1st Edition

Valentinus’ Legacy and Polyphony of Voices

By Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski Copyright 2021

    This book challenges the popular use of ‘Valentinian’ to describe a Christian school of thought in the second century CE by analysing documents ascribed to ‘Valentinians’ by early Christian Apologists, and more recently by modern scholars after the discovery of codices near Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

    To this end, Ashwin-Siejkowski highlights the great diversity of views among Christian theologians associated with the label ‘Valentinian’, demonstrating their attachment to the Scriptures and Apostolic traditions as well as their dialogue with Graeco-Roman philosophies of their time. Among the various themes explored are ‘myth’ and its role in early Christian theology, the familiarity of the Gospel of Truth with Alexandrian exegetical tradition, Ptolemy’s didactic in his letter to Flora, the image of the Saviour in the Interpretation of Knowledge, reception of the Johannine motifs in Heracleon’s commentary and the Tripartite Tractate, salvation in the Excerpts from Theodotus, Christian identity in the Gospel of Philip, and reception of selected Johannine motifs in ‘Valentinian’ documents.

    Valentinus’ Legacy and Polyphony of Voices will be an invaluable and accessible resource to students, researchers, and scholars of Early Christian theologies, as well as trajectories of exegesis in New Testament sources and the emerging of different Christian identities based on various Christologies.


    List of abbreviations of ancient and modern sources


    1. A "Valentinian" as a tag? Rethinking classification in the light of polemic and documents.
    2. Myth and its role in education of the Christian mind and imagination: A Valentinian Exposition, NHC, XI, 2.
    3. The Gospel of Truth NHC, 1, 3; XII, 2 and its possible Alexandrian affiliation
    4. Ptolemy and the education of Flora.
    5. The Teacher of Immortality – the Saviour and soteriology in the Interpretation of Knowledge NHC, XI, 1.
    6. Reception of the Johannine motifs in Heracleon’s Commentary on the Gospel of John and the Tripartite Tractate NHC, I, 5.
    7. The Excerpts from Theodotus – in search for theology of salvation.
    8. Construction of the Christian identity in the Gospel of Philip NHC, II, 3.
    9. The relationship between selected documents from the Nag Hammadi collection and the New Testament.


    Index of ancient authors and sources

    Index of Subjects


    Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London, UK. His research is focused on Christian origins and the formation of Christian doctrine in the period from the first to the third century CE. Among his recent publications are ‘Clement of Alexandria’ in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics (2015) and ‘Creeds, Councils and Doctrinal Development’ in The Early Christian World (Routledge, 2017).

    "One merit of this book is that it offers close and perceptive readings of texts which are still mysterious to many students of the early church. Another is that the readings are free of theological bias or any desire to force the texts into a predetermined narrative. The third merit, which is the result of the other two, is that the authors whom we know as Valentinians are revealed as creative interpreters of the apostolic tradition, working as much in synergy with as in opposition to the authors whom we call orthodox. This study richly illustrates the harmony as well as the diversity of early Christian thought." - Mark Edwards, Univeristy of Oxford, UK

     "A diverse group of early Christian texts has traditionally been labelled as "Valentinian", a usage inspired by Irenaeus and other early heresiologists. Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski argues persuasively that these texts were written by and for people who regarded themselves not as "Valentinians" but simply as Christians. The book makes a significant contribution to the ongoing scholarly effort to get beyond the binary opposition of "orthodoxy" and "heresy" and to highlight connections between early Christian texts on either side of the imposed boundary. At point after point, the author shows how these supposedly deviant texts give their own distinctive expression to common Christian themes." - Francis Watson, University of Durham, UK

    "I can’t stress enough the importance of the way the early Christian teachers discussed in this book are treated here, not as exponents of an overarching theological system, but in their own right and in their own terms. This is why each chapter yields fresh insights into these less known Christian intellectuals and their creative, and often bold, take on myth and other forms of theological discourse." - Ismo Dunderberg, University of Helsinki, Finland