- The Gnostic Glossary is divided into FOUR sections.
- To access entries, click on a term (Garment) or section heading (G - L).
- For consistency and easy comparison, certain standard terms have been used in the explanations
(and inserted in parentheses in the quotations). These standard terms are:
- The One - for God, Father, Parent, Root etc.
- The saviour - for the Son, Christ, Word, Autogenes, Seth etc.
- Sophia - for Wisdom, Achamoth, Pistis etc.
- The Elect - for the Gnostics, Pneumatics, Chosen ones, sons of Seth etc.
- All quotations are from the standard translations of the Nag Hammadi texts, unless otherwise noted.
- All square and pointed brackets (which indicate lacuna and corrected omissions in the standard translations) have been removed.
- Parentheses are used for the addition of standard terms.
- Only the title of the text is given as a reference. On some occasions, the standard page and line numbers are added.
- The source of the quotation may be found by copying it and doing an on-line search at the Nag Hammadi Library complements of Gnosis.org.
- In spirit world. Male and female must be regarded, first of all, as principles.
I the author of this website believe, that all spiritual levels of consciousness are managed by the spirits in the same manner:
a "Feminine Principle", a Nurturing-Preserving Force; working within the local level of consciousness; and, with the conjunction of Her Coequal " Masculine Principle ", a Creative Force.
- The male and female principles are opposed to each other. This creates two possible schema in Gnosticism.
- In the first schema, the male and female exist as a unity in the Upper Aeons, but became divided in the Lower Aeons. Hence, the division of male and female symbolizes falleness into the Lower Aeons while the unity of male and female symbolizes salvation into the Upper Aeons.
- In the second schema, the male principle provides ‘spirit’ and ‘form’ (which are imperishable and incorruptible) while the female principle provides ‘body’ and ‘matter’ (which are perishable and corruptible). Hence, the female symbolizes falleness into the Lower Aeons while the male symbolizes salvation into the Upper Aeons.
2. THE UNITY OF MALE AND FEMALE IN THE UPPER AEONS
- All beings in the Upper Aeons unite the male and female, as bi-sexual androgynes. Although they are singular (androgynous), they possesses both male and female genders or names (bi-sexual). The male and female genders of an androgyne are called ‘syzygies’ or consorts. See ANDROGYNE and CONSORT.
- This begins with the One or ‘Parent’, who is androgynous, as both Mother and Father. Protennoia: “I am androgynous. I am Mother (and) I am Father, since I copulate with myself. I copulated with myself and with those who love me, and it is through me alone that the All stands firm. I am the Womb that gives shape to the All by giving birth to the Light that shines in splendor.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- The androgynous One also manifests itself through Sophia and Jesus, as well as the seeds (i.e. the Elect) and their angelic consorts in the Upper Aeons: “But the syzygy is the complete one, and Sophia and Jesus and the angels and the seeds are images of the Pleroma.” (Valentinan Exposition)
- Though androgynous, each syzygy (consort) has a male and female name: “In the beginning, he (the One) decided to have his likeness become a great power. Immediately, the principle (or beginning) of that Light appeared as Immortal Androgynous Man. His male name is 'Begotten, Perfect Mind'. And his female name is 'All-wise Begettress Sophia'. It is also said that she resembles her brother and her consort.” (Eugnostos the Blessed) The androgynous angels beget more androgynous angels when their male and female names or ‘consorts’ consent to unite. See CONSORT.
- Most importantly, the Anthropos was made male and female: “And he made his necessities (genitals) in the type of those that go forth and those that come in” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
3. THE SEPARATION OF MALE AND FEMALE IN THE LOWER AEONS
- Yaltabaoth then divided the androgynous Anthropos into male and female, Adam and Eve. Adam speaking to his son Seth: “When God had created me out of the earth, along with Eve, your mother, I went about with her in a glory. (...) We resembled the great eternal angels (i.e. we were androgynous), for we were higher than the god who had created us and the powers with him, whom we did not know. Then God, the ruler of the aeons and the powers (i.e. Yaltabaoth), divided us in wrath. Then we became two aeons (i.e. male and female).” (Apocalypse of Adam 64:6)
- The separation of Adam and Eve into man and woman was one aspect of their ‘fall’ into the Lower Aeons. At the same time, they acquired material bodies and became mortal. Thus, they could only prolong their existence through desire and sexual intercourse. Adam speaking to his son Seth: “I knew a sweet desire for your mother. Then the vigor of our eternal knowledge was destroyed in us, and weakness pursued us. Therefore the days of our life became few. For I knew that I had come under the authority of death.” (Apocalypse of Adam)
- Desire and sexual intercourse only prolong material existence: “Now up to the present day, sexual intercourse continued due to the chief archon. And he planted sexual desire in her who belongs to Adam. And he produced through intercourse the copies of the bodies.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Both male and female are needed for sexual intercourse and conception: “And if you (Asclepius) wish to see the reality of this mystery, then you should see the wonderful representation of the intercourse that takes place between the male and the female. For when the semen reaches the climax, it leaps forth. In that moment, the female receives the strength of the male; the male, for his part, receives the strength of the female, while the semen does this.” (Asclepius)
- The only hope of salvation from this situation is if the male and female again become one spiritually, as they were in the Upper Aeons. Christ descended in order to inaugerate the rite of the Bridal Chamber, where the male and female may re-unite, not in body, but in spirit, and so return to the Upper Aeons: “If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.” (Gospel of Philip) See BRIDAL CHAMBER.
4. THE MALE PRINCIPLE AS SPIRIT AND FORM; THE FEMALE PRINCIPLE AS BODY AND MATTER
- When a child is conceived during sexual intercourse, according to Aristotlean physics, the male principle provides ‘form’ while the female principle provides ‘matter’. From the semen comes the form, template or image which is ‘stamped’ upon the formless matter in the womb.
- Gnosticism extends this schema to say that the male principle provides the spiritual form or image from the Upper Aeons, while the female principle provides the formless matter of the Lower Aeons.
- This schema for conception and birth then extends, in Gnosticism, to the creation of the entire cosmos. Sophia is the female principle that ‘conceived and gave birth’ to the formless matter of the Lower Aeons. She did this without the contribution of the male principle (her consort Christ) and so the Lower Aeons lacked spiritual form. Instead, Yaltabaoth copied forms from the Upper Aeons to give the Lower Aeons their present shape. This schema may be laid out as follows:
- Sophia is a female that conceived and gave birth without the contribution of her male consort: “And the Sophia (...) conceived a thought from herself. (...) And though the person of her maleness had not approved, (...still) she brought forth. And (...) something came out of her which was imperfect and different from her appearance, because she had created it without her consort. And it was dissimilar to the likeness of its mother, for it has another form.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Without the male principle, the Lower Aeons were composed of matter lacking spiritual form, and hence, like an aborted fetus: “Sophia, who is called Pistis, wanted to create something, alone without her consort. (...) And what she had created became a product in the matter, like an aborted fetus. And it assumed a plastic form molded out of shadow, and became an arrogant beast resembling a lion.” (Hypostasis of the Archons)
- This formless matter ‘had no spirit in it’. Still, when Sophia tried to give it form, it became the lion-headed serpent Yaltabaoth: “Then Pistis (Sophia) came and appeared over the matter of chaos, which had been expelled like an aborted fetus - since there was no spirit in it. (...) And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance.” (On the Origin of the World) “And when she saw the consequences of her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Yaltabaoth then copied the forms from the Upper Aeons to give the Lower Aeons their present shape: “And having created [...] everything, he (Yaltabaoth) organized according to the model of the first aeons which had come into being (i.e. the Upper Aeons), so that he might create them (the Lower Aeons) like the indestructible ones.” (Apocryphon of John)
- For this reason, all things in the Lower Aeons are ‘children of the female only’ and ‘without form’. Only the male principle, the saviour from the Upper Aeons, can ‘give form’: “As long as we were children of the female only, as of a dishonorable union, we were incomplete, childish, without understanding, weak, and without form, brought forth like abortions, in short, we were children of the woman. But having been given form by the Savior, we are the children of the man (husband) and of the bride-chamber” (Excerpta ex Theodoto 68).
- Because the Lower Aeons are generated by Sophia alone, they have ‘the defect of femaleness’: “And in this way the defect of femaleness appeared.” (Eugnostos)
- Sophia (as Achamoth) is female from female, without the redeeming quality of the male: “Achamoth had no father nor male consort, but she is female from a female.” (First Apoc James)
- One role of the saviour is to divide the male principle, which is light and incorruptible, from the female principle, which is dark and corruptible: “like Isaiah, who was sawed with a saw, (and) he became two. So also the Son of Man divides us by the word of the cross. It divides the day from the night and the light from the darkness and the corruptible from incorruptibility, and it divides the males from the females.” (Test Truth)
- Another role of the saviour is to redeem the perishable female element by making it like the imperishable male element: “The perishable has gone up to the imperishable and the female element has attained to this male element.” (First Apocryphon of James)
- The ‘female’ principle includes desire: - “After I parted from the somatic darkness in me and the psychic chaos in mind and the feminine desire [...] in the darkness, I did not use it again.” (Zostrianos)
- The ‘female’ principle includes the passions, which bring division instead of unity: “And do not become female, lest you give birth to evil and (its) brothers: jealousy and division, anger and wrath, fear and a divided heart, and empty, non-existent desire.” (Second Treatise of the Great Seth)
- Hence, salvaltion requires that we reject the female principle, and ‘choose maleness’: “Flee from the madness and the bondage of femaleness, and choose for yourselves the salvation of maleness.” (Zostrianos 131:5 )
- Again: “Simon Peter said to them: ‘Let Mary go away from us, for women are not worthy of life.’ Jesus said: ‘Look, I will draw her in so as to make her male, so that she too may become a living male spirit, similar to you. (But I say to you): Every woman who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Gospel of Thomas 114)
- Again: “Judas said, ‘You have told us this out of the mind of truth. When we pray, how should we pray?’ The Lord said, ‘Pray in the place where there is no woman.’ Matthew said, ‘'Pray in the place where there is no woman,' he tells us, meaning 'Destroy the works of womanhood,' not because there is any other manner of birth, but because they will cease giving birth.” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
5. MALE PRINCIPLE AS MIND; FEMALE PRINCIPLE AS SOUL
- In many Gnostic text, the mind (nous) is regarded as male: “he is a disciple of his mind, which is male.” (Testimony of Truth)
- Meanwhile, the soul (psyche) is regarded as female.
- When the soul was in the Upper Aeons, it was ‘virgin and androgynous’: “As long as she was alone with the father, she was virgin and in form androgynous” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- But when the soul fell into the Lower Aeons, it became female and even acquired a womb: “Wise men of old gave the soul a feminine name. Indeed she is female in her nature as well. She even has her womb.” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- As long as the soul remains female in the Lower Aeons, it risks defilement, becoming like ‘a prostitute’: “And in her body she prostituted herself and gave herself to one and all” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- But through the male principle of the saviour, the female soul can acquire ‘the life-giving spirit’ in a ‘marriage made perfect by the Father’: “Thus when the soul had adorned herself again in her beauty (she) enjoyed her beloved (saviour), and he also loved her. And when she had intercourse with him, she got from him the seed that is the life-giving spirit, so that by him she bears good children and rears them. For this is the great, perfect marvel of birth. And so this marriage is made perfect by the will of the father.” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- It follows from the above passage that the saviour is the male principle from the Upper Aeons which ‘has intercourse’ with the female principle in the Lower Aeons (the fallen soul). In doing so, the male provides ‘spirit’ and ‘form’ for the female soul, who in turn gives birth. Although the Aristotlean model of conception and birth underlies this schema, the ‘marriage’ is spiritual rather than fleshly. For the spiritual marriage, see BRIDAL CHAMBER.
- In the following passage from Silvanus, it becomes clear that a three-part division between mind, soul, and body is allegorized as male, female, and animal. Thus, mind = male, soul (psychic) = female, body = beast. “Understand that you have come into being from three (...) The body has come into being from the earth (...) the soul, has come into being from the thought of the Divine. (...) the mind has come into being in conformity with the image of God. (...) If you cast out of yourself the substance of the mind, which is thought, you have cut off the male part, and turned yourself to the female part alone. You have become psychic (...) If you cast out the smallest part of this, so that you do not acquire again a human part - but you have accepted for yourself the animal thought and likeness - you have become fleshly, since you have taken on animal nature.” (Silvanus)
6. MALE AND FEMALE - MISCELLANEOUS
- The greatness of the male principle is emphasized through the adjective ‘thrice’ or ‘triple’. Hence, the saviour becomes ‘the triple male child: “I saw the good divine Autogenes; and the Savior, who is the youthful, perfect Triple-Male Child” (Allogenes). See THRICE.
- While ‘female’ and ‘prostitute’ refer to the state of the soul in the Lower Aeons, ‘male’ and ‘virgin’ refer to the state of being in the Upper Aeons. Hence, certain Upper Aeonic beings are given the epithet ‘male virgin’: “the unreproducible Voice (...) a male virgin by virtue of a hidden Intellect, that is, the Silence hidden from the All, being unreproducible” (Trimorphic Protennoia) See VIRGIN.
