(Note: It is a matter of controversy if these sects had a real succession of ideas or communion with each other, of if they more or less coincidentally had the same basic doctrine.)
First, the gnostic sects are often divided into an eastern, or Persian school, and a Syrian-Egyptic school. The Persian school has a more definitive division between light and darkness, whereas the Syrian-Egyptic school is more platonist in character. The latter is the one usually associated with Gnosticism, and the one known to include several Christian elements. A group referred to as the Ophites fall in between both of these strains.
- Persian Gnostics
- Mandaeanism which still exists today, but is non-Christian in character.
- Manichaeism which was an entire religion on its own, but is now extinct.
- Syrian-Egyptic Gnostics