- 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.
- SAVIOUR See ANTHROPOS
- SEED See THE ELECT
- SILENCE See ENNOIA (Thought)
- SIMILARITY AND DIFFERENCE
- SOPHIA See SOPHIA-
- SMALL AND LARGE
- SPARK See THE ELECT
- TO STAND (AT REST)
See CONSORT, ANDROGYNE
-------- T --------
- THREE TIMES - See THRICE
- THREE TYPES OF HUMANS
- TREASURE HOUSE
- TRIPLE - See THRICE
- TYPE - See IMAGE
------ U V W ------
- UPPER AEONS - See AEONS (UPPER, LOWER)
------- XYZ -------
- GARMENT (OF LIGHT)
- As a garment in general, also called (positively) ‘clothing’ ‘robe’ ‘raiment’ ‘toga’ ‘soul garments’ and (negatively) ‘perishable rags’.
- As a garment of light, also called: ‘imperishable clothing’, ‘robe of light’, ‘robe of glory’ ‘bridal clothing’ ‘wedding robe’ ‘armor of light’ ‘garment of life’.
- verbs for ‘to put on’: ‘to clothe’ ‘to enrobe’ ‘bestow’
- verbs for ‘to take off’: ‘disrobe’ ‘strip’ ‘unclothe’
- adjectives: ‘naked’, ‘unclothed’.
1. GARMENTS IN GENERAL
- Garment has a positive sense, particularly when it is the ‘garment of light’ which is ‘imperishable’. This is ‘put on’ during the ceremony of Baptism (and Bridal Chamber). It protects one’s spirit during its ascent to the Upper Aeons.
- But garment also has a negative sense, when it is called the ‘garment of darkness’ which is ‘perishable’. This is the body which was ‘put on’ the spirit when it descened into the Lower Aeons.
- There are also ‘soul garments’ which enveloped the spirit as it descended through the planetary doorways of the Lower Aeons.
- ‘Naked’ has a positive sense, when one has ‘stripped off’ the garment of darkness or the body.
- But, ‘naked’ also has a negative sense, if one does not possess the garment of light.
- When the Saviour descended, he ‘put on’ the perishable garment of darkness, which is the body. But, when he rose from the dead, he ‘stripped himself’ of this, revealing the imperishable garment of light. This became a model for ‘putting on’ the garment of light during the ceremony of Baptism (and Bridal Chamber).
2. THE SAVIOUR’S DESCENT AND ASCENT, AS AN ARCHETYPE FOR THE BAPTISMAL RITE OF DISROBING AND ENROBING
- The Mother gave the Son a garment in which were all the forms needed to descend or ascend: “Afterwards the mother established her first-born son (...) And she gave to him a garment' in which to accomplish all things. And in it were all bodies: the body of fire, and the body of water, and the body, of air and the body of earth, and the body of wind, and the body ( of angels), and the body of archangels, and the body of powers, and the body of mighty ones, and the body of gods, and the body of lords. In a word, within it were all bodies so that none could hinder him from going to the height or from going down to the abyss.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- Hence, when Christ descended past the Archons, he disguised himself by putting on their (the Archons’) garments: “I clothed myself with everything of theirs.” (First Apocalypse of James) “I revealed myself in the likeness of their shape. And I wore everyone's garment, and I hid myself within them, and they did not know the one who empowers me.” (Trimorphic Protennoia 47:13)
- After putting on the Archon’s garments (which may be the soul garments - see below), he ‘put on humanity’: “Know who Christ is (...). This one, being God, became man for your sake. This is the one (...) who has put on humanity (...) that man might become like God. (...) O Christ, King, who has revealed to men the Great Divinity.” (Teachings of Silvanus 110:14)
- Then, the saviour became the first to strip off these ‘perishable rags’ and put on the ‘eternal’ or ‘imperishable’ garment: “He (Jesus) draws himself down to death, though life eternal clothes him. Having stripped himself of the perishable rags, he put on imperishability” (Gospel of Truth)
- This becomes the archetype for the baptismal rite, particularly the disrobing and enrobing.
- The saviour performed the baptismal rite, which included ‘the enrobing’. Hence, the Saviour is called “he who clothes” (Tripartite Tractate)
- The Saviour himself may become a garment for the Elect: “He (the saviour) was a garment (composed) of every grace” (Tripartite Tractate)
- The Elect ‘wear’ Christ like a garment of light: “if we are manifest in this world wearing him (Christ), we are that one’s beams (of light)” (Treatise on Resurrection)
- During the baptismal rite, we put on Christ, who is ‘the living man’: “The living water is a body (i.e. baptismal water becomes a garment). It is necessary that we put on the living man. (i.e. Christ as a garment) Therefore, when he is about to go down into the water, he unclothes himself, in order that he may put on the living man.” (Gospel of Philip)
3. GARMENT, IN THE POSITIVE SENSE, AS GARMENT OF LIGHT BESTOWED DURING THE BAPTISM.
- The garment of light is ‘put on’ during the baptismal rite: “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)
- This ‘robe of light’ is bestowed by three ‘enrobing’ angels in a visionary ascent during the baptism: “And I delivered him to those who give robes - Yammon, Elasso, Amenai - and they covered him with a robe from the robes of the Light” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- This garment is composed ‘of light’, which is the same light that we once experienced in the Upper Aeons (before we fell into material existence in the Lower Aeons). Protennoia: “And I am inviting you into the exalted, perfect Light. Moreover, (as for) this (Light), when you enter it (...) you will accept robes from those who give robes, and the baptizers will baptize you, and you will become (...) the way you first were when you were Light.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- At the end of the Hymn of the Pearl, the young prince returns to his kingdom, and two ‘treasurers’ (angels) enrobe him with his robe of light. Two important images emerge to describe the garment.