- In particular, Barbelo is refered to as ‘the male virgin’ or ‘virginal male’: “And I saw holy powers by means of the Luminaries of the virginal male Barbelo” (Allogenes) See BARBELO.
- The Middle is the space between the Upper and the Lower Aeons.
- The Middle is also the time after death and before re-incarnation - a state of ‘non-existence’ which is greatly feared.
- When a person dies, his soul will try to rise up through the Aeons. As it passes through the seven Lower Aeons, the Archons try to prevent its passage and throw it back down, so it will be born again in another body. See RESURRECTION. Hence, the middle is an intermediary state of existence which is greatly feared by the soul.
1. THE MIDDLE AS THE SPACE BETWEEN THE UPPER AND LOWER AEONS
- The middle is like a veil between the Upper Aeons (‘the eternal’ ‘those who exist’) and the Lower Aeons (‘matter’ ‘those who do not exist’): “And then the existent separated itself from the non-existent. And the non-existent is the evil which has manifested in matter. And the enveloping power separated those that exist from those that do not exist. And it called the existent ‘eternal’, and it called the non-existent ‘matter’. And in the middle it separated those that exist from those that do not Exist, and it placed veils between them.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- The middle as a veil : “A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart.” (Hypostasis of the Archons)
- The middle as a curtain between the Upper and Lower Aeons: “the Father of the Universe, that his unimaginable goodness might be revealed, he created that curtain between the immortals and those that came afterward” (Sophia of Jesus Christ)
2. THE MIDDLE AS THE PLACE SOPHIA WAITED BEFORE HER REDEMPTION
- Sophia was sent to the Middle after she created Yaltabaoth, where she waited before Christ redeemed her: “But when she (Sophia) had seen the wickedness which had happened, and the theft which her son had committed, she repented. (...But) she did not dare to return, (to the Upper Aeons. Instead...) she repented with much weeping. And the whole pleroma heard the prayer of her repentance, (...) And she was taken up not to her own aeon but above her son (i.e. to the middle), that she might be in the ninth (aeon) until she has corrected her deficiency.” (Apocryphon of John)
- This version is repeated by Irenaeus: “Achamoth (i.e. Sophia), who, having for a little while looked upon the Saviour with his associates, and dwelling all the rest of the time in the intermediate place (i.e. the Middle), waited for him till he should come again, and restore her to her proper consort.” (Irenaeus. Bk I, viii, 4)
3. THE MIDDLE AS THE TIME AFTER DEATH AND BEFORE RE-INCARNATION
- As the soul rises up, it must pass through the Archons’ aeons, which are in the middle (translated here as ‘midst’):
“And again when they take my soul to the place of Typhon,
the great and powerful Archon with the face of an ass`s
who is spread out upon the way of the Midst (i.e. Middle)
who carries off the souls by theft” (Fragment from the Bruce Codex)
- The Ascleptius is a Hermetic Gnostic text where ‘the middle’ is described as a fearful place ‘between earth and heaven’ where the soul is judged. If it is ‘thrown down’, it is punished by being ‘suspended’ in the middle: “Listen, Asclepius! There is a great demon. The great God has appointed him to be overseer or judge over the souls of men. And God has placed him in the middle of the air, between earth and heaven. Now when the soul comes forth from the body, it is necessary that it meet this daimon. Immediately, he (the daimon) will surround this one and he will examine him in regard to the character that he has developed in his life. And if he finds that he piously performed all of his actions for which he came into the world, this (daimon) will allow him ... (1 line missing) ... turn him [...]. But if he sees [...] in this one [...] he brought his life into evil deeds, he grasps him, as he flees upward, and throws him down, so that he is suspended between heaven and earth, and is punished with a great punishment. And he will be deprived of his hope, and will be in great pain.” (Asclepius 76:21)
- In the Gospel of Philip ‘the resurrection’ is an initiation into a visionary ascent, so the soul may know and be prepared for its final ascent through the aeons after death. See RESURRECTION. In the following passage, it is necessary for the soul to ‘acquire the resurrection while we are in this world’ because, without it, the soul may become lost in ‘the middle’, which is regarded as ‘death’ ‘truly evil’ and a fearful place: “And so he dwells either in this world or in the resurrection or in the middle place. God forbid that I be found in there! In this world, there is good and evil. Its good things are not good, and its evil things not evil. But there is evil after this world which is truly evil - what is called ‘the middle’. It is death. While we are in this world, it is fitting for us to acquire the resurrection, so that when we strip off the flesh, we may be found in rest and not walk in the middle. For many go astray on the way.” (Gospel of Philip)
- For more on the time after death and before re-incarnation, see RESURRECTION>
4. THE MIDDLE AS NOTHING
- In a confusing passage from the First Book of Jeu, the middle (‘the midst’) is repeated referred to as ‘nothing’: “The living Jesus answered and said: ‘Blessed is the man who has known these things. He has brought heaven down, he has lifted the earth and has sent it to heaven, and he has become the Midst for it is nothing. (...) Because of this (the gnosis) you will be saved from the archon of this aeon, and he will become the Midst, because it is nothing. (...) When you become heavenly you will become the Midst because it is nothing...” (First Book of Jeu) Perhaps ‘become’ is a mistranslation for ‘have no fear of’.
- Note that ‘middle’ may have other senses: “The spiritual race will receive complete salvation in every way. The material will receive destruction in every way, just as one who resists him. The psychic race, since it is in the middle when it is brought forth and also when it is created, is double according to its determination for both good and evil.” (Tripartite Tractate)
- In the geography of Gnosticism, mountains often occur as a place to put ‘the God-written holy books’ so that they will ‘come forth’ at the end of time with their ‘revelation’:
- “This is the book which the great Seth wrote, and placed in high mountains on which the sun has not risen, nor is it possible (that it should do so). And since the days of the prophets and the apostles and the preachers, the name has not at all risen upon their hearts, nor is it possible (that it should do so). And their ear has not heard it. The great Seth wrote this book with letters in one hundred and thirty years. He placed it in the mountain that is called 'Charaxio,' in order that, at the end of the times and the eras, by the will of the divine Autogenes and the whole pleroma, through the gift of the untraceable, unthinkable, fatherly love, it may come forth and reveal this incorruptible, holy race of the great savior...” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- “... and he said to me, ‘Write down the things that I shall tell you, and of which I shall remind you, for the sake of those who will be worthy after you. And you will leave this book upon a mountain and you will adjure the guardian: Come Dreadful One.’” (Allogenes)
- NB - A jar containing the Nag Hammadi texts was found buried at the base of a cliff called Jabal al-Tarif.
- Naming has ontological power. Whatever is named comes to exist.
- This began in the Upper Aeons, when the silent and unnameable One named itself, thus extending its existence through the Upper Aeons.
- It continued in the Lower Aeons, when Yaltabaoth named his Archons.
- In Gnosticism, it was important to know (gnosis) the names of all the beings in the Upper and Lower Aeons. This knowledge was necessary for the resurrection and ascent through the aeons.
- The saviour revealed the names of all the aeons.
- The saviour also revealed the ‘hidden’ names and how to pronounce them.
- This knowledge was revealed to the Elect during the preparatory rites of the baptism.
- During the baptism, the catechumen also received a baptismal name.
2. BEFORE NAMING WAS THE SILENCE
- The One is unnameable: “Thou art one (...) How shall we give thee a name? We do not have it, For thou art the existence of them all.” (Three Steles of the Great Seth)
- Hence, the One is called ‘the Father whose name cannot be uttered’ (Gospel of the Egyptians). He is ‘the unproclaimable Father’ or ‘the silent Silence’. (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- As ‘the ineffable One, he dwells in the silence: “the Ineffable One who dwells in the Monad. He dwells alone in silence.” (Valentinian Exposition.)
- His aeons that surround him are also called ‘the silence’ (Gospel of the Egyptians). The aeons are “...the Silence that surrounds every one of them.” (Trimorphic Protennoia 35:34)
3. THE ONE CREATED THE UPPER AEONS BY NAMING
- The One created the Upper Aeons by naming itself in the silence. Each Upper Aeonic being possesses a name by which the One named itself: “This one, however, stretched himself out and it was that which he stretched out which gave a foundation and a space and a dwelling place for the universe, a name of his being” (Tripartite Tractate)
- This began with the trinity of the Father, Mother and Son: “Three powers came forth from him; they are the Father, the Mother, (and) the Son, from the living silence.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- It is particularly the Son who bears the unspeakable name of the Father: “Now the name of the Father is the Son. It is he who first gave a name to the one who came forth from him, who was himself, and he begot him as a son. He gave him his name, which belonged to him.” (Gospel of Truth) For the names of the Son, see below.
- As the Word, the Son possesses the name (of the Father): “(This is) the Son who is perfect in every respect - that is, the Word who originated through that Voice; who proceeded from the height; who has within him the Name.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
4. YALTABAOTH CREATED THE LOWER AEONS BY NAMING
- Like the Upper Aeons, the Lower Aeons were created by naming.
- Yaltabaoth named himself ‘God’. He then named the Archons, bringing them and their aeons into existence: “But Yaltabaoth had a multitude of faces (...) Because of the power of the glory he possessed of his mother's light, he (Yaltabaoth) called himself God. (...) And when he spoke it happened. And he named each power beginning with the highest: the first is (...) Athoth; the second is (...) Eloaio; and the third is (...) Astraphaio (then Yao, Sabaoth, Adonein and Sabbateon). And these have a firmament corresponding to each aeon-heaven.” (Apocryphon of John)
- In another version, Yaltabaoth names his Archons ‘by means of verbal expression’, which are vowel sequences: “Next, the ruler (Yaltabaoth) had a thought - consistent with his nature - and by means of verbal expression he created an androgyne. He opened his mouth and cooed to him. When his eyes had been opened, he looked at his father, and he said to him, ‘Eee!’ Then his father called him Eee-a-o ('Yao'). Next he created the second son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, ‘Eh!’ His father called him 'Eloai'. Next, he created the third son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, ‘Asss!’ His father called him 'Astaphaios'” (On the Origin of the World)
5. MALE AND FEMALE NAMES
- Since the angels in the Upper Aeons and the Archons in the Lower Aeons are androgynes (see ANDROGYNE), they each have a male and female name, which is the name of each consort or ‘syzygy’ in the androgyne (see CONSORT). This began with the One that named itself Father and Mother, then extended through all the aeons.
- All the androgynous angels in the Upper Aeons have male and female names: “In the beginning, he (the One) decided to have his likeness become a great power. Immediately, the principle (or beginning) of that Light appeared as Immortal Androgynous Man. His male name is 'Begotten, Perfect Mind'. And his female name is 'All-wise Begettress Sophia'. It is also said that she resembles her brother and her consort.” (Eugnostos the Blessed)
- The androgynous Archons in the Lower Aeons have male and female names: “Seven appeared in chaos, androgynous. They have their masculine names and their feminine names.” (On the Origin of the World)
6. THE ONTOLOGICAL POWER OF NAMING
- Naming has ontological power: by pronouncing the name, it comes to exist: “What exists, exists through that name,” (Tripartite Tractate 61:12)
- The aeons came to exist through their names: “And he established the four aeons. With a word he established them.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- Hence, the Father ‘brings about existence’ by naming: “But the Father is perfect, knowing every space within him. If he wishes, he manifests whomever he wishes, by giving him form and giving him a name, and he gives a name to him, and brings it about that those come into existence who, before they come into existence, are ignorant of him who fashioned them.” (Gospel of Truth)
7. NAMING AS KNOWLEDGE OF SECRET NAMES
- One aspect of the gnosis is to know the names of the beings in the Upper and Lower Aeons.
- The Father gave his name to those whom he had created, so they would know him: “in order that they might recognize (i.e. know) who is the Father who exists for them, he gave them the name ‘Father’” ( Tripartite Tractate 61:12)
- However, there are ‘revealed’ names and ‘hidden’ names: “’Jesus’ is a hidden name, ‘Christ’ is a revealed name. (...) ‘The Nazarene’ is he who reveals what is hidden.” (Gospel of Philip)
- Some of the names (‘words’) were not written down, but were communicated secretly (probably in the baptismal rite): “they (the Elect) will be known up to the great aeons, because the words they have kept, of the God of the aeons, were not committed to the book, nor were they written.” (Apocalypse of Adam)
- The initiate may have learned the names of the Upper Aeonic beings by repeatedly ‘invoking’ them. Such is the case in Melchizedek, in which these beings are repeatedly invoked with the formula: “Holy are you, Holy are you, Holy are you, (____), for ever and ever, Amen.” (Melchizedek)
8. SECRET NAMES OF THE UPPER AND LOWER AEONS
- The ‘renunciation’ and the ‘invocation’ formed part of the baptismal rite (see FIVE SEALS). The purpose of the ‘renunciation’ was to learn the secret names of the Archons in the Lower Aeons, while the purpose of the ‘invocation’ was to learn the secret names of the angels in the Upper Aeons: “But from now on, through the incorruptible man Poimael, and they who are worthy of (the) invocation (and) the renunciations of the five seals in the spring-baptism, these will know their receivers as they are instructed about them, and they will know them (or: be known) by them. These will by no means taste death.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- After death, the soul would rise up through the aeons, with the hope of attaining eternal existence in the Upper Aeons. But first, it had to pass by the seven archons of the Lower Aeons. The archons could prevent the soul’s passage and throw it back down to earth, where it would be re-incarnated in another body. See RESURRECTION.
