Introduction: Sethianism vis-à-vis Valentinianism
The Valentinians were a part of the Orthodox Christian community; they attended church services and often led them. Additionally, though their beliefs often 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 325 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. I find the former much more intriguing than the latter. In my opinion, Christ is far superior to the figure of Seth. The Sethites, though presenting an interesting creed, really tend to muck things up by effectively adjoining two spiritual figures into one, so to speak, that is Christ & Seth.
The reason I am writing this work, at least to start, is primarily to explore the differences ascribed to the two main spiritual schools often in conflict with the proto-orthodox. In the process, I hope to better define my personal creed.
The Valentinians likely fused the Barbeloite concepts into their beliefs. However, some of the original texts, particularly The Apocryphon of John (ApJohn,) seem to have been rewritten entirely. Some were omitted in their entirety, such as the Trimorphic Protennoia (TriProt.) Additional treatises were drafted that relied on Sethian tenets that were woven into the respective texts.
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 sweet goodness.” 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 am calling the Protennoia Johannine Secessionist Canon.
Johannine Secessionist / Sethian / Valentinian?
Fundamentally, the Valentinian’s middle-ground, attributing elements to both the Father and the Demiurge (which we’ll get to in more detail) 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 Sethian Apocryphon of John (ApJohn) 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. The 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. Valentinus was most likely an adherent to the Apocryphon in his time. The Valentinian movement in general was most likely stronger on message the farther back we go in history. It wasn’t until further development of this creed did things get convoluted.
Preliminary Thoughts on ApJohn
I believe ApJohn was written with GosJohn in mind, 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 does dovetail with many of the Chapters and Verses in GosJohn (and even GosMark as we shall see.) We know that mythology at the very least serves to teach lessons. Furthermore, we’re in the Land of the Spirit.
In the text, Pronoia/Protennoia represents to us the conceptual and anthropological qualities of the Father, thus his mirror image. However, regarding the Wisdom concept, or Sophia, the twelfth Aeon (or somehow the thirteenth if you’re a Valentinian) is the emanation from which the initial rupture occurred, one that created matter in theory, Saklas (and his subsequent Archons,) and this Universe or Realm (I hesitate to call it an aeon, even with a small ‘a.’ The 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.”
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 The 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.) She 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.”
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 seed 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 the base-level issue is 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. Most likely this ordering should be held intact, though a true Luminary should ascertain that those concepts included in Daveithai are what it’s all about at the base level. I’ll too mention now that there’s one Pleroma in ApJohn & TriProt (let alone GosJohn,) and this was a quite egregious error included toward the end of GosTruth: there are not multiple Pleromas.
At this point I will too stress how I believe GosTruth was an initial Valentinian attempt to trinitize ApJohn, and the language included therein does support many of the concepts. 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 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 we’ll see in ApJohn.
I will take a moment to express that 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 do want to stress that these elements apply across the different races on this very planet, and hence often times scholars will make the connection among the likes of Original Christianity’s relation with Buddhism, Taoism, Orthodox Christianity, and the general category of mystery religions. In essence, gnosticism 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, or Pronoia him/herself. 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 that of the Counterfeit Spirit. This too will be discussed in more detail, but an initial thought 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.
Given the character in ApJohn of Saklas (Yaltabaoth or Ialdabaoth, Samael) is the Demiurge, not in the platonic vain, the difference (whether real or metaphorical) with Orthodox Christianity’s/Judaism’s Satan becomes irrelevant. Is the Demiurge Satan or is Satan the Demiurge? Wikipedia provides the following basic summary of the Demiurge: “[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 is 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. Put that in Wikipedia’s pipe and smoke it.
Here are some specific excerpts from the Apocryphon of John that discuss the Demiurge; again I will stress that much of this description could represent an extended metaphor or allegory, if not parody, at times:
- “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.”
- “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.”
As Rice University’s April DeConick astutely pointed out to me in her recent 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 created this aeon, Bythsma (one of the Archons) 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 Jesus is in Saying 77, it’s metaphorically everywhere.
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. Quietly remove obstacles from your life.