- First, the garment is ‘a mirror’ in which he sees himself as an image of the One: “When suddenly I saw my garment reflected as in a mirror, I perceived in it my whole self as well, and through it I recognized (gnosis) and saw myself. For, though we derived from one and the same, we were partially divided; and then we were one again with a single form. Nay also the treasurers who had brought the garment I saw as two beings, but there existed a single form in both, one single royal token consisting of two halves.” (Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas, Bentley translation)
- Second, the garment is received and put on in an act of ‘union’: “With regal movements, it (the garment of light) was spreading toward me, urging me to take it, and love urged me to receive it. And I stretched forth and received it and put on the beauty of its colors.” (Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas, Barnstone translation)
- Through the ‘garment of light’ one sees one’s self, as in a mirror, as an image of the One. Recognizing these two as a unity, one merges with the One. This merging or union is described as a ‘sacramental union’ or ‘wedding’ which takes place in the Bridal Chamber.
4. GARMENT, IN THE POSITIVE SENSE, AS GARMENT OF LIGHT BESTOWED IN THE BRIDAL CHAMBER
- 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 are made into light.” (Tripartite Tractate 128:33)
- To ‘put on a garment of light’ is ‘to enter the Bridal Chamber’: “...clothe yourselves in light and enter the bridal chamber.” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
- The garment of light is bestowed ‘sacramentally in the union’: “The powers do not see those who are clothed in the perfect light, and consequently are not able to detain them. One will clothe himself in this light sacramentally in the union.” (Gospel of Philip)
- The garment of light is ‘bridal clothing’: “And she learns about her light, as she goes about stripping off this world, while her true garment clothes her within, (and) her bridal clothing is placed upon her in beauty of mind, not in pride of flesh.” (Authoritative Teaching)
- The garment (of light) becomes a wedding garment in the Bridal Chamber. The mystery of the Bridal Chamber brings unity, but that mystery is not discussed: “...to the height. There I am, in the eternal realms that no one has seen or understood, where the wedding of the wedding robe is. It is the new wedding, not the old, and it does not perish, for the new bridal chamber is of the heavens, and it is perfect. As I have revealed, there are three ways, and this is an undefiled mystery in the spirit of the eternal realm that is not destroyed or divided or even discussed, for it is indivisible, universal, and permanent.” (Second Treatise of the Great Seth 57:10 - Meyer translation)
- In conclusion, the Bridal Chamber is closely associated with the rite of the baptism. During this rite, the catechumen is baptised in the watery light of the Upper Aeons. He emerges from the baptismal water with his ‘garment of light’. This immersion in the watery light is interpreted, at the same time, as a union or marriage with the light. The catechumen is the feminine soul and the Father is the masculine light. These two are ‘united in the Bridal Chamber’, and from that time onward, the soul wears the ‘garment of light’ in remembrance of her union with the Father.
5. GARMENT, IN THE POSITIVE SENSE, AS A PROTECTIVE GARMENT OF LIGHT
- The idea of a ‘garment of light’ is pre-Gnostic, and may be found in the Transfiguration in the canonical gospels, and in Psalm 104:2 (which is based on the Egyptian hymn to Aten): “Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2)
- The garment of light will protect the soul as it ascends: “He who will receive that light will not be seen, nor can he be detained. And none shall be able to torment a person like this, even while he dwells in the world. And again when he leaves the world, he has already received the truth in the images.” (Gospel of Philip)
- The garment of light is protective, like armor: “I have armed myself with an armor of light; I have become light!” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The garment (of light) will protect against the mud and filth of the Lower Aeons: “You walked in mud, and your garments were not soiled, and you have not been buried in their filth, and you have not been caught.” (First Apocrypohon of James)
- It is also called the ‘garment of life’: “’How will our garments be brought to us?’ The Lord said, ‘There are some who will provide for you, and there are others who will receive [...]. For it is they who will give you your garments. For who will be able to reach that place which is the reward? But the garments of life were given to man because he knows the path by which he will leave. And it is difficult even for me to reach it!’” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
- Baptism cleanses the soul, just as garments are cleansed: “just as garments, when dirty, are put into the water and turned about until their dirt is removed and they become clean. And so the cleansing of the soul is to regain the newness of her former nature and to turn herself back again. That is her baptism.” (Exegesis on the Soul)
- It is also called the ineffable garment, though it has many names: “The first monad furthermore sent him an ineffable garment which was all light and all life and all resurrection, and all love and all hope and all faith and all wisdom, and all gnosis, and all truth...” (etc for 20 more examples)(Bruce Untitled ms)
- There is also a garment of friendship and goodness: “...that I might put on friendship and goodness as a garment” (Melchizedek)
6. GARMENT, IN THE NEGATIVE SENSE, AS A GARMENT OF DARKNESS WHICH IS STRIPPED AWAY IN THE BAPTISMAL RITE
- Sophia created the ‘garment of darkness’ when she created Yaltabaoth: “And when the mother (Sophia) recognized that the garment of darkness was imperfect, then she knew that her consort had not agreed with her.” (Apocryphon of John)
- The garment of darkness is perishable and ‘does not last’ “The governors and the administrators (i.e. Archons) possess garments granted only for a time, which do not last.” (Dialogue of the Saviour)
- The body is a garment (or robe), and includes the eyes and what they see. Jesus to Peter: “put your hands upon your eyes - your robe - and say what you see.” (Apocalypse of Peter)
7. NAKED AS A LACK OF GARMENT
- As has been seen, ‘garment’ is positive, as a ‘garment of light’ and negative as the ‘garment of the body’.
- Hence, to be naked, unclothed or stripped has the opposite sense of garment.
- Naked is postive when one is stripped of ‘the garment of the body’
- Naked is negative when one is stripped of ‘the garment of light’
8. NAKED IN THE POSITIVE SENSE, AS STRIPPING OFF THE GARMENT OF THE BODY
- In the Apocryphon of John, Adam and Eve ‘recognized they were naked’. In contrast to Genesis, where ‘nakedness’ is negative, this is regarded as positive, since they recognized that they were ‘naked of imperfection’ (ie. they lacked the imperfect garment of the body).
