Two major dissident sects of Christians were relatively hidden from history until discoveries in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, including the Berlin Codex and the Nag Hammadi Corpus. The latter is comprised of twelve codices plus several leaves from a thirteenth. Included therein are forty-five separate titles, with some duplication. Prior to the discoveries, scholars were aware of such Christians, those who were ostracized as heretics, but material that accurately described who they were and what they believed was scarce. In fact, much of the knowledge we had was based on commentaries written by the clergy of the Catholic Church (the heresiologists including Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius,) clearly not objective sources. In this work, I’d like to explore the differences between two of the main groups often in opposition with the Orthodox, the Valentinians and the Sethians. The codices mentioned have given us a glimpse into how diverse the beliefs of the Christian community were at the time.
The Valentinians were a part of the Orthodox Christian community; they attended church services and often led them. Additionally, though their beliefs incorporated traditional doctrine, they practiced their own tenets separately. This secret teaching conflicted with the views of the proto-orthodox. However, the Nicene Council of 325CE put an end to some of the more esoteric beliefs of this school.
The Sethians appear to have been much less likely to be concerned with the activities of the proto-orthodox. We know that this Sect, as defined today, was a fusion of the Barbeloites and the Sethites, two smaller schools of thought that have been combined by scholars. The Sethites held the biblical character Seth from Genesis (who was born after Cain and Abel) in such high regard as to position him with Christ himself. I find the Barbeloite branch to be much more intriguing, and we’ll delve deeper into this subject throughout this work. Going forward, whenever I mention the Sethians, it’s the Barbeloites being referenced. Later, I make the case that the Sethians were the Johannine secessionists, and I devote an entire Section to this group after discussing The Gospel of John. In fact, I believe this wing of the Johannine School represents the evangelist’s original intent–and notably not the author who some scholars refer to as John the Elder (who many scholars believe wrote the Epistles–particularly the second and third–and possibly added some later additions to the Gospel, though not its core.)
The Valentinians likely fused the Sethian concepts into their beliefs. However, some of the original texts, particularly The Apocryphon of John (ApJohn,) seem to have been rewritten entirely. Thus, additional treatises were drafted that relied on Sethian tenets that were woven into the respective Valentinian works.
Rather than describing the Father solely in mysterious, negative-theology terms, which paradoxically he really should be for means of clarity, the Valentinians attempt to canonize the notion by way of using softer descriptions in addition to a subset of this negative-theology, such as “in his sweetness.” Though I believe that the Father does in fact encapsulate such expressions, I prefer the strength of the Sethian/Barbeloite and potentially Johannine secessionist exposition of his character: ineffable, incomprehensible, incorruptible, illimitable, unsearchable, immeasurable, invisible, eternal, and unnameable.
My preliminary thought is that I am a Johannine Sethian, though I’ll revisit this discussion repeatedly. As Princeton’s Elaine Pagels says on p. 162 of The Origin of Satan, “Those who have ‘the Spirit of truth within them’ refuse to enter into marriage, business, or any other worldly entanglements, in order to remain an ‘undominated generation’, ‘free to devote themselves to the Holy Spirit.’”
Some of the New Testament is critically important; many of the works discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945 are also key. I will attempt to piece this puzzle together in this work, and I believe that tenets of the Johannine School are crucial. Ultimately, I will put forward my take on what I entitled The Protennoia Johannine Secessionist Canon.
Johannine Secessionist / Sethian / Valentinian?
The Valentinian’s middle-ground, attributing elements to both the Father and the Demiurge (which we’ll get to in more detail,) driven by their relative positioning as a sort of midpoint between the Orthodox and the Sethians, was an ineffective attempt to canonize this whole movement. Thus, to a certain extent they failed Original Christianity by sending it further into the realms of heresy than it ever might have been. However, this could be a good thing, in a reverse-logic fashion, as it did promote the overall concepts and treatises to the point we’ve discovered them in the twentieth century. It’s possible such works never would have been saved by the Pachemonian Monks in such a fashion without Valentinian tactics, as much as I might personally disagree with some of their tenets. What can be said is that their attempts were no match for the heresiologists such as Irenaeus of Lyon and Epiphanius.
The discourse from the University of Exeter’s Alastair Logan regarding the positioning of the Valentinians vis-à-vis the original “falsely so-called Gnostics” of Irenaeus is very key to this discussion:
p. 9 of Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy: “The reference in [Irenaeus’ Against Heresies] 1.11.3-5 and elsewhere to Valentinian claims to be ‘more gnostic than the Gnostics’ must be seen in this context of primal emanations: the Gnostics, Irenaeus is claiming, were the first to develop the concept of emission of mental states or attributes of the Father like intelligence (nous) and reason (logos) as hypostases. The various Valentinian attempts to posit prior emissions and entities to these is to try to outdo these Gnostics—their spiritual ancestors!” I’d argue that the Barbeloites were the original group, who again I am referring to as the Sethians as a whole.
The Apocryphon of John (ApJohn) 3-4, the extremely noteworthy Sethian work, further describes the Father as follows, pp. 106-107 of James M. Robinson’s The Nag Hammadi Library:
- “And I [John] asked to know, and he [Christ] said to me, ‘The Monad is a monarchy with nothing above it. It is he who exists as God and Father of everything, this invisible One who is above everything, who exists as incorruption, which is in the pure light into which no eye can look.”
- “He is the invisible Spirit of whom it is not right to think of him as a god, or something similar. For he is more than a god, since there is nothing above him, for no one lords it over him. For he does not exist in something inferior to him, since everything exists in him.”
- IV 4, 9-10: “For it is he who establishes himself. He is eternal since he does not need anything. For he is total perfection. He did not lack anything that he might be completed by it; rather he is always completely perfect in light.”
- “He is immeasurable light which is pure, holy, and immaculate. He is ineffable being perfect in incorruptibility. He is not in perfection, nor in blessedness, nor in divinity, but he is far superior. He is not corporeal nor is he incorporeal. He is neither large nor is he small. There is no way to say, ‘What is his quantity?’ or ‘What is his quality?’ for no one can know him. He is not someone among other beings, rather he is far superior. Not that he is simply superior, but his essence does not partake in the Aeons nor in time. For he who partakes in an Aeon was prepared beforehand. Time was not apportioned to him, since he does not receive anything from another, for it would be received on loan. For he who precedes someone does not lack that he may receive from him. For rather it is the latter that looks expectantly at him in his light.”
- “For the perfection is majestic. He is pure, immeasurable mind. He is an Aeon-giving Aeon. He is life giving life. He is a blessedness-giving blessed one. He is knowledge-giving knowledge. He is goodness-giving goodness. He is mercy and redemption-giving mercy. He is grace-giving grace, not because he possesses it, but because he gives the immeasurable, incomprehensible light.”
- “His Aeon is indestructible, at rest, and existing in silence, reposing (and) being prior to everything. For he is the head of all the Aeons, and it is he who gives them strength in his goodness. For we know not the ineffable things, and we do not understand what is immeasurable, except for him who came forth from him, namely from the Father. For it is he who told it to us alone.”
The Gospel of John (GosJohn) represents strength, love, and incomprehensibility to a large degree—similar to ApJohn. Trimorphic Protennoia (TriProt) is another treatise that is written in the same vein. Collectively the works seem to be pertinent to groups such as the Johannine secessionists. In my opinion, the Valentinian texts do not approach this strength, other than The Gospel of Truth (GosTruth) that was most likely written by Valentinus himself, thus at a very early date and closer to the source (circa 150AD.) Valentinus was most likely an adherent to the Apocryphon in his time. The Valentinian movement in general was stronger on message the farther back in history we go. It wasn’t until further development of this creed did things get convoluted.
As scholar Paul N. Anderson says in his work John 17–The Original Intention of Jesus for the Church on p. xxix, and he is referencing the scholar Says Meeks: “Regarding the historical setting of Johannine Christianity, Käsemann’s view [in his work The Testament of Jesus] of the community under the Word has enjoyed a stronger reception, although not all are convinced. On his view that John’s church is more in the mainstream of the late first-century movement than on the periphery, Schnelle, Brown, and others concur. John’s presentation of Jesus as the Christ serves as a link between a synoptic-like Jesus tradition and emerging Gnosticism rather than being rooted in early Gnosticism connected with baptistic traditions. Thus, it is John who is the proto-Gnostic, not John’s sources.”
Thus, some believe John in the primary proto-Gnostic (meaning before the Gnostics,) and this links with Irenaeus’ extensive discussion of the original Gnostics (the Sethians.) Other scholars have given this role to Paul, and he may well have been the proto-Valentinian. John, however, appears to have come first, and this school is not at all the same as that of the Paulines. As we’ll see later, the Fourth Gospel was most likely akin to a living document for most of the early years of Christianity, and even the final was not final as additional edits were made after its initial release circa 90CE according to most scholars. In other words, many believe that the Pauline letters were the earliest treatises written, but that assessment does not account for the vast body of oral tradition, which clearly also was a written work in progress, that goes back to the Christ event itself. I’ll address this issue later in the Honing the True Canon Section.
Anderson later quotes Yale’s George MacRae from his work in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 38:3 (1970, ) p. 332: “In a word, it must be said that Käsemann’s interpretation of John places it at least one important step further along the road to Gnosticism than its structure and its attitude toward tradition would seem to allow.”
Per Trimorphic Protennoia: “I am the first one who descended on account of my portion which remains, that is, the Spirit that dwells in the soul, which originated from the Water of Life, and out of the immersion of the mysteries. 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. And I bore fruit in them, that is, the Thought of the unchanging Aeon, and my house, and their Father. And I went down to those who were mine from the first, and I reached them and broke the first strands that enslaved them. Then everyone of those within me shone, and I prepared a pattern for those ineffable Lights that are within me. Amen.”
Prélude to ApJohn
The myth presented in ApJohn very well could have been derived from the teachings of Simon the Magician. According to Riemer Roukema in Gnosis and Faith in Early Christianity, and I’m paraphrasing, he was recognized and worshiped by the Samaritans as the highest, literally first, God. He adds that his consort Helen, a former prostitute, had accompanied him, and that she had been called his First Thought. According to lore, Simon had redeemed the prostitute Helen in the Phoenician city of Tyre. Simon himself was said to be an incarnation of the highest God, who thought that in Helen he could recognize his First Thought or the “Mother of all things.”
The myth of Simon goes as follows: in the beginning, the highest God, the Father, had the thought of creating angels and archangels. This First Thought sprang from him, descended to the lower regions, and then brought for angels and powers. These angels and powers then created the world. However, they could not accept that they were descended from someone else. Out of envy of the First Thought which had brought them forth, they took her prisoner and shut her up in a human body. She was doomed century after century to move from one woman’s body to another. In all her reincarnations the First Thought of the Father was humiliated and shamed. She represented the “lost sheep” of the Gospel. In the meantime, these angels and powers who governed the world had no idea of the existence of the highest God, the Father.
The highest God himself came to free the First Thought from this world. He descended, but did not want to redeem her alone. Because the angels had governed the world badly, all humans had to suffer under them, and therefore the highest God also came to offer redemption to human beings generally, thereby improving their state. Redemption consisted of the knowledge of the highest God himself.
The Old Testament prophets had not been inspired by the highest God, but by the angels who had created the world. These angels had led humankind into slavery with all kinds of arbitrary commandments. However, Simon had promised to destroy this world and to free his believers from the power of the angels. People would not be redeemed by doing righteous works, but only Simon’s grace.
In the next few sections, we’ll see how Simon’s story influenced the drafters of ApJohn, and by extension TriProt.
Preliminary Thoughts on ApJohn & TriProt
I believe ApJohn was written with GosJohn in mind, as was TriProt, and in some respects it could have represented a retort on what the far right (the proto-orthodox) was teaching. Whether or not the treatise is meant to be read literally, or if it is an allegory (extended metaphor,) does not necessarily seem to matter as it does portray Christ delivering the message to John, and it dovetails with many of the Chapters and Verses in GosJohn (and sections of GosMark as we shall see.) ApJohn and TriProt both utilize mythology to express concepts, in addition to traditional Christian tenets, and we know that such mythos traditionally serves to teach lessons. Furthermore, we’re in the Land of the Spirit.
In the text, Barbelo/Pronoia represents to us the conceptual and anthropological qualities of the Father, thus his mirror image. However, regarding the Wisdom concept, or Sophia—in the twelfth Aeon (or somehow the thirteenth if you’re a Valentinian)—is the emanation from which the initial rupture occurred due to Sophia’s wanton behavior, a breach that created matter in theory, Yaltabaoth (and his subsequent Archons,) and this Universe or Realm (I hesitate to call it an aeon, even with a small ‘a.’ TriProt correctly refers to Aeons in the Pleroma with a capital ‘A.’) As Alastair Logan of The University of Exeter states in his book Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, p. 123: “The Apocryphon has Sophia produce her conception through the wantonness, or through her watchfulness, or through her invincible power.”
Incidentally, Sophia is identified with Epinoia in both ApJohn and TriProt. The two are related, but not one-in-the-same. Epinoia is one of the highest spiritual concepts in the Pleroma, and the term is Greek. Some of the better translations include Direct Revelation, Divine Insight, and Divine Inspiration.
The Valentinians would have it that since Sophia represents Wisdom, she could not have helped herself from instigating the impossible regarding the Father. The Sethians have it quite differently in their Apocryphon. As mentioned, some call her act wanton, some (such as TriProt) call it innocent. The key is that she did not have her consort’s consent, let alone the invisible Spirit’s, in seeking out The Father. Thus, in ApJohn she’s stuck in this Realm’s Ninth Heaven, for lack of a better term, one that was created for her within both the texts of ApJohn & TriProt (and note the Ninth is not in the Pleroma.) Epinoia, not Sophia, asked Yaltabaoth for it to be created in the latter work:
“Now when the Epinoia of the Light realized that he (Yaltabaoth) had begged him (the Light) for another order, even though he was lower than she, she said, “Give me another order, so that you may become for me a dwelling place, lest I dwell in disorder forever.” And the order of the entire house of glory was agreed upon her word. A blessing was brought for her and the higher order released it to her.”
Thus, TriProt further elaborates on the creation of ApJohn’s 9th by explicitly stating this order was granted to Epinoia; by virtue of their identification with one another, Sophia accompanied the emanation. Ironically, Sophia was Epinoia’s custodian! Furthermore, as Harvard’s Karen King states in her book The Secret Revelation of John (SecJohn,) on p. 233: “The wisdom of the lower world is folly. Just as The Secret Revelation of John satirizes Genesis by exposing the creator as an arrogant, theriomorphic pretender [as we shall see in the next Section,] so it takes equal pleasure in parodying Jewish wisdom tradition by portraying Divine Wisdom [Sophia] as an ignorant and foolish female.”
As Alastair Logan goes on to say in Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, there is much confusion, even within the text of the Apocryphon:
“Now the combination in the ‘Ophite’ system of Sophia’s continuing revelatory/redemptive activity which is yet incomplete, with the decisive eschatological revelatory/redemptive descent of Christ, seems to find an echo–if a confused one–in the Apocryphon with its plethora of redeeming figures and final Pronoia hymn. Thus not only do we hear of the Mother-Father or Pronoia in a redeeming capacity, but also of the Holy Spirit, Zoe ‘the Mother of the living,’ the Epinoia of light, Christ, and even Sophia, in that she has to correct her own deficiency. But textual evidence suggests that plethora may conceal an earlier, simpler picture in that the Holy Spirit, the Epinoia of light, and Zoe appear to ultimately be one and the same figure, originally to be equated with Sophia, as Janssens has claimed.”
However, I’d add that even this discussion could be partially incorrect, depending on the redaction, in that the Apocryphon explicitly equates the Holy Spirit with Pronoia, though this could have been added in a later recension. Continuing in Mr. Logan’s work:
- “The characteristic ambivalence over Sophia is well expressed, as we saw, in the confusion over the existence and descent of her consort; the earlier myth has no need of this, but the figure is added both through Valentinian influence and to ease the paradox by representing the erring Sophia as entirely passive. And the figure/figures of the Epinoia/Zoe/Holy Spirit are similarly presented in terms of Sophia’s helper, better half, or consort. Not surprisingly we find various interpretations of this basic ambivalence in texts we would see as dependent on the Apocryphon. Thus Trimorphic Protennoia stresses the more passive aspect of both figures in that it identifies the Epinoia of light with the guileless Sophia who descends, produces Ialdabaoth, and then begs to be elevated.
- Thus it may be that the ‘Ophite’ picture of Sophia as responsible for initial and continuing revelation/redemption, yet ultimately requiring the decisive redemptive Christ event, finds an echo in earlier versions of the Apocryphon, which later, under the influence of a Pronoia-Epinoia scheme developed round Barbelo, demoted Sophia to a more passive figure, and replaced her with a more active one (Epinoia/Zoe/Holy Spirit.)”
Some rather lurid works refer to Sophia as Pronoia’s lower half, but I’d like to explore two possibilities:
- Did her wanton act represent independent action, one that was later accepted by the Father & The Totalities (i.e. the Pleroma?)
- Was the outcome of this act deliberate, foreknown, and expected?
In other words, as a good Valentinian might say, was Error pre-generated thought by the Father or was it systematic malfunction? I don’t agree with their ultimate reasoning that since she’s Wisdom, she could not help it.
One way to approach this baseline issue is starting with Christ’s Illuminators. Armozel, to me, represents structure, with his Grace, Truth, and Form. Though a solid base is important, to me Daveithai’s Aeons might in fact be the highest ideals overall: Understanding, Love, and Idea. Perhaps he’s sandwiched in at Position III for camouflage purposes. Armozel could in fact solidify this entire conceptualization, Oroiael could represent the natural transition between Armozel and Daveithai with his Conception (Pronoia in some versions,) Perception, and Memory. Eleleth, the fourth and last, very well could represent the ultimate goal in one’s spiritual quest with his Aeons of Perfection, Peace, and Wisdom. As we will see in the Direct Revelations at the end of this work, the spiritual concepts shift somewhat among the Illuminators, though preliminarily a true luminary should ascertain that those included in Daveithai are what it’s all about at the base level. Wisdom (Sophia) was the last Aeon of the group, the twelfth, and you might recall that this is where the rupture occurred. Perhaps the Aeon was too far out from the Father in the Pleroma, though that seems to be suspect as all are divine. I’ll quickly mention that there’s one Pleroma in ApJohn & the TriProt (let alone GosJohn,) and this was a quite egregious error included toward the end of GosTruth: there are not multiple Pleromas. This line of thought is clearly associated with the Valentinians, not the Sethians.
