Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 11. The Heresies of the Ante-Nicene Age” Sections 112-136, Loc. 17655-18757.
§ 128. The Ophites. The Sethites. The Peratae. The Cainites.
In the early Christian period, a number of other religions based at least loosely on pagan philosophy arrived on the scene (Schaff 2014, Loc. 18477). The Ophites were serpent worshipers, finding a special secret gnosis in snakes. The serpent from Genesis 3 is seen as the one who can actually teach good and evil, making people like God (Schaff 2014, Loc. 18486). This group later branched out into several different sects, the Sethites, Peratae, and Cainites. The Sethites and Cainites had some sort of mystical view of a figure from the Old Testament who served as a forerunner of Christ. In the case of the Peratae, there were three gods, with three minds, found in three men. Basically everything was a threefold manifestation of something (Schaff 2014, Loc. 128493). Schaff observes a strong tendency in these groups to celebrate and honor as good what historic Christians have seen as bad. For instance, the Ophites revered the Serpent, and the Cainites honored the one who killed his brother (Schaff 2014, Loc. 18502). These groups were roundly rejected among Christian teachers, with some suggesting they are the target of Jude’s tirade against false teachers (Schaff 2014, Loc. 18509).