- After Yaltaboath unwittingly breathed the pneuma into Adam, the Archons “...recognized that he (Adam) was luminous, and that he could think better than they, and that he was free from wickedness, (or ‘naked of imperfection’ - Bentley translation. So) they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter. (...) This is the tomb of the newly-formed body with which the robbers had clothed the man.” (Apocryphon of John)
- Through Christ and Epinoia, Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and “they recognized their nakedness” (i.e. they recognized that, in their true state, they were naked of the imperfect garment of the body). (Apocryphon of John)
- Hence, ‘naked’ has a positive meaning, if one has ‘stripped off’ the garment of darkness, which is the corruptible body: “When you strip off from yourselves what is corrupted, then you will become illuminators in the midst of mortal men.” (Christ quoted in Peter’s letter to Philip)
- The saviour (as Protennoia): “I gave to him from the Water of Life, which strips him of the chaos that is in the uttermost darkness that exists inside the entire abyss, that is, the thought of the corporeal and the psychic. All these I put on. And I stripped him of it, and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of the Fatherhood.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
9. NAKED, IN THE NEGATIVE SENSE, AS AN ABSENCE OF THE GARMENT OF LIGHT
- In Hypostasis of the Archons, after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, their eyes were opened and they recognized that they were ‘naked of the spiritual element’: “Then the female spiritual principle came in the snake, the instructor; and it taught them (to eat of the tree...). And the carnal woman took from the tree and ate; and she gave to her husband as well as herself; and these beings that possessed only a soul, ate. And their imperfection became apparent in their lack of knowledge; and they recognized that they were naked of the spiritual element.” (Hypostasis of the Archons)
- Without the garment of light, one is naked: “No one will be able to go in to the king if he is naked.” (Gospel of Philip)
- James refers to Christ’s descent and crucifixion as a ‘stripping’ and ‘nakedness’: “he (the Lord) who stripped himself and went about naked, he who was found in a perishable (state)” (Second Apocalypse of James)
- James on Jesus: “For just as you are first having clothed yourself, you are also the first who will strip himself, and you shall become as you were before you were stripped.” (Second Apocalypse of James)
- In one passage, ‘naked’ may have a negative meaning (without the garment of light) and a positive meaning (without the garment of darkness): “they wish to rise in the flesh, and they do not know that it is those who wear the flesh who are naked. It is those who [...] to unclothe themselves who are not naked.” (Gospel of Philip)
10. SOUL GARMENTS
- Soul garments, like the bodily garment, were placed over the individual spirit as it descended into the Lower Aeons. Probably, there are seven soul garments, one bestowed by each of the Archons (planetary gate-keepers) as the individual spirit descended through their planetary doorways.
- Marsanes mentions soul garment: “the souls which are without guile, and the soul-garments, the likenesses of the simple ones.” (Marsanes)
- In the Gosepl of Mary, there is a visionary ascent in which the soul passes through the gateways of desire, ignorance and wrath (presumeably there are seven in all, but the text is fragmented). At one gateway, desire tries to prevent the soul’s passage, saying: “‘I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie, since you belong to me?’ The soul asnswered and said, ‘I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me.’” (Gospel Mary) Hence, the soul became a garment for desire. Presumeably, there were soul garments for wrath, ignorance and other negative qualities.
- GOD-WRITTEN BOOKS
- A term referring to a book inspired by the Spirit (i.e. the One or Father).
- Note at the end of The Gospel of the Egyptians: “The Gospel of the Egyptians. The God-written, holy, secret book. Grace, understanding, perception, (and) prudence (be) with him who has written it - Eugnostos the beloved, in the Spirit - in the flesh, my name is Gongessos - and my fellow lights in incorruptibility. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Ichthus. God-written (is) the holy book of the great, invisible Spirit. Amen.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- A Gospel is a text which spreads ‘the good news’ of the gnosis (knowledge)
1. THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS IN GENERAL
- Many of the Gnostic gospels are attributed to the apostles, such as James, John, Judas, Philip and Mary Magdalene
- Like the canonical gospels, many of these have a narrative form.
- Uniquely, The Gospel of Thomas offers a ‘list of sayings’ which resembles the hypothesized ‘Q list’ of Jesus’ sayings which the writers of Luke and Matthew used to compose their canonical gospels
- Other literary forms used by the Gnostic writers include the Apocaylpse (a ‘revelation’), the Apocryphon (a ‘hidden revelation’), Acts and Epistles
- Many of the Sethian Gnostic texts are attributed to a saviour figure who reveals the gnosis: Seth, Zostrianos, Melchizedek, Marsanes, etc.
- A ‘tri-partite’ form is common to many Gnostic texts, such as The Tripartite Tractate, The Trimorphic Protennoia, The Three Steles of Seth, etc.
2. WRITING GOSPELS
- Each of the disciples wrote his own gospel, recounting what the saviour said to him ‘in secret or in the open: James (after the crucifixion): “...the twelve disciples were all sitting together and recalling what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether in secret or openly, and putting it in books - But I was writing that which was in [my book] - lo, the Savior appeared...” (Apocryphon of James 2:8)
- The disciples wrote down his words ‘according to their desire’: “Then many will follow him (the saviour), and they will labor in their birthplaces. They will go about; they will write down his words according to (their) desire.” (Concept of Our Great Power 42:31)
- There are no canonical books. Rather, each may write through ‘grace’ and ‘the gift of prophecy’, without fear of provoking jealousy: “By having a brother who regards us as he also is, one glorifies the one who gives us grace. Moreover, it is fitting for each of us to enjoy the gift that he has received from God, and that we not be jealous, since we know that he who is jealous is an obstacle in his (own) path, since he destroys only himself with the gift and he is ignorant of God. He ought to rejoice and be glad and partake of grace and bounty. Does someone have a prophetic gift? Share it without hesitation. Neither approach your brother jealously nor ... (8 lines missing). Now your brother also has his grace: Do not belittle yourself, but rejoice and give thanks spiritually, and pray for that one, in order that you might share the grace that dwells within him. So do not consider him foreign to you, rather, (as) one who is yours, whom each of your fellow members received. By loving the Head who possesses them, you also possess the one from whom it is that these outpourings of gifts exist among your brethren.” (Interpretation of Knowledge)
- This explains the appearance of many Gnostic Gospels, attributed to different disciples, with divergent points of view.