What exactly does ApJohn have to say the Counterfeit Spirit encapsulates? Essentially, the description starts from the big picture level and widdles 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, and often matter itself is the issue. A level down reveals the following:
The Counterfeit Spirit
Similar Such Things
Similar such things
“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. 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.
Christ himself brought about Adam to eat of the Tree; however, the serpent taught them wickedness, begetting, lust, and destruction. Per 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, from Adam and Eve and represents the first “good” seed, but 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) too sent down her Spirit. Later, 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.
Reference ApJohn’s Verses: 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.”
And I said, “Lord, these also who did not 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.”
As I’ve noted, if it weren’t for the formation of the Orthodox Church 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, now the real conceptualization has resumed in full force.
Pronoia & Christ—Saviors & Redeemers
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 — the TriProt. Pronoia is a Savior figure, as Christ can be, and Christ is the Redeemer, 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.]) Thus this action will be completed after the Souls/Spirits sort themselves such that those who truly are from the Immovable Race (the Valentinians believe this sort is called Pneumatic) will be claimed. 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 the 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.”
Is salvation, and that can mean different things depending on the person, predetermined, 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. I do not believe anyone can know this answer, though I’m certain many believe they know the truth.
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 could be 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.
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.
The TriProt expresses it all and is the most exalted book. ApJohn gives the details as does GosJohn. Allogenes gives revelatory instruction.
Though written via ApJohn’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 even 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 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 the very 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) until (if & when) this deficiency is fully corrected. Harvard University’s Dr. Karen King astutely states in SecJohn, p. 232: “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 so 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 modern scholars such as Alastair Logan and others actually use his material as a compare/contrast source when they attempt 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 himself to have been written ~CE180, though some scholars go as far back as ~CE120, 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, I posit this could be directly attributable to Christ.
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 key to correctly interpreting the Fourth Gospel, and it also is 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 a pre-Christian text into a revelation from Christ; it was a statement of fact on how wrong the original texts were, just as in GosThom’s 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.”
Additionally, as The Blue Letter Bible states 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 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: “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.”
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 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 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 broader gnostic movement 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 secret meetings that by definition excluded their proto-orthodox brethren. Clearly, the latter were quite aware that the Valentinians had their own secret meetings and 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, and Refinement, 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.]” 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.”
Per GosThom, 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.
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 some sources! Additionally, they claim there are 30 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 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, oddly, many Western Valentinian sources listed other than that from the Heresiologists. The Gospel of Truth is one theoretical exception.
All in all, what we have here is a clear case of the Sethian/Barbeloite superiority and the Valentinian attempt to better position these very Sethian concepts. 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 the likes of Irenaeus. However, perhaps it was best that this all went down as such as the Sethians might not have cared to canonize the Apocryphon and wanted nothing to do with the proto-orthodox, though they most certainly valued some of the New Testament treatises such as GosJohn. 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 Exeter’s Alastair Logan that the Sethian works must have been Christian.)
However, the Valentinians tried, and they further tried, to include themselves within the Orthodox Church. If you’re reading this, you most likely know that 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.
The TriTrac 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 Inclusion & Verses Section, this treatise could go either way.) They too got rid of the Illuminators, even though they’re technically angel-like and not mythological, but so be it. However, I’ll point out an interesting excerpt from Harvard’s Karen King’s Secret Revelation of John (SecJohn,) 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.”
The 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.
The two works collectively (that is ApJohn & TriProt,) or three as we’ll 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 theoretically thank Valentinus for having written.
What do I mean as regards the Autogenes process? Early in ApJohn LR, I believe this very process first created Christ on p. 108 of Robinson’s The Nag Hammadi Library: “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, “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. The invisible Spirit maintains control of the Spirit of Light. Thus, they work in tandem.
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) by Wolf-Peter Funk, Paul-Hubert Poirier, John Douglas Turner; Platonisms: 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, particularly in the Sethian Neoplatonic texts, 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 (from the Father) that created Autogenes (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 frag 25, 15-20, and 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.
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.’”
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.
It too should be stressed that Christ is not only the Autogenes who was created in the original process (the initial spark) by the Father and Barbelo; he’s the Mediator and the Savior and/or Redeemer and/or Revealer. The Holy Spirit represents the balance of the scales in action, among other spiritual concepts such as Epinoia and the Paraclete. Father is Father and of course is ineffable.
