The term “Gnosticism” describes a broad movement that could incorporate many different groups and perspectives, some of which we might regard as orthodox. Probably an outgrowth of Jewish Gnosticism, Christian Gnosticism emerged in the second and third centuries C.E. as a major movement throughout the Mediterranean region, particularly in the Near East. Emphasizing the Platonic duality of body and soul, as well as of matter and spirit, the Gnostics preferred to focus on the divinity of Christ and on the inherent inferiority of the material world. Denying that the God of the Hebrew Bible was the One God, the Gnostics developed a mythic system (including male-female pairs, or “syzygies”) that explained the origins of physical creation and humanity. According to the Gnostics, the visible world resulted from the actions of higher spiritual beings who mistook or misinterpreted the One God (also the “All”) and, in so doing, turned away and created an inferior realm of matter. Human beings need to acquire self-knowledge (gnosis) to learn the story of their true origins, and that is what the Gnostics sought to provide.