3. READING GOSPELS
- Just as divine prophecy allows the Gnostic to write a gospel, it also inspires his reading of the gospel, allowing him ‘to discern the Word’: “But is someone making progress in the Word? Do not be hindered by this; do not say: ''Why does he speak while I do not?", for what he says is (also) yours, and that which discerns the Word and that which speaks is the same power.” (Interpretation of Knowledge)
4. TESTIMONY OF VISION
- Some Gnostic texts are the testimony of a vision: “... 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"’. And after he said these (things), he separated from me. But I was full of joy, and I wrote this book which was appointed for me, my son Messos, in order that I might disclose to you the (things) that were proclaimed before me in my presence. And at first I received them in great silence, and I stood by myself, preparing myself. These are the things that were disclosed to me, O my son Messos ... (13 lines missing)... proclaim them, O my son Messos, as the seal for all the books of Allogenes.” (Allogenes)
4. DIVINE INSPIRATION
- The Gospel of the Egyptians is called a ‘God-written book’. See GOD-WRITTEN BOOK.
- The Gospel of the Egyptians is also attributed to the saviour-figure Seth. It will be placed ‘in a high mountain’ until its message is revealed ‘at the end of times’ for the salvation of ‘the holy race’: “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, and those who dwell with them in love, and the great, invisible, eternal Spirit, and his only-begotten Son, and the eternal light, and his great, incorruptible consort, and the incorruptible Sophia, and the Barbelon, and the whole pleroma in eternity. Amen.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- the generosity of the Father, working through the Holy Spirit and the Son, to grant freedom and release
- Father gracefully frees his children through knowledge: “so also will he (the Father) give them (his children) grace to know what exists, that is, the one who knows himself eternally,” (Tripartite Tractate)
- Also called ‘Hades’, ‘Tartaros’, ‘the abyss’, ‘the outer darkness’ and ‘limitless chaos’. It is a place of ‘fire’ and ‘punishment’. It is also called ‘the Middle’ and ‘a dark lump’.
1. HELL IN GENERAL
- The Lower Aeons (including the earth) are already a form of Hell, where trapped souls are tempted and tormented by demons.
- However, grace and redemption still exist on earth - for the present time. After ‘the Judgement’, there will be no redemption. The outermost reaches of the Lower Aeons will then become Hell.
- For the end of the Lower Aeons, the judgement and punishment of the damned, see RESOLUTION.
- Generally, Hell is described by the same terms reserved for the Lower Aeons: the ‘abyss’ or ‘the outer darkness’. But, unlike the Lower Aeons at the present time, it will become a a place of eternal punishment.
2. DESCRIPTIONS OF HELL AND PUNISHMENT
- The Lower Aeons are the ‘exterior shadow’ which is also called ‘darkness’ and ‘limitless chaos’: “Now the eternal realm (aeon) of truth has no shadow outside it, for the limitless light is everywhere within it. But its exterior is shadow, which has been called by the name 'darkness' From it, there appeared a force, presiding over the darkness. And the forces that came into being subsequent to them called the shadow 'the limitless chaos'.” (Origin of the World)
- 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)
- As Hades: “...the power which is in Hades will be completed at the appointed time.” (Paraphrase of Shem 21:10)
- As ‘abyss’, ‘dark narrow place’, Tartaros and Hades: “...Truly I (the saviour) tell you (Thomas) that he (the condemned) 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)
- The damned are “those who fall outside” (Tripart Tractate) (presumably outside ‘the limit’)
- 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.
- In a more radical interpretation of the end, the Lower Aeons will become nothing more than 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)
- See SECRET
- HOLY SPIRIT
- See SPIRIT
- Ignorance is an absence of knowledge. It may also be called ‘unknowing’
- Ignorance is a form of ‘mindlessness’, ‘forgetfulness’ or ‘oblivion’
- It is imagined as ‘darkness’ or a ‘cavern’
1. THE WORLD WAS CREATED IN IGNORANCE
- When Sophia created the demiurge Yaltabaoth, she did so in ignorance: “And when she (Sophia) saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance.” (Apocryphon of John)
- The Yaltabaoth that Sophia created was, himself, ignorant of where he had come from: “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, androgynous, having great authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being.” (On the Origin of the World)
- Due to his ignorance, Yaltabaoth thought that he alone was God: “For he was ignorant, thinking that there existed no other except his mother alone. And when he saw the multitude of the angels which he had created, then he exalted himself above them.” (Apocryphon of John)
- This ignorant God then created Adam and Eve. Although the gnosis (knowledge) was secretly planted in Adam and Eve, the ignorant God trapped them in fleshly bodies. Thus he brought them into the ignorance of ‘darkness’, ‘desire’, ‘forgetfulness’ and ‘death’: “And they (the Archons) brought him (Adam) into the shadow of death, in order that they might form (him) again from earth and water and fire and the spirit which originates in matter, which is the ignorance of darkness and desire, and their counterfeit spirit. This is the tomb of the newly-formed body with which the robbers had clothed the man, the bond of forgetfulness; and he became a mortal man.” (Apocryphon of John)
- All of Adam and Eve’s descendents are restrained by ignorance: “When a multitude of human beings had come into existence, through the parentage of the Adam who had been fashioned, and out of matter, and when the world had already become full, the rulers were master over it - that is, they kept it restrained by ignorance.” (On the Origin of the World)
- All of Adam and Eve’s descendents will remain ignorant until ‘the true man’ (i.e. the saviour) frees them through knowledge: “Thus did the world come to exist in distraction, in ignorance, and in a stupor. They all erred, until the appearance (parousia) of the true man.” (On the Origin of the World)
2. IMAGES OF IGNORANCE
- By eating ‘the fruit’ from ‘the tree of unknowing’, humanity came to dwell in the ‘ignorant chaos’ of the Lower Aeons: “For as for our tree from which we grew, a fruit of ignorance is what it has; and also its leaves, it is death that dwells in them, and darkness dwells under the shadow of its boughs. And it was in deceit and lust that we harvested it, this (tree) through which ignorant Chaos became for us a dwelling place.” (Trimoprhic Protennoia)
- Ignorance as mindlessness: “For you descended into a great mindlessness” (First Apocryphon of James)
- Ignorance as forgetfulness or oblivion: “the bonds and eternal oblivion were nullified.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- Ignorance as a cavern: “Woe to you, captives, for you are bound in caverns!” (Book of Thomas the Contender)
- Ignorance as darkness: “you dwell in darkness and death!” (Book of Thomas the Contender)
- also called ‘likeness’, ‘reflection’, ‘resemblance’
- related to ‘seal’. See SEAL.
