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The Cainites, or Cainians, were a Gnostic and Antinomian sect who were known to worship Cain as the first victim of the Demiurge Jehovah, the deity of the Tanakh (or "Old Testament"), who was identified by many groups of gnostics as evil. They venerated Cain, on the basis that by creating murder Cain allowed men to deny it, and thus have a greater chance at redemption from Original Sin. The sect following was relatively small. They were mentioned by Tertullian and Irenaeus as existing in the eastern Roman Empire during the 2nd century. One of their purported religious texts was the Gospel of Judas.
Source texts on the CainitesEdit
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.31.1–2
- Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 38
- Hippolytus, Against Heresies 8
- Pseudo-Tertullian, Against All Heresies 7
- Tertullian, On Baptism 1.
- Cainites is a term used by some adherents of Christian Identity groups to disparage Jews.
- Cainites is an alternate transliteration for Kenites.
- Cainite theology is discussed in the 1919 Hermann Hesse novel, Demian.
In popular cultureEdit
- The Cainites are referred to in issue 22 (May 1990) of Sandman, a comic published by DC Comics and written by Neil Gaiman. The description of the sect is inconsistent with this entry's description.
- In White Wolf, Inc.'s Vampire: The Masquerade universe (also known as the World of Darkness) storyline, Cainites is another name for Vampires i.e.: those descended from Cain (the first vampire). The description of the sect is inconsistent with this entry's description.
- The book Demian, by Hermann Hesse, extensively draws upon the beliefs of the Cainite sect. The eponymous character Max Demian even convinces the protagonist Emil Sinclair that Christianity had misunderstood Cain's virtue over Abel's.