- Part of the preparation for the baptismal rite was to learn the names and signs that would render the archons powerless, and allow the soul to pass beyond them.
- When Yaltabaoth created the archons, he did so by naming them into existence (see above). But the archons ‘have two names’. A second name was given to them by the Father (here called ‘the glory which belongs to heaven’) in order to ‘render them powerless’: “They (the archons) were given names according to the glory which belongs to heaven (i.e. the Father) for the destruction of the powers. And in the names which were given to them by their Originator (i.e. Yaltabaoth), there was power. But the names which were given them according to the glory which belongs to heaven (i.e. the Father) mean for them destruction and powerlessness. Thus they have two names.” (Apocryphon of John 12:26)
- As ‘the Word’, the saviour descended with the hidden names of the archons and secretly revealed them to his disciples: “Now the Word (Logos) that is superior to all beings was sent for this purpose alone: that he might proclaim the unknown. He said, ‘There is nothing hidden that is not apparent, and what has not been recognized will be recognized.’ And these were sent to make known what is hidden, and the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And thus they were condemned to death.” (On the Origin of the World 125:14, c.f. Mk 4:22)
- The saviour (Seth) brought ‘invisible secret symbols’ which are revealed during the ‘renunciation’ and ‘invocation’ in the baptismal rite: “He (the saviour Seth) passed through the three parousias (...) to save her (the race) who went astray, through invisible, secret symbols, through (...) the baptism, (...) through the renouncing of the world, and the god of the thirteen aeons (i.e. the Archons), and (through) the convocations of the saints and the ineffable ones (i.e. the angels).” (Gospel of the Egyptians 63:4)
- Hence, the saviour ‘opened the path’ to the Upper Aeons. He taught them the archons’ secret names (‘you have mastered every word on earth’), so that they need not fear the archontic gate-keepers as they raise up through the Lower Aeons: “The Savior said to his disciples, ‘(...) when I came, I opened the path, and I taught them about the passage which they will traverse, the elect and solitary, who have known the Father (...). When the time of dissolution arrives, the first power of darkness (i.e. archon) will come upon you. Do not be afraid! (...) If you are going to be afraid of what is about to come upon you, it will engulf you. For there is not one among them who will spare you or show you mercy. But in this way, look at (the archon without fear), since you have mastered every word on earth. (...) The crossing place is fearful before you. But you, with a single mind, pass it by!’” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
- In a fragmentary text, James asks the Lord ‘what word he must say’ to escape the Archons during his ascent. James: “But I have become afraid before them, since they rule. For what will they do? What will I be able to say? Or what word will I be able to say that I may escape them?’ The Lord said, ‘James, (...) do not be concerned for anything else except your redemption. For behold, I shall complete this destiny upon this earth as I have said from the heavens. And I shall reveal to you your redemption.’” (First Apocryphon of James)
9. NAMES SPOKEN WITH THE TONGUE OF FLESH AND WITH THE TONGUE OF THE FATHER
- As was stated above, the name of the Father ‘cannot be uttered’ and ‘dwells in the silence’.
- From the Father came a series of ‘unutterable’ names which exist ‘in the silence’: “And every name came into existence from the Father whether unutterable, or imperishable (...) every name which is in the silence, all of which came into existence from the Father.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- These are called the ‘unutterable names’: “And in the midst of the immeasurable deep there are five powers which are called by these unutterable names: 1. The first is called love', (etc)” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- These ‘unutterable names’ cannot be spoken with ‘a tongue of flesh’: “Indeed, to speak of him with a tongue of flesh, of the manner in which he exists, is an impossibility.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex) “They blessed him (the Anthropos) in songs of praise which were ineffable and unutterable by tongues of flesh” (Untitled Bruce)
- Hence, the unutterable names are not spoken ‘with the tongue of flesh’. Rather, they are ‘spoken with the tongue of the Father’: “The true God will be called Jeu, the father of all the Jeus; his name in the tongue of my Father is this: ...” (First Book of Jeu).
10. THE SILENT BREATH PASSING THROUGH VOICE, SPEECH AND WORD
- To speak ‘with the tongue of the Father’ is to mysteriously utter the unutterable names. This is done through ‘the silent breath’.
- The Trimorphic Protennoia develops a schema which begins with ‘the breath’ which exists in ‘the silence’, and then moves through ‘voice’ to ‘speech’ and ‘word’ (or ‘name’).
- Since pneuma means both ‘spirit’ and ‘breath’, the silent ‘spirit’ may be ‘breathed out’ through the ‘voice’ until it becomes manifest in ‘speech’ and ‘word’.
- The ineffable One is the spirit which exists in the silence. It then becomes manifest as the Father (voice), Mother (speech) and Son (word): “(There are) three permanences: the Father, the Mother, the Son. Existing perceptibly as Speech, it (Voice) has within it a Word (...) They exist in the manner of Three (...) secretly within a silence of the Ineffable One” (Trimorphic Protennoia) See TRINITY.
- Since the Elect possess the pneuma, they may ‘breath’ the silent spirit through voice, speech and word. In terms of the Trinity, the spirit within them gives them the silent breath which passes through the voice to speak the word. Protennoia: “It is through me that the Voice originated, and it is I who put the breath (pneuma) within my own (i.e. within the Elect).” (Trimorphic Protennoia 45:27)
- Although the breath has a voice to speak through the word, it remains a ‘hidden voice’ which preserves the silent spirit in the breath: “I am a Voice speaking softly. I exist from the first. I dwell within the Silence that surrounds every one of them. And it is the hidden Voice that dwells within me, (...) within the immeasurable Silence.” (Trimorphic Protennoia 35:32)
- Through the pneuma in them, the Elect may speak the hidden, unutterable names which no one else can pronounce. This is the sense of the phrase: “They blessed him in songs of praise which were ineffable and unutterable by tongues of flesh...” (Untitled Text in Bruce Codex)
- As was stated above, there are ‘hidden’ and ‘revealed’ names. The Archons in particular have ‘two names’, one which was spoken by Yaltabaoth to create them, and one which was spoken by the Father to render them powerless.
- The saviour taught these hidden names to his disciples and the Elect. But, he also taught them how to pronounce the hidden names, by breathing the spirit through them.
11. COMBINING VOWELS AND CONSONANTS IN SECRET NAMES
- There are many secret or hidden names in the Gnostic texts. Most of the names for the beings from the Upper Aeons contain long vowel sequences, with a notable absence of consonants. The Elect utter the ‘unutterable names’ and sing ‘ineffable songs of praise’ by releasing the pneumatic breath through the long vowel sequences. In this way, the hidden names are ‘spoken with the tongue of the Father’ and their secrets are preserved in the silence.
- By contrast, the names for beings in the Lower Aeons contain consonants as well as vowels. These consonants are ‘spoken with the tongue of flesh’.
- Through the combinations of consonants and vowels in their names, the Archons have ‘two names which create a single name’: “He it is (Adamas) who is within all of the Adams, possessing the thought of Norea, who speaks concerning the two names which create a single name.” (The Thought of Norea 28:30)
- In the Gnostic text Marsanes, a hierarchy of sounds in names is created. This hierarchy puts vowels above consonants.
- Although the text of Marsanes is extremely fragmented, the following schema arises. There are the long or double vowels, called ‘dipthongs’ (which are superior), the short or semi-vowels, called ‘vowels’ (which are intermediate), and the voiceless consonants, called ‘oxytones’ (which are inferior).
- Note: in ancient Greek, there are seven vowels. In our Latin script, the vowels ‘eta’ and ‘omega’ are denoted by capitals (or a bar over top). Hence, the seven Greek vowels are:
- a - alpha
- e - epsilon
- E - eta
- i - iota
- o - omicron
- u - upsilon
- O - omega
- In Marsanes, the simple or short vowels are: eee, iii, ooo, uuu, OOO
- The simple or short vowels are ‘similarly’ listed as: aaa, eee, EEE, iii, ooo, uuu, OOO, OOO, OOO
- From these simple or short vowels, the long or double vowels, called diphthongs, are made. The diphthongs are: ai, au, ei, eu, Eu, ou, Ou, oi, Ei, ui, Oi, auei, euEu, oiou, ggg, ggg, ggg, aiau, eieu, Eu, oiou, Ou, ggg, ggg, aueieu, oiou, Eu.
- In the following passage, the hierarchy of long or double vowels (dipthongs), then short or simple vowels (vowels), and finally consonants (oxytones) is established. These sounds are then ‘combined’ to constitute ‘the nomenclature of the gods and the angels (i.e. archons): “But know that the oxytones (i.e. voiceless consonants) exist among the (short or single) vowels, and the diphthongs (long or double vowels) which are next to them. But the short ( or single vowels) are inferior, and the [...] are [...] by them. Those that [...], since they are intermediate [...]. The sounds of the (short) semivowels are superior to the voiceless (consonants). And those that are double (the long vowels or dipthongs) are superior to the (short) semivowels, which do not change. But the aspirates (short and long vowels) are better than the inaspirates (of) the voiceless (consonants). And those that are intermediate (short vowels) will accept their combination in which they are (...) <they constitute> the nomenclature of the gods and the angels (i.e. archons) not because they are mixed with each other according to every form, but only (because) they have a good function.” (Marsanes)
- Marsanes says that he has revealed certain aspects of the mystery, but remained silent concerning others. These ‘were taught’ (in the preparations for the baptismal rite?): “With regard to them, they were not allowed to reveal the whole topic, but only those things that are apparent. You (pl.) were taught about them, that you should perceive them” (Marsanes)
12. THE HIDDEN NAMES OF THE FATHER REVEALED THROUGH THE SON
- The Father’s ‘invisible’ name cannot be spoken, but is ‘revealed’ through the Son: “Now the name of the Father is the Son. It is he who first gave a name to the one who came forth from him, who was himself, and he begot him as a son. He gave him his name, which belonged to him; he is the one to whom belongs all that exists around him, the Father. His is the name; his is the Son. It is possible for him to be seen. The name, however, is invisible, because it alone is the mystery of the invisible, which comes to ears that are completely filled with it by him. For indeed, the Father's name is not spoken, but (rather,) it is apparent through a Son.” (Gospel of Truth)
- In the Book of Jeu, the ‘true God’ is called ‘Jeu’ (from ‘Jesus’): “The true God will be called Jeu, the father of all the Jeus; his name in the tongue of my Father is this.” (First Book of Jeu) Note: ‘Jeu’ is a mistranslation, and should be rendered through the five vowels ‘i-e-o-u’
- Parts of The Gospel of the Egyptians appear to be instructional texts or hymns sung aloud in preparation for the baptismal rite. In one baptismal hymn, the name IEOU appears as a long vowel sequence. Through these vowels, the spirit was breathed out to pronounce the unpronounceable name of the Father, as manifest in the name of the Son, iEou e aO:
“And the throne of his glory was established (...)
on which his unrevealable name
is inscribed, on the tablet [...]
the Father of the light of everything,
he who came forth from the silence,
while he rests in silence,
he whose name
is in an invisible symbol.
A hidden, invisible mystery came forth:
And in this way,
the three powers gave praise
to the great, invisible, unnameable,
virginal, uncallable Spirit”
(Gospel of the Egyptians)
- Following the Trimorphic Protennoia, ‘the three powers’ would be the Voice, Speech and Word, which express the pneuma ‘Spirit’ through the breath.
- According to Bentley, the long vowel sequences spell out the name of the Son, ‘iEou’, followed by ‘e’ meaning ‘five’ (the Son as the Fifth Light?), followed by ‘a’ for alpha, and ‘O’ for omega (the ‘alpha and omega’ as ‘the beginning and the end’). Through this formula, all seven Greek vowels are pronounced to ‘give praise’ to the ‘unnameable Spirit’.
13. BAPTISMAL NAMES
- During the baptismal rite, the catechumen received a holy name. That name was ‘inscribed’ in the watery light of the Upper Aeons. Henceforth, the Father would ‘name himself’ through that name. See BAPTISM.
- The baptismal name inscribed in the water: “And <according to> the perfect laws, I shall pronounce my name as I receive baptism now and forever, as a name among the living and holy names, and now in the waters. Amen.” (Melchizedek)
- The baptismal name inscribed in light: “...in order that he may inscribe your name in our great light” (Concept Great Power)
- The race of the Elect are those whose names are inscribed in the Upper Aeons and ‘written in the Book of the Living’: “Those who are to receive teaching are the living, who are inscribed in the book of the living.” (Gospel of Truth) “Those whose name he knew in advance were called at the end, so that one who has knowledge is the one whose name the Father has uttered.”(Gospel of Truth) See BOOK OF THE LIVING.