- In the Upper Aeons, images are - in the Platonic sense - archetypes or ideal forms: unchanging, eternal, spiritual, light and transparent. In this sense, they are often called ‘types’. These types become the patterns after which images in the Lower Aeons are modelled.
- Images in the Lower Aeons are changing, temporal, material, dark and shadowy. In this sense, they are often called ‘forms’, ‘imitiations’ or ‘shadows’. However, they may also be called (confusingly) ‘images’ or ‘types’.
1. ESTABLISHING IMAGES IN THE UPPER AEONS
- In the beginning, the One reflected upon itself, causing an image of itself to appear in the watery light of the Upper Aeons. “For it is he who looks at himself in his light which surrounds him, namely the spring of the water of life. And it is he who gives to all the aeons and in every way, (and) who gazes upon his image which he sees in the spring of the Spirit. It is he who puts his desire in his water-light which is in the spring of the pure light-water which surrounds him.” (Apocryphon of John) For a clarification of this passage, see AEONS.
- This image became a reflection (the Greek word ‘eikon’ means both image and reflection) through which the One could reflect upon itself: “Seeing himself within himself in a mirror, he appeared resembling himself” (Eugnostos the Blessed)
- The creation continued in this manner. All beings in the Upper Aeons are images or reflections of the One (in the watery light of the Upper Aeons), and reflect its image back to itself: “All the spaces are his (the Father’s) emanations. They have known that they came forth from him, like children who are from a grown man. They knew that they had not yet received form (i.e. an image), nor yet received a name, each one of which the Father begets. (...) But the Father is perfect, knowing every space within him. If he wishes, he manifests whomever he wishes, by giving him form (i.e. an image) and giving him a name, and he gives a name to him, and brings it about that those come into existence.” (Gospel of Truth)
- It is particularly the Saviour who offers an image of the One: “The Savior was an image of the unitary one, he who is the Totality in bodily form.” (Tripartite Tractate 116:28)
- Since the Upper Aeons are a watery light, the images ‘glow’ or ‘shine’ in the watery light, while also possessing ‘form’. The One ‘impresses’ its image like a ‘seal’ into the watery light (just as a signet is impressed in wax). In this sense, images are also ‘seals’. See SEALS.
2. IMAGES AS TYPES
- These images in the Upper Aeons became the eternal ‘types’ or ‘archetypes’ after which images in the Lower Aeons were modelled. The images in the Lower Aeons are regarded as ‘copies’ ‘imitations’ or ‘shadows’ of the originals.
- The Upper Aeons provides ‘the patterns’ for ‘likenesses’ in the Lower Aeons: “Thus the (upper) aeons were completed (... These are) the area from which every (lower) aeon and the world and those that came afterward took (their) pattern for (the) creation of likenesses in the (lower aeonic) heavens.” (Sophia of Jesus Christ)
- The Upper Aeons are endowed with ‘types’ (also called images and forms): “As with all the Aeons, the Aeon of Barbelo exists also endowed with the types and forms of those who truly exist, the image of Kalyptos.” (Allogenes)
- The ‘patterns’ from the Upper Aeons exist within each of us: “And when you become perfect in that place, still yourself. And in accordance with the pattern that indwells you, know likewise that it is this way in all such (matters) after this pattern.” (Allogenes)
- In the Book of Jeu, diagrams are given for the figures in the Upper Aeons. These diagrams are called ‘types’: “This now is the type in which the true God is placed when he is about to be set up as head over the treasuries, before he has brought forth emanations over the treasuries” (1st Book of Jeu)
- ‘Type’ also has a verb form. Beings in the Lower Aeons are ‘created in the type of’ or ‘typified’: “This is what has been (written) concerning the man with sense-perception: ‘And he was typified and created in the type of...’” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
3. BEINGS IN THE LOWER AEONS AS IMAGES MODELLED ON THE IMAGES OF THE UPPER AEONS
- All beings in the Lower Aeons are images made in the likeness of images in the Upper Aeons, except they are formed with perishable matter. For example, Yaltabaoth and his Archons formed Adam according to the image of Man in the Upper Aeons: “Then a voice came from on high, saying, ‘The Man exists, and the Son of the Man.’ Because of the descent of the image above, which is like its voice in the height of the image which has looked out through the looking out of the image above, the first creature was formed.” (Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The Apocryphon of John provides a longer, clarified version: “And a voice came forth from the exalted aeon-heaven: 'The Man exists and the son of Man.' (...) And of the waters which are above matter, the underside was illuminated by the appearance of his image which had been revealed. And when all the authorities and the chief archon looked, they saw the whole region of the underside which was illuminated. And through the light they saw the form of the image in the water. And he (Yaltabaoth) said to the authorities which attend him, 'Come, let us create a man according to the image of God and according to our likeness, that his image may become a light for us.'” (Apocryphon of John)
- Images in the Lower Aeons are called ‘reflections’. The Demiurge (unidentified) created the world from a ‘reflection’ (i.e. ‘image’): “In relation to the reflection which he saw in it, he created the world. With a reflection of a reflection he worked at producing the world,” (Zostrianos) NB. the word ‘reflection’ could be replaced here by the word ‘image’. Hence, the images in the Lower Aeons are ‘images of images’, or ‘reflections’ of the Upper-aeonic ‘images’.