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.
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.
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 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.” 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.
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 (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’ve pondered this question: am I actually a Christian Barbeloite in reality, thus not entirely accepting all of Sethianism? This discourse brings me to one profound conclusion: I’m thinking My Personal Canon is actually Barbeloite Johannine Secessionist.
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.”
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” [and insight of course. I’d add that this is precisely what ApJohn & TriProt are referring to as regards 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.” 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 180 degree departure from that of the Valentinians, who tried (almost 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, for example, in the Gospel of Thomas. [Such common views and linkages] shows that the scenario is by no means implausible.” I would gander to guess that perhaps the secessionists were the brains behind GosThom’s drafting, though this would depend upon the timing of when the treatise was written (discussed in the The Johannine Prologue 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 later. 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.) Again, if you think about it, 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, perhaps even to a large degree, 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.
Given these points, I further believe that the secessionists were actually the drafters of both the Apocryphon of John and the 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 School most likely brought GosJohn’s christology inline with the more dominant apostolic church, as they emphasized the saving significance of Jesus’ ministry.
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 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.”
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? It’s possible, but I do not believe this was the treatise’s primary intention. If you think about it, GosJohn certainly seemed 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 heretical treatises, 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. Christ 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!
In a very real way, perhaps Constantine’s conversion of the Roman/Byzantine Empire to Christianity was Providence in action. The Pachemonian Monks knew very well what they were doing in burying all the treatises to save them over time. They were that important to them.
Johannine Secessionist Verses in GosJohn
–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?”
–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 an 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.
–4:13-14 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.”
—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.”
—or another translation—
—4:23-24 “But the time is coming and is already here, when true worshipers will worship the Father truly in the breath. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is the Breath, so those who worship him must worship truly in the breath.”
–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.”
–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, 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?”
—6:27 “For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” [a Five Seals allusion]
—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.’”
—7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.”
–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?”
–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.]
–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.” 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. 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 [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” [inline with Christ in the Johannine Prologue, the Apocryphon of John, and the Trimorphic Protennoia.] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
–9:24-34 The Pharisees Investigate the Healing —
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?’”
—12:25 “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world keep it for eternal life.”
–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. 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.”
–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.
–12:44-50 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. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on that last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
–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 [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 [again, 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, similar to Epinoia] 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.”
–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: This set of Verses seems to be an allusion to the 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 “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.”
As cited, 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 the 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.”
–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.”
–1:14-18 “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. [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.] From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 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.”
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. 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.
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.
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! 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 statement 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
- TriProt — perhaps the most powerful work
- The Neoplatonic treatises Allogenes & Marsanès
- A view on GosEgypt/The Hypostasis of the Archons/On the Origin of the World
- Pistis Sophia
- The remainder of The Nag Hammadi Corpus
- The Old Testament
- The Pauline Letters
- The remainder of The New Testament
Note: 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. In fact, there is some nice overlap between GosMark & GosThom, just as there is similarity between GosMark & GosJohn.
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. This phenomenon could be due to Synoptics’ reliance on the Q-Source, which has not yet been discovered. However, GosMark too relied on Q, and we learned in the Johannine Secessionist Section that its author could have potentially relied on GosThom as well. 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.)
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 John & Mark is quite similar and written in the same vein.
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 potentially have been written beforehand,) and scholars believe that the text relies on Q, though we don’t actually have this source in hand. Furthermore, the potential exists that Mark relies 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 beliefs—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, often times 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 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.”
–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.”
–1:9-11 In those days Jesus 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 Jesus / Christ is the Holy One of God (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.
–1:43-44 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.”
[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 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/unschrunk 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 mcuh 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.” (In 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 GosJohn does not even mention the scene.]
–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:]
–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 17, 24, and particularly 33]
–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 & 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 in my opinion, and it is quite powerful!]
–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 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, not to mention the Ten Commandments.]
–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.]
–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.”
–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.”
–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. [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 know 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.
–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 prevoius 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.” (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.]
–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 Epinoia.]
