According to Hippolytus, this view was inspired by the Pythagoreanswho called the first thing that came into existence the Monad, which begat the dyad, which begat the numbers, which begat the pointbegetting linesetc. The Sethian cosmogony as most famously contained in the Apocryphon "Secret book" of John describes an unknown God, very similar to the orthodox apophatic theologybut different from the orthodox teachings that this God is the creator of heaven and earth. Orthodox theologians often attempt to define God through a series of explicit positive statements: The Sethian hidden transcendent God is, by contrast, defined through negative theology:
Basilides again, that he may appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrines. He sets forth that Nous was first born of the unborn father, that from him, again, was born Logos, from Logos Phronesis, from Phronesis Sophia and Dynamis, and from Dynamis and Sophia the powers, and principalities, and angels, whom he also calls the first; and that by them the first heaven was made.
Then other powers, being formed by emanation from these, created another heaven similar to the first; and in like manner, when others, again, had been formed by emanation from them, corresponding exactly to those above them, these, too, framed another third heaven; and then from this third, in downward order, there was a fourth succession of descendants; and so on, after the same fashion, they declare that more and more principalities and angels were formed, and three hundred and sixty-five heavens.
Wherefore the year contains the same number of days in conformity with the number of the heavens. Those angels who occupy the lowest heaven, that, namely, which is visible to us, formed all the things which are in the world, and made allotments among themselves of the earth and of those nations which are upon it.
The Gnostic writings of them is Gnostic writings who is thought to be the God of the Jews; and inasmuch as he desired to render the other nations subject to his own people, that is, the Jews, all the other princes resisted and opposed him. Wherefore all other nations were at enmity with his nation.
But the father without birth and without name, perceiving that they would be destroyed, sent his own first-begotten Nous he it is who is called Christ to bestow deliverance on them that believe in him, from the power of those who made the world.
He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them.
For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous mind of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all.
Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world; so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world.
If any one, therefore, he declares, confesses the crucified, that man is still a slave, and under the power of those who formed our bodies; but he who denies him has been freed from these beings, and is acquainted with the dispensation of the unborn father.
Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by nature subject to corruption. He declares, too, that the prophecies were derived from those powers who were the makers of the world, but the law was specially given by their chief, who led the people out of the land of Egypt.
He attaches no importance to [the question regarding] meats offered in sacrifice to idols, thinks them of no consequence, and makes use of them without any hesitation; he holds also the use of other things, and the practice of every kind of lust, a matter of perfect indifference.
These men, moreover, practise magic; and use images, incantations, invocations, and every other kind of curious art. Coining also certain names as if they were those of the angels, they proclaim some of these as belonging to the first, and others to the second heaven; and then they strive to set forth the names, principles, angels, and powers of the three hundred and sixty-five imagined heavens.
They also affirm that the barbarous name in which the Saviour ascended and descended, is Caulacau.
He, then, who has learned [these things], and known all the angels and their causes, is rendered invisible and incomprehensible to the angels and all the powers, even as Caulacau also was. And as the son was unknown to all, so must they also be known by no one; but while they know all, and pass through all, they themselves remain invisible and unknown to all; for, "Do thou," they say, "know all, but let nobody know thee.
The multitude, however, cannot understand these matters, but only one out of a thousand, or two out of ten thousand. They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.
They make out the local position of the three hundred and sixty-five heavens in the same way as do mathematicians. For, accepting the theorems of these latter, they have transferred them to their own type of doctrine.
They hold that their chief is Abraxas; and, on this account, that word contains in itself the numbers amounting to three hundred and sixty-five. Irenaeus also makes this accusation op. Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives, and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed to idols, maintaining that God does not greatly regard such matters.
For it is an impracticable attempt to mention all those who, in one way or another, have fallen away from the truth.
Irenaeus also makes mention of Basilides as follows op. If, however, [the things referred to were done] not against His will, but with His concurrence and knowledge, as some [of these men] think, the angels, or the Former of the world [whoever that may have been], will no longer be the causes of that formation, but the will of God.
For if He is the Former of the world, He too made the angels, or at least was the cause of their creation; and He will be regarded as having made the world who prepared the causes of its formation.
Although they maintain that the angels were made by a long succession downwards, or that the Former of the world [sprang] from the Supreme Father, as Basilides asserts; nevertheless that which is the cause of those things which have been made will still be traced to Him who was the Author of such a succession.
Irenaeus again makes mention of Basilides op.The Gnostic Gospels: The Sacred Writings of the Nag Hammadi Library, The Berlin Gnostic Codex, and Codex Tchcas by Marvin (Editor) Meyer.
$ (5 used & new offers) out of 5 . Some Gnostic documents are the Gospel of Truth, the Letter to Rheginus, Treatise on the Three Natures, Apocalypse of Adam, the Gospel of Matthias, Gospel of Philip, Acts of Peter, and Acts of Thomas. Although the Gnostics were prolific writers, most of their works have been burnt or lost in favor of proto-orthodox writings (and known only.
Information on Basilides. Irenaeus gives the following account of the doctrines of Basilides in Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter 24, sections 3.
Basilides again, that he may appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrines.
The library includes over a thousand documents (four gigabytes of material) related to the Gnostic tradition, including all major Gnostic writings and anti-Gnostic patristic texts. Using the Archive Search function, students and researches can easily find just about any anything relating to the Gnostic tradition.
GNOSTICISM. Fragments of a Faith Forgotten by G.R.S. Mead  An indispensable and comprehensive sourcebook about the Gnostics. The Gnostics and Their Remains by Charles William King  King's pioneering summary of what was known .
The Gnostic Gospels The 52 texts discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt include 'secret' gospels poems and myths attributing to Jesus sayings and beliefs which are very different from the New Testament.