The Greek word "gnosis" means "knowledge," but in "gnosticism" it is used as "revealed knowledge." The label "gnosticism" is used for a variety of movements, usually, though not necessarily, of Christian orientation, which share common ideas.
- Mankind, as well as 'lesser divinities' that are situated in between God and mankind, are emanations from God.
- Apart from God, there also is an evil demiurge that has created Earth.
- Mankind consists mainly of souls that are trapped here on Earth by the demiurge, but through re-awakening the revealed knowledge, mankind can remember its divinity, and return to the higher realms where it belongs. Apart from the souls that were trapped by the demiurge, other souls have decided to come to Earth, too, to assist the ones that are trapped in remembering.
Gnosticism flourished in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. It was heavily nfluenced by Greek philosophy (Plato's dualism) and Zoroastrianism (fight of Light / Good against Dark / Evil).
In turn, gnostic thinking influenced the Cabala, Theosophy, as well as some Christian sects like the Albigenses, Manichaeism ...
(Trivia: Some of the scrolls found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, contained Gnostic texts, whereas others contained writings from the very early Christians. Some texts are even attributed to some of the apostles!).