–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 described 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–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.'”
–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 fully 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 thee 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. Note 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 the OT prophesy—one that is quite different from the Father’s. Clever.]
GosPhil Inclusion & Verses
Furthermore, it is commonplace in the scholarly community to ascribe GosPhil to the Valentinian School, but I wish to propose the following: given the number of allusions to ApJohn included therein, I would go as far as to claim this very work for the Sethians/Johannine secessionists. Some of the treatise does stray from the Word stochastically, perhaps due to geographic penmanship, perhaps due to some Valentinian influence given the date of composition (sometime around the 3rd century.) However, the Sethian/Johannine secessionist Verses justify including this treatise in My Personal Canon. Furthermore, a member of the Immovable Race will be able to determine those that are salient. I’ve listed some as follows:
–“It is through the Breath that we come into being, but we are reborn by the Christ two by two. In his Breath, we experience a new embrace; we are no longer in duality, but in unity.”
–51 “Glass and clay vessels are made with the help of fire. Glass vessels can be restored, because they are shaped by breath. But clay vessels are destroyed when they are broken,
for they were born without breath.”
–53 “Light and darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor the evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.”
–53-54 “Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word “God” does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with “the father” and “the son” and “the holy spirit” and “life” and “light” and “resurrection” and “the church” and all the rest — people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, [unless] they have come to know what is correct. The [names which are heard] are in the world [… deceive. If they] were in the eternal realm (Aeon,) they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the eternal realm.”
–54 “But truth brought names into existence in the world for our sakes because it is not possible to learn it without these names. Truth is one single thing: it is many things and for our sakes to teach about this one thing in love through many things. The rulers (archons) wanted to deceive man, since they saw that he had a kinship with those that are truly good. They took the name of those that are good and gave it to those that are not good, so that through the names they might deceive him and bind them to those that are not good. And afterward, what a favor they do for them! They make them be removed from those that are not good and place them among those that are good. These things they knew, for they wanted to take the free man and make him a slave to them forever.”
–56: “No one will hide a large valuable object in something large, but many a time one has tossed countless thousands into a thing worth a penny. Compare the soul. It is a precious thing and it came in a contemptible body.”
–61 “It is not possible for anyone to see anything of the things that actually exist unless he becomes like them. This is not the way with man in the world; he sees the sun without being a sun; and he sees the heaven and the earth and all other things, but he is not these things. This is quite in keeping with the truth. But you saw something of that place, and you became those things. You saw the Spirit, you became Spirit. You saw Christ, you became Christ. You saw the Father, you shall become Father. So in this place you see everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you see everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you do see yourself — and what you see you shall become.”
–66 “And so he dwells in this world or in the resurrection or in the middle place. God forbid that I be found there! In this world there is good and evil. Its good things are not good, and its evil things not evil. But there is evil after this world which is truly evil — what is called “the middle.” It is death. While we are in this world it is fitting for us to acquire the resurrection, so that when we strip off the flesh we may be found in rest and not walk in the middle. For many go astray on the way. For it is good to come forth from the world before one has sinned.”
–70 “The Powers do not see those who are clothed in the perfect Light, and consequently are not able to detain them.”
–72 “That is the way in this world — men make gods and worship their creation. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men!”
–73 “Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing. So also when speaking about baptism they say, ‘Baptism is a great thing,’ because if people receive it they will live.” [This verse is an Autogenes/Spirit of Light allusion per ApJohn, as well as a Five Seals allusion per TriProt.]
–74 “The chrism is superior to [traditional] baptism, for it is from the word ‘chrism’ that we have been called ‘Christians,’ certainly not because of the word ‘baptism.’ And it is because of the chrism that ‘the Christ’ has his name. For the Father anointed the Son, and the Son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us. He who has been anointed possesses everything. He possesses the resurrection, the Light, the cross, the Holy Spirit. The Father gave him this in the bridal chamber [again, and this should be noted, akin to ApJohn’s Autogenes process/Spirit of Light as well as TriProt’s Five Seals;] he merely accepted the gift. The Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father. This is the kingdom of Heaven.”