- Images in the Lower Aeons are called ‘copies’. Zostrianos asks ‘the great ruler on high’ about ‘the copies’: “And about this airy-earth, why it has a cosmic model? And about the aeon copies, how many there are...” (Zostrianos)
- Images in the Lower Aeons are called ‘shadows’. These shadows are created by the veil between the Upper and Lower Aeons. The light above shines through the veil, creating the ‘shadows’ below: “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 Aristotlean process by which matter receives the form of an image is called, in Gnosticism, ‘sealing’ or ‘imaging’. The Asclepius (a Gnostic Hermetic text included in the Nag Hammadi library) clearly describes ‘imaging’ by nature: “God (the Demiurge) prepared matter as a receptacle for omniform forms, but nature, imaging matter with forms by means of the four elements, causes all things to reach as far as heaven so they will be pleasing in the sight of God.” (Asclepius 3)
- In the Gospel of Philip, the Lower Aeons possess ‘lowly images’ and ‘types’ which, nevertheless, are capable of revealing the truth: “The mysteries of truth are revealed, though in type and image. The bridal chamber, however, remains hidden. It is the Holy in the Holy. The veil at first concealed (the things above...). But when the veil is rent, (...) the things inside are revealed. (...) Those (things) above opened to us the things below, in order that we may go in to the secret of the truth. (...) But we shall go in there by means of lowly types (...) They are lowly indeed when compared with the perfect glory (of the originals...). Therefore, the perfect things have opened to us, together with the hidden things of truth. The holies of the holies were revealed, and the bridal chamber invited us in.” (Gospel of Philip)
- The visible images in this world are important, because we may ‘enter through’ them to the higher invisible images, types or archetypes in the Upper Aeons: “Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection. The image must rise again through the image. The bridal chamber and the image must enter through the image into the truth: this is the restoration.” (Gospel of Philip)
- This Platonic attitude is re-iterated in the Hermetic Gnostic texts: “...the image itself will show you the way (...) It takes hold of those who have had the vision and draws them up.” (Corpus Hermeticum IV.8)
4. ESTABLISHING ONE’S IMAGE IN THE UPPER AEONS THROUGH THE BAPTISMAL RITE
- The Gnostic rite of baptism is understood as an immersion into the watery light of the Upper Aeons: “For the waters which are above [...] that receive baptism” (Melchizedek) See BAPTISM.
- Through baptism in the Upper Aeons, one receives ‘an image’, which makes one ‘like the angels’: “Then I knew that the power in me was set over the darkness because it contained the whole light. I was baptized there, and I received the image of the glories there (the Upper Aeons). I became like one of them (the angels).” (Zostrianos)
- Baptism is also understood as a ‘seal’: (The author is contending against Christian baptism): “There are some, who upon entering the faith, receive a baptism on the ground that they have it as a hope of salvation, which they call the ‘seal’, not knowing that the fathers of the world are manifest (in) that place. But he himself knows that he is sealed.” (Testimony of Truth)
- Baptism is a seal (like a signet impressed in wax) in the sense that the catechumen’s image is impressed or ‘sealed’ in the watery light of the Upper Aeons. He then becomes one of the images in the watery mirror that reflect the One to itself.
- Hence, the catechumen is ‘sealed in the light of the water’ (i.e. the watery light of the Upper Aeons). Pronoia speaking of a soul: “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.” (Apocalypse of John 31:22)
- Through baptism, the catechumen’s image appears in the watery light, as a mirror-image or reflection of the One: “None can see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again can you see in light without mirror or water. For this reason, it is fitting to baptize in the two, in the light and the water.” (Gospel of Philip 69:8)
- During the baptism, one receives a name and an image. That Lower-aeonic image is the reflection of a being in the Upper Aeons: “When he came, he caused me to be raised up from ignorance, and (from) the fructification of death to life. For I have a name: I am Melchizedek, the Priest of God Most High; I know that it is I who am truly the image of the true High-Priest of God Most High,” (Melchizedek)
- INSIDE / OUTSIDE
- Since the One is ‘the All’, then anything that is ‘inside’ is ‘within’ the One while anything that is ‘outside’ is ‘without’ the One: “He is an incomprehensible one, but it is he who comprehends All. He receives them to himself. And nothing exists outside of him. But All exist within him. And he is boundary to them all, as he encloses them all, and they are all within him. It is he who is Father of the aeons, existing before them all. There is no place outside of him.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
1. THE UPPER AEONS AS INSIDE; THE LOWER AEONS AS OUTSIDE
- Hence, the Upper Aeons are ‘inside’ while the Lower Aeons are ‘outside’ (particularly in the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex):
- The One is invisibly within: “It is he (the Father) whom the outside worlds all, like the stars of the firmament at night, see. As men desire to see the sun, in this way also the outside worlds desire to see him, on account of his invisibility that surrounds him.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- The material Lower Aeons are without: “This is the deep which surrounds the holy pleroma from without. This is (...) the outer aeon in which is the matter.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- There are those ‘without’ and those ‘within’: “And in the midst of the enneads and in the midst of the monads is the immeasurable deep. And the All, those within and those without, looks forth upon it.” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
- In this sense, the Pneumatics are ‘inside’, the Hylics are ‘outside’, while the Psychics are in ‘the middle’: “This is he whom the All - those within being a crown upon his head, and those outside at his feet, and those of the midst surrounding him - bless,” (Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)
2. THE SAVIOUR WHO UNITES THE OUTSIDE AND THE INSIDE
- Since the Upper Aeons are inside and the Lower Aeons are outside, the role of the saviour is to bring these two together and unite them - through ‘the Word’.
