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There is ample evidence that early Christianity was socioeconomically very inclusive, being made up of the poor, the wealthy, men, women, the educated, uneducated, etc.

For example, Pliny the Younger writes regarding the arrest of Christians:

...for a great many individuals of every age and class, both men and women, are being brought to trial, and this is likely to continue. It is not only the towns, but villages and rural districts too which are infected through contact with this wretched cult.

Also, some data regarding ethnicity and class can be inferred from the names in the NT.

Is there any information in the writings of the Church Fathers, secular historians, the NT[1] itself, or elsewhere, that can help us understand the socioeconomic makeup of early Gnostic Christian sects?[2]

Was their membership also very inclusive, or more limited to certain areas, such as cities rather than rural areas, or primarily made up of a certain class, gender, educational background, etc?


[1] I am aware that most NT scholars believe full-blown Christian Gnosticism occurred only after the first century.

[2] Of course, this might vary from sect to sect, however I'm intentionally leaving this question broad because I wouldn't know which sect to ask about if I had to limit the question, and I don't want to post a separate question asking about each Gnostic heresy.

  • I would also welcome any info regarding the socioeconomic makeup of those gnostic sects that were not associated with Christianity, as it might provide some indication of the state of gnosticism at large. However, this seems to be out of the range of the Christianity site. – למה זה תשאל לשמי Feb 13 '18 at 2:30

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