- The baptismal name was a ‘spiritual name’ in contrast to the name given at birth, which was a ‘name in the flesh’. At the end of The Gospel of the Egyptians, the author reveals his name ‘in spirit’ as Eugnostos and his name ‘in the flesh’ as Gongessos: “The Gospel of the Egyptians. The God-written, holy, secret book. Grace, understanding, perception, and prudence be with him who has written (i.e. copied) it - Eugnostos the beloved, in the Spirit - in the flesh, my name is Gongessos - and my fellow lights in incorruptibility.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- NARROW AND BROAD
- The Lower Aeons (or Hell) are narrow: “and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place.”(Book of Thomas the Contender)
- The Upper Aeons (or Heaven) are wide: “After these things there is another place which is broad, having hidden within it a great wealth which supplies the All. This is the immeasurable deep.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- A figure from the Sethian Gnostic texts. She is the undefiled daughter of Eve who, together with Seth, gives birth to the Sons of Seth, who are the race of the Elect: “Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said, ‘He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind.’ She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile. Then mankind began to multiply and improve.” (Hypostasis of the Archons)
- One text or ‘hymn’ is dedicated to her, called The Thought of Norea. In it, Norea offers praise to the trinity of Father, Mother and Son: “It is Norea who cries out to them. They heard, (and) they received her into her place forever.” (Thought of Norea)
- In this text, she appears as a saviour-figure who is fallen and redeemed (the ‘saved saviour’ motif): “There will be days when she will behold the Pleroma, and she will not be in deficiency, for she has the four holy helpers (the Four Lights?) who intercede on her behalf.” (Thought of Norea)
- Rather mysteriously, she speaks of ‘two names which create a single name’: “the thought of Norea, who speaks concerning the two names which create a single name.” (Thought of Norea) See NAMES.
- According to Pearson, the variant spellings of her name (Norea, Orea, Noraia, Oraia, Horaia, Nora, Noria, Nuraita and Nhuraita) point backward to the Greek Horaia, which is based on the Hebrew Na’amah (‘pleasing’ ‘lovely). As Naamah, she appears in Genesis 6:2 as one of the ‘daughters of man’ that consorted with ‘the sons of God’. The Hypostasis of the Archons (where Norea appears) re-evaluates and reverses her role from negative to positive (as ‘virgin mother’ of the race of the Elect).
- In Gnosticism, there are three historical ‘aeons’ or ‘ages’ which are called the three parousias.
- Each parousia is related to the descent of a saviour figure (or his angels).
- Hence the word ‘parousia’ (which means ‘presence’) relates to the presence or manifestation of certain saviour-figures in history.
- Each parousia is also related to a natural catastrophe, which the race of the Elect must pass through.
- As a catastrophe, the parousia becomes a ‘purging’ or ‘cleansing’ and so is also called a ‘baptism’.
- In general, the three parousias are the Flood, the Conflagration and the Judgement (of the Archons)
- But, other Gnostic texts disagree on the nature of the third parousia.
2. THE THREE PAROUSIAS AS FLOOD, CONFLAGRATION AND JUDGMENT
- In the Sethian Gnostict texts, there are three historical purgings which the race of the Sethians must pass through: “the three parousias which I mentioned before: the flood, and the conflagration, and the judgment of the archons” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The Flood: “For rain-showers of God the almighty will be poured forth, so that he might destroy all flesh (...) along with those from the seed of the men to whom passed the life of the knowledge (...) Afterwards, great angels will come on high clouds, who will bring those men into the place where the spirit of life dwells” (Apocalypse of Adam)
- After this flood, Noah (Deucalion) survived because of his collaboration with God ‘Sakla’ (Yaltabaoth). His sons Ham, Japheth and Shem inherited the land, except for four hundred thousand of Seth’s descendents which mixed in with the descendents of Ham and Japheth while remaining separate. (Apocalypse of Adam)
- The Conflagration: “Then fire and sulphur and asphalt will be cast upon those men, and fire and (blinding) mist will come over those aeons, and the eyes of the powers of the illuminators will be darkened, and the aeons will not see them in those days. And great clouds of light will descend, and other clouds of light will come down upon them from the great aeons.” (Apocalypse of Adam)
- Three angels will descend to save the Elect from the Conflagration: “Abrasax and Sablo and Gamaliel will descend and bring those men out of the fire and the wrath, and take them above the aeons and the rulers of the powers, and take them away” (Apocalypse of Adam)
- In The Gospel of the Egyptians, the angels are different: “Then there came forth from the great aeons four hundred ethereal angels, accompanied by the great Aerosiel and the great Selmechel, to guard the great, incorruptible race, its fruit, and the great men of the great Seth,” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- In the third parousia, ‘the illuminator of knowledge’ will appear to work miracles, arouse wrath, and be punished in the flesh: “Once again, for the third time, the illuminator of knowledge will pass by in great glory, in order to leave (something) of the seed of Noah and the sons of Ham and Japheth - to leave for himself fruit-bearing trees. And he will redeem their souls from the day of death. For the whole creation that came from the dead earth will be under the authority of death (...). And he will perform signs and wonders in order to scorn the powers and their ruler. Then the god of the powers will be disturbed, saying, ‘What is the power of this man who is higher than we?’ Then he will arouse a great wrath against that man. And the glory will withdraw and dwell in holy houses which it has chosen for itself. And the powers will not see it with their eyes, nor will they see the illuminator either. Then they will punish the flesh of the man upon whom the holy spirit came.” (Apocalypse of Adam)
3. THE THREE PAROUSIAS AS SPIRIT, FIRE AND WATER
- The three parousias are also called three ‘baptisms’: “So, too, there are three baptisms - the first is the spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water.” (Origin of the world)
- In On the Origin of the World, the three parousias are related to ‘three types of humans’: the Pneumatic, Psychic and Hylic races. The three parousias are of ‘the spirit’, ‘fire’, and ‘water’: “There are [...] (these races of ) three men, and also his posterities, unto the consummation of the world: the spirit-endowed of eternity (i.e. pneumatic), and the soul-endowed (i.e. Psychic) and the earthly (i.e. Hylic). Likewise, the three phoenixes <in> Paradise - the first is immortal; the second lives 1,000 years; as for the third, it is written in the Sacred Book that it is consumed. So, too, there are three baptisms - the first is the spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water.” (Origin of the world)
- Also, See in Q: PLEROMA, THE-ONE, THE-ALL, BARBELO, ENNOIA, EPINOIA, PROTONOIA, SOPHIA-ACHAMOTH
3. THE THREE PAROUSIAS AS FLOOD, CONFLAGRATION AND DROUGHT
- In The Concept of the Great Power, there are three aeons, and each ends through a catastrophe. The first is the Flood, which affects the Hylic race (‘the flesh’). The second is the Conflagration, which affects the Psychic race (‘the soul’). The last is the Drought, when the Pneumatic race will withdraw to the Upper Aeons.
- The first, the aeon of the Flesh, ends by water and the Flood (but Noah survives): “the aeon of the flesh came to be in the great bodies.(...) the father of the flesh, the water, avenged himself (...) And he (Noah) made a wooden ark, and whom he had found entered it. And the flood took place.”(Concept of our Great Power) Note that Noah is a saviour-figure, and plays a positive role, in contrast to Apocalypse of Adam (above), where he and his descendents collaborate with Yaltabaoth to ensure the survival of the Psychic and Hylic races.
- The second, the Psychic Aeon, ends by fire: “And the mother of the fire was impotent. She brought the fire upon the soul and the earth, and she burned all <the> dwellings that are in it. And its shepherd perished. Moreover, when she does not find anything else to burn, she will destroy herself.” (Concept of our Great Power)
- During the Psychic Aeon, a saviour-figure appears: “Then, in this aeon, which is the psychic one, the man will come into being who knows the great Power (...) He will speak in parables; he will proclaim the aeon that is to come, just as he spoke in the first aeon of the flesh, as Noah.. And he opened the gates of the heavens with his words. And he put to shame the ruler of Hades; he raised the dead, and he destroyed his dominion.” (Concept of our Great Power)
- The archons try to seize him, and this brings about ‘a great disturbance’ and “And the sign of the aeon that is to come will appear. And the aeons will dissolve.” (Concept of our Great Power)
- But the archons ‘were ashamed of their dissolution’ and grew powerful again, overturning cities. During, what appears to be, the Final aeon, they send an ‘imitator’ who is like a ‘false prophet’ that establishes ‘the kingdom of the earth’: “then the archons sent the imitator (...) And he bore great signs. And he reigned over the whole earth and all those who are under heaven. He placed his throne upon the end of the earth, for ‘I shall make you god of the world’. He will perform signs and wonders. Then they will turn from me, and they will go astray.” (Concept of our Great Power)
- This brings about the final catastrophe, which seems to be a time of dryness and Drought: “All the powers of the sea will tremble and dry up, And the firmament will not pour down dew. The springs will cease. The rivers will not flow down to their springs. And the waters of the springs of the earth will cease. Then the depths will be laid bare and they will open. The stars will grow in size, and the sun will cease.” (Concept of our Great Power)
- At this time, the saviour-figure will ‘withdraw’ and take the Elect with him. The Archons will consume themselves: “Moreover their period, which was given to them to have power, which was apportioned to them, (is) fourteen hundred and sixty years. When the fire has consumed them all, and when it does not find anything else to burn, then it will perish by its own hand.” (Concept of our Great Power)
4. THE THREE PAROUSIAS AS FLOOD, FIRE AND PLAGUE
- The Hermetic Gnostic text The Asclepius offers this vision: “Sometimes, he (the Lord) submerged it in a great flood; at other times, he burned it in a searing fire; and at still other times, he crushed it in wars and plagues, until he brought ... (4 lines missing) ... of the work. And this is the birth of the world. (Asclepius 21)
- The pearl is an image of the hidden pneuma or spirit that resides in each of the Elect.
- As the pneuma, it is also called the divine ‘spark’ or ‘dew-drop’. See SPIRIT.
- The Hymn of the Pearl is a long allegory with many Gnostic motifs. It tells the story of a son who was sent away from his parents’ kingdom and into Egypt to retrieve a pearl from the coils of a great serpent. His parents, the king and queen, promise him that he will receive ‘his robe of light’ if he retrieves the pearl. As the son descends to Egypt, he puts on ‘dark robes’ and gradually falls into forgetfulness, drunkeness and sleep. An eagle appears with a letter from his parents, awakening him and reminding him (the gnosis) of his mission. He charms the serpent to sleep by uttering the names of his parents, retrieves the pearl, and returns to the kingdom. Because of the pearl, the son receives his robe of light, in which he sees himself as a mirror image of his parents.
- The pearl is the particle of divinity, or pneuma, which is hidden inthe world and in our flesh. Though we have forgotten it, we may awaken and remember it through the gnosis. With the pearl, we may return to our divine state, as a part of the divine unity.
- The son must retrieve the pearl: “If thou goest down into Egypt, and bringest the one pearl, which is in the midst of the sea around the loud-breathing serpent, thou shalt put on thy glittering robe and (...) thou shalt be heir in our kingdom.” (The Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas)
- The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles is another long allegory in which the saviour appears as a pearl-seller named Lithargoel. The rich of the city do not believe he has anything of value to offer. But the poor ask only ‘to see the pearl’. He offers the pearl to the poor who would ‘come into his city’ i.e. the Kingdom.
- “A man came out wearing a cloth bound around his waist, and a gold belt. (...) His voice was resounding as he slowly spoke, crying out in the city, ‘Pearls! Pearls!’” - Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles 2:10)
- “And indeed they, the poor of that city, heard and said, ‘(...) Now then, the kindness which we want to receive from you is that you show us the pearl before our eyes (...) He answered and said to them, ‘If it is possible, you yourselves come to my city, so that I may not only show you it, but give it to you for nothing.’ The poor and the beggars rejoiced.” (Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles 4:15)
- The pearl is a ‘treasure’ which does not perish: “Jesus says: ‘The kingdom of the Father is like a merchant who had merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant is prudent. He sold the goods (and) bought for himself the pearl alone. You too look for his treasure, which does not perish, (and) which stays where no moth can reach it to eat it, and no worm destroys it.’” (Gospel of Thomas (76) 46:13)
- Like the spirit in the body, the pearl in the Elect will always maintain its value: “When the pearl is cast down into the mud, it becomes greatly despised, nor if it is anointed with balsam oil will it become more precious. But it always has value in the eyes of its owner. Compare the Sons of God: wherever they may be, they still have value in the eyes of their Father.” (Gospel of Philip 62:18)
- The ‘perfect’ are the Elect and those who are saved. They belong in the Upper Aeons. See ELECT.
- The Elect are ‘the perfect race’ descended from ‘the perfect man’: “the unwavering race of the perfect Man” (Apocryphon of John) “the offspring of the perfect race” (Apocryphon of John)
- One can ‘become perfect’: - “He who will remember these and give glory always will become perfect” (Three Steles of the Great Seth)
-Literally, ‘the fullness’ or ‘perfection’.
- The Pleroma is the totality of beings in the Upper Aeons. See AEONS and THE ALL.
- The Pleroma is also called the ‘emanations of the Father’, the ‘treasuries of light’ and the ‘immeasurable deep’.