At this point, I will take a moment to mention how in my opinion GosTruth was an initial Valentinian attempt to trinitize ApJohn, and the language included therein does support many of the concepts. As we shall see, parts of the text are very well presented. Moreover, the Tripartite Tractate (TriTrac) was a desperate, and much later, attempt to trinitize the Apocryphon, most likely written well past Irenaeus’ Against Heresies—and most likely as a response. The Valentinians went through mental gymnastics in order to rewrite this most important treatise. Even ApJohn was redacted after the copy Irenaeus likely used when composing Book I, Ch 29 & 30, but there’s a difference between a redaction and a rewrite. The Sethian The Hypostasis of the Archons offers yet another perspective, and though several of the details have been shifted, it’s true to the spirit of the Apocryphon. The same goes for On the Origin of the World; it’s not as cohesively related, though it is stronger than many of the Valentinian works. For example, in this treatise Sophia is in the 6th ‘Heaven’ of this Realm, or ‘ogdoad,’ not the 9th as in ApJohn.
The anthropological/anthropomorphic principles included in the likes of ApJohn are, more or less, focused on the human race by definition. I don’t want to unduly bore the reader with discussion about other potential alien races as there are plenty of sources one can reference. However, I will stress that these elements apply across the different races across the world, hence often times scholars make the connection of Original Christianity’s close relation with Buddhism, Taoism, Orthodox Christianity, and the general category of mystery religions. In essence, Original Christianity is a fusion of all, plus the addition of some of the tenets of Greek Philosophy, Jewish Wisdom Traditions, and Astrology. As Rice University’s April DeConick has pointed out, even elements of Roman Mysticism can apply—the Hermetics, the Mithraic mysteries. The Egyptian’s Atum provides another such example.
ApJohn’s discussion of Christ has him first and foremost a spark that was the only begotten Spirit of the Father & Barbelo. GosJohn equates Christ with Logos in the Prologue. Others would include Autogenes—a process in my opinion, not a thing. More on this later. Additionally, one must keep in mind that opposed to the Archons’ Fate, the Immovable Race is subject to Divine Providence. Universal energy still exists, but Providence trumps fate.
Light Vis-à-Vis the counterfeit spirit
Another concept that’s well expounded upon in ApJohn is the counterfeit spirit. An initial thought regarding this entity, for lack of a better word, is that sin generally begins to work itself out of one’s system as knowledge is acquired in a step-by-step fashion to weed out the elements this counterfeit spirit is constantly throwing at you. In this Realm, unfortunately, the counterfeit spirit is alive and well, and it’s woven into this aeon’s (small case!) fabric such that people are conflicted.
In The Gospel of Thomas (GosThom) Saying 77, Jesus says “Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.” Unfortunately, the same hold’s true in this aeon with the counterfeit spirit! Perhaps it’s “The Universe’s” grand Yin/Yang as it were, or said another way akin to the Manichaean belief system of Good vs. Evil.
Regarding Saying 77, where Jesus said, “It is I who am the light (that presides) over all. It is I who am the entirety: it is from me that the entirety has come, and to me that the entirety goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you (plur.) will find me there,” there’s much scholarly attention, and the commentary in the Collection of Inspiring Sayings in GosThom Section is noteworthy as is the following:
- Funk and Hoover write: “In this complex, Jesus speaks of himself in highly exalted terms, as he often does in The Gospel of John (for example, John 8:12; 10:7). But such self-reference is not characteristic of the Jesus of the synoptic parables and aphorisms. The term ‘light’ has special significance in The Gospel of Thomas (11:3b; 24:3; 50:1; 61:5; 83:1-2), and the ‘All’ is a technical gnostic term for the whole of cosmic reality (note Thomas 67). Such ideas, of course, had currency elsewhere in early Christian circles as well (note John 8:12; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6). But they are not characteristic of Jesus.” (The Five Gospels, p. 515)
- Gerd Ludemann writes: “Jesus identifies himself with light (cf. John 8.12; 9.5), which is tremendously important in Thomas: 11.3b; 24.3; 50.1; 61.5; 83.1-2. Jesus claims to be mediator at creation (cf. Romans 11.36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16). All this recalls the role of wisdom. The presence of Jesus as it is described in vv. 2-3 echoes Matt 18.20; 28.20 – but in that passage, too, there is a wisdom background.” (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 629)
Given the character in ApJohn named Saklas (Yaltabaoth or Ialdabaoth, Samael) is the Demiurge, not in the platonic vein, the difference (whether real or metaphorical) with Orthodox Christianity’s Satan becomes irrelevant. Is the Demiurge Satan or is Satan the Demiurge? Wikipedia provides the following basic summary of this figure: “[It’s the] distinction between the highest, unknowable God and the demiurgic “creator” of the material. Several systems of [Sethian] thought present the Demiurge as antagonistic to the will of the Supreme Being: his act of creation occurs in an unconscious semblance of the divine model, and thus is fundamentally flawed, or else is formed with the malevolent intention of entrapping aspects of the divine in materiality. Thus, in such systems, the Demiurge acts as a solution to (or, at least possibly, the problem or cause that gives rise to) the problem of evil.”
However, Wikipedia very well could be incorrect as the Demiurge did not create matter as in the Platonic school, Sophia’s (Wisdom’s) rupture did according to the Johannine secessionists, along with creating Yaltabaoth. That’s why she’s stuck in this Realm’s Ninth Heaven. Saklas might have shaped the matter, but I believe the initial rupture created it (and if it’s not clear at this point, I am a Johannine secessionist.)
If the above is not clear, please see the following Verse, TriProt 47:
- “The Third time I revealed myself to them in their tents as Word, and 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. For I dwell within all the Sovereignties and Powers, and within the angels, and in every movement that exists in all matter. And I hid myself within them until I revealed myself to my brethren. And none of them (the Powers) knew me, although it is I who work in them. Rather, they thought that the All was created by them, since they are ignorant, not knowing their root, the place in which they grew.”
Per ApJohn 13:
- “Then the mother [Sophia] began to move to and fro. She became aware of the deficiency when the brightness of her Light diminished. And she became dark because her consort had not agreed with her.”
- “And I said, ‘Lord, what does it mean that she moved to and fro?’ But he smiled and said, ‘Do not think it is, as Moses said, ‘above the waters.’ No, but when she had seen the wickedness which had happened, and the theft which her son had committed, she repented. And she was overcome by forgetfulness in the darkness of ignorance and she began to be ashamed. (IV 21, 13-15: And she did not dare to return, but she was moving) about. And the moving is the going to and fro.'”
What exactly was her deficiency? Regarding Yaltabaoth’s creation and domain, ApJohn 9-12:
- “And the Sophia of the Epinoia, being an aeon, conceived a thought from herself and the conception of the invisible Spirit and foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit – he had not approved – and without her consort, and without his consideration. And though the person of her maleness had not approved, and she had not found her agreement, and she had thought without the consent of the Spirit and the knowledge of her agreement, (yet) she brought forth. And because of the invincible power which is in her, her thought did not remain idle, 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.”
- “And when she 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 [thus in the matter that she herself created,] that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance. And she surrounded it with a luminous cloud, and she placed a throne in the middle of the cloud that no one might see it except the holy Spirit who is called the mother of the living. And she called his name Yaltabaoth.”
- “This is the first archon who took a great power from his mother. And he removed himself from her and moved away from the places in which he was born. He became strong and created for himself other aeons with a flame of luminous fire which (still) exists now. And he joined with his arrogance which is in him and begot authorities for himself. The name of the first one is Athoth, whom the generations call the reaper. The second one is Harmas, who is the eye of envy. The third one is Kalila-Oumbri. The fourth one is Yabel. The fifth one is Adonaiou, who is called Sabaoth. The sixth one is Cain, whom the generations of men call the sun. The seventh is Abel. The eighth is Abrisene. The ninth is Yobel. The tenth is Armoupieel. The eleventh is Melceir-Adonein. The twelfth is Belias, it is he who is over the depth of Hades. And he placed seven kings – each corresponding to the firmaments of heaven – over the seven heavens, and five over the depth of the abyss, that they may reign. And he shared his fire with them, but he did not send forth from the power of the light which he had taken from his mother, for he is ignorant darkness.”
- “And the archons created seven powers for themselves, and the powers created for themselves six angels for each one until they became 365 angels. And these are the bodies belonging with the names: the first is Athoth, a he has a sheep’s face; the second is Eloaiou, he has a donkey’s face; the third is Astaphaios, he has a hyena’s face; the fourth is Yao, he has a serpent’s face with seven heads; the fifth is Sabaoth, he has a dragon’s face; the sixth is Adonin, he had a monkey’s face; the seventh is Sabbede, he has a shining fire-face. This is the sevenness of the week.”
- “But Yaltabaoth had a multitude of faces, more than all of them, so that he could put a face before all of them, according to his desire, when he is in the midst of seraphs. He shared his fire with them; therefore he became lord over them. Because of the power of the glory he possessed of his mother’s light, he called himself God. And he did not obey the place from which he came. And he united the seven powers in his thought with the authorities which were with him. And when he spoke it happened. And he named each power beginning with the highest: the first is goodness with the first (authority), Athoth; the second is foreknowledge with the second one, Eloaio; and the third is divinity with the third one, Astraphaio; the fourth is lordship with the fourth one, Yao; the fifth is kingdom with the fifth one, Sabaoth; the sixth is envy with the sixth one, Adonein; the seventh is understanding with the seventh one, Sabbateon. And these have a firmament corresponding to each aeon-heaven. They were given names according to the glory which belongs to heaven for the destruction of the powers. And in the names which were given to them by their Originator there was power. But the names which were given them according to the glory which belongs to heaven mean for them destruction and powerlessness. Thus they have two names.”
Continuing, ApJohn 11-12 extensively discusses the Demiurge; again I will stress that much of this description could represent an extended metaphor or allegory, if not parody:
- “And when the light had mixed with the darkness, it caused the darkness to shine. And when the darkness had mixed with the light, it darkened the light and it became neither light nor dark, but it became dim.”
- “Now the archon who is weak has three names. The first name is Yaltabaoth, the second is Saklas, and the third is Samael. And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, ‘I am God and there is no other God beside me,’ for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come.”
- “They [Yaltabaoth & his Archons] created a counterfeit spirit, who resembles the Spirit who had descended, so as to pollute the souls through it. And the angels changed themselves in their likeness into the likeness of their mates (the daughters of men), filling them with the spirit of darkness, which they had mixed for them, and with evil. They brought gold and silver and a gift and copper and iron and metal and all kinds of things. And they steered the people who had followed them into great troubles, by leading them astray with many deceptions. They (the people) became old without having enjoyment. They died, not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth. And thus the whole creation became enslaved forever, from the foundation of the world until now. And they took women and begot children out of the darkness according to the likeness of their spirit. And they closed their hearts, and they hardened themselves through the hardness of the counterfeit spirit until now.”
- ApJohn 28 And I said, “Lord, from where did the counterfeit spirit come?” Then he said to me, “The Mother-Father who is rich in mercy, the Holy Spirit in every way, the One who is merciful and who sympathizes with you, i.e. the Epinoia of the foreknowledge of Light, he raised up the offspring of the perfect race and its thinking and the eternal Light of man. When the chief Archon realized that they were exalted above him in the height–and they surpass him in thinking–then he wanted to seize their thought, not knowing that they [the Immovable Race] surpassed him in thinking and that he will not be able to seize them.”
- “He [Yaltabaoth] made a plan with his authorities, which are his Powers, and they committed together adultery with Sophia, and bitter fate was begotten through them, which is the last of the changeable bonds. And it is of a sort that is interchangeable. And it is harder and stronger than she with whom the gods united and the angels and the demons and all the generations until this day. For from that fate came forth every sin and injustice and blasphemy and the chain of forgetfulness and ignorance and every severe command and serious sins and great fears. And thus the whole creation was made blind, in order that they may not know God who is above all of them. And because of the chain of forgetfulness, their sins were hidden. For they are bound with measures and times and moments, since it (fate) is lord over everything.”
Analysis of the Concepts of the Demiurge & the counterfeit spirit
Harvard’s Dr. Karen King further discusses the concepts on p. 186 of her book The Secret Revelation of John (SecJohn/ApJohn): “Narrative elaboration is frequently employed in smaller generic scenes and usually involves the addition of new information. For example, Christ elaborates extensively on moving “to and fro” (Gen 1.2) by interpreting it as a reference to Sophia’s repentance. The Secret Revelation of John frequently uses this technique to go out of the way to disparage the God of Genesis. For example, John is told explicitly that the creator god is bestial in form, even though nothing in the Genesis narrative supports such a description. Several times, Christ simply adds that Yaltabaoth is ignorant or arrogant. These charges appear to be plausible only because of the elaborations inserted into the text.
In one case, The Secret Revelation of John plays on the deep resentment some pagans felt toward Jewish exclusivity by putting the provocative words “I am a jealous God and there is no other god beside me” onto the lips of Yaltabaoth, and then ridiculing this claim by commenting, “But by announcing this, he indicated to the angels who attended him that there exists another God. For if there were no other one, of whom would he be jealous?” (ApJohn 14.2-4.) Or again, the story of Eve’s rape is added to confirm the wicked and lustful nature of Yaltabaoth. Examples of such narrative elaborations could be multiplied throughout the work. They clearly have the effect of deepening the gulf between the high God and the creator God. The framers carefully included only those materials which could be readily harmonized with the work’s overall perspective, leaving many significant materials out of their narrative. For example, Jewish wisdom literature frequently praises God for His goodness in creating the physical world–this perspective has no place in The Secret Revelation of John.”
Additionally, as Rice University’s Chair of the Department of Religion April DeConick astutely points out in her book The Gnostic New Age on p. 142—the Greek actually has GosJohn’s 8:44’s first line read “You are from the father of the devil…” whereas most— if not all—English translations have it as “You are of your father the devil…” What a difference! The Demiurge and his minions shaped this aeon, Belias (the last Archon) may in fact be over Hades, and this might equate to the “devil.” However, the concept/ false emanation is actually attributable to the Demiurge himself. One way or another, this aeon (again with a small ‘a’) encapsulates the counterfeit spirit, and it’s our individual spiritual work that will enable its release, or said another way to diminish (if not nullify) its influence. It’s not always that simple, however, as just as [Christ] is in GosThom Saying 77, it’s metaphorically everywhere.
Supporting this position, April Deconick states in Histories of the Hidden God: “What were the [Johannine] secessionists claiming that they knew about the “true” God? Their position appears to represent an early version of the Gnostic hermeneutic that read John 8:44 as a literal reference to the Jewish God and lawgiver as the Devil’s father, while Jesus’ Father was another God. They were claiming that they knew the “true” Father, and he is not the traditional god who gave the laws to the Jews. Rather the Jewish God gave “miserable” laws to be obeyed because he himself was wicked, associated with the “darkness” and “the world.” They emphasized that the God Jesus preached was to be contrasted with the Jewish God of the Law. Jesus’ Father was a God of love who gave a “new” commandment, to love one another, while the God of the Jews was a malicious god who gave the old Mosaic laws to burden people. The secessionists appear to have been claiming that they knew the “true” Father preached by Jesus, and that the members of the church were part of a sinless generation connected to the Father by nature.”
In my opinion, this discourse expresses the notion that GosJohn, ApJohn, and the TriProt are all linked, and DeConick’s referenced Verse of GosJohn highlights this fact. Of course ApJohn & the TriProt have this Father of the Devil as Yaltabaoth. This excerpt from Deconick’s book really expresses the dissension at the time: “As I worked through this Catholic–Gnostic debate, it became clear to me that this debate was not a late development that we could sever from the production and first interpretations of The Gospel of John. Rather this debate was already raging in the Johannine Epistles written in the first decade of the second century. Furthermore, the catholic interpretation did not appear to be primary, but secondary, put into place to domesticate an older Gnostic sentiment written into the very fiber of The Gospel of John itself.”
The counterfeit spirit
What exactly does ApJohn have to say the counterfeit spirit encapsulates? Essentially, the description starts from the big picture level and whittles itself down: at the top, of course there’s Saklas himself and the Archons. But conceptually, the four greatest challenges are Pleasure, Desire, Grief, and Fear. The mother of them all is Aesthesis-Ouch-Epi-Ptoe; often matter itself is the issue. A level down reveals the following twenty-one qualities in four categories:
|The counterfeit spirit|
|Similar Such Things||Bitterness||Distress||Agony|
|Similar such things||Callousness|
“All are like useful things as well as evil things.” Contrast this table with that presented in the Refinement Section; focus on those attributes included therein. In the big picture, the highest ideals are will, thought, and life. However, a word to the wise: never be sanctimonious, that is do not make comments or judgments that come across as a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, or righteousness. However, do make a conscious effort to evaluate the status quo in your particular situation and act accordingly.
Keep in mind that righteous anger, or indignation, is the only acceptable sort of this quality. Per Wikipedia: “Righteous indignation is typically a reactive emotion of anger over mistreatment, insult, or malice of another. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice. In some Christian doctrines, righteous anger is considered the only form of anger which is not sinful, e.g., when Jesus drove the money lenders out of the temple.”
As GosTruth 33 states: “For you are the Understanding that is drawn forth. If strength acts thus, it becomes even stronger. Be concerned with yourselves; do not be concerned with other things which you have rejected from yourselves. Do not return to what you have vomited to eat it. Do not be moths. Do not be worms, as you have already cast it off. Do not become a dwelling place for the devil, for you have already destroyed him. Do not strengthen those who are obstacles to you who are collapsing, as though you were a support for them.”
Where and when does one draw the line between removing something or someone who clearly runs with the counterfeit spirit and not giving up? Christ even said to Peter in GosMatt 18:21, upon being asked, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you seventy-seven times.” I am not the judge and jury, but I do need to ensure that I am not distracted, or afflicted, so the unfortunate reality is that one first needs to try to work things out, secondly always try to have a dialogue, and thirdly if it isn’t rectifying and it’s causing you to feel or act poorly, cut it loose. Don’t be a fool; trust your intuition. At the very least, humbly ask Epinoia to guide you through difficult transits. Make sure the counterfeit spirit is always put at bay. Above all, remove obstacles from your life.