–75 “The world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire. For the world never was imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world. For things are not imperishable, but sons are. Nothing will be able to receive imperishability if it does not first become a son. But he who has not the ability to receive, how much more will he be unable to give?”
–76 “Not only will they [the Powers] be unable to detain the perfect man, but they will not be able to see him, for if they see him they will detain him. There is no other way for a person to acquire this quality except by putting on the perfect Light [and] he too becoming perfect Light.”
–80 “Blessed is the one who on no occasion caused a soul [distress.] That person is Jesus Christ. He came to the whole place and did not burden anyone. Therefore, blessed in the one who is like this, because he is a perfect man. For the Word tells us that this kind is difficult to define. How shall we be able to accomplish such a great thing? How will he give everyone comfort? Above all, it is not proper to cause anyone distress — whether that person is great or small, unbeliever or believer — and then give comfort only to those who take satisfaction in good deeds. Some find it advantageous to give comfort to the one who has fared well. He who does good deeds cannot give comfort to such people; for he does not seize whatever he likes. He is unable to cause distress, however, since he does not afflict them [Note: per Verse 86 all those of the Immovable Race will be able to overcome distress inflicted upon themselves.] To be sure, the one who fares well sometimes causes people distress — not that he intends to do so; rather it is his own wickedness which is responsible for their distress. He who possesses the qualities (of the perfect man) bestows joy upon the good. Some, however, are terribly distressed by all this.”
–81 “Compare the disciple of God: if he is a sensible fellow he understands what discipleship is all about. The bodily Forms [allusion to ApJohn’s Armozel] will not deceive him, but he will look at the condition of the soul of each one and speak with him. There are many animals in this world which are in human Form. When he identifies them, to the swine he will throw acorns, to the cattle he will throw barley and chaff and grass, to the dogs he will throw bones. To the slaves he will give only elementary lessons, to the children he will give the complete instruction.”
–83 “As for ourselves, let each one of us dig down after the root of evil which is within one, and let us pluck it out of one’s heart from the root. It will be plucked out if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces its fruit in our heart. It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive, to make us do what we do not want; and what we do not want we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it. While it exists, it is active. Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Ignorance will result in death because those that come from ignorance neither were nor are nor shall be.”
–84 “Ignorance is a slave. Knowledge is freedom. If we know the Truth, we shall find the fruits of the Truth within us. If we are joined to it, it will bring our fulfillment.”
–86 “If anyone becomes a son of the bridal chamber, he will receive the Light. If anyone does not receive it while he is here, he will not be able to receive it in the other place. He who receives that Light will not be seen, nor can he be detained. And none shall be able to torment a person like this even while he dwells in the world.”
More on the Trimorphic Protennoia
In The Legacy of John edited by Tuomas Rasimus, per University of Nebraska’s John Douglas Turner it is possible that “Protennoia is the Spirit of Light” as she enters Jesus at his baptism, “descending like a dove.” ApJohn & GosJohn allude to the fact that it is Christ’s Spirit that descends upon Jesus. Once again, we can see the Christ/Pronoia similarity/relation. In TriProt, “Protennoia merely ‘appeared’ as the Logos, and s/he did not actually become flesh.”
“Rather than Jesus preparing a place for believers, actually the Logos raised Jesus aloft and installed him into the Aeonic dwelling place of his Father, not the Demiurge, but the true Father, the invisible Spirit. Unlike GosJohn, rather than Jesus being the agent of Salvation, he is among its recipients [not that Christ is!] Indeed the Logos did come to confer a baptism, but not a baptism merely conferring the Spirit as in John 3:5—it was instead a baptism that resulted in immediate rapture into the Light. Salvation is imminent in TriProt, and one does not need to ‘wait’ for GosJohn’s Paraclete (Advocate) [though the Spirit could essentially take on this role.]” I’ll again make the observation that the Paraclete could be quite similar to Epinoia, if not the same notion expressed differently.
