A Christian sect known for their radical nudity and rejection of marriage, echoing the purity of Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Early Church
Founded: 2nd century
Ended: 5th century
Other Names: Adamians; Adamiani
Location: North Africa

The Adamites were a group that appeared in various forms from the early Christian period into the Middle Ages, characterized by their unique interpretations of Christian doctrine and notable practices. Originating in North Africa between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Adamites held a belief in the innocence of Adam before the original sin and sought to emulate this state of purity. They are often noted for their practice of nudism during religious assemblies, which they believed reflected the innocence of Adam and Eve before the Fall. This practice, among others, led to their classification as heretics by mainstream Christian authorities.

The sect is mentioned by early Christian writers like St. Epiphanius and Augustine of Hippo, who describe their practices and beliefs. The Adamites rejected the institution of marriage as they believed it was unnecessary in the state of innocence they claimed to have recaptured. This belief extended to a broader rejection of established social and religious norms, which often put them at odds with both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. They referred to their gatherings as “Paradise,” emphasizing their connection to the prelapsarian state of humanity.

The founder of the Adamite sect is believed to be Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher and a disciple of Carpocrates, known for his radical teachings. The sect’s practices and teachings were considered obscure and controversial, often discussed in the context of opposition to established religious and social orders.

Throughout history, Adamitism has resurfaced in various forms, reflecting a recurring theme of dissent within Christianity against institutional structures and conventional morality. However, the direct lineage and influence of the Adamites on later movements are difficult to trace with certainty due to the scattered nature of historical records and the tendency of their opponents to conflate or obscure their actual beliefs and practices.

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