Simon Magus is the earliest known gnostic
He lived in Samaria
) in the first century
Samaria was a fertile ground for "alternative"
) religious groups at the time,
and Simon Magus was just one of many
leaders who preach
gathered followers at the time.
Simon Magus claimed that he was an incarnation
of God, a common claim, then as well as now.
Futhermore, he claimed that he had incarnated
in human form in order to rescue the
fallen "Divine Thought", a female deity
that had been captured by angels and
arch angels, and forced to reincarnate
through successive female bodies. He claimed
that Helen of Troy was one of her
previous incarnations, and that she was
currently residing in the body of a
prostitute called Helena.
Characteristically, Simon taught his followers
that the Old Testament was the revelation
of malicious angels, and hence oppressive.
His followers propounded a cosmology of
divine emanations, which is common in
gnosticism in general. However,
it is unknown whether this cosmology was
taught by Simon himself, or if it was
a later construct.