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Found Christianities: Remaking the World of the Second Century CE

In this volume, I tell the stories of the early Christians whom other Christians denied were Christian. the second century CE, many different Christian leaders and groups claimed to be the only or authentic version of Christianity. Over the course of twenty-six chapters, I relate what we can piece together of their histories, writings, and practices. Instead of allowing the enemies of these Christians to control the discourse, I follow a careful method in which primary sources are preferred to secondary (heresiographical) attacks. I show how countless discourses, ideas, and practices are continually recycled and adapted throughout time in the building of Christian identities. He contextualizes the histories of Christians within the larger Greco-Roman world and shows how they intersect with the traditional figures explored in church history. Furthermore, Litwa questions the notion of some Christian identities “surviving” or “perishing”, “winning” or “losing.”  By moving beyond notions of “gnostic”, “heretical” and “orthodox,” Litwa allows these “lost Christianities” to once again be found.

Table of Contents


Chronological Table


  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Scene: The World of the Second Century CE
  • Part I: Early Christian Leaders and their Movements
  • Chapter 2: Cerinthusand John
  • Chapter 3: Simon, Helen, and Simonian Christians
  • Chapter 4: The “Nicolaitans” and Nicolaus
  • Part II: Early Syrian Teachers
  • Chapter 5: Menander
  • Chapter 6: Saturninus
  • Chapter 7: The Seed of Seth
  • Part III: Early Egyptian Theologians
  • Chapter 8: “Ophite” and “Peratic” Christians
  • Chapter 9: Basilides and Isidore
  • Chapter 10: Carpocrates, Epiphanes, and Marcellina
  • Chapter 11: Valentinus
  • Part IV: Texts and Figures in Rome
  • Chapter 12: The Gospel of Truth
  • Chapter 13: The Treatise on the Resurrection
  • Chapter 14: Marcion
  • Chapter 15: Ptolemy and Flora
  • Chapter 16: Heracleon
  • Part V: Some Christian Leaders in Asia Minor
  • Chapter 17: Marcus and the Rise of Valentinian Churches
  • Chapter 18: Noetus and his Followers
  • Part VI: Theologians in Later Second-century Rome
  • Chapter 19: Tatian
  • Chapter 20: Lucanus, Apelles, and Philumene
  • Chapter 21: Theodotus, Florinus, and “Melchizedekian” Christians
  • Chapter 22: Justin, author of Baruch
  • Part VII: Later Theologians in Alexandria
  • Chapter 23: Julius Cassianus and Tatian
  • Chapter 24: Prodicus and his Disciples
  • Chapter 25: The Naassene Preacher
  • Chapter 26: “Sethian” Christians of the Refutation
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Carpocrates, Marcellina, and Epiphanes is the definitive study of the early Christian theologian Carpocrates, his son Epiphanes, and the leader of the Carpocratian movement in Rome, Marcellina.

It contains the first full-length study and commentary on the fragments of Epiphanes, the earliest reports on Carpocrates and Marcellina, and the Epistle to Theodore (containing the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark). Readers also encounter an up-to-date history of research on the Carpocratian movement, and three full profiles of all we can know from the earliest Carpocratian leaders. Written in an accessible style, but based on the most careful historical and linguistic research, this volume is a landmark, helping to redefine the field of early Christian history.

Carpocrates, Marcellina, and Epiphanes is a welcome addition into the libraries of all students of early Christian theology, researchers investigating early Christian diversity, and to scholars of Gnostic and Nag Hammadi materials.

Table of Contents


1. Text, Translation, and Commentary on Epiphanes, On Justice

2. Commentary on the Earliest Carpocrates Reports

3. Carpocratianism in the Epistle to Theodore

Conclusion: Contextualizing Carpocrates, Epiphanes, and Marcellina: An Attempt at a Profile