- The Pleroma or Fullness describes the Upper Aeons, while its opposite ‘the Deficiency’ describes the Lower Aeons: “The disciples said to him, ‘What is the fullness, and what is the deficiency?’ He said to them, ‘You are from the fullness, and you dwell in the place where the deficiency is.’” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
- as ‘emanations of the Father’: “Therefore, all the emanations of the Father are pleromas, and the root of all his emanations is in the one who made them all grow up in himself.” (Gospel of Truth)
- As ‘treasuries of light’: “and a multitude of emanations will come forth from all the Jeus, through the command of my Father when he moves them, and they will fill all the treasuries. And they will be called ranks of the Treasuries of the Light.” (First Book of Jeu)
- In the Untitled Bruce Codex ms, the Pleroma is described as a temple-city with four gates and a Holy of Holies: “He created the holy Pleroma in this way: four gates with four monads within it, one monad to each gate and six helpers (parastatai) to each gate, ... and an unutterable aspect - to each gate. One of his aspects looks forth from the gate to the outer aeons, the other looks inwards to the Setheus, and the other looks to the height, and the sonship is in each monad. ... The unutterable aspect of the overseer looks towards to the holy of the holies, that is, the infinite one who is the head of the sanctuary.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex also describes the Pleroma as ‘the body’ of the monad, which is like the mother-city “This is the manner in which they are all within the monad : there are twelve monads making a crown upon its head ; each one makes twelve. And there are ten decads surrounding its shoulders. And there are nine enneads surrounding its belly. And there are seven hebdomads at its feet, and each one makes a hebdomad. And to the veil which surrounds it like a tower, there are twelve gates. There are twelve myriad powers at each gate, and they are called archangels and also angels. This is the mother-city of the only-begotten one.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- As the ‘immeasurable deep’: “After these things there is another place which is broad, having hidden within it a great wealth which supplies the All. This is the immeasurable deep.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- One may also ‘become full’: “Become full, and leave no space within you empty.” (Apocalypse of James)
Also, See in Q: THE-ONE, THE-ALL, ENNOIA, BARBELO, EPINOIA, PROTONOIA, SOPHIA-ACHAMOTH, THREE-TYPES-OF-HUMANS
- The state of being in the Upper Aeons, before material time and space were created in the Lower Aeons. Also, see STAND AT REST.
- The One pre-exists: “I invoke you, the one who is and who pre-existed in the name which is exalted above every name.” (Prayer of the Apostle Paul A:11)
- The One then created images of itself, which ‘pre-existed’: “He (the Father) created the pre-existent images” (Tripartite Tractate 96:24)
- The Father, which is the first image or emanation of the One, pre-existed: “...through the incorruptible bosom, and through the great light of the Father, who pre-existed.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The Mother Barbelo, which is the next image or emanation of the One, pre-existed: “Great is the first aeon, male virginal Barbelo, the first glory of the invisible Father, she who is called ‘perfect’. Thou (fem.) hast seen first the one who truly pre-exists because he is non-being. And from him and through him thou hast pre-existed eternally.” (Three Steles of the Great Seth)
- All creatures in the Lower Aeons are shadows of ‘pre-existing things’ in the Upper Aeons: - “But the creature is a shadow of pre-existing things.” (Valentinian Exposition)
- Through the gnosis, each of the Elect may come to know their pre-existence in God: (Barbelo:) “If you seek with a perfect seeking, then you shall know the Good that is in you; then you will know yourself as well, as one who derives from the God who truly pre-exists.” (Allogenes 56:15)
- Knowledge reveals ‘the pre-existent One’: “He who gave them (the Elect) knowledge of him (Christ) was one of his powers for enabling them to grasp that knowledge in the fullest sense is called (...) ‘the revelation of those things which were known at first’ and ‘the path toward harmony and toward the pre-existent one...’” (Tripartite Tractate 127:8)
- To ‘pre-exist’ is ‘to stand at the beginning’. These will know the end: (Jesus said:) “Blessed is he who will stand at the beginning. And he will know the end, and he will not taste death.” (Gospel of Thomas 18 - 36:14)
- Blessed is he who came into being (i.e. pre-existed) before he came into being (in the flesh): “Jesus said, ‘Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being.” (Gospel of Thomas 19 - 36:17)
- He who pre-existed shall exist afterward and always:“The Lord said, ‘Blessed is he who is before he came into being. For he who is, has been and shall be.’” (Gospel of Philip 64:10)
- At the end of time, during the restoration, the Elect will return to their ‘pre-existence’: “The restoration is at the end, after the Totality reveals what it is (...) that is, the return to the pre-existent” (Tripartite Tractate)
1. PRISON IN GENERAL
- In Plato, this world is often referred to as ‘a prison’.
- In Gnosticism, the Lower Aeons form a seven-walled prison in which each of the Archons stands as a ‘guardian’ or ‘gate-keeper’.
- The body also forms a prison for the captive pneuma (spirit).
- The saviour descends to liberate the soul or spirit from the prison of both the Lower Aeons and the body.
- But, those who are not saved will remain in prison as in Purgatory or Hell.
2. THE SAVIOUR’S DESCENT INTO THE PRISON
- First, the saviour descends into ‘the prison’ of the Lower Aeons: “And I (Pronoia) went into the realm of darkness and I endured till I entered the middle of the prison. And the foundations of chaos shook.” (Apocryphon of John)
- After entering the prison of the Lower Aeons, the saviour enters ‘the prison of the body’ to liberate the captive pneuma: “Still for a third time I went - I am the light which exists in the light, I am the remembrance of the Pronoia - that I might enter into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades. And I filled my face with the light of the completion of their aeon. And I entered into the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. And I said, 'He who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.'” (Apocryphon of John)
- Hence, the body is also a prison: “And it is they who were taken captive, according to their destinies, by the prime parent (Yaldabaoth). And thus they were shut into the prisons of the modelled forms (bodies) until the consummation of the age.” (Origin of the World)
3. PURGATORY AND HELL AS PRISONS
- Those souls that have not experienced the gnosis will be ‘cast into a prison’ until it is liberated: “And I (John) said, ‘Lord, those, however, who have not known to whom they belong, where will their souls be?’ And he (the Lord) said to me, ‘(...) after it (the soul) comes out of the body, it is handed over to the authorities who came into being through the archon, and they bind it with chains and cast it into prison, and consort with it until it is liberated from the forgetfulness and acquires knowledge. And if thus it becomes perfect, it is saved.’” (Apocryphon of John)
- Condemned souls will be cast down and ‘imprisoned’ in the dark and narrow abyss. The Saviour: “...Truly I tell you that he will be handed over to the ruler above who rules over all the powers as their king, and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place. Moreover, he can neither turn nor move on account of the great depth of Tartaros and the heavy bitterness of Hades...” (Book of Thomas the Contender 142:30)
- PRONOIA (Fore-thought)
- Pronoia is the Father’s ‘Fore-thought’
- Also translated as ‘Providence’
1. PRONOIA IN GENERAL
- Pronoia is a form of Ennoia.
- Ennoia is ‘the Thought’ of the Father. See ENNOIA.
2. PRONOIA AS A FORM OF ENNOIA (WHO IS BARBELO, PROTONOIA AND EPINOIA)
- The Gnostic texts emphasize that all the beings which came to exist in the Upper Aeons were ‘first’ and so they ‘pre-exist’. In contrast to the beings in the Lower Aeons (which came later), they have ‘prior’ existence. This is stressed in the case of Ennoia (also called Barbelo) where, during the creation, she is identified with Forethought (Pronoia) and First Thought (Protonoia): “And his Thought (i.e. Thinking - Nous) performed a deed and she (Thought - Ennoia) came forth, namely she who had appeared before him in the shine of his light. This is the first power which was before all of them (and) which came forth from his Mind (Nous). She is the Forethought (Pronoia) of the All - her light shines like his light - the perfect power which is the image of the invisible, virginal Spirit (i.e. the One) who is perfect. The first power, the glory of Barbelo, the perfect glory in the aeons, the glory of the revelation, she glorified the virginal Spirit and it was she who praised him, because thanks to him she had come forth. This is the First Thought (Protonoia), his image; she became the womb of everything.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Hence, Ennoia (or Barbelo) is also Pronoia: “...it is the forethought (Pronoia), which is Barbelo, and the thought (Ennoia)...” (Apocryphon of John)
- As well, Pronoia (Forethought) is identified with Epinoia (Afterthought): “I am the remembrance (Epinoia or After-thought) of the Pronoia (Fore-thought).” (Apocryphon of John)
3. PRONOIA AS SAVIOUR FIGURE
- In the Apocryphon of John, a long hymn is dedicated to Pronoia, who appears as a saviour-figure.
- Earlier in the text, Christ was identified with Pronoia, as having ‘come forth’ from her: “(This is) the divine Autogenes, the Christ whom he (the Father) had honored with a mighty voice. He (Christ) came forth through the forethought (Pronoia).” (Apocryphon of John)
- As the saviour figure (Christ), Pronoia descends three times into the Lower Aeons. During her third descent, she declares the end of the Archons’ rule (aeon) and proclaims the gnosis to ‘awaken’ the Elect from their slumber and ‘remind them’ of their true origins in the One. She also initiates the ‘sealing’ (rite of baptism) with Five Seals. “I, therefore, the perfect Pronoia of the all, (...) I am the remembrance (Epinoia) of the pleroma. (...) Still for a third time I went - I am the light which exists in the light, I am the remembrance (Epinoia) of the Pronoia - that I might enter into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades. And I filled my face with the light of the completion of their aeon. And I entered into the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. And I said, ‘He who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.’ And he wept and shed tears. Bitter tears he wiped from himself and he said, ‘Who is it that calls my name, and from where has this hope come to me, while I am in the chains of the prison?’ And I said, ‘I am the Pronoia of the pure light (...) Arise and remember that it is you who hearkened, and follow your root, which is I, the merciful one, and guard yourself against the angels of poverty (i.e. Archons) and the demons of chaos and all those who ensnare you, and beware of the deep sleep and the enclosure of the inside of Hades.’ And I raised him up, and sealed him in the light of the water with five seals, in order that death might not have power over him from this time on.” (Apocryphon of John)
- According to The Gospel of the Egyptians, the baptsmal rite was initiated by Pronoia: “and (through) the great light of the Father, who pre-existed with his Providence (i.e. Pronoia or Forethought) and established through her the holy baptism that surpasses the heaven” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- A feminine figure (such as Sophia or the soul) who consorts with demons is called a ‘prostitute’ ‘harlot’ or ‘whore’.
1. PROSTITUTION IN GENERAL
- Sophia is the archetype for the once-virgin soul who falls into the Lower Aeons and prostitutes herself.
- She prostitutes herself by consorting with Archons and demons. That is to say, she becomes ‘the consort’ (syzygy) of a demon. See CONSORT.
- After she repents, the saviour descends to redeem her.
- Through her ‘redemption’ she becomes virgin. The saviour, as her new consort, unites with her in the Bridal Chamber.
2. SOPHIA AS THE ARCHETYPE OF THE PROSTITUTE
- Sophia began as ‘Wisdom’, the last of the twelve Upper Aeons. But, after she created Yaltabaoth without the consent of Christ, her consort, she fell into the Lower Aeons.
- In one version of her fall, Sophia (as Ennoia) ‘suffers all kinds of contumely’ from the Archons as she passes through their aeons. Finally, she becomes a prostitute: “She (Ennoia) suffered all kinds of contumely from them (the Archons), so that she could not return upwards to her father, but was even shut up in a human body, and for ages passed in succession from one female body to another, as from vessel to vessel. She was, for example, in that Helen on whose account the Trojan war was undertaken (...) Thus she, passing from body to body, and suffering insults in every one of them, at last became a common prostitute; and she it was that was meant by the lost sheep.” (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses Bk 1 Ch 23:2)
- To say that Sophia ‘suffered all kinds of contumely’ suggests that she became ‘the consort’ of the Archons.
- In the Gnostic texts, Sophia is called a whore: “For those who were in the world had been prepared by the will of our sister Sophia - she who is a whore - because of the innocence which has not been uttered.” (Second Treatise of the Great Seth)
- Recognizing her fault, Sophia repented: “...And she (Sophia) repented and she besought the Father of the truth, saying, ‘Granted that I have renounced my consort (Jesus).” (Valentinian Exposition 34:23)
- At the end of time, during the restitution, the repentent Sophia will re-unite with her consort Christ in the Bridal Chamber (which is the entire Pleroma of the Upper Aeons): “Then, they say, will the mother, (Sophia) Achamoth leave the place of the Middle, enter into the Pleroma, and receive her bridegroom, the Savior, who came into being from all (the aeons), with result that the Savior and Sophia, who is Achamoth, form a pair (syzygy) These then are said to be bridegroom and bride, but the bridal chamber is the entire Pleroma.” (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.7.1)
- Sophia’s dual nature is expressed by the Thunder Perfect Mind: “I am the whore and the holy one.” (Thunder Perfect Mind 13:18)
- In this way, Sophia becomes the archetype for the once-virgin soul who fell into the Lower Aeons, prostituted herself by becoming the consort of demons, and then repented to become the consort of the Saviour.
3. THE SOUL AS PROSTITUTE
- Since the soul is regarded as feminine, she may fall into prostitution: “Wise men of old gave the soul a feminine name. Indeed she is female in her nature as well. (...) As long as she was alone with the father, she was virgin (...). But when she fell down into a body and came to this life, then she fell into the hands of many robbers. (...) And in her body she prostituted herself and gave herself to one and all.” (Exegesis on the Soul 127:19)
- The soul falls into prostitution by consorting with demons. There are male demons (incubi) and female demons (succubi) which may ‘defile’ the soul: “When the wanton women (succubi) see a male sitting alone, they leap down on him and play with him and defile him. So also the lecherous men (incubi), when they see a beautiful woman sitting alone, they persuade her and compel her, wishing to defile her.” (Gospel of Philip 65:12)
- When the soul ‘prostitutes herself’, it falls under any form of temptation, whether desire, greed, vanity, or wrath.