Further Excerpts from ApJohn
In the text of ApJohn, Christ himself brought about Adam to eat of the Tree; however, the serpent taught them wickedness, begetting, lust, and destruction. On p. 119 of Robinson’s The Nag Hammadi Library, ApJohn-LR: “Now up to the present day, sexual intercourse continued due to the Chief Archon. And he planted sexual desire in her who belongs to Eve [though other versions have it planted in Adam.] And he produced through intercourse the copies of the bodies, and he inspired them with his counterfeit spirit.”
Seth was, of course, the son of Adam and Eve; he represents the first “good” seed. Cain and Abel were from Saklas and Eve according to the text. Therefore, Seth exists according to the way of the race in the Aeons, and “the Mother [Barbelo] also sent down her Spirit, which is in her likeness and a copy of those who are in the Pleroma, for she will prepare a dwelling place.”
The Mother is equated with the Holy Spirit earlier in the treatise: “This is the first thought, his image, she became the womb of everything for it is she who is prior to them all, the Mother-Father, the first man, the Holy Spirit, the thrice male, the three powerful, the thrice-named androgynous one, and the eternal Aeon among the invisible ones, and the the first to come forth.”
Incidentally, perhaps this is where the Sethites (the other half of the Sethians) derived their belief that Seth was supremely important (going as far as to make him on par with Christ.) However, if you look closely, he represents the first member of the Immovable Race. Christ has his own Hypostasis according the the text, an extremely important point. Hence I would classify the Apocryphon as Barbeloite, not Sethite. As a reminder, I’d like to stress the following important point: when I mention the Sethians, it is the Barbeloites I’m referencing.
Later in the Apocryphon, in response to John, Christ states that we (the Immovable Race) should go about our matters such that we’re not involved in wickedness and evil. Care about incorruption alone (not debased or perverted; morally upright) without anger or envy or jealousy or desire (bitter passion might be the key here!) and greed of anything, as found in Verses 25-28:
- And I said to the savior, “Lord, will all the souls then be brought safely into the pure light?” He answered and said to me, “Great things have arisen in your mind, for it is difficult to explain them to others except to those who are from the Immovable Race. Those on whom the Spirit of life will descend and (with whom) he will be with the power, they 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. Then they have no other care than the incorruption alone, to which they direct their attention from here on, without anger or envy or jealousy or desire and greed of anything. They are not affected by anything except the state of being in the flesh alone, which they bear while looking expectantly for the time when they will be met by the receivers (of the body). Such then are worthy of the imperishable, eternal life and the calling. For they endure everything and bear up under everything, that they may finish the good fight and inherit eternal life.”
- I said to him, “Lord, the souls of those who did not do these works (but) on whom the power and Spirit descended, (will they be rejected?” He answered and said to me, “If) the Spirit (descended upon them), they will in any case be saved, and they will change (for the better). For the power will descend on every man, for without it no one can stand. And after they are born, then, when the Spirit of life increases and the power comes and strengthens that soul, no one can lead it astray with works of evil. But those on whom the counterfeit spirit descends are drawn by him and they go astray.”
- And I said, “Lord, where will the souls of these go when they have come out of their flesh?” And he smiled and said to me, “The soul in which the power will become stronger than the counterfeit spirit, is strong and it flees from evil and, through the intervention of the incorruptible one, it is saved, and it is taken up to the rest of the Aeons.”
- And I said, “Lord, those, however, who have not known to whom they belong, where will their souls be?” And he said to me, “In those, the despicable spirit has gained strength when they went astray. And he burdens the soul and draws it to the works of evil, and he casts it down into forgetfulness. And after it 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.”
- And I said, “Lord, how can the soul become smaller and return into the nature of its mother or into man?” Then he rejoiced when I asked him this, and he said to me, “Truly, you are blessed, for you have understood! That soul is made to follow another one (fem.), since the Spirit of life is in it. It is saved through him. It is not again cast into another flesh.” [Note the direct allusion to reincarnation; however, those on the right track will continue by following another Spirit that’s more advanced in the next incarnation(s.)]
- And I said, “Lord, these also who did know, but have turned away, where will their souls go?” Then he said to me, “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.”
If it weren’t for the formation of the Orthodox Church, then the overall works of Christianity might have never had made it to the present day; thus we can actually be thankful in some respects for Irenaeus’ Four Pillar Canon. With the findings in 1945 of the Nag Hammadi Corpus, the real conceptualization has resumed in full force.
Pronoia & Christ—Saviors & Revealers
Whenever I refer to ApJohn, it’s the LR (Long Redaction) that includes the Pronoia Hymn. Much of this section is aligned with probably the most profound work of all —TriProt. Pronoia is a Savior figure, as Christ can be, and Christ is the Revealer, as Pronoia can be. The concepts are intertwined. It is possible that they, along with the Father of course, allowed this aeon, and even the counterfeit spirit, to evolve in order to come back and claim what is theirs (TriProt end of [On Fate: Two.]) Perhaps this is why such works as ApJohn were lost in time until 1945 with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Corpus (though regarding ApJohn specifically, one of the shorter redactions was found towards the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th centuries in the Berlin Codex.) In other words, this Redemption will be fulfilled once individual Souls/Spirits sort themselves out such that those who truly are from the Immovable Race (the Valentinians believe this sort is called pneumatic) will become known. It refers to those who have learnt, felt, seen, and touched the various elements and attributes of what are in this aeon such that they can individually discriminate for themselves right from wrong. The Immovable Race therefore becomes. They are the true Crusaders of the Pure Light. Perhaps this was and is the Pleroma’s grand plan. Per Trimorphic Protennoia:
“But now I have come down and reached down to Chaos. And I was with my own who were in that place. I am hidden within them, empowering them, giving them shape. And from the first day until the day when I will grant mighty glory to those who are mine, I will reveal myself to those who have heard my mysteries, that is, the Sons of the Light.”
Furthermore, TriProt‘s Verse VII explicitly delineates Pronoia’s and Christ’s similarity:
“Then 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; who is a Light — he revealed the everlasting things, and all the unknowns were known. And those things difficult to interpet and secret, he revealed. And as for those who dwell in Silence with the First Thought, he preached to them. And he revealed himself to those who dwell in darkness, and he showed himself to those who dwell in the abyss, and to those who dwell in the hidden treasuries, he told ineffable mysteries, and he taught unrepeatable doctrines to all those who became Sons of the Light.”
Is salvation predetermined, and this spiritual concept can mean different things depending on the individual, or is it earned? This is a classic question among philosophers regarding determinism vis-à-vis free will. It’s worth contemplating, that’s for certain. In good form, I truly believe it’s a fusion of sorts, though determinism trumps free will in my opinion. Just read the entire TriProt!
I do not believe anyone can know this answer, though I’m certain many believe they know the truth. Said another way, it is difficult to read Trimorphic Protennoia and not take away the belief that Providence (determinism) trumps free will. Other treatises might hold otherwise, but in my opinion TriProt (Part III of John’s Gospel) is a force to be reckoned with—after all, it is attributed to the Father with perfect knowledge. However, the entire work is written with the Immovable Race in mind; others might indeed be subject to free will, if it’s not in fact determinism that they make other choices, as Einstein and Spinoza would most likely argue. This fundamental issue is not entirely resolved to everyone’s agreement, though I rest my case based on the Verses included in TriProt. I will state that I believe more or less in soft determinism, which does allow for some of the daily aspects of free will, however.
At the very least, mythology is good for instructional purposes to demonstrate concepts. It can be fun, and even worthwhile, to dance in the mythology, but it’s there for reference, even if you make changes to it as I’ve done in the coming Refinement Section. However, always remember at the end of it all it’s The Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (for which Pronoia is a proxy in the mythology itself.) Otherwise, if taken too literally, what you’re yearning to practice has the potential to become a quite unique form of fundamentalism! Notwithstanding this aspect, since we’re referencing the Land of the Spirit, anything is possible. For example, Epinoia in many respects is quite similar to GosJohn’s Paraclete/Advocate; both are aspects of the Holy Spirit.
According to the work They did not belong to us: Johannine Language and Social Identity by Chance Bonar, PhD Student at Harvard University: ”No matter how the Paraclete is identified, John makes it clear that Christ’s departure must occur, because it is good for his disciples (cf. John 14:18-19; 16:7, 13). The Paraclete must be present as a source of knowledge and expectation in the future Johannine group. Opponents of the Johannine group are unable to counter this Paraclete, since the testimony of Christ comes straight from the one “coming forth from the Father” (John 15:26). Just as Jesus himself and the Johannine group have the authority to speak truthfully concerning God because they are from God, so too the Paraclete is justified to speak and act in such a way. Because the teacher/reminder of Christ is within the Johannine group, the outgroups (the Roman world and Jews) are still incapable of understanding Christ’s role in salvation history and are lacking the truth that comes from Johannine membership. Although Jesus claims to be the “light of the world” (Jn. 8:12) who will enlighten those who follow him, one must remember that “the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him” (Jn. 1:10-11). The Paraclete, as an extension of [Christ’s] teachings, is able to provide this light to those who accept the Johannine knowledge and connection with [Christ.]”
Initial Personal Canon
- Apocryphon of John–LR
- Trimorphic Protennoia
—with reference to GosTruth of the Valentinian School plus firm recognition of the Johannine School’s GosJohn.
TriProt expresses it all and is the most exalted book. ApJohn gives the details as does GosJohn. Allogenes gives revelatory instruction.
Though written via Ap John’s mythology, I believe that the very end of TriProt conveys who the author actually is: “A Sacred Scripture written by the Father with perfect Knowledge.” She was the Jesus of the Demiurge, she bore the cursed wood for Jesus, and she is the one who claims what is hers. All of this is metaphor referring to the Father’s active hand in the cosmos, both this aeon and the Pleroma. Christ has an active hand with his Autogenes, that is the process of receiving the Spirit of Light (many prefer the term Spirit of Life, but so be it.) The Spirit claims the children of the Light, ignorance and error are cast off, and the Archons (and the Demiurge) have no idea what happened. All of this occurs post the traditional water baptism, which some treatises go as far as to call useless, and pre-death. It shall come to be as it has always been meant to be.
In TriProt, Eleleth himself (one of the four Illuminators) has been placed in the line of fire by assuming the role of the instructor—and the commander—of sorting out this divine rupture. After all, Sophia—the oxymoronic wanton innocent one—is responsible and repents endlessly as seen in all four versions of ApJohn and many of the other Nag Hammadi treatises.
Again, since it was written into TriProt that Eleleth shielded this transgression, how could we have one of Christ’s formal Aeon’s, Wisdom at that, make such an egregious mistake? It’s not as the Valentinians like to throw around: she has not been restored to the Pleroma, but rather she is stuck in the 9th in this Realm/aeon until all Protennoia’s/Father’s seed are gathered. Henceforth, she’s above this lower ‘ogdoad’ of Saklas (who resides in the 8th, and she is in the 9th) until (if & when) this deficiency is fully corrected. Harvard University’s Dr. Karen King astutely states in SecJohn, p. 232: “The Secret Revelation of John (ApJohn) significantly shifts the meaning of the rupture by associating the divine creation Sophia with the disobedient Eve—with the result that Sophia-Wisdom paradoxically comes to be equated with Ignorance!”
Who’s on First–The Sethians or the Valentinians?
Moreover, think about this fact: Irenaeus spends much time specifically disparaging the Valentinians in Against Heresies, Book I, Chapters 29 & 30. However, much of his criticism focuses not on works associated with this school of thought, but rather Sethianism, and specifically the Barbeloite (“Barbelognostic”) branch. He directly discusses, at length in Chapter 30, The Apocryphon of John so much that a prominent modern scholar, Alastair Logan, actually uses his material as a compare/contrast source when he attempts to trace ApJohn back to the original text, clearly a generation or so ahead of ~CE180 when Irenaeus wrote his many volumes. TriProt is dated by Logan to have been written ~CE180, though some scholars go as far back as ~CE120 (and this timing makes sense given its relative proximity to the intra-group the Johannine Epistles refer to as the secessionists, or as their author(s) likes to believe–the “antichrists,”) and we know from the scholarly community in general GosJohn was written ~CE90. The common link is clear once one really conceptualizes this notion.
Irenaeus almost solely focuses on the creation of this aeon, or lesser ogdoad, and even confuses this aspect with the creation of the Pleroma (the Heavens) itself. He addresses the notion (in Book I, Chapter 30, v. 13-14) that ApJohn is in accordance with GosJohn, but it is presented as a falsehood. He summarizes in Book III, Chapter 11, v.8: “For that according to John relates His original, effectual, and glorious generation from the Father, thus declaring, ‘In the beginning was Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word is God.’ John 1:1, ‘Also, all things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made.’ For this reason, too, is that the Gospel is full of all confidence, for such is His person.” I will be addressing the Johannine Prologue in a later section.
I must say that I appreciate Alastair Logan’s comment in Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy: “this ‘hypostasis’ of the [Sethians] surely annoyed Irenaeus!” He too posits a great question, one not addressed virtually anywhere else: “Are Hypostases the same things as Aeons?” My opinion is the character or concept is the greater of the two, thus the Hypostasis, and as seen with the Valentinians, Aeons come and go ad hoc! Mr. Logan further tweaks my funny bone by jesting about the Illuminators and their Aeons: “they are no longer Aeons themselves, as there are only twelve attributable qualities—and the Angels themselves seem to have been left out!” There could actually be thirteen, as somehow Prudence is dangling in the text. In the Refinement Section, as part of the first Direct Revelation, I reassign this Aeon to Armozel.
Irenaeus’ Against Heresies further enabled the hostile takeover the eventual Catholic Church performed on the Johannine Sect, a tactic that was started by the Johannine Epistles. To think that GosJohn is purely Johannine, along with ApJohn and TriProt, is enough to get one righteously indignant. Irenaeus’ strategy seemed to have been to write—and further write—his way onto center stage. Unfortunately his work is seriously flawed. The secessionists didn’t care (or conversely they wanted his head!) They thought he was obtuse. Of course the Valentinians did care, as they were Irenaeus’ primary target.
Furthermore, Against Heresies was a quite confused, yet long, work. Not many people read it back in the second century, as it was before the days of the printing press. However, church leaders did, and look at the mess that was created. Technically, they interpreted many of the primary tenets of Original Christianity incorrectly.
Epinoia is quite an important concept–that is divine revelation–and it helps in figuring out the nuances seen in the first few centuries’ commentaries. Sometimes Epinoia is stronger than any written word every could be. Accordingly, GosTruth 19 says the following: “There came the men wise in their own estimation, putting him to the test. But he confounded them because they were foolish. They hate him because they were not really wise.”
As mentioned, TriProt is a book attributed to the Father, and GosTruth seems to have been attributed to Christ. The verbiage in both is authoritative, and it speaks to the Immovable Race:
GosTruth 28 “I do not say, then, that they are nothing (at all) who have not yet come into existence, but they are in him who will wish that they come into existence when he wishes, like the time that is to come. Before all things appear, he knows what he will produce. But the fruit which is not yet manifest does not know anything, nor does it do anything. Thus, also every space which is itself in the Father is from the one who exists who established it from what does not exist. For he who has no root has no fruit either, but though he thinks to himself, “I have come into being,” yet he will perish by himself. For this reason, he who did not exist at all will never come into existence. What, then, did he wish him to think of himself? This: ‘I have come into being like the shadows and phantoms of the night.’ When the light shines on the terror which that person had experienced, he knows that it is nothing.”
GosPhil [The Gospel of Philip] (as referenced in a later Section of this work) has much to offer the Johannine secessionists, similar to GosTruth; however, both treatises in their entirety do not fall within the bounds of the Protennoia Johannine Secessionist Canon. Rather, one must choose the salient Verses to include. There are several that fall inline more with Valentinian beliefs, and these should be glossed over. The Immovable Race will be able to determine those that are appropriate.
The Key to the Fourth Gospel? Certainly not the Old Testament!
Not surprisingly, I will refute Irenaeus’ points fully by stating that ApJohn (and of course TriProt) actually seems to be the key to correctly interpret the Fourth Gospel, and it also serves as an intra-Christian debate text on the “value” of The Old Testament (OT.) Plenty have made solid arguments that the drafters must have respected and wanted to include the OT in the Canon given just how much ApJohn refers back to Genesis, the Moses statements, etc. However, I believe their intention was to show how egregiously wrong parts of the originals were that the OT’s inclusion was at best superfluous.
In my opinion, it was not turning pre-Christian texts into a revelation from Christ; it was a statement of fact on how wrong the original works were, just as in GosThom Saying 52 Jesus scorns his disciples upon hearing the following: “Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and all of them spoke in you.” [Jesus] said to them, “You have omitted the one living in your presence and have spoken (only) of the dead.”
Harvard’s Karen King believes that ApJohn points to the ultimate rejection of the original (OT) texts. According to her, somewhat paraphrased: in the end the biblical treatises have more to be rejected than received, and this is the general attitude of ApJohn. Therefore, the drafters refer to the OT texts “only when it suits their purposes.”
A good example of this opinion is as follows: ApJohn 29: “And he (the chief Archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man. But the greatness of the Light of the foreknowledge informed Noah, and he proclaimed (it) too all of the offspring which are the sons of men. But those who were strangers to him did not listen to him. It is not as Moses said, ‘They hid themselves in an ark’ (Gen 7:7), but they hid themselves in a place, not only Noah but also many other people from the Immovable Race. They went into a place and hid themselves in a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his authority, and she who belongs to the Light was with him, having shone on them because he (the chief Archon) had brought darkness upon the whole earth.”
Additionally, The Blue Letter Bible states the following boldly: “There are no direct statements in The Old Testament about the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the believer. Thus it is difficult to arrive at any conclusion about the work of the Holy Spirit during the Old Testament period.” This fact solidifies my reasoning.
I’ll reference The University of Edinburgh’s Dr. Larry Hurtado’s work Lord Jesus Christ in the coming Johannine Secessionists Section more extensively, but he does make the observation regarding how such works apply to the Sethians and Valentinians on p. 531 of his extensive discourse: “It is likely that their myths were intended to substitute for the function of the Old Testament narrative of world events, characters, and themes. That is, the mythic schemes provided a replacement narrative world in which the elect could ‘situate’ themselves meaningfully. And in this rival narrative world the Old Testament and its deity, along with Israel, and run-of-the-mill Christians as well, were assigned a vastly inferior status and significance.”
