Valentinus -- A man with vision or a heretic? LO27234

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 09/19/01

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

I was thinking of suggesting that we might commemorate world wide 11
September as a day in which humankind should love rather than hate each
other, should seek the life rather than the death of each other, should
learn from rather than judge each other and a host of other behaviours
stemming from constructive rather than destructive creativity.

If we could add each subsequent year one extra day, then it will take us
365 years to do it continuously all year round.

"Oh no, that would take too long." I said to myself. Why not make the week
of 11-16 September next year as a week in which we live as "Homo sapiens
amans" rather than "Homo sapiens mortems". If we could add each
subsequent year one extra week, then it will take us 52 years to do it
continuously all year round. "Our children would like that" I said to
myself because not many of us having children would live another 52 years.

Then I remembered that this linear progression is not how nature and
culture work. We must rather seek some kind of exponential progression,
not by adding, but by multiplying. For example, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64,
128, 256 and 512 days for each subsequent year will take us 10 years to a
world of peace, freedom, prosperity, human rights, civil responsibilities
and rule of law. However, 10 years are too short. In mastering complex
human behaviour I have found that more or less 21 years are needed.

So I contemplated another number series -- that of Fibonacci. These
numbers have striking occurrences in nature. They are generated by the
formula "past + present = future". They are: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34,
55, 89, 144, 233, 377, (610, 987, ....). For example, the past of 5 is 3
so that 3+5=8. Even though adding, the formula has a curious
multiplicative effect through the wholeness of the adding. Furthermore,
the ratio of any number to its predecessor like 89/55, 144/89, 233/144,
377/144 approaches the "golden ratio" 1.61803... which the Greeks have
used with such dexterity in their art and architecture. But the Fibonacci
series gives us 14 years which are perhaps still too short a time.

It seems to me that much thinking will have to go into a nonlinear series
which will take 21 numbers to surpass 356 and which have a relation to
nature and culture. (One possibility is to base the Fibonacci series on
hours rather than days!) How about you fellow learners seeking for such a

While thinking about such a series, I was thinking of days in the calender
of nations in which already goodwill to all humans are practised.
Thanksgiving Day is in the calender of the Americans. Valentine's Day is
in the calender of many nations. But who is this Valentine? I never
thought about this question before. So I began with a most interesting
search in the books.

The root of the name Valentine (Valentinus) comes from the Latin
"valeo"=be_strong. It may also be related to "valetudo"=healthy.

Shakespeare in Hamlet (1603) let Ophelia sang: "Good morning, ^ัtis St
Valentine's day...". The French nobleman Charles, duke of Orleans, sent
his wife a card (preserved in the British Museum) in February 1415 from
his prison in the Tower of London. Geoffrey Chaucer, a poet of the 1300's,
wrote in the Parliament of Fowls: "For this was St Valentine's day when
every fowl cometh there to choose its mate." In 496 AD pope Gelasius
outlawed the pagan Lupercalian festival of sensual pleasures and fertility
on the 15 February of each year. He replaced it by St Valentine's day on
14 February. It was said that St Valentine was executed on 14 February 270
AD. Why?

The Roman emperor Claudius II had a big problem because the empire of
classical times was disintegrating fast. The Roman soldiers were not
motivated any more to fight for their empire. He guessed that they were
emotionally too much tied to their families. Hence he banned marriage
among the new soldiers so that they could become quality soldiers. But a
bishop named Valentinus married in secret young soldiers and their
fiancees. He got caught and was jailed. The jailor Asterius had a blind
daughter. He begged Valentinus to restore by prayer her sight and it
happened miraculously. Valentinus fell in love with her. It is said that
on the day of his execution (after he had been beaten up by clubs, but not
yet beheaded) he sent her a card saying in Latin "From your Valentine".

The Roman empire was in a sad state by the year 270. The reigns of
emperors were short -- from 2 to 5 years. Corruption and intrigues among
politicians and state officials were the highest ever. The trade with
India and China had stopped. Many farmlands were not cultivated any more.
Many gymnasiums (schools) had closed down. Tax collectors took whatever
money they could find in small communities and the rest was plundered by
army units. Barbarians from northern Europe and northern Africa began
raiding the empire. Roads to the borders of the empire were not kept up
any more. People moved from the cities to the countryside, organising them
into guilds to restore self their basic needs of life food, clothing and

Up to 200 AD (except for the first generation under eg. Nero), the
persecution of Christians was relatively infrequent. But as the Christians
were sharing their food, clothes, houses and especially knowledge to the
Roman people in need, many of them become converted, giving up the pagan
gods of the empire. This made the emperors, chief administrators and rich
business men furious. These Christians were destroying their very
civilization which afforded those with vested interests so much wealth by
taxes, corruption and political schemes that it had to integrate (but
which they would never admit). The Christians had to pay as scapegoats for
a civilisation disintegrating because of bad leadership. The century of
the Christian Martyrs had begun, only to be stopped by Constantine.

It was already practice among Christians that as soon as they occupied
 a high ecclesiastical office like that of bishop or pope, they selected
for them a name from past historical figures to indicate their own vision
and mission. So I wondered who was the person and what he had done so that
St Valentine would have chosen his name. I was completely surprised by the
personality and accomplishments of the original Valentinus.

Valentinus was born in Egypt and received his vast education in the School
of Alexandria with its famous Bibliotheca. He was fluent in all the major
languages, mathematics, science and philosophies. After his conversion to
Christianity he came to Rome 138 AD. There he learned that the church was
about to lose its vision and mission. The first generation (including the
apostles) and second generation of Christians had passed away. Few of the
third generation were still alive while the fifth generation was already
taking up their place in the RC (Roman Church).