- Hence, prostitution is not just of the body but, worse, of the soul. The soul must protect itself against the temptations laid out by the Archons and demons: “Yet the greatest struggle has to do with the prostitution of the soul. From it arises the prostitution of the body as well. Therefore Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said, ‘I wrote you in the letter, ‘Do not associate with prostitutes’, not at all meaning the prostitutes of this world or the greedy or the thieves or the idolaters, since then you would have to go out from the world.’ (1Co 5:9-10) - here it is speaking spiritually - ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood’ (Ep 6:12) - as he said - but against the world rulers of this darkness and the spirits of wickedness (i.e. Archons and demons).” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- When the soul repents of her prostitution, she is saved: “But when the father who is above visits her and looks down upon her and sees her sighing - with her sufferings and disgrace - and repenting of the prostitution in which she engaged, and when she begins to call upon his name so that he might help her, [...] saying ‘Save me, my father, for behold I will render an account to thee, for I abandoned my house and fled from my maiden’s quarters. Restore me to thyself again.’” (Exegesis on the Soul 128:26)
- Through the rite of the Bridal Chamber (which is closely associated with baptism), the soul renounces intercourse with demons and ‘cleanses’ herself. Then, the saviour comes to her as her new consort or ‘bridegroom’: “From heaven the father sent her her man, who is her brother, the firstborn (Christ). Then the bridegroom came down to the bride. She (the soul) gave up her former prostitution and cleansed herself of the pollutions of the adulterers (the demons), and she was renewed so as to be a bride. She cleansed herself in the bridal chamber; she filled it with perfume; she sat in it waiting for the true bridegroom...” (Exegesis on the Soul 132:7)
- The rite of the Bridal Chamber is a secret rite. To perform it openly is a form of ‘prostitution’: “If a marriage is open to the public, it has become prostitution, and the bride plays the harlot (...) Bridegrooms and brides belong to the bridal chamber. No one shall be able to see the bridegroom with the bride unless he become such a one.” (Gospel of Philip 82:10)
- PROTENNOIA (First Thought)
- Protonoia is the Father’s ‘First Thought’
1. PROTONOIA IN GENERAL
- Protonoia is a form of Ennoia.
- Ennoia is ‘the Thought’ of the Father. See ENNOIA.
- Ennoia also manifests herself as Pronoia or Protonoia, which is to say, as the ‘Fore-thought’ or ‘First Thought’ of the Father. As Barbelo, the consort of the Father, she created the Upper Aeons. See PRONOIA and BARBELO.
- Another form of Ennoia is Epinoia, as the ‘After-thought’ of the Father. She appears later in the creation to correct its faults. See EPINOIA.
- In The Trimorphic Protonoia, Protonoia’s main function is as a saviour-figure.
- She also initiated the baptismal rite.
2. PROTONOIA AS A FORM OF ENNOIA (WHO IS BARBELO, PRONOIA AND EPINOIA)
- The Gnostic texts emphasize that all the beings which came to exist in the Upper Aeons were ‘first’ and so they ‘pre-exist’. In contrast to the beings in the Lower Aeons (which came later), they have ‘prior’ existence. This is stressed in the case of Ennoia (also called Barbelo) where, during the creation, she is identified with Forethought (Pronoia) and First Thought (Protonoia): “And his Thought (i.e. Thinking - Nous) performed a deed and she (Thought - Ennoia) came forth, namely she who had appeared before him in the shine of his light. This is the first power which was before all of them (and) which came forth from his Mind (Nous). She is the Forethought (Pronoia) of the All - her light shines like his light - the perfect power which is the image of the invisible, virginal Spirit (i.e. the One) who is perfect. The first power, the glory of Barbelo, the perfect glory in the aeons, the glory of the revelation, she glorified the virginal Spirit and it was she who praised him, because thanks to him she had come forth. This is the First Thought (Protonoia), his image; she became the womb of everything.” (Apocryphon of John)
- In The Trimorphic Protennoia, Protonoia (First Thought) identifies herself with Barbelo (and Ennoia?) as the image or reflection of the One (invisible Spirit). Her role is to engender the Upper Aeons. Protennoia: “He perpetuated the Father of all Aeons, who am I, the Thought of the Father, Protennoia, that is, Barbelo, the perfect Glory, and the immeasurable Invisible One who is hidden. I am the Image of the Invisible Spirit, and it is through me that the All took shape.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- She also identifies herself with Epinoia (After-thought), saying: “I am the life of my Epinoia” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
3. PROTONOIA AS SAVIOUR FIGURE
- Protonoia identifies herself with the saviour as ‘the Word’: “I am the Word who dwells in the ineffable Voice.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- As a saviour figure, Protonoia makes three descents: first, as the Father, second as the Mother, and third as the Son. This is also described as: first as the Voice, second as the Speech (Sound), and third as the Word.
- Her role as saviour is to reveal the gnosis i.e. to awaken and remind the Elect of their true origin in the One: “I descended to the midst of the underworld, and I shone down upon the darkness. (...) It is through me that Gnosis comes forth.”“I walk uprightly, and those who sleep, I awaken. And I am the sight of those who dwell in sleep.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- Protonoia also initiates the baptismal rite and the Five Seals to save the Elect: “I gave to him from the Water of Life (...) and I delivered him to the baptizers, and (...) they immersed him in the spring of the Water of Life. (...) And he received the Five seals from the Light of the Mother, Protennoia, and it was granted him to partake of the mystery of knowledge, and he became a Light in Light.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- In the traditional Christian interpretation, Christ redeemed our souls by offering himself ‘in ransom’ to Satan or to God himself. This view is reflected in The Teachings of Silvanus, which adds Gnostic touches (Christ put on garments or ‘likenesses’; Satan is replaced by the Archons or ‘powers’). It also uses the Harrowing of Hell motif (Christ died and descended to the underworld to save all fallen souls): “O soul, persistent one, in what ignorance you exist! For who is your guide into the darkness? How many likenesses did Christ take on because of you! Although he was God, he was found among men as a man. He descended to the Underworld.(...) And when all the powers had seen him, they fled, so that he might bring you, wretched one, up from the Abyss, and might die for you as a ransom for your sin.” (Teachings of Silvanus)
- In the Gospel of Philip, three types are mentioned: the ransomed, the saved, and the redeemed. The Pneumatic race (called ‘the strangers’) were ‘ransomed’ to the Archons ‘as a pledge’. By ‘laying down his life’ as ‘a pledge’, Christ ‘saved’ the Pneumatic race while ‘redeeming’ the good and evil (i.e. the Psychic race). “Christ came to ransom some, to save others, to redeem others. He ransomed those who were strangers and made them his own. And he set his own apart, those whom he gave as a pledge according to his plan. It was not only when he appeared that he voluntarily laid down his life, but he voluntarily laid down his life from the very day the world came into being. Then he came first in order to take it, since it had been given as a pledge. It fell into the hands of robbers and was taken captive, but he saved it. He redeemed the good people in the world as well as the evil. (Gospel of Philip) See THREE TYPES OF HUMANS and STRANGER
- Also called ‘ransom’.
1. REDEMPTION IN GENERAL
- According to the traditional Christian view, all the descendents of Adam are in a fallen state because of they have inherited Adam’s original sin. This situation could only be remedied by Christ ‘the redeemer’ whose suffering became the ransom or pledge paid (to God or Satan) ‘to redeem’ the descendents of Adam and relieve them of original sin. Through Christ, sins are forgiven.
- This schema of redemption still applies in some Christian Gnostic texts. See RANSOM.
- However, other Gnostic texts re-interpret the story of Adam, so that a portion of Adam (and Seth’s) descendents, called the Elect, are ‘faultless’ and ‘without sin’.
- Hence, Christ’s suffering was not required to ‘redeem’ the Elect.
- ‘Redemption’ takes on a different meaning in the remainder of the Gnostic texts.
- The role of the saviour or ‘redeemer’ in Gnosticsm is as a ‘revealer’. The saviour reveals the gnosis, to awaken the Elect and remind them of their true origin in the One. He does this by instigating certain rites, such as baptism, wherein the gnosis is revealed to the Elect. This is particularly true of the complex rite called the Five Seals.
2. THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST AS THE ARCHETYPE FOR REDEMPTION
- In some Gnostic texts, the man Jesus is separate from the heavenly Christ (or Word) which descended into him during his baptism in the Jordan.
- In the Tripartite Tractate, the Son (Jesus) is in need of redemption, because he had become a man. It is the heavenly Word which ‘descended upon him’ that offered him ‘redemption’: “Not only do humans need redemption, but also the angels, too... even the Son himself, who has the position of redeemer of the Totality, needed redemption as well - he who had become man - since he gave himself for each thing which we need, we in the flesh, who are his Church. Now, when he first received redemption from the word which had descended upon him, all the rest received redemption from him, namely those who had taken him to themselves.” (Tripartite Tractate)
- Hence, in the First Apocryphon of James, Jesus says to James that, during the time of his crucifixion, his (Jesus’) redemption ‘will be near’. Jesus: “Behold, I shall reveal to you everything of this mystery. For they will seize me the day after tomorrow. But my redemption will be near.” (First Apocryphon of James)
- As a man, Jesus ‘received knowledge’ (gnosis) from the heavenly saviour that had descended into him (during his baptism in the Jordan). His ‘redemption’ was the revelation of his true ‘unitary state’ with the One. Likewise, the Elect will receive this redemption through the rite of baptism, which will ‘instruct’ them about the gnosis: “When the redemption was proclaimed, the perfect man (i.e. Jesus) received knowledge immediately, so as to return in haste to his unitary state, to the place from which he came, to return there joyfully, to the place from which he came, to the place from which he flowed forth. His members (i.e. the chruch of the Elect), however, needed a place of instruction, which is in the places which are adorned (for the baptismal rite), so that they might receive from them (the garment of light, which is) resemblance to the images and archetypes, like a mirror, until (the end of time, when) all the members of the body of the Church are in a single place and receive the restoration at one time, when they have been manifested as the whole body, namely the restoration into the Pleroma.” (Tripartite Tractate)
- Hence, through his own baptism, when the heavenly saviour descended into him to reveal the gnosis, Jesus instigated the rite of redemption, which is a baptismal rite in which the gnosis is revealed.
3. REDEMPTION AS PART OF THE BAPTISMAL RITE IN THE FIVE SEALS
- The redemption forms part of a complex baptismal rite, called the Five Seals.
- The Gospel of Philip offers a crucial text for the Five Seals. In one passage, it groups together five important rites: the baptism, chrism, eucharist, redemption and Bridal Chamber: “The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. [...] he said, ‘I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place.’ [...] here through types [...]and images.” (Gospel of Philip)
- It is possible that the five rites mentioned here are, in fact, the Five Seals. If so, the nature of ‘the redemption’ needs to be clarified.
- In another passage, the Gospel of Philip identifies the redemption with the resurrection. At the same time, it describes it as an intermediary rite between the baptism and Bridal Chamber: “There were three buildings specifically for sacrifice in Jerusalem. The one facing the west was called ‘The Holy’. Another, facing south, was called ‘The Holy of the Holy’. The third, facing east, was called ‘the Holy of the Holies’, the place where only the high priest enters. Baptism is ‘the Holy’ building. Redemption is the ‘Holy of the Holy’. ‘The Holy of the Holies’ is the bridal chamber. Baptism includes the resurrection and the redemption; the redemption (takes place) in the bridal chamber.” (The Gospel of Philip)
4. THE REDEMPTION AS RESURRECTION
- The redemption was identified with the resurrection. According to the Gospel of Philip, the resurrection is a visionary ascent through the aeons. This vision of the resurrection is first seen in this life to prepare us for our after-life resurrection: “Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing.” (Gospel of Philip) “While we are in this world, it is fitting for us to acquire the resurrection, so that when we strip off the flesh, we may be found in rest.” (Gospel of Philip)
- Like the resurrection, the redemption was most likely a visionary ascent of the catechumen through the aeons, so as to prepare him for his after-death ascent. During this initiatory rite, secret names and signs (also called seals) were revealed to him. First, in ‘the renunciation’, he was given secret names and signs to protect him against the Archons, in an ascent through the Lower Aeons. Then, in ‘the invocation’, more names and signs were given for the angels, in an ascent through the Upper Aeons.
- The Gospel of the Egyptians mentions the invocation and renunciation as part of the Five Seals rite, particularly during the baptism. The invocation and renunciation ‘instruct’ the catechumen about ‘those who will receive him’ in his ascent through the aeons: “But from now on, through the incorruptible man Poimael, and they who are worthy of (the) invocation (and) the renunciations of the five seals in the spring-baptism, these will know their receivers as they are instructed about them, and they will know them (or: be known) by them. These will by no means taste death.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The invocation is described in The Tripartite Tractate as a ‘confession of faith’ in the names of the angels, and in their existence. Such a confession is called ‘the redemption’. It forms a part of ‘the baptism in the fullest sense’: “As for the baptism which exists in the fullest sense, into which the Totalities will descend and in which they will be, there is no other baptism apart from this one alone, which is the redemption into God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when confession is made through faith in those names, which are a single name of the gospel, when they have come to believe what has been said to them, namely that they exist. From this they have their salvation, those who have believed that they exist. This is attaining in an invisible way to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in an undoubting faith. And when they have borne witness to them, it is also with a firm hope that they attained them, so that the return to them might become the perfection of those who have believed in them and (so that) the Father might be one with them, the Father, the God, whom they have confessed in faith and who gave (them) their union with him in knowledge.” (Tripartite Tractate 127:25)
- As the ‘resurrection’, the rite of redemption gave the catechumen knowledge (gnosis) of the names of the beings in the Lower and Upper Aeons who would receive him during his post-mortem or visionary ascent.
