Analysis of the Concepts of the Demiurge and 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 GosJohnApJohn, 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.”