of Alexandria. The first (Strom. i. 15, p. 359) states that those who followed the heresy of Prodicus boasted of possessing secret books of Zoroaster. Apparently in Clement's time Prodicus was dead, but a sect founded by him still in existence. Strom.. vii. 7, p. 854 states that his followers objected to the practice of prayer. Clement does not state their grounds of objection. The most characteristic notice of the sect is (ib. iii. 4, p. 525) that his followers who claim to be Gnostics (falsely so called) declare that they are by nature children of the first god, and privileged by their noble birth 864to live as they choose, being "lords of the Sabbath," and "as king's children above the law"; and living "as they chose" meant living very licentiously.

For further information we have to come down to the 5th cent. to Theodoret (Haer. Fab. i. 6), who seems to have no knowledge of Prodicus except from Clement, whom he quotes, mixing up, however, some of the things which Clement says about other licentious Gnostic sects; e.g. it seems an unauthorized combination of Theodoret's to connect Prodicus with Carpocrates, and we may reject as equally arbitrary Theodoret's assertion that he founded the sect of the Adamites, of which Theodoret would have read in Epiphanius (Haer. 52).


« Proculus, bp. of Marseilles Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher Prosper, St., a native of Aquitaine »
VIEWNAME is workSection