He continues on p. 559: “The world [the second-century Christians] surveyed was then [as it is now] a less than perfect creation, to put it mildly; it is a classic philosophical difficulty to account for a world so afflicted by natural and moral evil as the creation of an omnipotent and good deity. Moreover, there are undeniable tensions for Christians in treatment of the Old Testament as their Scriptures: Israel versus church, Torah versus Christ, and the anthropomorphic pictures of God in the Old Testament, to name a few obvious ones. Those who urge a distinction between the Old Testament deity and the true God were not simply trying to be difficult; they were reacting to real issues. But the stakes were high, the issues far-reaching, and the potential consequences of the battle over who the Christian God was were monumental.”
Furthermore, Yale University’s Bentley Layton observed in Gnostic Scriptures, xxii: “What is first and foremost in gnostic scripture is its doctrines and its interpretation of the Old and New Testament books—especially its open hostility to the god of Israel and its views on resurrection, the reality of Jesus’ incarnation and suffering, and the universality of Christian salvation. On these points, the gap between gnostic religion and proto-orthodox Christianity was vast.” He proposed that “Valentinus, though essentially a gnostic, tried to bridge this gap,” and that “he and his followers consciously limited themselves to a proto-orthodox canon,” avoiding reference to heterodox texts in their writings.” As Dr. Hurtado notes, the “Valentinians did primarily, if not solely, focus on New Testament writings, not those of The Old Testament.”
The Valentinian Web of Exclusivity
In my opinion, the [Western] Valentinians’ overt adherence to The New Testament coupled with their own secret teachings could very well have served to be the reason their entire movement was quite unsuccessful, as unfortunate as this reality might be. In other words, in order to assimilate themselves within the church, the Valentinians ended up drawing attention to what the proto-orthodox believers certainly referred to as heresy. Perhaps the tenets of Original Christianity would have survived if the Valentinians did not highlight its “vastly” different belief system by trying so hard to incorporate themselves into the Orthodox Church. After all, they continuously held their own meetings that excluded their proto-orthodox brethren. Clearly, the latter were quite aware that the Valentinians had their own secret meetings with accompanying unorthodox teachings, and they wanted nothing to do with such esoteric tenets. By attempting to assimilate themselves within the church, all the while excluding the proto-orthodox from these secret meetings, the Valentinians entrapped themselves into a web of exclusivity—or web of lies if you were to ask the right-wing—one that led to their ultimate, if not spectacular, demise.
Honing the True Canon
Further exploration of the Johannines is warranted. Whether there is a direct relationship with the Sethians, or Barbeloites, is a valid question. Further spreading the Word to those who are worthy just might enable this fusion to re-commence, and this of course will not replace, but rather augment, the Autogenes/Spirit of Light process that Christ & the invisible Spirit control.
We too should explore whether or not there actually was a group called the Thomassines. If so, they’ve been long forgotten. However, The Gospel of Thomas belongs side-by-side with The Gospel of John. Irrespective of the latter referring to the apostle as “Doubting Thomas,” at the beginning of the Apocryphon, essentially Christ spoke to the “Doubting John.”
As for the Paulines, I’d recommend they take up the Johannine / Thomassine writings post haste. The Valentinians’ supposed claim to fame is through Theudas, a direct disciple of Paul, though Paul was never a direct disciple of Christ, except according to himself. Even the Johannine Revelation to John refutes the Paulines in RevJohn 2-3, according to a Paul apologist Paul Renan in St Paul (1869:) “Apostle John’s book of Revelation was a ‘cry of hatred’ against Paul and his friends.” Also, in the Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon by Handley C.G. Moule, p. 17 “and it has been maintained (notably by Bauer, of Tubingen as well as Renan) that the school of St. John entirely repudiated St. Paul, and succeeded in effecting a total break of continuity [between the two schools.]”
Furthermore, per RevJohn 2:1-7–“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:”
I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.
All one has to do is read the end of The Acts of the Apostles to ascertain just how controversial the Pauline school actually was; the writings somehow made the Orthodox Canon, but there was certainly, at the very least, real dysfunction.
Paul was not welcomed by the other apostles who rightly challenged his authority: per the UNCW web page Paul vs the Apostles, “Paul seems to have lost his power struggle with the Apostles, then broke with them and went out on his own preaching his own version of Jesus as Lord, his own law-free gospel, and his own innovative concept of the ‘church.’ In his last epistle, Romans, Paul seems to have given up on the East and is informing the Roman Christians that he plans to come to them on his way to Spain to spread his gospel in the West. But first he plans to make a final trip to Jerusalem which turns out to be his undoing. There he is arrested and eventually sent as a prisoner to Rome where he is executed.”
Furthermore, per The BBC’s description of Paul, “his works have also been used, among other things, to justify homophobia, slavery and anti-Semitism. He has also been accused of being anti-feminist.”
Conversely, The Gospel of Thomas‘ tone is one of acceptance and deliverance: per Saying 22, “Jesus saw some infants who were being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom. They said to him: If we then become children, shall we enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter [the kingdom].”
Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that he was the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus,” according to The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being his Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private.
And corrupter he was—but it is quite possible that from the perspective of the Jews he was an insider. Paul’s life was spent as a Pharisee (at least according to Acts) who condemned true Christian believers to awful fates. However, it is possible that what he espoused represented a counter-move to the likes of the early Christians. Paul professed, possibly disingenuously, to having had revelations from Christ, as that is part of what he learned from those early Christians he condemned. In order to combat the growing body of those moving away from Judaism and into what is now known as Christianity, he could have used their model.
If this is the case, it was not Epinoia that inspired Paul, it was deceit. He potentially quite early on attempted to persuade true Christians into a mode of thought, or religiosity, that he and other Jewish leaders condoned. His Gospel was hardly “law-free,” but rather sought to accommodate Gentile customs regarding circumcision and the like—all the while promoting the true law of Yahweh himself—or Yaltabaoth as the Sethians believed. Thus, he potentially used the Christian revelatory framework, precisely echoing what the Johannine secessionists professed, to theoretically accomplish Judaism’s end, a counter-move. The entire book of Romans is a great example of this potential bait-and-switch.
In effect, Valentinianism really tried hard to soften the blow of the reality of Sophia’s rupture due to her wanton behavior that’s reported accurately in ApJohn. Oddly enough, the school does not have a Pronoia/Barbelo figure, but it chose to rescue Sophia.
As we know, there were two branches of the Valentinian School, East & West, or Oriental & Roman. The former branch holds the mystical treatises, such as the extraordinarily wordy TriTrac, whereas the Western branch seems to have been more inline with the Orthodox Church fathers. Then there’s the Pistis Sophia. In the East, Sophia remains in the ‘ogdoad’ (though in the 8th, not the 9th,) and I believe interestingly that she seems to have begotten the Christ figure according to this source! Additionally, the treatise claims there are thirty Aeons. This is outrageously different from ApJohn. Furthermore, they went through back-flips to present the Demiurge in a more positive light in TriTract. Suffice to say, their attempt was not only ineffective, it was wrong. They did not attempt to build upon ApJohn as Sethian works such as The Hypostasis of the Archons did; the Eastern Valentinians rewrote the Apocryphon entirely.
In the West, Sophia’s “better half” went back to the Pleroma, and in this aeon/Realm her other half repented endlessly, and I’m not quite sure if she is fully split or if after repenting the other half went back to the Valentinian Pleroma (certainly not the Pleroma!) However, it’s rather unclear as there aren’t many Western Valentinian sources, inline with Hurtado’s & Layton’s observation that the Western group relied fundamentally on those treatises included in The New Testament (NT.) GosTruth is one theoretical exception, though it does not discuss Sophia’s Providence, and it augments ApJohn--not rewrites.
All in all, what we have here is a clear case of the Sethian/Barbeloite superiority, and the Valentinian attempt to better position baseline Sethian concepts. That’s one thing Irenaeus partially got right. Sophia is not the representative of the Holy Spirit. The Valentinians of course were quite unsuccessful, as those in this school were no match for Irenaeus. However, perhaps it was best that this all went down as such as the Sethians most likely wanted no part in canonizing the Apocryphon–and they wanted nothing to do with the proto-orthodox (and certainly not Irenaeus!) They most certainly valued NT treatises such as GosJohn; I believe they wrote it (yes–I believe the evangelist was the first secessionist.) According to many believers at the time (and by extension some believers today,) Sethianism really could have been construed as Original Christianity (I tend to side with The University of Exeter’s Alastair Logan and Harvard University’s Karen King that the Sethian works must have been Christian–quite unlike The University of Nebraska’s John Douglas Turner–as discussed further in the next Section.)
However, the Valentinians tried, and they further tried, to include themselves within the Orthodox Church. Valentinus himself was almost named the Bishop of Rome. However, after Irenaeus’ work, they tried to rewrite much of Sethianism in order to accommodate his criticism. They failed.
TriTract just simply is an inferior work to ApJohn, even though it seems clear that the drafter(s) of the treatise tried to remove the mythology. However, ApJohn’s mythologoumena is there for a reason: it teaches. The Valentinians too dropped the Five Seals, perhaps replacing it with The Gospel of Philip’s (GosPhil) Bridal Chamber (though as I posit in the GosPhil Section, this treatise could go either way.) They too got rid of the Illuminators, even though they’re technically angel-like and not necessarily mythological, but so be it. However, I’ll point out an interesting excerpt from Harvard’s Karen King’s Secret Revelation of John (ApJohn,) p. 149: “Baptismal Sealing brings the power of the Spirit into the soul to strengthen it in its battle against the passions and the power of the counterfeit spirit.”
Trimorphic Protennoia‘s Relation with ApJohn
TriProt very much expounds upon the many wonders associated with the Land of the Spirit, and it’s a supremely important treatise. Again, it’s directly attributable to Father himself according to the text. The entire work resonates with me to the point that I see how this message is being conveyed—and I agree with the presentation. In a manner of speaking, the text also serves to fuse both ApJohn and GosJohn into one cohesive unit or body that stands for the fullness of time. In another sense, this treatise very effectively objectivizes the subjective—the Land of the Spirit—and the infusion of one’s being into the Pleroma upon effectively receiving ApJohn’s Spirit of Light via the Autogenes process. Even at the beginning of my indoctrination into these esoteric concepts, I made the connection that the Pronoia Monologue in ApJohn is the model, and of course the entire TriProt is written in the exact same voice.
Regarding Trimorphic Protennoia‘s drafting: interestingly Alastair Logan of the University of Exeter believes the Apocryphon was originally a Christian work, quite unlike Turner. I agree with Logan. As appears on p. 46 of Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy:
- “But the Apocryphon with the Pronoia hymn undoubtedly underlies and structures Trimorphic Protennoia, which may be roughly contemporary with the (a3) recension of the Apocryphon (circa 200CE) but which, intriguingly, seems unaware of the Sethian [Sethite] material. Thus it seems to mark a fascinating moment of transition in that it presupposes and develops the Barbelognostic theogony, cosmology, and soteriology (the triad Father, Mother, and Son; Christ identified with Autogenes; the four Illuminators and servants, baptizers, etc.; and the Five Seals,) identifies Sophia with the Epinoia of light as a passive figure, assigns Aeons to the four Illuminators but does not structure them hierarchically or temporally as abodes of Adamas, Seth and his seed: all these are conspicuously absent from this supposedly ‘Sethian’ work. Turner’s detailed literary analysis, although sophisticated and ingenious, is vitiated by his assumptions that this work is Sethian, that the Sethians were a pre-Christian breakaway Jewish sect, and that one of their fundamental ideas was tripartition of history involving the triple scheme of a savior figure.
- It seems simpler to assume that the redactors of Trimorphic Protennoia knew of the (a2) version of the Apocryphon with the Pronoia hymn (circa 160CE,) and developed the pattern of the three interventions/rebukes/descents of the female savior figure as respectively Voice (Father,) Sound (Mother,) and Word (Son.) The glosses we find added to Barbelo in the (a2) version (e.g. ‘primordial Man,’ ‘triple male,’ ‘with three powers, three names,’ etc.) form the basis of an expansion of the former’s doctrine into the three main sections of the work and concluding revelation. That the redactors developed an already existing myth involving cosmology, eschatology, and soteriology, adding aretalogies, etc. seems more likely than Turner’s supposition that they expanded the original Pronoia hymn by aretalogies and added doctrinal passages to them. The revealer figure Protennoia is obviously an extrapolation of Barbelo/Pronoia.” I’d somewhat disagree with this last statement, as I believe the entire treatise is in the voice of the Father, though Pronoia is his reflection according to the Sethian works.
The two works collectively (that is ApJohn & TriProt,) or three as we will see with GosJohn, essentially weed out any “puffed up” nature that Irenaeus attributed to the Valentinians. Add in GosThom & GosPhil and you have one extremely strong canon of knowledge. GosTruth actually reinforces this canon rather well, the quite powerful treatise we can most likely thank Valentinus for having written.
As Harvard’s Dr. King states regarding ApJohn on p.243 of her work: “Through their very particular reading of shared cultural resources, the framers and readers of The Secret Revelation of John produced a powerful social-political critique and a utopian vision of reality. The Secret Revelation of John represents itself as having the key to the true meaning of all of human history, the truth finally available only through revelation. Christ’s teaching illumines the most prestigious cultural traditions by throwing them into the light of revelation. The traditions of the past can now be seen for what they are: deceptions, counterfeit images, and partial truths. But one can now also see in them the real truth. The Secret Revelation of John provides a paradigm for distinguishing between the true and the seeming, the model and the copy, the real and the deceptive.”
Further support for Dr. King’s position surprisingly comes from Tuomas Rasimus in Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking at the end of Chapter 9, on p. 279: “The Pronoia hymn in LR of ApJohn is formally and thematically parallel to the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel. The parallel developments of this interpretation in the Johannine and Classic Gnostic [Barbeloite] communities; the many Johannine elements in both recensions of ApJohn without clear quotations of the gospel; and the possibility that SR of ApJohn [the so called short version] predates the final version of the gospel, suggest that the Johannine schismatics may have been involved in the composition of ApJohn. If the authors of ApJohn did have some sort of connection with the historical Johannine community, and if SR predates the final version of the gospel, then the Sethianization of the Ophite [Barbeloite] mythology (presupposed in ApJohn) could be dated to the time the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles were written, ca. 90-125CE.”
What do I mean as regards the Autogenes process? Early in ApJohn-LR, I believe this represents how Christ was created in the beginning, per p. 108 of Robinson’s The Nag Hammadi Library:
- 6 “And he looked at Barbelo with the pure light that surrounds the invisible Spirit and (with) his spark, she conceived from him. He begot a spark of light with a light resembling blessedness. But it does not equal his greatness. This was an only-begotten child of the Mother-Father which had come forth; it is the only offspring, the only-begotten one of the Father, the pure Light.” Then: “And the invisible, virginal Spirit rejoiced over the light which came forth, that which was brought forth by the first power of his forethought which is Barbelo. And he anointed it with his goodness until it became perfect, not lacking in any goodness, because he had anointed it with the goodness of the invisible Spirit.”
Therefore, the Autogenes process—the spark—enabled the creation of Christ upon the anointment. The University of Exeter’s Alastair Logan refers to this process via an “intermediate being.” Then on p. 109 of Robinson:
- 7 “And the holy Spirit completed the divine Autogenes, his son, together with Barbelo, that he may attend the mighty and invisible, virginal Spirit as the divine Autogenes, the Christ whom he had honored with a mighty voice. He came through the forethought. And the invisible, virginal Spirit placed the divine Autogenes of truth over everything.”
What’s interesting conceptually is that the Autogenes process first created Christ, but from that point forward Christ is associated with the Autogenes process in his Hypostasis. The invisible Spirit maintains control of the Spirit of Light. Thus, they work in tandem.
I should mention that we are not talking about reliance on OT texts, or customs that pre-date ApJohn & GosJohn. We are talking about a new revelation entirely. Christ pre-dates the character Jesus by eons.
The Sethian Neoplatonic Treatises
Other descriptions of Autogenes include “a divine intellect generating itself and the sensible cosmos by a contemplative seeing of the first God who thinks only insofar as he makes use of a contemplative second God (Marsanès frag. 20-22; Marsanès (NH X) edited by Wolf-Peter Funk, Paul-Hubert Poirier, John Douglas Turner; Platonism: Ancient, Modern, and Postmodern edited by Kevin Corrigan, John Douglas Turner.) Autogenes operates on the realm of the individuals who constitute the self-generated Aeons where he saves a multitude—thus a multiplicity. He’s a figure with the salvation of the realms below the Barbelo Aeon, thus Autogenes and his descent become the incessant topic of Marsanès’ preaching, since its result is the salvation or preservation of the entire sensible world.”
As regards the mythology, Barbelo’s third power is Autogenes, after Kalyptos and Protophanes. Truth was severed as the consort of Autogenes at the Christ Aeonic level and given to Barbelo, but here we see the balance of the scales in action as Autogenes was originally at the Barbelo level, which makes sense given the initial divine spark that created Christ. Furthermore, in Allogenes:
- “Autogenes is the Barbelo’s Aeon’s means of interacting with the ‘perfect individuals’ including sounds and divine beings resident in this aeon prior to their unification in the Protophanes Aeon. This includes those who inhabit the realm of corporeal nature, continually rectifying the defects from nature.”
- “In effect, Autogenes is constantly occupied with the shaping of the natural realm, literally ‘setting right’ or rectifying the ‘sins from nature.’” Marsanès continues describing the basic teaching concerning the Powers and configurations of the Zodiacal signs in Fragment 42: “whether s/he is gazing at the two or is gazing at the seven [then] planets or at the twelve signs of the Zodiac or at the 36 Decans [that] are and these reach up to these numbers, whether those in heaven or those upon the earth, together with those that are under the earth, according to the relationships and the divisions among these, and in the rest—parts according to kind and according to species—they will submit since she has power above; they exist apart, every body, the divine Barbelo [did] reveal them in this manner.”
I will restate that Providence trumps fate. Universal energy does exist, however. Additionally, according to Rudolf Steiner on p. 170 of According to Matthew (though it’s worth noting that he quite possibly valued GosJohn the most in True Knowledge of The Christ: Theosophy and Rosicrucianism–The Gospel of John):
- “In ancient times, any large number of people was described as a “thousand,” and more specific descriptions added a number derived from the most important characteristic of the group. For example, the people of the fourth cultural period were described as the “fourth thousand,” while those already living in the style of the next cultural period were called the “fifth thousand.” (These are merely technical terms.)
