From: Gershom Scholem, 1960 (edited)
Gnosticism is a loose term. Only a few of the groups and tendencies now considered Gnostic were known as such in their own time.
But this does not preclude the use of this convenient term for the religious movement that proclaimed a mystical esotericism for the elect based on illumination and the acquisition of a higher knowledge of things heavenly and divine.
It is to this knowledge that the very term 'Gnosis,' meaning 'knowledge,' that is to say, knowledge of an esoteric and at the same time soteric (redeeming) character, alludes.