- The saviour (Jesus) is authorized to speak ‘from within outwards’ and ‘from without inwards’: “For I have been given authority, through the Ineffable and through the First Mystery of all the mysteries, that I should speak with you from the beginning until the pleroma, and from within outwards, and from without inwards.” (Pistis Sophia Bk I)
- Again, the Word reveals the inside in the outside: “I should begin to speak with the race of mankind, and reveal to them all things from the beginning of the truth until its completion, and speak to them from the innermost of the inner to the outermost of the outer, and from the outermost of the outer to the innermost of the inner.” (Pistis Sophia Bk I)
- Rather than pray through the body, which is ‘outside’, we must pray through the spirit, which is ‘inside’: “It is therefore fitting to pray to the father and to call on him with all our soul - not externally with the lips, but with the spirit, which is inward, which came forth from the depth - sighing” (Exegesis of the Soul)
- A fragment, refering to the saviour: “he makes the outer like the inner.” (Testimony of Truth)
- The outside and the inside form a unity:
“For what is inside of you is what is outside of you,
and the one who fashions you on the outside
is the one who shaped the inside of you.
And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you;
it is visible and it is your garment.” (Thunder Perfect Mind)
- In ‘the kingdom’, the inside and the outside, the above and below, and the male and female, are brought together and united: “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female (...) then will you enter the kingdom.” (Gospel of Thomas 22)
3. INSIDE AS PURE; OUTSIDE AS POLLUTED
- The distinction ‘inside / outside’ is also related to ‘male / female’. The male organs are ‘outside’ while the female organs are ‘inside’. See MALE / FEMALE
- The soul, being female, has a womb. When that womb is turned ‘outside’, it may be defiled, polluted and prostituted. When a soul turns its womb ‘inside’, it is cleansed and made virgin. It is cleansed through baptism: “But when she (the soul) perceives the straits she is in and weeps before the father and repents, then the father will have mercy on her and he will make her womb turn from the external domain and will turn it again inward, so that the soul will regain her proper character. For it is not so with a woman. For the womb of the body is inside the body like the other internal organs, but the womb of the soul is around the outside like the male genitalia which is external. So when the womb of the soul, by the will of the father, turns itself inward, it is baptized and is immediately cleansed of the external pollution which was pressed upon.” (Exegesis of the Soul)
- INVISIBLE SPIRIT
- See SPIRIT
- The body may be regarded as a container for the spirit
- In this sense, it is called a ‘jar’, ‘jug’ or ‘glass container’
- Through the appearance of the saviour (the Word), different types of humans (see THREE TYPES OF HUMANS) reacted differently in regards to their bodily containers: “When the Word appeared (...) a great disturbance took place among the jars, because some had been emptied, others filled; that is, some had been supplied, others poured out, some had been purified, still others broken up.” (Gospel of Truth)
- The Elect are ‘glass decanters’ while the non-elect are ‘earthenware jugs’: “Glass decanters and earthenware jugs are both made by means of fire. But if glass decanters break, they are done over, for they came into being through a breath. If earthenware jugs break, however, they are destroyed, for they came into being without breath.” (Gosp Philip) Here, fire refers to material existence (see FIRE). The breath refers to the spirit (pneuma). If the decanters are done over, this means the Elect may be re-incarnated until they attain knowledge (gnosis). See ELECT.
- The Elect have ceased to reside in bad jars, and taken up abode in perfect jars: “...As in the case of some people who moved out of dwellings having jars that in spots were not good. They would break them, and the master of the house would not suffer loss. Rather, <he> is glad, because in place of the bad jars (there are) full ones which are made perfect.” (Gospel of Truth)
- KINGDOM - See AEONS, specifically Upper. Also, see REST
- The Elect, and all beings in the Upper Aeons, are a mulititude which share their origin in the One. The kiss is a ritual act which acknowledges this hidden unity.
- Hence, the Elect are like kisses. They are many, but kiss one another as a sign of their hidden unity: “Those which exist have come forth from the Son and the Father like kisses, because of the multitude of some who kiss one another with a good, insatiable thought, the kiss being a unity, although it involves many kisses.” (Tripart. tract)
- ‘The Assembly’ (the multitude who have emerged from the One) greet one another by embracing: “The whole multitude of those angels are called 'Assembly of the Holy Ones, the Shadowless Lights.' Now when these greet each other, their embraces become like angels like themselves.” (Eugnostos the Blessed)
- Through such a kiss, the angels in the Upper Aeons may engender more angels, with no loss of unity. See CONSORT.
- By kissing his disciples, the saviour initated them into an awareness of the unity of the Upper Aeons, and that they were a part of that unity.
- Hence, Jesus kisses his disciple James before revealing the hidden gnosis: James: “And he kissed my mouth. He took hold of me, saying, ‘My beloved! Behold, I shall reveal to you those things that (neither) the heavens nor their archons have known.’” (Second Apocryphon of James)
- A kiss is also a form of spiritual union which replaces sexual intercourse. While others (the Psychics and Hylics) beget offspring ‘in a natural way’ (i.e. through sexual intercourse), the perfect (the Pneumatics) ‘conceive and give birth’ to their offspring ‘by a kiss’: “All who are begotten in the world are begotten in a natural way (...But) it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.” (Gospel of Philip)
- The kiss becomes a form of ‘spiritual intercourse’ to increase the number of the Elect. Through a ritual kiss, they initiate new members into their community of unity.
- The saviour often kissed Mary Magdalene: “And the companion of the (saviour is) Mary Magdalene. (He) loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples (were displeased by this). They said to him ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’ The Saviour answered and said to them, ‘Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.’” (Gospel of Philip)
- According to the Christian-Gnostic interpretation, Mary Magdalene is the paradigm of the fallen and redeemed soul (‘the lost sheep’). Hence, the saviour kissed her to acknowledge that she belonged with the saved and the Elect.
- According to Valentinian Gnostic interpretation, Jesus and Mary Magdalene are the male and female offspring of the divided Adam and Eve. The heavenly Christ and Sophia are also divided: they are two consorts of one androgynous being which separated when Sophia fell from the Upper Aeons at the beginning of time. In the end, Christ will descend to redeem Sophia, unite with her, and repair their separation. Hence, Jesus kisses Magdalene to secretly reveal the anticipated mystery (the union of Christ and Sophia) here in the Lower Aeons. See CONSORTS.
