The Ophites




Who are the Ophites

The Ophites (from the Greek word for snake), also known as the Serpentinians, were associated with Gnostic and Egyptian sects around 100 A.D. They honored the serpent written of in Genesis 3:1-14.

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (King James Version, emphasis mine).

What is known about the Ophites comes from early Christian writers. Clement of Alexandria, head of the Catechitical School of Alexandria in the late first to early second century, wrote that the name "Ophians" was taken from the groups object of worship (Storm. vii 17, p.900). Irenaus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul in the 2nd century, mentioned the Ophites in a book on heresy (Against Heresy, i. 23-28). Furthermore, Philaster, the Bishop of Brescia in the 4th century, wrote that the Ophites were produced by the devil.





Sources

"Ophites". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.