- Hence, the disciples realized that in their waking consciousness they received Christ’s solar forces through the seven diurnal signs of the zodiac, which provided nourishment suited to the “fourth thousand,” or those in the fourth cultural period. But what they received through clairvoyant imagination, or through the five nocturnal signs, applied to the near future, the “fifth thousand.”
- Thus those of the fourth epoch (the four thousand) receive nourishment from Heaven through the seven diurnal constellations, or the seven heavenly loaves, whereas the five loaves of the five nocturnal constellations of the zodiac nourishes those of the fifth epoch (the five thousand). The constellation of Pisces, or the fishes, always indicates the point where day signs meet the night signs.”
Back to Allogenes, one particularly well stated expression of the Sethian Triple-Powered One is as follows: Existence, Vitality, and Mentality (Knowledge.) Barbelo has three powers too: the invisible Spirit (or the masculine silent one,) the pre-existing otherness characterized by the actual feminine nature of the Triple Powered One itself, and the masculine dynamic equivalent of the Barbelo Aeon. Then there are the three additional Aeons: Kalyptos (initial latency or potential existence,) Protophanes (initial manifestation (divine mind,)) and lastly Autogenes (determinate, self-generated instantiation, now attributed to Christ.)
“Kalyptos includes the contemplated mind, containing the paradigmatic ideas or authentic existents, each unique. Protophanes is the contemplative mind, containing the subdivision of ideas, those who are unified and all together distinguished from ideas of particular things and from the distinctly unique authentic existents as congeries of similar units capable of combination with one another.” Lastly, Autogenes is “akin to a [second level] mind who shapes the realm of nature below according to the forms contemplated and analyzed by Protophanes, and would thus contain the ‘perfect individuals,’ the ideas of particular, individual things, as well as individual souls.’”
Allogenes further describes the Father as follows, complementing ApJohn’s description of his essence as found at the beginning of this work:
- Allogenes 47-48 [But] concerning the invisible, spiritual Triple-Powered One, hear! He exists as an Invisible One who is incomprehensible to them all. He contains them all within himself, for they all exists because of him. He is perfect, and he is greater than perfect, and he is blessed. He is always One and he exists in them all, being ineffable, unnameable, being One who exists through them all — he whom, should one discern him, one would not desire anything that exists before him among those that possess existence, for he is the source from which they were all emitted. He is prior to perfection. He was prior to every divinity, and he is prior to every blessedness since he provides for every power. And he is a nonsubstantial substance, since he is a God over whom there is no divinity, the transcending of whose greatness and beauty do not compare with any power. It is not impossible for them to receive a revelation of these things if they come together. Since it is impossible for the individuals to comprehend the Universal One situated in the place that is higher than perfect, they apprehend by means of a First Thought — it is not as being alone, but it is along with the latency of Experience that he confers Being. He provides everything for himself since it is he who shall come to be when he recognizes himself. And he is One who subsists as a cause and source of Being and an immaterial material and an innumerable number and a formless form and a shapeless shape and powerlessness and a power and in insubstantial substance and a motionless motion and an inactive activity. Yet he is a provider of provisions and a divinity of divinity — but whenever they apprehend, they participate the first Vitality and an undivided activity, an hypostasis of the First One from the One who truly exists.
- Allogenes 52-53, the Sethian Triple-Powered One: “And the all-glorious One, Youel [of the Barbelo Hypostasis,] anointed me again and she gave power to me. She said, “Since your instruction has become complete and you have known the Good that is within you, hear concerning the Triple-Powered One those things that you will guard in great silence and great mystery, because they are not spoken to anyone except those who are worthy, those who are able to hear; nor is it fitting to speak to an uninstructed generation concerning the Universal One that is higher than perfect. But you have <these> because of the Triple-Powered One, the One who exists in blessedness and goodness, the One who is responsible for all these. There exists within him much greatness. Inasmuch as he is One in silence of the First Thought, which does not fall away from those who dwell in comprehension and knowledge and understanding. And That One moved motionlessly in that which governs, lest he sink into the boundless by means of another activity of Mentality. And he entered into himself and he appeared, being all-encompassing, the Universal One that is higher than perfect. Indeed it is not through me that he is to such a degree anterior to knowledge. Whereas there is no possibility for complete comprehension, he is (nevertheless) known. And this is so because of the third silence of Mentality and the second undivided activity which appeared in the First Thought, that is, the Aeon of Barbelo, together with the Indivisible One of the divisible likenesses and the Triple-Powered One and the non-substantial existence.”
- Allogenes 62-64: “He is neither divinity nor blessedness nor perfection. Rather it (this triad) is an unknowable entity of him, not that which is proper to him, rather he is another one superior to the blessedness and the divinity and perfection. For he is not perfect but he is another thing that is superior. He is neither boundless, nor is he bounded by another. Rather, he is something superior. He is not corporeal. He is not incorporeal. He is not great. He is not small. He is not a number. He is not a creature. Nor is something that exists, that one can know. But he is something else of himself that is superior, which one cannot know. He is primary revelation and knowledge of himself, as it is he alone who knows himself. Since he is not one of those that exist but is another thing, he is superior to all superlatives even in comparison to both what is properly his and not his. He neither participates in age nor does he participate in time. He does not receive anything from anything else. He is not diminishable, nor does he diminish anything, nor is he indiminishable. But he is self-comprehending, as something so unknowable that he exceeds those who excel in unknowability. He is endowed with blessedness and perfection and silence — not <the blessedness> nor the perfection–and stillness. Rather it (these attributes) is an entity of him that exists, which one cannot know, and which is at rest. Rather they are entities of him unknowable to them all.”
In relation to the Father and Autogenes/Christ, the following revelatory discourse addresses the Immovable Race directly in Zostrianos:
- Zostrianos 20 “(About) the All and the all-perfect race and the one who is higher than perfect and blessed. The self-begotten Kalyptos pre-exists because he is an origin of the Autogenes, a god and a forefather, a cause of the Protophanes, a father of the parts that are his. As a divine father he is foreknown but he is unknown, for he has a power and a father from himself. Therefore, he is [fatherless.] The invisible Triple Powerful, First Thought [of] all [these,] the Invisible Spirit [represents] the Essence and Existence [of] all these. They are in every place that he loves or desires, yet they are not in any place. They have capacity for Spirit, for they are incorporeal yet are better than incorporeal. They are undivided with living thoughts and a power of truth with those purer than these since with respect to him they are purer and are not like the bodies which are in one place. Above all, they have necessity either in relation to the All or to a part. Therefore, the way of ascent, it is pure, and [henceforth] each herself and with them are above all particular Aeons.”
- Zostrianos 24 “He can see with his perfect soul those who belong to Autogenes; with his mind, those who belong to the Triple Male, and with his Holy Spirit, those who belong to Protophanes. He can learn of Kalyptos through the powers of the Spirit from whom they have come forth in a far better revelation of the Invisible Spirit. And by means of thought which now is in silence and by First Thought he learns of the Triple Powerful Invisible Spirit, since there is the a report and power of silence which is purified in a living Spirit. It is perfect and and [always] perfect and all perfect.”
- Zostrianos 62 “You who belongs to all the glories said to me, ‘you have received all the baptisms in which it is fitting to be baptized, and you have become perfect [in the light of] the hearing of [the All.] Now call again upon the all-perfect, the Lights of the aeon Barbelo and the immeasurable knowledge. They will reveal the Power and the Glory of the Invisible Spirit which are the essence of Barbelo and the Invisible Triple Powerful Spirit.’”
- Zostrianos 114 “There are those who are begotten, and those who are in an unborn begetting, and there are those who are Holy and Eternal, and there are those who are as All; there are those who are races and who are in All; there are those who are races and those who are in a world and order; there are those in indestructibility, and these are the first who stand and the second in all of them. All those who are from them and those who are in them, and from these who followed them, these stood, they existing in them, being scattered abroad. They are not crowded against one another, but to the contrary they are alive, existing in themselves and agreeing with one another, as they are from a single origin. They are reconciled because they are all in a single Aeon of Kalyptos, not being divided in power, for they exist in accord with each of the Aeons, standing in relationship to the one which has reached them.”
The Autogenes Process and the Trinity
The key is that the Autogenes process does just happen, but certainly not randomly; it is the result of a finely (or not so!) tuned spiritual process. Barbelo/Protophanes would be the proxy for the Holy Spirit. The Father would be akin to Kalyptos.
It too should be stressed that Christ is not only the Autogenes who was begotten in the original process (the initial spark) by the Father and Barbelo; he’s the Mediator, per the Synoptics, and the Savior and/or Redeemer and/or Revealer. He’s associated with the Word, or Logos, in GosJohn. The Mother (Barbelo) is the Holy Spirit, among other spiritual concepts such as Epinoia and the Paraclete, and represents the Spirit of the Immovable Race. Father is Father and of course is ineffable; he maintains control of the Spirit of Light.
Regarding the Immovable Race sharing in the Holy Spirit: TriProt, end of The Discourse of Protennoia: One: “And I hid myself in everyone and revealed myself within them, and every mind seeking me longed for me, for it is I who gave shape to the All when it had no form. And I transformed their forms into (other) forms, until the time when a form will be given to the All. It is through me that the Voice originated, and it is I who put the breath within my own. And I cast into them the eternally Holy Spirit, and I ascended and entered my Light. I went up upon my branch and sat there among the Sons of the holy Light.”
Per Rudolf Steiner’s Lecture 2 on The Gospel of John: “The greatest strength is needed to make conscious changes in the physical body. The means for this are only made known in occult schools. The physical body consciously transformed by the I is called the Spiritual Human Being or Atman. The power to transform the astral body flows to us from the world of the Holy Spirit. The power to change the ether body flows to us from the world of the Son or the Word. The power to transform the physical body comes to us from the world of the Father Spirit or the divine Father.”
A Word on the Egyptians
The Great Book of the Holy Invisible Spirit, often referred to as The Gospel of the Egyptians (GosEgypt) is written in a good vein, supposedly according to the text itself by (Sethite) Seth himself. However, the TriProt better suits me as the former is a bit too esoteric for my tastes. Furthermore, as Alastair Logan referenced, it is a storehouse of contextual information. It doesn’t, however, make the Core of My Personal Canon.
As GosTruth 23 says, “This is a knowledge of the living book which he revealed to the Aeons, at the end, as his letters revealing how they are not vowels nor are they consonants, so that one might read them and think of something foolish, but they are letters of the Truth which they alone speak who know them. Each letter is a complete thought like a complete book, since they are letters written by the Unity, the Father having written them for the Aeons in order that by means of his letters they should know the Father.”
As a point of reference, GosEgypt contains incantations such as “iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeeee oooooooo uuuuuuuuu.” Accordingly, the book was written to entice some sort of ecstatic trance.
On the Personal Canon
I am attempting to assemble those books I find particularly intriguing to include in what I am calling My Personal Canon. Karen King described the drafters well on p. 183 of SecJohn: “They might, for example, rank the truth value of different tradition, granting some materials enormous authority while arguing that others continue only part of the truth, or were just plain wrong.” I love this statement, and this is precisely the exercise I’m going through.
Yet Another Valentinian Twist
Quite possibly, the Valentinians were not only responding to the Orthodoxy & Irenaeus, but to the Neoplatonists on the other side. The latter’s Demiurge was essentially benevolent, though to varying degrees, and far from perfect. Perhaps this perspective ties in with the TriTrac’s extraordinarily ineffective rewrite of ApJohn where the Demiurge isn’t necessarily malevolent. Unfortunately for the Valentinians, they had metaphorical canons on both ends. In a sense, such conflict could provide them with a much needed “Get out of Jail Free” card.
The Gospel of John
Jesus is crucified, though not animalistically in the text, and he seems to metaphorically reference Pronoia/Barbelo in GosJohn 19:27: “Then he said to the disciple “Here is your Mother [Pronoia?].” Then in an interesting twist: “Jesus knew that all was now finished. He said [in order to fulfill the scripture,] ‘I am thirsty’…. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” This is a fascinating element since at that precise moment, Christ (the Spirit) leaves the earthly body of Jesus (similar to the end of TriProt) just as Christ did not enter Jesus’ body until his baptism (GosJohn 1:32 “And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.’” This phenomenon is also portrayed in The Gospel of Mark (GosMark) 1:10 when “he [John] saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”) Therefore, Christ was not present for the gruesome details post crucifixion such as when his side was pierced by the spears, an act that allegedly fulfilled the scriptures (GosJohn 19:34-36)—just like how Jesus did not encapsulate Christ’s Spirit until his baptism. This close reading of GosJohn is actually similar to many of the Nag Hammadi treatises that have Christ’s Spirit looking on as Jesus is crucified; technically this viewpoint represents the concept of moderate doceticism. Christ’s Spirit is what is ultimately important.
More broadly, per Paul N. Anderson’s work Mark, John, and Answerability: Interfluentiality and Dialectic between the Second and Fourth Gospels, “Independently, John Ashton and I came to the same conclusion that the best way to explain John’s perplexities with a minimal amount of speculation builds on a modification of Barnabas Lindars’ composition theory. A first edition of John appears to have been gathered around 80-85 CE, about a decade after the finalization of Mark. It apparently began with the ministry of John the Baptist (as did Mark) and closed with John 20:31, declaring why the Gospel had been written. John 5 originally flowed into John 7, as the healing of the paralytic on the Sabbath is still being discussed, suggesting the likelihood that John 6 was inserted during a later edition of the Gospel. Likewise, John 15–17 appears to have been inserted in between John 14:31 and 18:1, and this material especially shows signs of being later material gathered around the question of how Christ continues to lead the church through the Holy Spirit. Chapter 21 then appears to have been added by the editor, along with Beloved Disciple motifs and some eyewitness-appeal material.”
He goes on: “Interestingly, the first-edition material contains virtually all the controversy material between Jesus and Jewish leaders (suggesting Jewish-Christian debates within the Johannine situation), and the supplementary material contains most of the incarnational material in John (suggesting debates with Gentile, Docetizing Christians within the Johannine situation). For these and other reasons, John’s tradition should be considered not as diachronic with relation to the sources of its material; but, it indeed appears diachronic intratraditionally, in that an earlier edition seems to be followed by a later and final edition, with the Johannine Epistles produced during the interim. John was likely finalized around 100 CE after the death of the Beloved Disciple, and the editor (plausibly the author of the Johannine Epistles) apparently prepared this work as a manifesto of Jesus’ original intentionality for the church. Rather than inferring a dialectical relationship between the Johannine evangelist and a Mark-like source (whose features had presumably been “de-Markified” and subsequently “re-Johannified”), the more likely inference is that the Johannine tradition itself was engaged in an intertextual dialogue with other Gospel traditions, and in particular, Mark. This dialogue between Johannine and Markan traditions can be plausibly inferred during the oral stages of John’s tradition, and likewise within John’s first edition and supplementary material. Conversely, engagements with John’s tradition may be inferred within the pre-Markan material, and likewise within The Gospel of Mark and its second ending.”
“John’s convergences-with-and-departures-from Mark might not imply either a simplistic dependence or independence between the two traditions, but a more dialectical engagement between them, allowing for John’s overall following of Mark’s project, while setting the record straight here and there correctively and also augmenting Mark in a non-duplicative way. Therefore, if a dialectical history of engagement indeed existed between the Markan and Johannine traditions – including corrective moves as well as complementary ones – John’s pervasive autonomy should not be taken for isolated independence.”
“Both in the Markan-Johannine similarities as well as the Markan-Johannine differences, aspects of interfluentiality and intertextuality may to some degree be inferred.” Essentially, “The relation of John’s tradition to Mark’s was interfluential, augmentive, and corrective…if the Johannine evangelist sought to augment Mark’s narrative, many of the problematic aspects of John’s differences and similarities with Mark cease to be as troubling as they might have otherwise seemed. Whereas Matthew and Luke eventually built upon Mark, John appears to have built around Mark…John’s first edition as the “second gospel” is different from Mark on purpose.” I’ll discuss Mark in much more detail in a later Section. Later, Anderson adds: “The Fourth Gospel was probably 70 years in the making.”
As has been discussed in the scholarly community, there is much similarity between the entire TriProt and the Johannine Prologue, as well as some with the Pronoia Monologue in ApJohn-LR, though it’s not as striking. What is striking is Irenaeus’ statement regarding the notion that Jesus is united to Christ. Did he even read the Fourth Gospel? Furthermore, in order to be inline with what another Pistic (Orthodox) member remarked, he noted that Jesus lived to the age of 50, and he goes on to say that “Clearly the so-called Gnostics did think that Christ appears after his resurrection from the Dead!”
Ultimately, I agree with Karen King of Harvard that ApJohn is effectively Part II of John’s Gospel, and I’d go on to say that TriProt is effectively Part III. ApJohn in some sense is actually key to interpreting the Gospel (think back to the original Greek, “The father of the devil.”) Just like GosJohn can be construed as the most literal of the Orthodox Canon, in its own way ApJohn, and by extension TriProt, is literally (or at least plainly) written though many of the concepts relate to the mythologoumena.
As Dr. Karen King states on pp. 237-238 in her book, The Secret Revelation of John (SecJohn/ApJohn,) “another purpose might be exegetical. The fact that The Secret Revelation to John is framed as the return of Christ to complete his revelation and show the way back to the Divine Realm makes it possible to read it as the completion of Christ’s revelation in The Gospel of John, the fulfillment of his promise to return and show them the way back to the Father. ApJohn is filling in the gaps in Christ’s revelation in GosJohn, offering a fuller narrative of the Divine Realm [Pleroma,] the creation of the world and humanity; the condition of humanity in the world, and salvation. The ascription of the work to John overtly places ApJohn in the tradition of Johannine Christianity and it has the effect of asking readers to interpret GosJohn within the framework of Christ’s revelation.”
I have a number of points to make in this section, but preliminarily I am indebted to the University of Edinburgh’s Larry Hurtado and his extremely thorough work Lord Jesus Christ. Since material on the subject, outside of divine revelation of course, is somewhat scarce, I will be quoting from this text frequently to accentuate my points. I’ll essentially show how this aspect of My Personal Canon is perhaps the most important, and I too will reference GosThom at times, as Dr. Hurtado does in his work.
The underlying premise of this sect is that they believe they have “an anointing from the Holy One (i.e. a spiritual endowment from God and/or the Son,) and that all of them know the truth well enough to recognize error for themselves… their innovative views came through [direct] spiritual revelation.” Such divine inspiration was referred to as Epinoia.