5. THE REDEMPTION AS PUTTING ON A GARMENT OF LIGHT
- The Trimorphic Protennoia says that, through the rite of the Five Seals, the catechumen will come to possess ‘particular names’, and compares this to ‘putting on a garment of light’: “He who possesses the Five Seals of these particular names has stripped off <the> garments of ignorance and put on a shining Light.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- But the enrobing rite during the baptism was also called ‘the redemption’: “The baptism which we previously mentioned is called ‘garment of those who do not strip themselves of it’, for those who will put it on and those who have received redemption wear it...” (Tripartite Tractate)
- To ‘put on a garment of light’ is to actually ‘become the light’ - it is a state of total immersion and union with the divine light. This ‘immersion’ is ritually made present through the baptismal rite, while the ‘union’ is made present through the rite of the Bridal Chamber (which are two parts of the same rite): “It (baptism) is also called ‘bridal chamber’ because of the agreement and the indivisible state of those who know they have known him. It is also called ‘the light which does not set and is without flame’ since it does not give light, but those who have worn it (i.e. the garment of light) are made into light.” (Tripartite Tractate 128:33)
- In the end, the experience of unity with the One became ‘the redemptive knowledge’ which was bestowed during the rites of the Five Seals (enrobing, baptism, Bridal Chamber): “Now the promise (i.e. the Elect) possessed the instruction (i.e. gnosis) and the return to what they are from the first (i.e. experience of unity), from which they possess the drop (i.e. pneuma) so as to return to him, which is that which is called ‘the redemption’.” (Tripartite Tractate)
- The Greek word ‘eikon’ can mean both ‘image’ or ‘reflection’. See IMAGE.
- The Upper Aeons resulted from the One ‘reflecting’ upon itself: “Seeing himself within himself in a mirror, he appeared resembling himself...” (Sophia of Jesus Christ) See AEONS.
- Each of these aeons is an extension of the One, through which it reflects upon itself.
- The beings in the Upper Aeons are androgynous (see ANDROGYNE) with male and female names (see MALE/FEMALE) which consent with one another as consorts (see CONSORT) to beget a new androgynous being. ‘To consent’ in this manner is also ‘to reflect’: “He (the Son of Man) reflected with Great Sophia, his consort, and revealed his first-begotten, androgynous son. His male name is designated 'First Begetter, Son of God', his female name, 'First Begettress Sophia, Mother of the Universe'.” (Sophia of Jesus Christ)
- Yaltabaoth created the Lower Aeons as an image or ‘reflection’ of the Upper Aeons: “In relation to the reflection which he (Yaltabaoth) saw in it, he created the world. With a reflection of a reflection he worked at producing the world” (Zostrianos)
1. REPENTENCE IN GENERAL
- Repentence comes from the Greek metanoia, which means to change (meta) our mind (noia) or turn around (meta) our way of knowing (noia).
- In the Christian sense, it is to seek forgiveness for a fault.
- In Gnostic myth, Sophia is the archetype of the repentent soul.
- Certain Gnostic texts place great emphasis on the soul's repentence.
- Finally, the Psychic (or soul-endowed) type of human would ascend to the Upper Aeons if they repented in the sense of 'turning around their way of knowing' and received the Gnostic revelation.
2. SOPHIA AS THE ARCHETYPE OF THE REPENTENT SOUL
- Sophia began as ‘Wisdom’, the last of the twelve Upper Aeons. But, after she created Yaltabaoth without the consent of Christ (her consort), she fell into the Lower Aeons. Recognizing her fault, Sophia repented: “...And she (Sophia) repented and she besought the Father of the truth, saying, ‘Granted that I have renounced my consort (Jesus). Therefore I am beyond confirmation as well. I deserve the things I suffer. I used to dwell in the Pleroma putting forth the Aeons and bearing fruit with my consort’ And she knew what she was and what had become of her.” (Valentinian Exposition 34:23)
- Through her repentence, Sophia was placed a special aeon: “But when she (Sophia) had seen the wickedness which had happened, and the theft which her son had committed, she repented. (...) She repented with much weeping. And the whole pleroma heard the prayer of her repentance (...) And she was taken up not to her own aeon but above her son, that she might be in the ninth until she has corrected her deficiency.” (Apocryphon of John)
- This is confirmed in Zostrianos: “But to Sophia a place of rest was given in exchange for her repentance.” (Zostrianos)
3. THE REPENTENT SOUL
- Like Sophia, the soul has fallen to the Lower Aeons, where she may ‘prostitute’ herself by consorting with demons. But if she ‘repents’, she is saved: “But when the father who is above visits her and looks down upon her and sees her sighing - with her sufferings and disgrace - and repenting of the prostitution in which she engaged, and when she begins to call upon his name so that he might help her, [...] saying ‘Save me, my father, for behold I will render an account to thee, for I abandoned my house and fled from my maiden’s quarters. Restore me to thyself again.’” (Exegesis on the Soul 128:26)
4. THE PSYCHIC RACE AS REPENTENT.
- In the Gnostic schema, there are three types of humans: the spirit-endowed Pneumatics, the soul-endowed Psychics and the flesh-endowed Hylics. See THREE TYPES OF HUMANS.
- Due to the spirit in them, the Pneumatics will return to the Upper Aeons. The Psychic will return to the Upper Aeons if their souls do good and ‘repent’ for the evil that they have done. (The Hylics, apparently, are beyond repentence and redemption.)
- This schema appears, with some variations, in the fragmentary text Zostrianos. Of the ‘three species of immortal soul’ mentioned, the first in unclear, the second resembles the Psychics, whose souls are immortal because they have repented, the third resembles the Pneumatics, who have gained knowledge: “There are three species of immortal soul: first, those who have taken root upon the Exile (...) second, those who stand [upon the] Repentance (...which are) those who committed all sins and repented. (...) The third (species) is that of the souls of the self-begotten ones because they have a word of the ineffable truth, one which exists in knowledge and [power] from themselves alone and eternal [life].”
- Similarly, in the Apocryphon of John, the Pneumatics and Psychics are given their respective places in the Upper Aeons, before Yaltabaoth creates the world. The ‘seed of Seth’ (Pneumatics) have their place ‘in the third aeon’ while ‘repentent souls’ (Psychics) have their place ‘in the fourth aeon’: “And in the third aeon, the seed of Seth was placed (...) And in the fourth aeon the souls were placed of those who do not know the Pleroma and who did not repent at once, but who persisted for a while and repented afterwards.”
- This text goes on to say that, at the end of time, those who are without the gnosis will go to a place ‘where there is no repentence’: “And I (John) said, ‘Lord, these also who did not know, but have turned away, where will their souls go?’ Then he (the saviour) said to me, ‘To that place (...) where there is no repentance. And (...) they will be punished with eternal punishment.’” (Apocryphon of John) See HELL.
- Also called, positively, the ‘restoration’, ‘restitution’ ‘time of fulfillment’ and ‘time of redemption’
- Also called, negatively, ‘the consummation of the age’, ‘the coming end of the Aeon’, ‘the time of dissolution’, ‘the appointed time’, ‘the last day’
1. THE RESOLUTION IN GENERAL
- The resolution is the end.
- In the Lower Aeons, catastrophies will signal the end of time. For the Archons, it will be the end of their rule and the dissolution of the Lower Aeons. For one part of humanity (the Psychic and Hylic) it will be a time of judgement and damnation.
- In the Upper Aeons, it will become a time of rejoicing, when Sophia and Christ will re-unite. As well, the Elect will re-ascend to the Upper Aeons and become joined with the angels.
- Finally, the all will re-unite with the One
2. TIME IN THE LOWER AEONS IS LIMITED
- Various expressions are used in the Gnostic texts to show that time in the Lower Aeons is limited, and the end is approaching.
- ‘While you have time: “While you have time in the world, listen to me...” (Book of Thomas the Contender 138:4)
- ‘Time is short’: “One’s time in this world is short.” (Zostrianos 4:19)
- ‘The days have shortened’: “For already the slackening of our bondage has approached, and the times are cut short, and the days have shortened, and our time has been fulfilled, and the weeping of our destruction has approached us, so that we may be taken to the place we recognize.” ( Trimorphic Prontennoia 44:14)
- ‘The appointed time’: “...the power which is in Hades will be completed at the appointed time.” (Paraphrase of Shem 21:10)
- ‘The hour is not yet come’. The Saviour: “Indeed, as long as the hour is not yet come, it (the immortal soul) shall resemble a mortal one.” (Apocryphon of Peter 75:28)
- ‘The coming end of the aeon’. Protennoia: “I shall tell them of the coming end of the Aeon and teach them of the beginning of the Aeon to come, the one without change, the one in which our appearance will be changed. We shall be purified...” (Trimorphic Protennoia 42:18)
- ‘The last day’: “...in the last day they will rest in their root.” (Paraphrase of Shem 39:19)
- ‘The consummation of the age’: “...which has been apparent from creation down to the consummation of the age” (On the Origin of the World)
3. SIGNS OF THE END OF TIME
- The phoenix (a symbol for the saviour?) will appear as a sign: “And the phoenix first appears in a living state, and dies, and rises again, being a sign of what has become apparent at the consummation of the age.” (On the Origin of the World 122:29)
- The consummation of the age will be marked by many signs in the heavens and on earth: “Before the consummation of the age, the whole place will shake with great thundering. Then the rulers will be sad, [...] their death. The angels will mourn for their mankind, and the demons will weep over their seasons, and their mankind will wail and scream at their death. Then the age will begin, and they will be disturbed. Their kings will be intoxicated with the fiery sword, and they will wage war against one another, so that the earth is intoxicated with bloodshed. And the seas will be disturbed by those wars. Then the sun will become dark, and the moon will cause its light to cease. The stars of the sky will cancel their circuits.” (On the Origin of the World 126:1)
- More signs in the underworld and on earth: “Then, when the great Authorities knew that the time of fulfillment had appeared - just as in the pangs of the parturient it (the time) has drawn near, so also had the destruction approached - all together the elements trembled, and the foundations of the underworld and the ceilings of Chaos shook, and a great fire shone within their midst, and the rocks and the earth were shaken like a reed shaken by the wind.” (Trimorphic Prontennoia 43:4)
- The stars will also bear signs: “Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, for all of them the stars bring matters to completion. When Saklas (the blind god) completes the span of time assigned for him...’” (Gospel of Judas 54)
- “And the sign of the aeon that is to come will appear. And the aeons will dissolve.” (Concept of Our Great Power 42:20)
4. DESTRUCTION OF THE ARCHONS AND THE LOWER AEONS
- The text On the Origin of the World clearly lays out the destruction of the Archons and their aeons. It is Sophia - who created Yaltabaoth in the beginning - who will ‘cast him into the abyss’: “And a great clap of thunder will come out of a great force that is above all the forces of chaos, where the firmament of the woman is situated (i.e. the Middle, the aeon of Sophia). Having created the first product (i.e. Yaltabaoth), she (Sophia) will put away the wise fire of intelligence and clothe herself with witless wrath. Then she will pursue the gods of chaos (i.e. the Archons), whom she created along with the prime parent (Yaltabaoth). She will cast them down into the abyss.” (On the Origin of the World)
- Then the Archons will attempt to destroy one another, until Yaltabaoth destroys them and himself: “They (the Archons) will be obliterated because of their wickedness. For they will come to be like volcanoes and consume one another until they perish at the hand of the prime parent (Yaltabaoth). When he has destroyed them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to exist.” (On the Origin of the World)
- Then will come the destruction of the Lower Aeons: “And their heavens will fall one upon the next and their forces will be consumed by fire. Their eternal realms, too, will be overturned. And his heaven will fall and break in two. His [...] will fall down upon the [...] support them; they will fall into the abyss, and the abyss will be overturned. The light will [...] the darkness and obliterate it: it will be like something that has never been. And the product to which the darkness had been posterior will dissolve. And the deficiency will be plucked out by the root (and thrown) down into the darkness.” (On the Origin of the World)
- The Lower Aeons will become ‘a dark lump’: “And in the last day the forms of nature will be destroyed with the winds and all their demons; they will become a dark lump, just as they were from the beginning.” (Paraphrase of Shem 45:15)
- In some texts, it is the saviour who will destroy ‘this house’ (which is the body or the world). Jesus: “I shall destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it again.” (Gospel of Thomas 45:34 - 71)
- James: “This (house) I shall doom to destruction and derision of those who are in ignorance.” (Second Apocryphon of James 60:20)
5. THE RESURRECTION
- Most Gnostic texts agree that there will be no bodily resurrection.
