Bardesanes (July 11, 154–c.222), also known as Bar-Daisan, was a Gnostic Christian writer and poet. He was born in the Syrian city-state of Edessa (now called Urfa, or Sanliurfa, in southern Turkey), where he later became a missionary after his conversion in 179. He was able to convert the king of Edessa, Abgar IX, who established Bardesanes' version of Christianty as the state religion—which ended when Edessa was conquered by the Roman Emperor Caracalla in 216.
His most important writing was arguably The Dialogue of Destiny, or The Book of the Laws of the Countries, which seems to be heavily influenced by gnostic teachings, Hermeticism, and Chaldean mythology and astrology (Sabazius, 1995). In it, he wrote the following:
- he attacked the determinism of Greek philosophers after Aristotle, especially in regards to astrology
- he denied the creation of the world, of Satan, and of evil by the supreme God
- he attributed various characters in the Bible to a hierarchy of deities
- he claimed belief in a Divine Mother and Divine Father
- The universe is a “dualism of God and Darkness (Hylê), with the four elements (water, air, fire and light) suspended between them” (Sabazius, 1995). The manifested cosmos is an impure mixture of these elements with Darkness.
- One achieved salvation by achieving gnosis with a docetic Christ (where the humanity and sufferings of the earthly Christ were only illusions), thereby seperating once again the elements from the Darkness, allowing one “to rise with the assistance of the Holy Spirit into the ‘Bridal Chamber’” (Sabazius, 1995).
- He denied the concept of the resurrection of flesh
Later in life, he translated many of his teachings into the form of hymns with the help of his son, Harmonius. At the time, these hymns earned him renown. Years after his death, however, many writers denounced Bardesanes as a heretic.
- Livingstone, E. (2000). "Bardesanes (http://80-www.oxfordreference.com.content.lib.utexas.edu:2048/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t95.e539)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Retrieved Sept. 21, 2004.
- Encyclopædia Britannica. (2004). Bardesanes (http://80-search.eb.com.content.lib.utexas.edu:2048/eb/article?tocId=9013338). Retrieved Sept. 21, 2004.
- Sabazius. (1995). Bardesanes (http://www.hermetic.com/sabazius/bardesanes.htm). Retrieved Sept. 21, 2004.