Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge (in the nominative case γνῶσις f.). It generally signifies a dualistic knowledge in the sense of mystical enlightenment or “insight”. Gnosis taught the deliverance of man from the constraints of earthly existence through insight into an essential relationship, as soul or spirit, with a supramundaneplace of freedom.
The term is used in the context of ancient religions and philosophies, aspects of Judeo-Christian beliefs, particularly to the ideas that emerged during early Christian and Greco-Roman interaction during the 2nd century.
GNOSTICISM IS THE TEACHING based on Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. Although Gnosticism thus rests on personal religious experience, it is a mistake to assume all such experience results in Gnostic recognitions. It is nearer the truth to say that Gnosticism expresses a specific religious experience, an experience that does not lend itself to the language of theology or philosophy, but which is instead closely affinitized to, and expresses itself through, the medium of myth. Indeed, one finds that most Gnostic scriptures take the forms of myths. The term “myth” should not here be taken to mean “stories that are not true”, but rather, that the truths embodied in these myths are of a different order from the dogmas of theology or the statements of philosophy.