Women and Heretical Movements in "Diversarum hereseon liber" by Philastrius of Brescia


The article discusses two issues related to the role of women in heretical movements on the basis of Philastrius’ of Brescia Diversarum hereseon liber (written between 380 and 388): the place and the importance of the feminine in the doctrinal teaching of the heretics, along women’s participation in setting up and functioning of the various heresies. In the Jewish movements false-beliefs were associated with the figures of pagan goddesses, which some groups worshiped in different periods of the history of Israel. Contrary to the widespread in the ancient culture belief of the relationship of the male element in human person with the intellectual sphere, in the early Christian Gnosticism it was thought that the femi­nine was the personification of intellect. An example of this phenomenon on the doctrinal plane was the eon “Wisdom” (sapientia), and on the historical one – Helena accompanying Simon Magus, the precursor of all Christian heresy. Among the female characters of biblical inspiration for erroneous views, resulting from improper, sometimes mythologizing exegesis was especially the mother of mankind Eve. However, the creators of heresies didn’t stress clearly her feminine qualities as that might encourage the emergence of their heterodox doctrines. The known names of women – the members of Jewish and early Christian misbelief movements – appear in Philastrius’ index much less often than men. These are individual cases: Helena accompanying Simon Magus, Priscilla and Maximilla – the co-founders of Montanism heresy.


woman; heresies; Judaism; early Christianity; Philastrius of Brescia; Diversarum hereseon liber

Filastrius Brixiensis, Diversarum hereseon liber, ed. F. Heylen – G. Banterle, Scriptores circa Ambrosium 2, Milano – Roma 1991.
Epihanius, Panarion, ed. K. Holl, 1-33, GCS 25, Leipzig 1915, 162-464, tłum. M. Gilski: Epifaniusz z Salaminy, Panarion. Herezje 1-33. Tekst grecki i polski, Kraków 2015; 34-64, GCS 31, Leipzig 1922; 65-80, GCS 37, Leipzig 1933.
Origenes, Homiliae in Exodum, éd. M. Borret, SCh 321, Paris 1985, tłum. S. Kalinkowski: Orygenes, Homilie o Księdze Wyjścia, ŹMT 64, Kraków 2012, 169-301.
Origenes, Homiliae in Genesim, éd. H. de Lubac – L. Doutreleau, SCh 7bis, Paris 1985, tłum. S. Kalinkowski: Orygenes, Homilie o Księdze Rodzaju, ŹMT 64, Kraków 2012, 21-165.
Tertullianus, De cultu feminarum, ed. E. Kroymann, CCL 1, Turnhout 1954, 341-370, tłum. D. Sutryk: Tertulian, O strojeniu się kobiet, w: Tertulian, Wybór pism, III, PSP 65, Warszawa 2007, 33-56.
Boulluec A. Le, La notion d’hérésie dans la littérature grecque (IIe et IIIe siècles), t. 1: De Justin à Irénée, Paris 1985.
Burrus V., The Heretical Women as Symbol in Alexander, Athanasius, Epiphanius and Jerome, HTR 84 (1991) 229-248.
Duda J., Jeden świat czy wiele światów? Kosmologiczne podstawy doktryny Orygenesa, Siedlce 2008.
Ricciotti G., Storia d’Israele, t. 1: Dalle origini all’esilio, Torino 1932.
Szram M., Chrystus – Mądrość Boża według Orygenesa, Lublin 1997.
Szram M., Ciało zmartwychwstałe w myśli patrystycznej przełomu II i III wieku, Lublin 2010.
Szram M., Duchowy sens liczb w alegorycznej egzegezie aleksandryjskiej (II-V w.), Lublin 2001.
Quacquarelli A., Il triplice frutto della vita cristiana: 100, 60 e 30 (Matteo 13, 8 nelle diverse interpretazioni), Roma 1953.
Rudolph K., Gnoza. Istota i historia późnoantycznej formacji religijnej, tłum. G. Sowiński, Kraków 1995.

Published : 2016-12-15

Szram, M. (2016). Women and Heretical Movements in "Diversarum hereseon liber" by Philastrius of Brescia. Vox Patrum, 66, 127-137. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.3444

Mariusz Szram 
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II  Poland

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 > >>