One God, the Creator, Maker, and Nourisher of this Universe: Irenaeus Against the Valentinians
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The purpose of this thesis is to explore the conflict between Irenaeus and his Valentinian opponents. In it I argue that Irenaeus turns to the doctrine of creation in his opposition to the Valentinians as a means to reveal the foundational error of their teaching. The doctrine of creation covers a broad spectrum of ideas, from discussions surrounding creation ex nihilo to the status which the non-human creation is given. It is a significant theological theme in early Christianity, which accounts for its complexity and prevalence. In this thesis, I am focusing specifically on the conflict between Irenaeus and the Valentinians regarding the creative activity of God—that is, God as Creator. This is typically an unstated starting point for the early Christian discourse surrounding the other elements included in the doctrine of creation. With respect to this specific second-century conflict, however, the identity of the creator God is not a shared presupposition. It is, in fact, one of the central points, or as Irenaeus says, “heads,’ of the Valentinian teachings he refutes.