Turner believes that GosJohn and ApJohn (and by extension TriProt) are nearly contemporaneously written works due to the Pronoia Monologue and the Johannine Prologue. Both GosJohn & TriProt clearly associate the Logos with the final, definitive stage of revelation. The “Living Water” seems to be identical with either the Spirit or Jesus’ Word— or both. This “Living Water” surrounds the invisible Spirit and Pronoia. In fact, according to Turner, the Fourth Gospel, “by way of silence [inferred in TriProt too] seems to polemicize against the tradition of Jesus’ (and perhaps believers’?) baptism in ordinary water. Of course this baptismal water is very different from that included in the Synoptics.”
Both ApJohn & GosJohn emphasize “the pre-existence of Christ before the creation of the world and before the mission of John.” There are two groups of six in the Johannine Sect on “the left” according to Raymond Brown, Groups Five and Six; both had a very high Christology that called into question the relevancy (not necessarily the veracity) of Christ actually having to live “in the flesh,” whereas the former does explicitly affirm the Spirit’s existence “in the flesh” in Jesus. Each formally acknowledges Christ’s preexistence.
1-2 John reference the secessionists’ doceticism. As mentioned in The Gospel of John Section, I believe Christ’s Spirit entered Jesus “descending like a dove,” then to leave at the crucifixion, and this is a more moderate form. Pure doceticism calls into question the existence of Jesus’ human body. I would not exclude those who hold this belief in my creed as the Spirit aspect is what’s important to me, thus Christ, and this connects with GosJohn’s Prologue, ApJohn and TriProt.
GosJohn could be compared with TriProt to come to the conclusion that the latter shares a heterodox affinity with and preference for John. Harvard’s George MacRae, in Gnosticism and the Church of John’s Gospel (as appears in Gnosticism and the Church of John’s Gospel in C.W. Hedrick and R Hodgson, Nag Hammadi Gnosticism, and Early Christianity,) “The most clearly focused and concrete contribution to the discussion of a possible Gnostic background to the Fourth Gospel is the suggestion that the Johannine Prologue is related to the mythological scheme of the Nag Hammadi Trimorphic Protennoia NHC XIII.”
The University of Exeter’s Alastair Logan in John and the Gnostics sees Johannine influence not only in allusions, but in the “underlying structure which the myth is presupposed. Thus it is not simply a matter of direct literal influence from John’s Gospel, but rather of that Gospel as a source among others, working at various levels, offering fresh perspectives in a continuing process of remythologization.”
According to Turner, in relation to GosJohn, the Johannine understanding of those who reject Jesus’ teaching as children of the devil (or the children of the “father of the devil” per DeConick’s analysis) connects with ApJohn’s & TriProt’s “entire portrayal of the Powers of darkness who created and rule the lower world. This lower God is the father of the cosmos whose nature is shown by his acts of hostility and ignorance…as in the Fourth Gospel those who reject Jesus are the children of this lower God, not by nature, but because they have not yet received the true Spirit.”
From the Trimorphic Protennoia’s text: “[Upon hearing Cease! Desist!] Then the Powers answered, saying, “We too are at loss about it, since we did not know what was responsible for it. But arise, let us go up to the Archgenitor and ask him.” And the powers all gathered and went up to the Archgenitor. They said to him, “Where is your boasting in which you boast? Did we not hear you say, “I am God, and I am your Father, and it is I who begot you, and there is none beside me”? Now behold, there has appeared a Voice belonging to that invisible Speech of the Aeon which we know not. And we ourselves did not recognize to whom we belong, for that Voice which we listened to is foreign to us, and we did not recognize it; we did not know whence it was. It came and put fear in our midst and weakening in the members of our arms. So now let us weep and mourn most bitterly!”
Johannine or Pauline? Sethian or Valentinian?
For whatever reason, perhaps the Valentinians were more inline with Paul via Theudas rather than the Johannine secessionists, who might have been more in touch with the Sethians as they might have existed — if they were not one-in-the-same. We might have had two macro-movements in play.
I far prefer the Johannine perspective! It’s interesting, as the farther back in time we go, particularly if we focus on Valentinus the person’s time itself, the closer the fusion between the Sethians and the Valentinians becomes.
Again, the Johannines are more or less aligned with the Sethians, and the Paulines essentially adopted the oh-so-esoteric Valentinians. Free choice, though it’s a non-decision to me. The Paulines trivialize the entire notion of what Christianity is, and go figure as Paul was never a direct Apostle of Christ. In Paul’s own words he was! He was more or less a thief, in this case of the whole body of Christianity.