Because of the persecutions on the first and second generations, the RC
was preoccupied with apologetics. They also had to fend off the gnostic
movement, i.e., those who want to replace the whole spiritual involvement
of Christianity with a reductionistic rationalising of faith into pure
knowledge. Furthermore, much Christian literature were in circulation
which had not been written authentically by the first and second
generations of Christians. When arriving in Rome, Valentinus immediately
recognised that a vast task lay in front of the whole church.

First of all, the RC should establish among the Christian literature what
of the literature is canonical (authentic) and what is apographic (not
inspired by the Holy Spirit). The same applied to the Old Testament.
Valentinus believed firmly that Christians should live according to the
Word of God, but first the RC should make sure exactly what is the Word
with respect to both the Old and New Testaments in all the literature
passed around.

Secondly, Valentinus came deeply under the impression how the Roman Empire
was beginning to slid backwards. It was not keeping law and order any more
as it once did, making it famous among peace loving citizens and feared
among criminals. He realised that the Roman culture would soon not act as
a safe haven for Christianity any more so that Christians would have to
contribute proactive towards establishing a new Roman culture.

Thirdly, he understood so much of the Greek philosophy, science and art as
well as the Roman administration, business and technology that he
immediately recognised that it all could be grafted on the complex nature
of Jesus Christ self to afford a coherent world conception. Thus he began
to develop a theology which would unveil this complex nature of Christ.

Unfortunately for Valentinus, the vast changes which he envisaged for
Christendom and the pace at which he and his school of thought were
reforming themselves, were too much for the local Christians in the RC.
They found the hosting of the Roman culture sufficient, even though they
had to be apologetic and fend off Gnosticism as a result of it. Thus
Tertullian could say: "As a harlot daily changes her attire, so do the
Valentinians change their opinions."

The RC became increasingly hostile towards Valentinus and his scholars
(like Ptolomaeus, Heracleon and Theodotus). Twice they debarred him from
the holy communion and eventually they excommunicated him as the worst
heretic in the history of the RC. Thus the body of information from which
we can learn of Valentinus comes mainly from his adversaries and critics
like Anicetus, Iranaeus, Proculus and Tertullian. Trying to establish the
historical Valentinus form such negative literature is a mammoth task.

Fortunately, most of the writings of Valentinus and his school of thought
found their way to the great Bibliotheca of Alexandria where they were
preserved. It is here where subsequent church fathers like Clemens and
Origenes learned of the original thinking of the Valentines and not merely
the criticisms against it. It is here where the authentic thinking of
Valentinus became a light for them which would eventually make them famous
in the entire history of the church up to today. Unfortunately for us, the
complete Bibliotheca got burned in the eighth century. So again we have
only second hand information to work from.

All who had to do with Valentinus or his writings, acknowledged that he
was great teacher with a unique penetrating power of thought. His
adversaries pictured him as man of ambition who wanted to become the
bishop of Rome. But those who knew him better witnessed to his humble
nature and his compassion for the poor in both material and spiritual

His critics also accused him of being swept away by his own fantasies
resulting in a most esoteric and even mystic Gnosticism. But his admirers
of later generations began to realise how he struggled to uncover the
first principles of theological disciplines such as exegesis and
hermeneutics. His adversaries accused him of fanaticism. But students of
later generations acknowledged how important it was for him to delineate
sacred Scripture from commentaries upon it.

A curious insight of Valentinus was that the incarnation of God in Jesus
came just at the right point of time at the zenith of the Roman empire
under Augustus. This insight remained obscure in the church until after
the Enlightenment when the history of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa
in all walks of life was fully comprehended.

Perhaps the real reason for the demise of Valentinus demise is that he was
so creative that he even wanted to reform the organisation of the RC from
a more rigid, hierarchial structure into an organic structure so as to
accommodate the different viewpoints of Christians in Asia Minor and North
Africa. He was fully aware that Christianity was fast becoming an
international religion with many faces to it. But the bishops of the RC
wanted the RC to function as the Roman empire itself. Christianity had to
be ruled from Rome as the empire was ruled from there too. Thus these
bishops were in a sense responsible for the church in later centuries
splitting into three main churches, the Roman (Italy), the Byzantine (Asia
minor) and the Coptic (Africa) churches. The final outcome of this was the
Dark Age when the Empire and the RC united to become the Holy Roman

Perhaps I have painted a too romantic picture of Valentinus. But I have
come deeply under the impression of him as a man of great learning who
encouraged the authentic learning of all scholars who came into contact
with him. He benefitted self immensely from the vast information in the
Bibliotheca of Alexandria.

He was the first to realise that Christianity was an international
religion of which, like other international religions in those times, its
branches would broke off and become astray unless Christians learned
authentically. He was the first to realise exactly what St Paul five
generations earlier had accomplished in preaching the gospel to the
Gentiles. Clemens honour him by saying that he was the only one his time
who had an intelligent understanding of Paul's complex theology.

I believe that our problem of civil unrest, fear and disorder does not
stem from religions. It stems from that very civilisation itself which
have outgrown its founding paradigm. The sign of this is a rapid increase
of anomalies in that civilisation of which not even its major religions
are spared. I think that Valentinus ("the strong one") was tacitly aware
of this increase of anomalies in the Roman civilisation -- to use our
modern terminology He wanted to prevent the Church manifesting itself too
as an anomaly of civilisation in doing what Jesus and the sacred Scripture
never taught. A hundred years later St Valentine became a martyr because
the RC did not heed to the insight of Valentinus. Thus the card with "From
your Valentine" written on it gets a much deeper meaning for me.

The surest way to let these anomalies of a civilisation multiply and grow,
is to prevent the authentic learning of its citizens. Deny their right to
become learning individuals and learning organisations and unrest, fear
and disorder is in the making. The passion for love and live becomes a
fanaticism for hate and death.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.