- The soul dwells temporarily in the body, which belongs to the Archons: “The body is a temporary dwelling which the rulers and authorities have as an abode.” (Interpretation of Knowledge 7:30)
- At the end of this time, the spirits and the souls will depart from the body: Jesus: “When these people, however, have completed the time of the kingdom and the spirit leaves them, their bodies will die but their souls will be alive, and they will be taken up.” (Gospel of Judas 43)
- Hence, there is no resurrection of the flesh: “Do not expect, therefore, the carnal resurrection.” ( Testimony of Truth 36:29)
6. THE JUDGEMENT OF SOULS
- Gnosticism has developed a schema of three types of humans: the spirit-endowed Pneumatics, the soul-endowed Psychics, and the flesh-endowed Hylics. See THREE TYPES OF HUMANS.
- The spirit-endowed Pneumatics (the Elect) are saved absolutely. The soul-endowed Psychics may be saved or damned. The flesh-endowed Hylics are inevitably ‘damned to destruction’: “The spiritual race will receive complete salvation in every way. The material will receive destruction in every way (...) The psychic race, since it is in the middle when it is brought forth and also when it is created, is double according to its determination for both good and evil.” (Tripartite Tractate 119:16)
- The Apocryphon of John expands on this schema. There are two types of Pneumatics: those who avoid the corruption of the flesh and those who do not. Both as saved. Then there are the Psychics, who have souls but are without spirit. They are repeatedly re-incarnated until they acquire the gnosis. Then they are saved. Last of all those without the gnosis (the Hylics?), who are damned eternally.
- First of all, those with the spirit (pneuma) who avoid corruption of the flesh - are saved: “Those on whom the Spirit of life will descend (...) will be saved and become perfect and be worthy of the greatness and be purified in that place from all wickedness and the involvements in evil. (...) Such then are worthy of the imperishable, eternal life.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Second, those with the spirit (pneuma) who do not avoid corruption of the flesh - are still saved: “Through the intervention of the incorruptible one, it is saved, and it is taken up to the rest of the aeons.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Third, those without the spirit (pneuma) are repeatedly re-incarnated until they acquire the gnosis - and are saved: “After it comes out of (the body), it (the soul) is handed over to the authorities, who came into being through the archon, and they bind it with chains and cast it into prison (i.e. body), and consort with it until it is liberated from the forgetfulness and acquires knowledge. And if thus it becomes perfect, it is saved.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Fourth, those without the gnosis - are damned for eternity: “(They will go) to that place where the angels of poverty go they will be taken, the place where there is no repentance. And they will be kept for the day on which those who have blasphemed the spirit will be tortured, and they will be punished with eternal punishment.” (Apocryphon of John)
- The Book of Thomas the Contender describes the punishment reserved for the damned on ‘the day of judgement’.
- First the damned will ‘hide in their tombs’, but their evil deeds will be ‘shown forth’. The saviour: “Listen to what I am going to tell you and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in the fire - within the fire and the water - and they will hide in tombs of darkness. And after a long time they shall show forth the fruit of the evil trees, being punished, being slain in the mouth of beasts and men at the instigation of the rains and winds and air and the light that shines above.” (Book of Thomas the Contender)
- Then the damned will be ‘handed over to the ruler’ (the Archons?) who will cast them down: “He will be handed over to the ruler above who rules over all the powers as their king, and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 143:1)
- The damned are handed over to the angel Tartarouchos (?): “They will hand [...] over to [...] angel Tartarouchos [...] fire pursuing them” (Book of Thomas the Contender)
- The damned are punished according to their nature: “They will be thrown down to the abyss and be afflicted by the torment of the bitterness of their evil nature.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 141:32)
- The damned are imprisoned and restrained so that ‘they cannot move’: “...he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place. Moreover, he can neither turn nor move on account of the great depth of Tartaros and the heavy bitterness of Hades...” (Book of Thomas the Contender 142:30)
- The damned are burned by fire: “Their mind is directed to their own selves, for their thought is occupied with their deeds. But it is the fire that will burn them.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 142:1)
- There is no escape from the fire: “[...] fire pursuing them [...] fiery scourges that cast a shower of sparks into the face of the one who is pursued. If he flees westward, he finds the fire. If he turns southward, he finds it there as well. If he turns northward, the threat of seething fire meets him again. Nor does he find the way to the east so as to flee there and be saved, for he did not find it in the day he was in the body, so that he might find it in the day of judgment.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 143:1)
- Hell is eternal punishment, with no hope of repentence: “And I (John) said, ‘Lord, these also who did not know, but have turned away, where will their souls go?’ Then he (the saviour) said to me, ‘To that place (...) where there is no repentance. And (...) they will be punished with eternal punishment.’” (Apocryphon of John 27:21)
- Hell is the place ‘of weeping and gnashing of teeth’. The Saviour: “Then all the powers which are above, as well as those below, will [...] you. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth over the end of all these things.” (Dialogue of the Saviour 127:13)
- The dead become shades: “Only a little while longer, and that which is visible will dissolve; then shapeless shades will emerge, and in the midst of tombs they will forever dwell upon the corpses in pain and corruption of soul.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 141:14)
- Hell is also called the Middle, a place of death and true evil: “And so he dwells either in this world or in the resurrection or in the middle place. God forbid that I be found in there! In this world, there is good and evil. Its good things are not good, and its evil things not evil. But there is evil after this world which is truly evil - what is called ‘the middle’. It is death. While we are in this world, it is fitting for us to acquire the resurrection, so that when we strip off the flesh, we may be found in rest and not walk in the middle. For many go astray on the way. For it is good to come forth from the world before one has sinned.” (Gospel of Philip) See MIDDLE.
- The damned are “those who fall outside” (Tripart Tractate) (presumably outside ‘the limit’)
- Hell is also the Outer Darkness: “this sort (...) will be cast into the outer darkness” (Apocalypse of Peter)
- Hell is the Outer Darkness, Chaos, Hades and Abyss: “Therefore they fell down to the pit of ignorance which is called ‘the Outer Darkness’ and ‘Chaos’ and ‘Hades’ and ‘the Abyss.’” (Tripartite Tractate)
8. THE COMPLETION OF THE NUMBER OF THE ELECT
- Several Gnostic texts say the consummation will come when the number of the Elect is reached.
- This number is vague, and is called variously ‘the number of Sodom’, ‘the cypher of Melchizedek’ or ‘the number of perfect souls’. See ELECT.
- In the Pistis Sophia, the number of the Elect is ‘the cypher of Melchizedek’. When this number is reached, the Gnostic saviour will end the Archons rule: “It happened now when these things in their time were known, and when the number of the cipher of Melchizedek, the Paralemptor (of the Light), occurred, he (the saviour) came forth, and he went into the midst of the archons of all the aeons, and to the midst of all the archons of the Heimarmene and those of the sphere. And he agitated them, and he caused them quickly to abandon their circles, and immediately they were afflicted...” (Pistis Sophia - Ch. 26)
- Again, the consummation (the end of the Archons’ rule) will come when ‘the number of perfect souls’ is reached: “And he took their light to the Treasury of the Light. (...) so that they should not dissolve, but that they should be retarded, and should spend a great time until the completion of the number of perfect souls which would be in the Treasury of the Light.” (Pistis Sophia - Ch. 26)
- Irenaeus mentions this idea when he writes: “When the whole seed is perfected, (...) they will enter into the Pleroma” (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.7.1) See below.
9. ASCENT AND RETURN OF THE ELECT TO THE UPPER AEONS
- In the beginning, Sophia mistakenly engendered Yaltabaoth without the consent of her consort, Christ. As a result, she was sent to ‘the Middle’ (between the Upper and Lower Aeons), awaiting the time of the restitution, when her fault would be remedied. After the destruction of Yaltabaoth and the Lower Aeons, she would rise again to the Upper Aeons and re-unite with Christ, her consort. This time is called ‘the marriage of the bride and bridegroom’, which would take place in the Upper Aeons. As such, the Upper Aeons or Pleroma would become the Bridal Chamber in which, not only Christ and Sophia, but all the fallen Elect would be re-united.
- Irenaeus describes the entire schema of the restitution: the union of Christ and Sophia, as well as the spirits (Pneumatics) and their angels, in the Bridal Chamber of the Pleroma (Upper Aeons): “When the whole seed is perfected, then, they say, will the mother, (Sophia) Achamoth leave the place of the Middle, enter into the Pleroma, and receive her bridegroom, the Savior, who came into being from all (the aeons), with result that the Savior and Sophia, who is Achamoth, form a pair (syzygy) These then are said to be bridegroom and bride, but the bridal chamber is the entire Pleroma. The spiritual beings will divest themselves of their souls and become intelligent spirits, and, without being hindered or seen, they will enter into the Pleroma, and will be bestowed as brides on the angels around the Savior.” (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.7.1 cf. Excerpta ex Theodoto 63-65)
- The Valentinian Exposition, though a fragmented text, describes this same schema: “That she (Sophia) should suffer, was not the will of the Father, for she dwells in herself alone without her consort (Christ) (...) But the syzygy is the [complete one], and Sophia and Jesus and [the angels] and the seeds are [images of] the Pleroma. (...) Moreover when Sophia [receives] her consort and Jesus receives the Christ and the seeds and the angels, then [the] Pleroma will receive Sophia joyfully, and the All will come to be in unity and reconciliation.” (Valentinian Exposition)
- Hence, the restoration of the Pleroma is described as a time of unity, when the many will re-unite with the One.
- “When the redemption was proclaimed, the perfect man received knowledge immediately, so as to return in haste to his unitary state, to the place from which he came, to return there joyfully, to the place from which he came, to the place from which he flowed forth. (Then...) all the members of the body of the Church are in a single place and receive the restoration at one time, when they have been manifested as the whole body, namely the restoration into the Pleroma.(...) The restoration is at the end, after the Totality (...) return to the pre-existent, and (after) the Totalities reveal themselves in that one.” (Tripartite Tractate 123:3)
- The restoration is a ‘gathering together’: “And the uniting of their members was the gathering together of the dispersed of Israel. (...) And they all became one, as it is written: ‘They all became one in the one and only One’.” (Untitled Text in Bruce Codex )
- The light will fill the Pleroma: “And the light will withdraw up to its root. And the glory of the unbegotten will appear. And it will fill all the eternal realm.” (On the Origin of the World 126:35)
- All will shine as reflections of the One’s light: “Then the souls will appear, who are holy through the light of the Power, who is exalted, above all powers, the immeasurable, the universal one, I and all those who will know me. And they will be in the aeon of beauty of the aeon of judgment, since they are ready in wisdom, having given glory to him who is in the incomprehensible unity; and they see him because of his will, which is in them. And they all have become as reflections in his light. They all have shone, and they have found rest in his rest.” (Concept of our Great Power 47:9)
- For eternity: Jesus: “Neither the sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels.” (Gospel of Judas 45)
- The aeon of the One, where we find relief from suffering, temptation
- a kind of meditation and release from the world
- Also called 'repose'.
- the opposite of ‘tumult’, ‘confusion’, ‘distraction’
- the opposite of ‘toil’ (or ‘labour’, which the disciples must do to preach)
- The aeon of the One: “His aeon is indestructible, at rest and existing in silence, reposing (and) being prior to everything.” (Apocryphon of John)
- An eternal rejoicing: “They (the pleroma) are all at rest in him, ever rejoicing in ineffable joy, over the unchanging glory and the measureless jubilation that was never heard or known among all the aeons and their worlds. But this much is enough, lest we go on endlessly.” (Eugnostos)
- The children return to the Father to find rest: “they rest in him who is at rest... having come to be in the resting-place” (Gosp Truth)
- “it is a short time until man will receive the enjoyment of the things which are eternally good, in which is the place of rest...” (Tripartite Tractate)
- “the path to eternal rest” (Tripartite Tractate)
- “The children of the bridal chamber have just one name: rest. Altogether, they need take no other form, because they have contemplation...” (Gospel of Philip)
- Returning to the Upper Aeons, “She (the soul) found her rising. She came to rest in him who is at rest. She reclined in the bride-chamber. She ate of the banquet for which she had hungered. She partook of the immortal food. She found what she had sought after. She received rest from her labors, while the light that shines forth upon her does not sink. To it belongs the glory and the power and the revelation for ever and ever. Amen.” (Authoritative Teaching)
- Also used to mean ‘has its reflection in’: “This is the nature of the holy imperishable spirits, upon which the Son rests, since it is his essence, just as the Father rests upon the Son.” (Tripart. tract)
- The opposite of ‘rest’ is ‘toil’: “And he called the land on the right side ‘the land of rest’, and the land on the left ‘the land of toil’.” (Untitled Bruce ms)
" The Logos-Wisdom is the principle of all Divine and Esoteric Revelations. She has the characteristics of being the indwelling revealer of God. She IS the active principle and the transmitter of all Divine knowledge as well the cosmological cause of all creation. "
" The Ladies of My Spiritual Bridal Chamber Awakening. "click here.
Think for yourself and do not quickly accept ideas. Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)
If you have enemies, each has a Soul, as you do.
" Love your enemies "
" By their fruits you will recognize them" (Matt.7:15-16) "
" Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. " --Robert A. Heinlein
" I neither know nor think that I know. " --Socrates
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