Hurtado notes that Johannine Christianity “was characterized by a strong appreciation for revelations believed to come from the Spirit and probably received through experiences of prophet like inspiration…[thus] the heart of the secessionist crisis [is that] Johannine Christianity was a religious setting in which the Spirit was expected to inspire new insights, leading believers into ‘all truth’ beyond the things the earthly Jesus had said.”
On p. 411, Hurtado states cogently: “My point is that one major factor involved in the specific innovation in belief that is attacked in 1 John (Epistle) and 2 John (Epistle) (however we portray the innovation) was the effect of religious experiences of inspiration [Epinoia.]” He goes on, p. 415: “[the secessionists] likely thought their own revelations validly superseded all previous understanding of Jesus and his significance…in short, they were religious elitists…[and this] justified their departure from the fellowship of the other Johannine believers…apparently they were not evicted.”
The common scholarly view appears to be that “in one way or another they [the Johannine secessionists] emphasized Jesus’ divine nature at the expense of a real human existence [most often supported by] the influence of Greek Philosophy and/or Pagan religious traditions; the secessionists thus become Gentiles whose religious and conceptual background make a real incarnation of a divine being impossible to imagine.”
In an honorable, non-anti-Judaism manner, Dr. Hurtado goes on: p. 419 “[I wish] to propose, however, that they also could have been influenced by Jewish tradition in formulating the sort of christological view that we are considering here. Thus, they easily could have been Jewish Christians as Gentiles.” Then on p. 420-421, “essentially Jewish angelological traditions’ emphasis on God’s transcendence discouraged the thought of God taking human existence or even being subject to ordinary sensory apprehension.”
However, Dr. Hurtado veers to what I believe is more inline with reality with another theoretical scenario: “a significantly different christological stance is taken.” His entire premise is based on Epinoia: on p. 422, he states “the focus of the secessionists was on a radical claim about their own special and direct relationship to God, which perhaps amounted to a mystical participation in divine things that connoted a spiritual status and nature superior to what they attributed to other believers.” Furthermore, “their christological stance may have involved a correlative emphasis on Jesus as an exemplary (but not unique) ‘Son of God’ who basically illustrated and perhaps revealed in his earthly appearance a heavenly provenance and spiritual status, [one that] the secessionists believed that they shared with him. Jesus may have exemplified and declared the special intimacy with God that the secessionists believed they had come to share, but they may have believed that their own status and nature were effectively conveyed or revealed to them individually through mystical experiences of enlightenment.”
“First, the secessionists’ assertions about their spiritual status may have seemed (and may have been intended as) exclusivist and elitist. That is, they may have claimed to know God, abide in God, and walk in divine light in a sense not shared to those outside their charmed inner circle. Secondly, and perhaps as a consequence of such elitist convictions, the secessionists appear to have felt free to treat those fellow believers who demurred at their spiritual claims and correlative revisionist view of Jesus as no longer worthy of their fellowship and fraternal obligation.” I’ll note that this aspect represents a one-hundred and eighty degree departure from that of the Valentinians, who tried (desperately) to incorporate themselves within the Orthodox Church.
Later, he says this innovation in belief is not “purely imaginative, but has certain similarities to the stance reflected in The Gospel of Thomas. [Such common views and linkages] shows that the scenario is by no means implausible.” A serious case could be made that the secessionists either influenced or were the drafters of GosThom, though this would depend upon the timing of when the treatise was written (discussed in The Gospel of Thomas and Dating Its Original Drafting Section.) I’d imagine the secessionists certainly would have loved to have a pseudo-synoptic in their creed, though I do make a case for GosMark’s inclusion in a later Section.
It’s no surprise GosJohn portrays Thomas as doubting, but John is doubting himself in ApJohn. Another possibility, per Misericordia University: “Since there are many of the same sayings in Mark and Thomas, we really have only two explanations to consider. One is that Thomas and Mark are drawing from the same well of tradition, the other is that Mark made use of Thomas.” Regardless, per GosThom Saying 23 Jesus said, “I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one.”
Essentially, the Johannine secessionists “seemed to have believed that they had been given a new and superior insight, whatever that insight actually comprised” (p. 424.) To restate this fundamental premise, GosJohn’s Paraclete (Advocate) is quite similar to ApJohn’s Epinoia, and these aspects of the Holy Spirit could be the foundation of the secessionists’ superior insight. GosThom also expresses this notion differently, right at the very beginning in Sayings 1 & 2:
- And he said, “Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.”
- Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]”
As Dr. Hurtado sums up on p. 425, there was “serious religious crisis in the late First Century.” I would expand upon his ultimate findings and say that many—if not most—of the secessionists strongly valued ApJohn & TriProt. In fact, it’s very possible that the likes of all the works discussed herein were never meant for inclusion into the Orthodox Canon as they might have never allowed for the religion’s propagation. The Christian founders might have kept the pseudo-mystical writings separate from the canon for very real, and very important reasons in their time. Per Karen King’s SecJohn, p. 155: “[Christ] models for the reader the path of spiritual development—from ignorance and doubt to secure knowledge, from disturbance of heart to confidence, from student to teacher.”
Raymond Brown—an American Catholic Priest, a member of the Sulpician Fathers, and a prominent biblical scholar has passed away but was regarded as a specialist concerning the Johannines—added even more insight into the secessionist community in The Legacy of John: Second-Century Reception of the Fourth Gospel, edited by Tuomas Rasimus: he believed they were in the majority. Those who wrote the Epistles and engaged with the other Pistic (Orthodox) churches were in the minority. He believed the Sethians were ultra-high christologically thinking people who completely agreed that the spirit via true baptism was much favored over blood.
In Brown’s book The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times, Phase Three of the development of the Johannines involved “the life-situation in the now-divided Johannine communities at the time the Epistles were written” (A.D. 100?) Brown appeals to 1 John 2:19 to describe the tragic division that occurred between the Gospel and the Epistles, which he explains in this fashion: “the struggle is between two groups of Johannine disciples who are interpreting the Gospel in opposite ways, in matter of christology, ethics, and pneumatology. The fears and pessimism of the author of the Epistles suggest that the secessionists are having the greater numerical success.”
Given these points, I further believe that the secessionists were the drafters of both Apocryphon of John and Trimorphic Protennoia. Therefore, a solid case can be made that the Johannine secessionists represent the same group that scholars traditionally refer to as the Sethians. The apostolic wing of the Johannine Sect most likely brought GosJohn’s christology inline with the more dominant apostolic church, as they emphasized the saving significance of Jesus’ ministry.
The Johannine Epistles were almost certainly written by different authors–and we know those who were attempting to bridge themselves with the other groups that became the Orthodox Church. The Epistles reinterpret (misinterpret?) fundamental tenets left and right found in GosJohn. Again, this most likely explains how and why ApJohn & TriProt came about. And people wonder why the secessionists left! They separated primarily, though not solely, due to a higher christology.
Further support for the Johannine secessionists having been the drafters of the Apocryphon (and TriProt) comes from Alastair Logan in Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, p. 30: “It is the Christian Platonists Saturninus and Basilides of Antioch, with their virulent anti-Judaism, who develop the kind of theogonical and cosmogonical speculations which most resemble those of our Gnostics. However, Tardieu’s allusion to the Fourth Gospel does seem more convincing. Further comparison with Saturninus and Basilides brings out both the common Antiochene milieu and the developing influence of The Gospel of John and the Johannine community with their hostility to Judaism and concern for their Christian identity. Yet it is worth pointing out that the former’s influence is indirect both in the case of Basilides and the Gnostics of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies 1.29 and of the Apocryphon: both subordinate Logos to Nous in their account of the heavenly world, and the secondary character of the influence of the Johannine Prologue is even more obvious in the exegesis of it supplied by the Valentinian Ptolemy.
On the other hand, the continuing influence of John’s Gospel on the myth underlying Irenaeus 1.29 in particular seems to illustrate both certain features of it (e.g. the role of Logos destroying the original ternary scheme, the descriptions of Christ and Autogenes, the Light motif) and of the Apocryphon and related and dependent treatises from Nag Hammadi such as Trimorphic Protennoia. And the concern of the author of the Johannine Epistles with the themes of Christian identity, of chrism and knowledge, of Christ and counterchrists (i.e. the Antichrist,) of the true and false Spirit, uncannily mirrors that of our Gnostics, while Ignatius of Antioch may be including them among those who claim to be Christian but abstain from Catholic rites and believe in Jewish-type fables. Finally, the comparison with the christological and soteriological interests of another Syrian Christian, Tatian, around the mid second century, and his use and exegesis of John’s Gospel, proves instructive. Again central are the problems of cosmology and soteriology: (a) how to understand the relation of God to the world in terms of prevailing mediatory models (e.g. Sophia, Logos, Holy Spirit); and (b) how to understand the problem of salvation–was it by natural endowment or by divine gift?”
It would appear that the Johannine secessionists were the original Gnostics of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies 1.29 & 1.30. They predate the Valentinians, who of course tried quite hard to incorporate themselves into the Orthodox Church such that they caused the entire movement to collapse circa 325CE at the Nicene Council. The secessionists did not care about the Orthodox Church, or at worst they despised it given the forerunners to the Catholics hostilely took over their own Church. Personal Salvation (via Epinoia and/or the Paraclete) was of primary importance to the secessionists—not religious authority.
I believe Irenaeus saw exactly what the Johannines were doing. He explicitly wrote off ApJohn in Against Heresies, but in the same volumes claimed GosJohn was the greatest of all. He might have even sympathized regarding the OT, but ApJohn was over the top, and perhaps truly this secret teaching was never meant for his canon in the first place.
Was ApJohn a pseudo-political work? I do not believe this was the treatise’s primary intention, inline with Harvard’s Karen King’s analysis; however, GosJohn certainly seems to be a pseudo-reinterpretation of the Synoptics (though GosMark supplements GosJohn well.) I wonder if the Orthodox Church Founders even contemplated just GosJohn + GosMark at the Nicene Council, though GosLuke is the most gentile of the lot (even with its countless explicit OT references, similar to GosMatt.) Just like the Sethians, I’m not certain the Johannine secessionists would have cared. Personal salvation was of primary importance to them.
What I can say is that what an interesting book GosJohn is as it spans the spectrum — from Biblical Evangelists to the Orthodoxy to the Valentinians to the Barbeloites/Sethians. Is it possible the Johannine secessionists wanted to rid the canon of the OT, GosLuke & GosMatt, and the Pauline Letters? Did they want the secret teaching found in GosThom & TriProt included in their own personal canons? After all, it was not known that the likes of ApJohn would be burned along with all the other treatises the Orthodox Church deemed heretical, when Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria sent out his infamous Easter Letter (the Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter of 367) that listed the only twenty-seven works that constituted the New Testament portion of the Orthodox Canon (twenty-two books comprised the Old Testament.)
It’s rather ironic that he was exiled (even excommunicated) from the Orthodox Church itself five times! Evidently Roman/Byzantine Emperor Constantine even said to him the next year: “Since you know my will, grant free admission to all those who wish to enter the church. For if I hear that you have hindered anyone from becoming a member, or have debarred anyone from entrance, I shall immediately send someone to have you deposed at my behest and have you sent into exile.” Athanasius caused this horrific history.
It is interesting too that Jesus’ time was about a generation after the murder of Julius Caesar when he was stabbed to death by the Senators. Jesus could represent the divine balance of the scales on a grand scale in that he too was crucified, and this action could very well represent a sense of the concept of Redemption. Some of the very Johannine secessionists could have been inline with some of the Caesars, and they were most likely not at all inline with the likes of The Orthodox Church leaders Epiphanius or Tertullian–and certainly not Irenaeus.
As Harvard’s Dr. Karen King states on p. 160 of The Secret Revelation of John, “Perhaps surprisingly the Secret Revelation of John evinces a strong commitment to the ideals of Greek and Roman political theory, showing more clearly its portrait of the Divine Realm. In portraying evil as overturned hierarchy, the Secret Revelation of John is not rebelling against the values of its day but affirming them in the strongest terms.”
In a very real way, Constantine’s conversion of the Roman/Byzantine Empire to Christianity was Providence in action, a move that was officially enacted by Theodosius I. The Pachomian Monks knew quite well what they were doing in burying the extremely important treatises to save them over time. They were that important as they represent the primary tenets of Original Christianity. It’s not surprising that we discovered them after WWII. It’s now up to us to piece this puzzle together.
As ApJohn says in the Long Redaction, the Pronoia Monologue, and notice how similar this Verse is to TriProt:
“Still for a third time I went — I am the Light which exists in the Light, I am the remembrance of 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; I am the thinking of the virginal Spirit, who raised you up to be honored [in this] place. 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 and the demons of chaos and all those who ensnare you, and beware of the deep sleep and the enclosure inside of Hades.”
Collection of Johannine Secessionist Verses in GosJohn
- 2:13-22 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “The temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of the body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
- 3:3-10 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind [note: the original greek for wind, pneuma, can also be translated as Spirit and/or breath] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?”
- [Note 1: from an intertextual/exegetical perspective, the following set of Verses from another Nag Hammadi treatise is quite Johannine in its structure and content, adhering to the from below / from above theme as well as being born of the Spirit:
- The Hypostasis of the Archons 87 “As incorruptibility looked down into the region of the waters, her image appeared in the waters; and the authorities of the darkness became enamored of her. But they could not lay hold of that image, which had appeared to them in the waters, because of their weakness — since beings that merely possess a soul cannot lay hold of those that possess a Spirit–for they were from below, while it was from above.”]
- [Note 2: Right at the very beginning, Christ seems to take issue with the OT.]
- [Note 1: from an intertextual/exegetical perspective, the following set of Verses from another Nag Hammadi treatise is quite Johannine in its structure and content, adhering to the from below / from above theme as well as being born of the Spirit:
- 3:17-21 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe in him are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come in the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come into the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
- [Note: compare 3:17-21 with ApJohn’s Spirit of Light and Autogenes process. These Verses are also inline with GosJohn’s Prologue and TriProt.]
- 3:25-30 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to him and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
- 3:31-36 The One Who Comes from Heaven — The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
- 4:7-15 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you the living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to drink water.”
- 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
- [Note: Per The Hypostasis of the Archons 91: Moreover, they threw mankind into great distraction and into a life of toil, so that mankind might be occupied by worldly affairs, and might not have the opportunity of being devoted to the Holy Spirit.]
- 4:31-34 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely, no one has brought him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to complete his work.”
- [Note: this set of Verses is completely inline with the Johannine secessionists who were either moderate or full docetics.]
- 5:19 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.”
- 5:24-25 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
- 5:31-38 “If I testify myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. You have sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form [allusion to ApJohn’s & TriProt’s Armozel,] and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.”
- 5:39-47 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed in Moses, you would believe in me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
- [Note: quite possibly this set of Verses represents not only a negative statement about those Christ is addressing, but a quasi-negative statement regarding the material in the Old Testament.]
- 6:27-34 “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal” [note the allusion to TriProt’s and ApJohn’s Five Seals.] Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, ” Very truly I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it was my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven [Note: possibly yet another critique of the Old Testament.] For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
- 6:60-63 “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is useless. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.’”
- [Note how secessionist this Verse is!]
- 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.”
- [Note: this Verse is interesting as it opens the door to two diametrically different views on how the Johannine secessionists respond to this world: either complete asceticism or complete hedonism. Of course the lines can get blurred and they are not necessarily absolutes. You might raise your eyebrow regarding the reference to hedonism. Ask yourself, if this place is not redeeming, which it is not, why bother caring? Live it out. As previously mentioned regarding ApJohn: “They are not affected by anything except the state of being in the flesh alone, which they bear while looking expectantly for the time when they will be met by the receivers (of the body). Such then are worthy of the imperishable, eternal life and the calling.” Of course, the ascetics would counter with the preceding lines: “Those on whom the Spirit of life will descend and (with whom) he will be with the power, they 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. Then they have no other care than the incorruption alone, to which they direct their attention from here on, without anger or envy or jealousy or desire and greed of anything.” However, if just about everything in this world essentially represents evil works, how does one discriminate? It’s possible that through such hedonism, one actually goes through the motions of figuring out good v. evil. Thus it’s a process. Don’t try to rush it. However, through the Christ event, and per much of GosTruth, I would not flaunt it if Knowledge has been acquired (see also GosPhil 77.) Recall, a member of the Immovable Race represents the Holy Spirit. The jury is out, and this discussion can get circuitous, as if you adhere to complete asceticism, you might not learn to discriminate. Or you might discriminate to your detriment and develop an unacceptable level of arrogance. Which falls back to hedonism, since if this world is essentially a mistake due to Sophia’s transgression, and this particular Verse in GosJohn says that its works are evil, who cares? Thus, don’t be too hard on yourself, yet don’t take advantage too much. However, I will add that there are certain activities in life that can affect your neurotransmitters– and dopamine in particular. Releasing a bit can at times be advantageous in order to get your creative juices flowing. On the other hand, releasing too much can cause a certain level of apathy, if not depression. You know the archons are aware of this phenomenon. At the baseline, however, much of this discussion is addressed more extensively in Verses of GosPhil, a later Section. However, I’ll restate it again–it’s a process. Do what you can, and the Holy Spirit via Epinoia should let you know how to proceed. The key is stated in GosThom, I shall choose you 1/1000, 2/10000. That’s the starting point, and this Saying clearly represents ApJohn’s Autogenes/Spirit of Light process. Thus in summary, I’d call myself a moderate ascetic as well as a moderate hedonist. It depends on my mood; I happen to be a Pisces III: https://healtheamerica.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/the-week-of-dancers-and-dreamers/ In fact, actually the 17th, or St. Patrick’s Day: https://www.mindfulnessandjustice.org/angel-number-17-meaning/ Recall that Universal Energy does exist in this aeon. You can thank Yaltabaoth and the Archons for that. Which leads back to Sophia. For the record, one of the questions I posed early on in this work has been sufficiently addressed such that I find Sophia accountable. This malfunction was hardly preordained, and it by no means represents Father’s Forethought. Hence she’ll eternally be stuck in the Ninth, and this leads to the Direct Revelations found at the end of this work. In fact, it’s hard to not see how the emanation did not fall within the bounds of apostasy.]
- 7:15-18, “The Jews were astonished at it, saying ‘How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?’ Then Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know if the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.’”
