According to the Epistula Apostolorum early 2nd c., Cerinthus and Simon Magus were considered among the pseudo-apostles 1 12 and 7 18. Another old tradition says that the apostle John fled from the baths at Ephesus when he heard that Cerinthus was present in the building Iren., Adv. haer. 3,3,4 and Euseb., HE 3,28,6. This came from the idea that Cerinthus was an astute heretic who worked in Asia Minor, trying to undo the work of the apostles. At first Cerinthus was depicted as a typical gnostic who held that the world was not created by God but by inferior forces, that Christ descended on the man Jesus and that the angels were responsible for the law Iren., Adv. haer. 1,26,1; Hipp., Philos. 7,33,1-2; ps.-Tertull., Adv. omn. haer. 3. When, in the 2nd c., John’s Apocalypse was suspect in some circles for its millenarian ideas, the orthodox writer Gaius claimed that the Johannine writings were originally written by Cerinthus. Though Hippolytus did not accept this idea according to Dionysius bar-Salibi, d. 1171, subsequently it was generally held that Cerinthus had millenarian ideas. This was due esp. to Eusebius HE 3,28,1-6, based on his contemporary Dionysius. Eusebius was also the first to say that Cerinthus was the head of a group called the Cerinthians. Epiphanius Pan. 28 emphasized the tradition of Cerinthus’s first appearance as a pseudo-apostle. According to him, Cerinthus should be held responsible for Paul’s difficulties with the Jews and Jewish Christians, since it was supposed that Cerinthus lived according to the Jewish law. This image of Cerinthus was followed by Filaster Div. haer. liber 26, who also knew the tradition that there was a law held to be given by angels Iren. and followed by the Cerinthians Epiph.. Augustine De haer. 8, however, writes of Cerinthus as a Jewish Christian with millenarian ideas. This characterization was adopted by all who made use of Augustine.


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