ABELITES, (ABELIANS, ABELONIANS): A sect mentioned by Augustine (Haer., lxxxvii.; cf. Praedestinatus, i. 87) as formerly living in the neighborhood of Hippo, but already extinct when he wrote. Their name was derived from Abel, the son of Adam. Each man took a wife, but refrained from conjugal: relations, and each pair adopted a boy and a girl who inherited the property of their foster-parents on condition of living together in like manner in mature life. They were probably the remnant of a Gnostic sect, tinged perhaps by Manichean influences. [The name grew out of a wide-spread belief that Abel though married had lived a life of continence.] G. KRUGER.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. W. F. Walch, Entwurf einer vollstandigen Historie der Ketzereien, i. 607-608. Leipsic, 1762.