Most of the written history of Gnostics and the various groups that practices Gnosticism come from those who opposed them. As a result, that written history tends to be largely negative and misleading. Let’s clear up a few of these misunderstandings.
It is often expressed that gnostic groups were just a bunch of rebels and crazies, and remain so to this day.
“While consistently represented by its enemies as a historical oddity of purely antiquarian interest, Gnosticism has attracted friends and even followers of the stature of Voltaire, William Blake, W. B. Yeats, Hermann Hesse, and C. G. Jung, to mention but a few.” ~Stephen Hoeller in the preface to his book “Gnosticism”.
It is said that Gnostic groups were an offshoot from the original Christian church and original teachings of Christianity.
The Essenes were clearly Gnostic and they existed for centuries before the birth of Jesus and, while some historians still disagree, it it becoming more widely accepted that Jesus himself was an Essene. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that many of Gnostic teachings existed before the start of Christianity.
It has been stated that Gnosticism is not a consistent teaching, with each of the many groups teaching something slightly different.
That could be said also for the many Christian churches that exist today. The important thing is that the core teachings of all the real gnostic groups is the same and that teaching is that there is a sacred “knowledge” that cannot be learned from books or from conventional studies. It must be learned by the soul, not the brain, and the purpose of the gnostic groups is to teach the members of the group how to access this hidden knowledge to transform themselves from the typical average person into a superior spiritual person.