Basilides, 100? - 139?

Basilides was the earliest of the Alexandrian Gnostics and flourished in the first half of the second century.  He was apparently a dualist and an emanationist, and somewhat of a pantheistic evolutionist, who explored the relationships between Nous (Mind), Logos (Reason), Phronesis (Prudence), Sophia (Wisdom), and Dynamis (Strength).  For Basilides, belief in God meant belief in a paradoxical Absolute Negation: "God is Not-Being, even He, who made the world out of what was not; Not-Being made Not-Being."  Given the utter non-existence of God, God is not even "unspeakable."  He simply is Not.  Like most other Gnostics, Basilides believed that matter and spirit are of opposing natures but are mixed together in the sensible world.  The passions are unnatural accretions which encrust the spiritual essence through entanglement in matter.  Sin, then, consists of a preoccupation with the material world.  Salvation, which involves the disentanglement of spirit from matter, must be accomplished through asceticism and faith.  Basilides considered suffering not as something to be escaped, but rather as a blessing, the purpose of which was to turn the spiritual essence away from its entanglement in matter.  Faith signified the soul's transcendence of the senses and, by its nature, must be inborn rather than taught.