- From the Gnostic perspective, the language we have inherited is misleading. The stories, words and images that have come to us through the Bible are, in fact, the creation of the Archons, and exist to deceive us: “The twelve prophets were laughingstocks, since they have come forth as imitations of the true prophets. They came into being as counterfeits through the Hebdomad (i.e. Seven Archons)” (Second Treatise of the Great Seth)
- The Second Treatise of the Great Seth goes on to say that Adam, Abraham, David, Solomon and Moses were all ‘laughingstocks’ or ‘jokes’ - since the story of the Fall and the trials of the Chosen People are all false.
- Therefore, the Gnostics must invent a new language. The saviour descends ‘below the Archons’ language’ to speak a new revelation. Protennoia: “I am the first one who descended (...) And I spoke, I, together with the Archons and Authorities. For I had gone down below their language, and I spoke my mysteries to my own - a hidden mystery - and the bonds and eternal oblivion were nullified.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- The Gnostics used language subversively, by re-writing and inversing the existing stories such as ‘the Fall of Adam’ or ‘Moses and the Flood’. See for example The Apocalypse of Adam.
- The Gnostics incorporated new imagery, particularly of a saviour-revealer, from the non-Christian ‘Sethian’ sources (which may have been a radical sect of Judeans).
- The Gnostics also incorporated conceptual terminology from Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Hermeticism etc. into a Christian context.
- Finally, they re-wrote gospels, attributing them to the apostles. See GOSPELS.
- In the end, they created a new language and cosmology, to express unity (the One) underlying a radical dualism (the Upper and Lower Aeons).
- In this new language and cosmology, the One is 'ineffable' and so, beyond naming, indeed, beyond language. It is a mystery.
- The One exists 'in silence' (sige). The aeons around him are also called the Silence. See AEONS.
- The Son, as a manifestation of the Father, is called 'the Word' (logos). See WORD. He bears the hidden 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 (...) For indeed, the Father's name is not spoken, but (rather,) it is apparent through a Son.” (Gospel of Truth 38:7) See NAME.
- In the Trimorphic Protennoia, a Trinity emerges, with its three aspects related to language: the Voice, Speech, and Word. These relate, respectively, to the Father, Mother and Son: “(There are) three permanences: the Father, the Mother, the Son. Existing perceptibly as Speech, it (Voice) has within it a Word...” (Trimorphic Protennoia) See TRINITY.
- Since pneuma means both ‘spirit’ and ‘breath’, then the Elect (who possess the pneuma) may ‘breath’ the spirit through the voice and through the word. In terms of the Trinity, they ‘speak the word through the voice’. Protennoia: “It is through me that the Voice originated, and it is I who put the breath (pneuma) within my own.” (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- The manifestation of breath is particularly clear when speaking certain vowels sequences: “Therefore we glorify thee: ma mo o o o eia ei on ei! The Aeon of Aeons!” (Trimorphic Protennoia). See NAMES.
- Certain Gnostic texts offer secret hidden names for the Father, the Son and, indeed, all beings in the Upper and Lower Aeons: “Really, truly, iEa aiO, in the heart, who exists, u aei eis aei, ei o ei, ei os ei (or: (Son) forever, You are what you are, You are who you are)! This great name of yours is upon me, O self-begotten Perfect one, who is not outside me.” (Gospel of the Egyptians) See NAMES.
- In this manner, the Gnostic language preserves the mystery in the silence.
- Since the Gnostic language (see LANGUAGE) preserves its revelation in a mystery, one must ‘listen’ and hear hidden meanings in each word.
- Hence, Jesus repeatedly urges his disciples to ‘listen’:
- Jesus to James: “I proclaim to you to tell you these (words) that I shall speak. When you hear, therefore, open your ears and understand” (Second Apocryphon of James)
- Jesus to James: “You are the one to whom I say: Hear and understand - for a multitude, when they hear, will be slow witted. But you, understand as I shall be able to tell you.” (Second Apocryphon of James)
- Jesus to James: “Behold, I speak in order that I may come forth. Pay attention to me in order that you may see me!” (Second Apocryphon of James)
- To truly listen and understand the saviour is to ‘drink from his mouth’: “He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.” (Gospel of Thomas 108)
- Typically, Gnosticism expresses unity through knowledge: the One knows the all just as the all come to know him.
- However, Gnostic unity may also be expressed through love: the One loves the all, just as the all come to love him.
- Hence, love underlies the extension of the many from the One, and re-union of the many with the One: “...the Father extends himself to those whom he loves, so that those who have come forth from him might become him as well.” (Tripartite Tractate 73:25)
- The saviour is ‘the beloved’ of the Father: “the one who is properly called ‘Saviour’ and ‘Redeemer’ and ‘the Well-Pleasing one’ and ‘the Beloved’.” (Tripartite Tractate 87:6)
- But the Father spreads his love to all: “...to everyone and everything comes the fatherly kindness and affection and love...” (Prayer of Thanksgiving 63:33)
- The saviour teaches us to love one another like oneself: “Love your brother like your life! Protect him like the pupil of your eye!” (Gospel of Thomas 25)
- The ‘kingdom’ is like a city filled with brotherly love: “Then he beautified the kingdom, like a city filled with everything pleasing, which is brotherly love and the great generosity...” (Tripartite Tractate 96:35)
- The Elect dwell together with all types of men, through love: “...this incorruptible, holy race of the great savior, and those who dwell with them in love.” (Gospel of the Egyptians 68:20)
- Love must be spread to all: “Spiritual love is wine and fragrance. All those who anoint themselves with it take pleasure in it. While those who are anointed are present, those nearby also profit (from the fragrance).” (Gospel of Philip)
- To love is to give: “Faith receives, love gives. No one will be able to receive without faith. No one will be able to give without love. Because of this, in order that we may indeed receive, we believe, and in order that we may love, we give, since if one gives without love, he has no profit from what he has given.” (Gospel of Philip)
- Love must be manifest in one’s deeds. Those deeds are directed toward manifesting the fullness of heaven here on earth: “love is alive in me to accomplish a work of fullness!” (Second Apocalypse of James 62:16)