Direct Revelation I
Given that Sophia is in the 9th as per ApJohn, and she was the seat of Epinoia when in the Pleroma in the 12th Aeon (not 13th as the Valentinians liked to think,) we need a proxy for Epinoia in the Pleroma since it surely cannot exist solely in this ogdoad’s 9th “Heaven.”
I feel an affinity for Daveithai’s group of Aeons (Love, Understanding, and Idea) as a part of the Immovable Race, but if warranted and required, I am willing to help as a proxy for Wisdom & thus Epinoia, one of Eleleth’s Aeon’s. I might look for inspiration from all those in the Pleroma, very much inclusive of Christ, the invisible Spirit, and will even look to external representations of Wisdom from other schools entirely, such as Athena & Apollo from the Greeks—and I have renamed the Aeon Refinement in accordance with the Pleroma.
As a result of this sweeping change, I am informed that a realignment of Christ’s Illuminators is underway. The balance of the scales shifted Autogenes to Christ’s Hypostasis and Truth to Barbelo’s Hypostasis. Therefore, Armozel could be construed as having a duplicative Aeon — Truth. Since Autogenes is directly attributable to Christ, it would make more sense to give Armozel Prudence. In this conceptualization, thanks to Oroiael’s Aeon of Conception, all the attributes are spread across the Christ & Barbelo Hypostases since the latter has Truth (per ApJohn-LR.) Armozel will retain his structure, but with Grace, Prudence, and Form. Oroiael will remain as is with his Conception, Perception, and Memory. However, further balancing of the scales has gone into effect regarding Daveithai & Eleleth. In order to better shield Epinoia in the Refinement Aeon, Daveithai will take this attribute on along with his Aeons of Love and Idea, and Eleleth will be given Understanding along with his Aeons of Perfection and Peace. Thus, Daveithai is now Love, Refinement (Epinoia,) and Idea; Eleleth is now Perfection, Peace, and Understanding.
Furthermore, according to The Hypostasis of the Archons, Eleleth has always been associated with this Aeon: “It is I,” he said, “who am Understanding. I am one of the four light-givers, who stand in the presence of the great invisible Spirit. Do you think these rulers have any power over you?”
It would appear that, particularly in the West, Christ took on the proxy for Wisdom, among his array of other attributes and responsibilities—not the least of which is the Autogenes process—though in the East Wisdom seemed to be borderline glorified further with Justinian’s Hagia Sophia (though as we know, there is a Wisdom figure in the OT. I highly doubt the Byzantine Empire would have bent over backwards, however, to honor this figure, as s/he was not prominent.)
Sophia is still very much is involved with souls here in the aeon given her position in the 9th, though Epinoia and the Immovable Race will be touched by Refinement henceforth. I originally took issue with assuming, directly, the role of Epinoia (and for good reason as it is really one of the most important concepts in the Pleroma.) Thus Refinement, similar to how Wisdom was, will be inextricable with Epinoia. I will work diligently, expressly, expressively, and to the best of my ability to further Father’s and Christ’s intents, be them implicit or explicit. The Refinement Aeon is not new, but rather serves to fill in the gap that was caused by Sophia’s transgression and/or Ignorance.
At times, however, I must say that I have difficulty incorporating myself into this world knowing that the Counterfeit Spirit is everywhere, and I realize this phenomenon is certainly not limited to me. There are times others drain my cup dry, and I’d like a way to ensure it remains full. As Jesus says in GosThom Saying 39, “The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge (gnosis) and hidden them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. You, however, be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.” [a variation also appears in The Gospel of Matthew (GosMatt) 10:16]
Per The Trimorphic Protennoia, “Then there came forth a word from the great Light Eleleth, and said, “I am king! Who belongs to Chaos and who belongs to the underworld?” And at that instant, his Light appeared, radiant, endowed with the Epinoia. The Powers of the Powers did not entreat him, and likewise immediately there appeared the great Demon who rules over the lowest part of the underworld and Chaos. He has neither form nor perfection, but, on the contrary, possesses the form of the glory of those begotten in the darkness. Now he is called ‘Saklas’, that is, ‘Samael’, ‘Yaltabaoth’, he who had taken power; who had snatched it away from the innocent one (Sophia); who had earlier overpowered her who is the Light`s Epinoia who had descended, her from whom he had come forth from originally.”