- 7:25-31 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching at the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
- [Note: compare with GosMark 6:1-6]
- 7:32-36 Jesus then said, “Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go to him who sent me. You will seek me and will not find me, and where I am you cannot come. The Jews therefore said among themselves, “Where is he going that we shall not find him? Will he go to those dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? [Note: further explored in The Gospel of Mark Sections.] What is this statement that he has made, ‘You will seek me and will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?”
- [Note: further explored later in this gospel, particularly in Verses 8:21-30.]
- 7:37-39 Rivers of Living Water — On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
- [Note: the previous Chapter/Verse is tricky, as we know from the three treatises–GosJohn, ApJohn, and TriProt–that Christ actually predates this aeon. However, my read on that is that Jesus was the first to make Christ’s Spirit, and Hypostasis per ApJohn & TriProt, known. Jesus’ resurrection has not yet occurred, however. Again, per Harvard’s Karen King ApJohn can be viewed as Christ’s return to show the way back to the Pleroma, and I further extend this line of reasoning to TriProt.]
- 7:40-44 Some of the crowd, therefore, when they had heard these words, said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” Some, however, said “Can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that it is of the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David lived, that the Christ is to come?” So there arose a division among the crowd because of him. And some of them wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him.
- [Note: see the discussion in the More Honing of the Canon Section regarding how and why GosMatt and GosLuke both incorrectly state that Jesus was from Bethlehem, not Galilee, along with the rest of their exhaustive and irrelevant genealogies.]
- 7:45-53 The attendants therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees; and these said to them, “Why have you not brought him?” The attendants answered, “Never has man spoken as this man.” The Pharisees then answered them, “Have you also been led astray? Has any one of the rulers believed in him, or any of the Pharisees? But this crowd, which does not know the Law, is accursed.” Nicodemus, he who had come to him at night, who was one of them, said to them, “Does our Law judge a man unless it first give him a hearing, and know what he does?” They answered and said to him, “Art thou also a Galilean? Search the Scriptures and see that out of Galilee arises no prophet.” And they returned each one to his own house.
- 8:1-9 [Note: In this set of Verses, Christ overtly defies the law of the OT, quite unlike The Gospel of Matthew. In fact, it is diametrically opposed.] But Jesus went on to the Mount of Olives. And at daybreak he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and sitting down he began to teach them. Now the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and setting her in the midst, said to him, “Master, this woman has just now been caught in adultery. And in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such persons. What, therefore, dost thou say?” Now they were saying this to test him, in order that they might be able to accuse him. But Jesus, stooping down, began to write with his finger on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he raised himself and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And again stooping down, he began to write on the ground. But hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus remained alone, with the woman in the midst. She is Admonished to Sin No More And Jesus, raising himself, said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned thee?” She said, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus said, “Neither will I condemn thee. Go thy way, and from now on sin no more.”
- 8:12-19 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” [Note the extraordinary similarity with GosThom.] Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who has sent me testifies on my behalf.” Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
- 8:21-30 Again he said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come?’” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak with you at all?” I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father has instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
- 8:31-38 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free?’” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever [Note: allusion to the TriProt or vice-versa.] So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place for you in my world. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
- 8:39-43 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children, we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he who sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.”
- 8:44-47 [Note: incorporating Rice University’s Chair of the Department of Religion April DeConick’s translation of the original Greek:] “You are from the father of the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”
- 8:48-50 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge.”
- 8:51-59 “Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know you that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am” [Note: inline with Christ in the Johannine Prologue, Apocryphon of John, and Trimorphic Protennoia.] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
- 9:1-12 A Man Born Blind Receives Sight — As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent.) Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
- 9:13-34 The Pharisees Investigate the Healing — They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath. But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they went again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore, his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and you are trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
- 9:35-41 Spiritual Blindness — Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
- 10:28-29 “No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
- 10:34-36 Jesus answered, “It is not written in your own law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ — and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?’”
- 11:7-15 Then after this he said to the disciples,”Let us go up to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and you are going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of the world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” [Note: again, notice the similarity to GosThom’s Light Theme.] After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go up to him.”
- [Note: the end is strikingly similar to GosMark, which we’ll explore in depth in a later Section, where Jesus must emphatically tell the disciples what is going on literally, since they might not understand due to their respective dispositions.]
- 11:38-44 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, this sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
- 11:45-50 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Calaphas who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people that to have the whole nation destroyed.”
- 12:25 “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world keep it for eternal life.”
- [Note how Johannine secessionist this Verse is!]
- 12:27-37 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘Father save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the Ruler of this world will be driven out [Note the allusion to ApJohn, TriProt, and The Hypostasis of the Archons.] And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.”
- [Note: the theme of light and dark is starkly referenced in this set of Verses, again similar to GosThom.]
- 12:42-43 Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees, they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.
- 12:44-47 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
- [Note: once again, it is impossible not to see the relation of this set of Verses with GosThom.]
- 13:18-20 “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
- 14:5-7 “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth of life. No one comes to the Father except through me [Note: the Autogenes process.] If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’”
- 14:20-21 “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them [Note: again, the Autogenes process.]”
- 14:28 “You have heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is Greater than I.”
- [Note: inline with ApJohn — “He begot a spark of light with a light resembling blessedness. But it does not equal his greatness.”]
- 15:15-17 “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go bear fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
- 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”
- 16:8-11 “And when he [the Paraclete/Advocate] comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment; about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the Ruler of this world has been condemned.”
- [Note: To give readers more insight into what ApJohn’s & TriProt’s Epinoia actually is, it’s quite similar to the Paraclete (Advocate in modern versions of the Bible) in The Gospel According to John. Both are aspects of the Holy Spirit, and both serve to teach post Christ’s incarnation. Epinoia does imply Direct Spiritual Revelation, though this could be equated with Divine Insight.]
- 17:4-10 “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I come from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.”
- [Note 1: Note the incredible allusion to ApJohn — “that I had in your presence before the world existed.”]
- [Note 2: This set of Verses also seems to be an allusion to TriProt, or vice-versa: “I hid myself within them all until I revealed myself among my members, which are mine, and I taught them about the ineffable ordinances, and (about) the brethren. But they are inexpressible to every Sovereignty and every ruling Power, except the Sons of the Light alone.”]
- 17:14-19 “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from evil. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
- 17:21-23 [Note: perhaps the single most important set of Verses in the entire Gospel:] “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory you have given to me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
- 17:24-25 “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
- [Note 1: this set of Verses has an incredibly strong exegetical relationship with the end of the TriProt, as previously mentioned in GosJohn 17:4-10.]
- [Note 2: this set of Verses also has an incredibly tight relationship with the Johannine Prologue from the beginning of the Gospel, discussed in more detail in the next Section.]
As cited, and I believe this line is noteworthy, Christ appears to be fed-up with non-believers: 8:25 “They said ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all?’”
The Johannine Prologue
In the Prologue it is stated, “But to all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” Christ and the Father are one, though the Prologue explicitly states that he gave the power to become the children of God. Perhaps ApJohn’s Autogenes, again guided by Christ, could represent the Father’s Spirit of Light descending upon the Immovable Race. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to be mutually exclusive that only Christ and the Father are one, but this could be the model. Excerpts from The Gospel of John’s Prologue, often referred to as tightly linked with Trimorphic Protennoia, and vice-versa:
- 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
- [Note: per Rudolf Steiner during a lecture on The Gospel of John, “If we consider the first verse [of the Johannine Prologue]: ‘In the Beginning was the Word–Logos…’ we could picture the situation by using the following analogy. Before we utter it, the Word lives in us as thought. When it is uttered, waves are created in the air around us. If we think of some process in which these waves are frozen, we would see words drop to the ground as forms and configurations. We would see the creative power of the Word with our own eyes.”]
- 1:3-4 “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”
- [Note: all things originate with the true Father, who is the Light of all people. What incredible similarity with GosThom.]
- 1:5-9 [Note: omitting the later additions of v. 6-8:] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”
- [Note the continuation of the Light theme, as stressed in ApJohn & GosThom.]
- 1:10-13 “Yet the world does not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to be children of God, who were born, not of blood or the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God.”
- [Note the strong reference to the Autogenes process/Spirit of Light. Notice how Johannine secessionist this set of Verses is.]
- 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
- [Note: this Verse theoretically could have been a later addition to attempt to ward off the docetics in the far left wing of the Johannine school. However, doceticism does not necessarily denigrate the body, but it exalts the Spirit, Christ in this case. Furthermore, if it was not a later addition as many scholars believe, moderate docesticism allows for Christ’s Spirit to enter Jesus’ body at his baptism, per the analysis in The Gospel of John Section, of course also referenced in GosMark, thereby affirming the veracity of this set of Verses since Christ was in the flesh through Jesus.]
- 1:15-18 “John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [Note the stark differentiation between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, elsewhere Jesus refers to how useless man’s laws are, further negating the value of the Old Testament.] No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
Allusion is not made to Genesis as some have believed. According to Rudolf Bultmann, a German Lutheran theologian and professor of the New Testament at the University of Marburg:
- “In the OT the Word of God is his Word of power, which in being uttered, is active as event. God’s word is God’s deed, and his deed is his word; that is, he acts through his word, and he speaks in his action, and it is man whom he addresses. His word is 1) his sovereign rule in nature and history, in so far as it is comprehensible to man and ‘speaks’ to him, that is demands something of him; and in truth it demands, in the first place, that he become aware of his humanity before God the Creator, place his trust in God as Creator, and praise him. God’s Word in nature and history is not therefore the essence of a system of cosmic laws, such as the Stoic Logos–the meaning of which can be understood by itself, and which serves as a principle for comprehending the unity of the cosmic process. God’s Word is 2) his authoritative command, uttered by men (priests and prophets) to men, telling man what he should do. Here again is it not the essence of ethical demands, to be understood rationally in the light of a principle as a uniform law of morality. In both cases God’s Word is not the essence of something that has timeless significance, but is address, which takes place; it is a temporal event, and as such the revelation of God as Creator and Lord.”
- “John 1:1 cannot therefore be understood on the basis of the OT: for the [Word] here is not an event recurring within the temporal world, but is eternal being, existent with God from the very beginning. This being so, the only thing that could be designated simply his “Word” would be God’s revelatory will, in so far as it stands behind, and works in, all the individual “words” of God. Even if our view of the Gospel as a whole could corroborate this interpretation, what remains inexplicable in terms of the OT, is the fact that the Prologue does not refer to “the Word of God,” but speaks simply of the Word; it takes the proper name or title [of Word] as given.”
- “The OT motifs are not present in the Prologue, or elsewhere in the Gospel. And there is the related fact, that the idea of the election of the nation, and the covenant of God with it, does not occur at all either, and nowhere in the Gospel does the Israelite-Jewish nation appear to be raised decisively above the rest of the world.”
Additionally, GosThom’s message might be implicit, possibly with ApJohn in mind, as regards the drafting of GosJohn. Scholars are unclear themselves as to the original drafting of GosThom. Some date it back to pre-Mark (thus ~CE40,) and others date it to sometime in the second century CE. Reference The Gospel of Thomas and Dating Its Original Drafting Section for more information. GosPhil too espouses such belief with its diction “become a christ” (though it’s a later work.) Recall the Illuminators and their Aeons—Christ’s, Seth’s, and the “Seed of Seth’s” in that it establishes this hierarchy and leads to the Aeons, however that manifests. I still choose to solely focus, however, on the Barbeloite half of the Sethian equation, and I believe the Illuminators work in a horizontal fashion irrespective of Seth.
Sethian Without the Sethite Component
As the University of Exeter’s Dr. Alastair Logan states on p. 100 of Gnostic Truth & Christian Heresy, “Thus Shenke and those such as Colpe, Poirier, and Tardieu, who accept this ‘Sethian’ corpus and the existence, if not a system, yet of certain fixed mythologoumena such as the concepts of Seth and his seed, base their case very largely on the interpretation of the four Illuminators as representing horizontal divisions of the world year, and thus abodes as of, in turn, heavenly Adamas, Seth, his seed and the historical Sethians. But in light of our demonstration of the secondary character of this Sethian material and of the primary character of the Illuminators of the Barbelognostic myth as angelic revealer/redeemer figures, not spatio-temporal Aeons, this interpretation is flawed and unconvincing.” Hence I believe the Illuminators apply solely to the Immovable Race and work in a horizontal fashion, irrespective of the spatio-temporal. Pétrement goes off in a Valentinian direction, somewhat astonishing given ApJohn is Sethian, if not Johannine—and in no way Valentinian.
More Honing of the Canon
One could make a case that the Synoptics are good for Orthodox Christians. However, I do make special claim to GosMark as it is the earliest and most mystical of the lot with very few explicit OT allusions (and there allegedly is a Secret Gospel of Mark floating around, not yet discovered, at least according to Clement of Alexandria.) GosMatt and GosLuke certainly rely on the OT for much of their support (perhaps inline with Justin Martyr’s belief that the history should be interwoven.) The two tie Jesus’ birth to OT scripture, that he was born in Bethlehem; GosMark and GosJohn do not!
Mark, like John, has Jesus born in Galilee. Matthew and Luke tie it to OT prophesy. I believe they were completely incorrect. GosMatt overtly has Jesus born in Bethlehem; GosLuke has Mary & Joseph from Galilee but temporarily in Bethlehem for the census, during which time Jesus’ birth took place. As we know, Christ’s Spirit did not enter Jesus until his baptism, making this whole escapade superfluous.
Per Rudolf Steiner’s First Lecture from True Knowledge of the Christ: Theosophy & Rosicrucianism — The Gospel of John, this excerpt really rings loudly: “As our theologians are also materialistically minded, the three Gospels of the three Synoptists suit them better [that is Mark, Matthew, and Luke,] for with them, materialistic exegesis is permissible. It goes against the grain in materialistic thinking [which he discusses is pervasive in today’s society] to accept a Spirit that is vastly superior to all humanity. It is more to their taste to see Jesus of Nazareth as a noble individual, the ‘simple man’ from Nazareth. In The Gospel of John it is quite impermissible to see in Jesus only the principles which are also to be found in any other human being. The soul of the Christ in the body of Jesus is something completely different. The Gospel of John shows us the Christ not only as an outstanding human being but also as a Spirit that embraces the whole earth.”
Furthermore, for Orthodox Christians, ApJohn would be a redaction of the OT and not an omission, if it would even be relevant or appropriate. In fact, one could see a case that ApJohn was a heterodox positioning paper to those of other religions, though I do not believe this aspect defines the primary purpose of this treatise—that would be unification with Christ and the Father in the Pleroma via the Autogenes / Spirit of Light process. The reality is that Christ’s Father is so much better than Yaltabaoth, and by monumental proportions. However, the Christian Orthodoxy (led by those the Valentinians referred to as Sophia’s psychics) chose to keep Yaltabaoth around by including the Old Testament in the Canon—with multiple explicit references to the Hebrew Bible found in GosLuke and GosMatt.
Final on My Personal Canon – The Protennoia Johannine Secessionist Canon
Core: [Note: the essential Core consists of TriProt, ApJohn, and GosJohn, in that order:]
- TriProt — perhaps the most powerful work
- The Sethian Neoplatonic treatises Allogenes, Marsanès, and Zostrianos
- GosTruth, particularly as related with ApJohn & TriProt
- A view on GosEgypt
- The Hypostasis of the Archons & On the Origin of the World
Footnotes not to be covered:
- The Old Testament
- The Pauline Letters
- The Johannine Epistles
- The Valentinian rewrites of the Sethian material in The Nag Hammadi Library as well as the Pistis Sophia
- Note I: GosMark effectively bridges GosThom (one could call this work a Synoptic given many of its sayings, though there are many others that are much more mystical, and it does not discuss the crucifixion) with GosJohn. Those key sayings that are included in GosMatt and GosLuke are, for the most part, picked up by GosThom & GosMark. In fact, there is some nice overlap between GosMark & GosThom, just as there is similarity between GosMark & GosJohn.
- Note II: It gets technical, as recently I demoted GosMatt & GosLuke to Footnotes because of their reliance on OT texts with their exhaustive genealogies, incorrect facts such as Jesus being born in Bethlehem in order to tie themselves to OT prophesy (GosMark & GosJohn have him born in Galilee,) etc. The Johannine Epistles are footnotes as well as they were not written by the same author(s) of GosJohn, and they actually mix up facts routinely from the original Gospel. In fact they were most likely written to refute some of what GosJohn overtly states in its text. They too were attempts to ward off the secessionists, which of course I am. The discourse presented in the Honing the True Canon Section extensively discusses why the Pauline works are not to be covered, and a good portion of this work discusses why the Valentinian treatises also are not to be included. Keep in mind that the Valentinians had a link to Paul via his disciple Theudas, thereby shedding some light on how they’re related.
- Note III: I’ve recently promoted GosTruth to the Core. Support comes from Dr. Larry Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ, pp. 543-544: “As a further expression of this emphasis on Jesus as revealer, in Gos. Truth “the Savior” is also the “Word” (16:34,) the expression of “the hidden mystery, Jesus, the Christ” (18:15-16,) who enlightened those who were in darkness” and showed them “a way,” which is “the truth which he taught them” (18:17-23.) This Word reveals the Father’s thought, and was the “first to come forth” according the the Father’s will (37:5-19.) The Word reveals that the Father knows the origin and end of the elect, and this end is “receiving knowledge about the one who is hidden, and this is the Father,” from where the beginning came and “to whom all will return who have come forth from him” (37:35-38.5.) The echoes of The Gospel of John are obvious.”
I will also quickly mention that it’s rather interesting: if one reads one of the Synoptics (inclusive of GosThom, but exclusive of GosMark) it’s almost as if Jesus’ vernacular peers through in a certain form throughout each treatise, whereas when one reads GosJohn, ApJohn, or TriProt (as well as GosMark — the earliest,) it seems like another form due to the artistic portrayal of the verbiage, perhaps the Spirit’s (Christ’s if not the Father’s–if not the Holy Spirit’s) dialect. At least in theory, GosMark is considered to be one of the Synoptics, so this aspect does remain a mystery to me. Potentially, Mark’s author could have read the same source material and changed the verbiage according to direction given to him by the Holy Spirit (in this case Epinoia.) Of course, Mark was the first irrespective. Furthermore, there is yet another possibility: perhaps Jesus’ vernacular appears in GosThom, GosMatt, and GosLuke, whereas it’s Christ’s in GosJohn, GosMark, ApJohn, and TriProt — if not Father’s himself.
