Menander (gnostic)

Menander (Greek: Μένανδρος) was a first-century CE Samaritan gnostic, magician and a leader of the Simonians following the death of his master and instructor, Simon Magus, who was in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius.[1][2][3] He is mentioned in the works of Irenaeus, Tertullian and others.[4] Justin Martyr is the oldest source of knowledge about Menander after he met some of the devoted Menandrians in their old age. Justin suggested that Menander was born in Cappareteia and established a school in Antioch where he announced himself the messiah and vowed to defeat the angels that were keeping the world in captivity, possibly through exorcism.[5]

When the Simonians divided during the Gnostic schism, Menander called his part of the sect Menandrians, holding the belief that the world was made by angels. His ideas contrasted with those of Satornilus and the Satornilians, who believed the world was made by only seven angels against the will of a "Father on high".[3] Menander held that a water baptism was essential as the source for eternal youth.[6]

Menander held solid to the belief that as head of the church, he was the savior and Power of God. Menander maintained that "the primary power continues unknown to all but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth from the presence of the invisible beings as a savior, for the deliverance of men".[2]

Other magicians including Basilides and Cerdo became followers of Menander and were said to have "given immense development to his doctrines" with differing ethical consequences.[2] It has been suggested that some of those who tried to interpret the doctrines of Menander, such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, took things far too literally. Irenaeus for instance, claimed that those in receipt of Menander's water baptism no longer grew old and became immortal.[5]


  1. Joseph B Tyson (2006). Marcion and Luke-acts: A Defining Struggle. Univ of South Carolina Press. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-1-57003-650-7. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 G. van Groningen (1967). First Century Gnosticism: Its Origin and Motifs. Brill Archive. pp. 144–. GGKEY:U5J7K6Y11UY. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  3. 1 2 Saint Epiphanius (Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus) (2009). The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (sects 1-46). BRILL. pp. 59–. ISBN 978-90-04-17017-9. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  4. Alberto Ferreiro (2005). Simon Magus in Patristic, Medieval And Early Modern Traditions. BRILL. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-90-04-14495-8. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  5. 1 2 The Early Christian Church. CUP Archive. pp. 315–. GGKEY:U6Y4PUATGJB. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  6. Robert McQueen Grant (2004). Augustus to Constantine: the rise and triumph of Christianity in the Roman world. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-664-22772-2. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
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