GosMark was most likely written for the Gentiles, and the writers believed they did not have to keep the Jewish law. Richard Bauckman, senior scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, states in The Johannine Jesus and the Synoptic Jesus: “The extent to which John presupposes traditions about Jesus which he does not record is not often noticed. Whether the evangelist’s intention was in some sense to complement one or more of the Synoptic Gospels is not important for our present purposes, though there is quite a strong case to be made for the view that he presupposes his readers know Mark.”
Furthermore, he states: “The explanation for the oft-remarked absence of the term ‘kingdom of God’ from John (only in 3:3, 5), by comparison with its prominence as the central theme of Jesus’ message in the Synoptics, is that ‘eternal life’ or ‘life’ is the Johannine substitute for it.” However, the verbiage in both GosJohn & GosMark is quite similar and written in the same vein. This discussion is further explored in Paul N. Anderson’s Mark, John, and Answerability: Interfluentiality and Dialectic between the Second and Fourth Gospels. In the Orthodox Canon, Mark is the Second Gospel, not the First. John is of course the Fourth. Anderson refers to Mark and John as the Bi-Optic Gospels, thus not the three Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) against John.
Additionally, the late Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh had this to say on his blog: “Scholarly readers of the Gospel of Mark have long noted the conspicuous presence of non-Greek terms and phrases. A forthcoming article sets the analysis of the phenomena on a more sophisticated level: Alfredo Delgado Gomez, “Get Up! Be Opened!: Code-switching and loanwords in the Gospel of Mark,” forthcoming (2020) in Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Scholars have often explored whether the use of such non-Greek words and phrases was indicative of the provenance (or destination) of the GMark. For example, the Latin words have led some to propose a Latin-speaking setting/destination. Others, pointing to the greater frequency of Hebrew and Aramaic terms have argued for an “Eastern” setting in Palestine or Syria. To my knowledge, Delgado Gomez’s article in the first study to address the wider phenomenon of what are called in linguistics “loanwords”, whether Latin, Hebrew, or Aramaic. And he does so bringing to bear principles and insights from social linguistics. After setting out those principles and insights, he then surveys sequentially the use of Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic loanwords and phrases. And he explores cogently how these items would have influenced early readers. For example, the Aramaic loanwords/phrases are largely on the lips of Jesus. This, Delgado Gomez proposes, would have given to the character of Jesus in the GMark what we might call “local color”, and gave readers a sense of hearing occasional words of Jesus in his own language.”
As I state below more directly regarding Chapter 13, the author of Mark seems to have intentionally left most OT allusions dangling (i.e. not explicit) in order for them to be interpreted according to the reader’s teaching or disposition. In a sense, the non-referenced passages, of which there are many, could be perceived as overwrites or omissions of the original texts of the OT in the spirit of Christ’s New Covenant. In fact, in some of the Verses, this new teaching seems to either represent something quite different, often with a new spin (1:21-27, 2:5-12, 2:18-22, 6:1-6, 13:11, 13:14-17, 13:28-31, 13:32-37, 14:32-41, 15:34-39,) or admonish some of the old teachings (3:3-5, 4:13-20, 7:9-13, 12:1-11, 12:18-27, 12:35-38, 14:59-65.)
Again, Mark was theoretically written first (GosThom could have been written beforehand.) Furthermore, the potential exists that Mark relied on GosThom as discussed previously in the Johannine Secessionists and Final on My Personal Canon Sections. Mark leaves out almost all the explicit OT references that GosMatt & GosLuke emphatically add back (again, in order to be inline with Justin Martyr’s belief that the OT’s & NT’s history should be intertwined.)
I believe Mark sees this notion differently, just as the Johannine School has very few references to the OT in GosJohn, let alone ApJohn & TriProt. Ironically, of the treatises being discussed here, ApJohn appears to have explicitly referenced the OT the most in order to make the case that its inclusion in the Canon was at best superfluous, particularly given how wrong parts of the Hebrew Bible actually were to the drafters! This approach could be construed to demonstrate the correctness of Christ’s new teaching to understand God—the true Father as described in ApJohn & TriProt. Jesus might acknowledge the correctness of some of the teaching in the OT, overwhelmingly not correctly followed by Israel at the time, but Christ’s New Covenant (from the Father) is what Mark is all about to me.
As we’ll see at the end of the next section, it is quite possible that there were effectively two missions being accomplished simultaneously, one representing Christ’s and Father’s, the other representing the fulfillment of OT prophesy. You really have to carve out the salient Verses in GosMark as I do believe this book was written with the two entirely different audiences in mind. Note the similarity of this reasoning with the end of the TriProt:
- “I was dwelling in them in the form of each one. The Archons thought that I was their Christ. Indeed, I dwell in everyone. Indeed, within those in whom I revealed myself as Light, I eluded the Archons. I am their beloved, for in that place I clothed myself as the son of the Archgenitor, and I was like him until the end of his decree, which is the ignorance of Chaos. And among the angels I revealed myself in their likeness, and among the Powers, as if I were one of them; but among the Sons of Man, as if I were a Son of Man, even though I am Father of everyone.”
- “As for me, I put on Jesus. I bore him from the cursed wood, and established him in the dwelling places of his Father. And those who watch over their dwelling places did not recognize me. For I, I am unrestrainable, together with my seed; and my seed, which is mine, I shall place into the holy Light within an incomprehensible Silence. Amen.”
GosMark & GosJohn are quite similar on several points. Many people get caught up on genealogy and other elements of history, but it’s right before our eyes. GosMatt & GosLuke get so caught up on their respective points regarding tying the Old Testament to the New Testament that Christ’s New Covenant gets lost in the translation. Just by reading sections of GosJohn and GosMark, it’s clear how much Christ admonishes the teachings of the Old Testament.
- 1:1 The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
- 1-6-8 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and unite the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [Note: the Autogenes process is referenced right at the very beginning.]
- 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens town apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
- [Note: Per The Gospel of John Section, this represents when Christ’s Spirit descends upon Jesus.]
- 1:12-13 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
- [Note: Unlike GosMatt & GosLuke, the encounter with Satan is mentioned very briefly, and the entire scene does not appear in GosJohn at all.]
- 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
- 1:16-20 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat, mending their nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
- [Note: Peter (Simon,) and John are two of the four first apostles, and as we know they are perhaps two of the most important. Theoretically, Mark is of Peter’s School and was written in Rome, and John is at least symbolically the leader of the Johannine School.]
- 1:21-27 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
- [Note: Even the unclean spirit knew that Christ is the Holy One of God (The Father.)]
- 1:35-39 A Preaching Tour in Galilee — In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim my message there also; for it is what I came out to do.” And he went through Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
- 1:40-45 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean! Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but show yourself to the priest, and offer your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” [A seemingly trite, sarcastic reference to the Old Testament.] But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country, and people came to him from every quarter.
- [Note: Jesus seems to associate Moses with the priest referenced — and “them” seems to allude to either the Sadducees or the Pharisees of the time, inline with GosJohn.]
- 2:5-12 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive but God alone?” At once, Jesus perceived in his spirit [Christ] that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk?’ But so you know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins–he said to the paralytic–“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
- [Note: This set of Verses is very similar to GosJohn, and it comes the closest to equating The Son of Man with the Johannine Prologue: “God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart.”]
- 2:18-22 The Question about Fasting — Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him. “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and they will fast on that day.” “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine in old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
- [Note 1: what a set of Verses! Christ seems to explicitly state that his teaching is new right here. This section implies an overwrite (of the Old Testament.) Compare with GosThom Saying 47.]
- [Note 2: J. D. Crossan writes: “From the combination of Mark and Thomas there arises the strong possibility that this double aphorism was originally a double-diptych or quadruple-stich aphorism with each diptych in reversed parallelism (abb’a’). This must be considered not only for Gos. Thom. 47b(2) on wine (Turner and Montefiore: 65; and see especially Nagel), but for both Gos. Thom. 47b(2 and 3) on wine and on cloth (Quispel, 1957:194-195). Thus the double diptych involved (a) a combination of two metaphors: cloth-patching and wine-storing; (b) with a different set of categories for each; (c) in chiastic arrangement: unshrunk/shrunk//shrunk/unshrunk and new/old//old/new. Two processes worked upon the original structure: (d) an internal process whereby the new/old categories eventually prevailed over the unshrunk/shrunk, and (e) an external process that found it appropriate to retain the new/old aspect but not the old/new side of each diptych. Finally, (f) the internal process has changed Thomas even more than Mark (where ‘unshrunk’ is still present), but the external process, with its concern for Jesus as the new, has changed Mark and Luke much more than Thomas (where ‘old/new’ is twice present). The only vestiges of old/new still visible in Mark or Luke is its residue within that concluding and unnecessary comment about ‘new win/new wineskins.’ But here, of course, old/new has become new/new.” (From Fragments, pp. 125-126)]
- 2:27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even on the sabbath.”
- 3:3-5 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
- 3:7-12 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
- [Note: So much for GosJohn solely equating Christ with God! Let‘s too not forget about GosThom Saying 77. Even Luke and Matthew do during Satan’s temptation. Again, Mark completely abbreviates this encounter, and it’s the first, and John does not even mention the scene.]
- 3:19-30 Jesus and Beelzebul — Then he went home; and crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed, the house can be plundered.
Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
- [Note: what an extremely powerful set of Verses! Compare with GosThom Sayings 10, 16, and 44.]
- 3:31-35 The True Kindred of Jesus — Then his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him “your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
- 4:3-9 The Parable of the Sower — “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and at it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell onto good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
- [Compare with GosThom Saying 9]
- 4:10-11 The Purpose of the Parables — When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables.”
- [Note: GosMark alludes to secret teaching in one form or another. Then in describing the sower parable, notice the Johannine-like verbiage in the next set of Verses.]
- 4:13-20 And he said to them, Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the Word. These are the own who are on the path where the seed is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the Word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground; when they hear the Word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure for a while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the Word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones on the good soil: they hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
- [Compare with GosThom Saying 9]
- 4:21-25 The Lamp under a Bushel Basket — He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given to you. For those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
- [Compare with GosThom Sayings 24 and 33, not to mention RevJohn 2]
- 4:26-29 The Parable of the Growing Seed — He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
- 4:30-32 The Parable of the Mustard Seed — He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
- [Compare with GosThom Saying 20]
- 5:6-7 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
- [Note: Most High God implies the true Father, not Yaltabaoth, from ApJohn & the TriProt.]
- 6:1-6 The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth — He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could not do deeds of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
- [Note: Christ’s wisdom is clearly of this new teaching, which again represents an overwrite of existing beliefs based on the OT in my opinion, and it is quite powerful! Compare with GosJohn 7:15-18 and 7:25-31]
- 7:9-13 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells mother or father, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
- [Note: Christ admonishes the Hebrew/OT customs in this section quite succinctly.]
- 7:14-16 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
- [Compare with GosThom Saying 14]
- 7:17-21 When he left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer.” (Then he declared all foods clean) [Note: thereby no need to make foods Kosher.] And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.”
- [Note: we’ll see the similarity with GosPhil 83 in the next section, and note the allusion to ApJohn’s counterfeit spirit.]
- 7:26-30 The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith — Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go — the demon left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child laying on the bed, and the demon gone.
- [Note: This sections represents a direct allusion to GosPhil 81, or vice versa.]
- 8:27-30 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the baptist; and others Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
- [Note: compare with GosThom Saying 13:
- Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to something and tell me what I am like.”
- Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a just messenger.”
- Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.”
- Thomas said to him, “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like.”
- Jesus said, “I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended.”
- And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?”
- Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you.”]
- Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to something and tell me what I am like.”
- [Note: compare with GosThom Saying 13:
- 8:34-38 [Note the Johannine-like verbiage] He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when comes the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
- 9:38-41 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us. But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.”
- [Note: Perhaps the apostolic wing of the Johannine School slipped this verse in referring to the secessionists — or more likely vice-versa! The secessionists were the original Johannines according to Rice University’s Chair of the Department of Religion April DeConick. The apostolic wing hostilely took over the main secessionist wing. Even though this is GosMark, it seems possible that the Johannines strongly valued this Gospel as well — if they did not directly influence its drafting. The verbiage of GosMark is quite Johannine, as mentioned previously. Fascinating.]
- 9:49-50 “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” [Note: compare with GosPhil 59]
- 10:14-16 “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. [Note: compare with GosPhil 73, 86 & GosThom Sayings 4, 59, 111]
- 10:41-45 When the ten heard of this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their Rulers lord it over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
- [Note: As we’ll see below, note the emphasis on the Rulers, similar to ApJohn, TriProt & The Hypostasis of the Archons (also known as The Reality of the Rulers.)]
- 10:46 The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus — They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
- [Note: the beggar referred to him as the Son of David, and Jesus (Christ) did not affirm one way or the other as it would have been rather irrelevant to the blind man.]
- 11:27-33 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you the authority to do them” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven, he will say ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
- [Note: I look at these Verses as to be representing Christ’s sense of humor!]
- 12:1-11 The Parable of the Wicked Tenants — [Note the allusion to God’s kingdom, and the current tenants in Israel, and the others (perhaps the Gentiles as this Gospel appears to have been targeted to them?) who will be given the vineyard:] Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent them to him, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyards to others. Have you not read this scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.’?”
- [Compare with GosThom Sayings 65-66]
- [Note: Helmut Koester writes: “In Mark 12 as well as in Gos. Thom. 65, the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen is connected with the saying about the rejection of the cornerstone (Mark 12:10-11 = Gos. Thom. 66). This is not a Markan addition to the parable; Mark’s own redactional connection, leading back into the previous context that was interrupted by the insertion of the parable, appears in 12:12-13 with an explicit reference to the parable (‘they understood that he said this parable about them’). Thus the saying about the rejected cornerstone was already connected with the parable in Mark’s source. However, Thomas does not reflect Mark’s editorial connection of parable and saying but cites the saying as an independent unit. Mark’s source may have contained more than one parable. The introduction (Mark 12:1) says: ‘And he began to speak to them in parables’ but only one parable follows. Whether or not this parable of Mark 12 derives from the same collection as the parables of Mark 4, it is evident that the sources of Mark and the Gospel of Thomas were closely related.” (Analysis from Ancient Christian Gospels, pp. 101-102)]
- 12:18-27 The Question about the Resurrection — Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up the children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first married, and when he died, left no children; and the second married the widow and died, leaving no children’ and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife shall she be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
- [Note: similar to GosJohn, Chapter 8 with the Pharisees, Christ rebukes the Sadducees here and essentially clarifies the teaching, again supporting the notion that this Gospel represents an overwrite of the OT, this time for clarification’s sake. Jesus does reference characters from the OT, but seemingly for example’s sake—he addresses his audience with their own teachings for purposes of understanding.]
- 12:35-38 [Note: This is quite interesting: by way of redirection, Christ avoids associating himself with the Old Testament in this section:] While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”‘ David himself calls him Lord; so how can you he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.— [Sheer and utter silence] —As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues, and places to honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
- [Note: one could assume, therefore, that Christ in a manner of speaking is not claiming to be the Son of David; it is not central to his message here. In fact, he appears to go out of his way to distance himself from the Old Testament!]
- 13:1-8 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”
- 13:11 “When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”
- [Note: Verse 11 is a direct allusion to ApJohn’s & TriProt’s Epinoia and/or GosJohn’s Paraclete.]
- 13:14-17 “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take away anything; the only one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!”
- [Note: Per Oxford Biblical Studies, another term for the desolating sacrilege is “appalling abomination” — and this is precisely what ApJohn and TriProt refer to as Yaltabaoth. Per Wikipedia: The word “abomination” is defined as a “detestable act” or “detestable thing,” and in both biblical and rabbinic Hebrew, is a familiar term for an idol, or pertains to idolatrous worship, and therefore may well have the same application in Daniel, which should accordingly be rendered.” That’s what Saklas is. He must be adored, and he is a jealous God. I suggest that the author of Mark intentionally left such references up to the reader, thereby supporting the theory that this Gospel represents an overwrite of the OT–and is inline with ApJohn & TriProt.]
- 13:20-23 “And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah! or Look! There he is! – do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything.’”
- [Note: The elect are the equivalent of ApJohn‘s Immovable Race, and the terms harkens GosPhil‘s Bridal Chamber, which essentially is based on ApJohn‘s Autogenes/Spirit of Light Process.]
- 13:24-25 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened; and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the Powers in the heavens will be shaken.”
- [Note: This verse is a direct allusion to ApJohn & TriProt. The Powers that exist in the aeon are worldly, yet unworldly thanks be to God. May their time be limited.]
- 13:28-31 The Lesson of the Fig Tree — “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know the summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you will know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
- 13:32-37 The Necessity for Watchfulness — “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey; when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on watch. Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
- 14:32-41 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake.” And going a little farther; he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you will not come into the time of the trial; the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
- [Note 1: Verse 14:38 is key and quite Johannine — “The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”]
- [Note 2: ApJohn: “And I said to the savior, “What is the forgetfulness?” And he said “It is not the way Moses wrote (and) you heard. For he said in his first book, ‘He put him to sleep’ (Gn 2:21), but (it was) in his perception.”]
- 14:51-52 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen and ran off naked.
- [Note: Could this mysterious lad be the author of the Secret Gospel of Mark, yet to be discovered? Could he represent those the Spirit of Light will descend upon via the Autogenes process?]
- 14:59-65 [Note: perhaps this section serves to differentiate Jesus from Christ, and as we know from Chapter 13 (again potentially alluding to ApJohn & TriProt) the Powers are in this aeon’s heaven, are shaken, and will pass away. These verses very well could be intended for psychic Christians, those not of the Immovable Race, since potentially Jesus could be seated at the right hand of the Power, whereas Christ will go back to the Pleroma. At the very least, Jesus’ behavior certainly angers the high priest, similar to Christ arguing with the Pharisees in GosJohn Chapter 8:] But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer. What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision? All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!”
- 15:34-39 [Note: possibly the section that lays out that indeed a conspiracy had taken place, though regarding Christ’s intercession of Yaltabaoth’s objective regarding his savior:] At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Aloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Note: the harshest language of the four Gospels, John having none.] When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
- [Note: The centurion was a Gentile, and he appears to be addressing Christ, not Jesus. The curtain of the temple was torn in two, representing a potential metaphor. Christ’s mission seems to have been fulfilled through Jesus, though Jesus too fulfills Yaltabaoth’s mission, and thus OT prophesy—one that is quite different from the Father’s. Clever.]