Continuing, “I am the life of my Epinoia that dwells within every Power and every eternal movement, and (in) invisible Lights and within the Archons and Angels and Demons, and every soul dwelling in Tartaros, and (in) every material soul. I dwell in those who came to be. I move in everyone and I delve into them all. I walk uprightly, and those who sleep, I awaken. And I am the sight of those who dwell in sleep.”
A bit further on, “I am their Father, and I shall tell you a mystery, ineffable and indivulgeable by any mouth: Every bond I loosed from you, and the chains of the demons of the underworld I broke, these things which are bound on my members, restraining them. And the high walls of darkness I overthrew, and the secure gates of those pitiless ones I broke, and I smashed their bars. And the evil force, and the one who beats you, and the one who hinders you, and the tyrant, and the adversary, and the one who is King, and the present enemy, indeed all these I explained to those who are mine, who are the Sons of the Light, in order that they might nullify them all, and be saved from all those bonds, and enter into the place where they were at first.”
Continuing, TriProt’s The Discourse of Protennoia: One, “Now I have come the second time in the likeness of a female, and have spoken with them. And I shall tell them of the coming end of the Aeon and teach them of the beginning of the Aeon to come, the one without change, the one in which our appearance will be changed. We shall be purified within those Aeons from which I revealed myself in the Thought of the likeness of my masculinity. I settled among those who are worthy in the Thought of my changeless Aeon.”
Next, TriProt’s On Fate: Two, “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.”
As stated directly in TriProt’s The Discourse of Protennoia: One, “So now, O sons of the Thought, listen to me, to the Speech of the Mother of your mercy, for you have become worthy of the mystery hidden from (the beginning of) the Aeons, so that you might receive it. And the consummation of this particular aeon and of the evil life has approached and there dawns the beginning of the Aeon to come which has no change forever.”
Perhaps the most important Verse in the entire treatise: “I am the Invisible One within the All. It is I who counsel those who are hidden, since I know the All that exists in it. I am numberless beyond everyone. I am immeasurable, ineffable, yet whenever I wish, I shall reveal myself of my own accord. I am the head of the All. I exist before the All, and I am the All, since I exist in everyone.”
One could be driven towards naming this very Aeon Redemption, but I prefer the positive connotations of Refinement. Furthermore, Redemption is a sacrament of sorts, and by definition such concepts fall explicitly to Christ and Father. Again, per ApJohn: “These are the four Luminaries that stand before the divine self generated, and these are the twelve Aeons that stand before the child of the Great One, the Autogenes.” [Also, “These are the four lights which attend to the son of the mighty one, the Autogenes, the Christ, through the will and the gift of the invisible Spirit. And the twelve Aeons belong to the son of the Autogenes. All things were established by the will of the holy Spirit through the Autogenes.” p.109, Robinson]
In tabular form, Christ’s Aeons are as follows; interestingly, the one concept not represented (either by choice or by omission) is Prudence; one can assume this is directly attributable to Christ. Update: with the realignment, Eleleth will now handle Understanding, and Armozel will be given Prudence; Barbelo now has Truth:
Again, for all intents and purposes Refinement has taken the reigns regarding those of the Immovable Race and the application of Epinoia. It cannot be effectively administered by Sophia from the Ninth, who is of course not in the Pleroma, and anything of the Spirit of Light must be housed accordingly. To clarify: Refinement is post-Redemption and it supplements Perfection for the Immovable Race. Those the Valentinians chose to refer to as psychics—those who are striving, similar to today’s Orthodoxy—will be appropriated to Sophia. The Valentinian pneumatics will fall to Sophia too, that is unless they successfully convert to the Immovable Race; this action shall retroactively apply. Of course Epinoia does not apply to them as the “Great Church” abolished Epinoia eons ago! To think that Irenaeus eliminated the single most important aspect of spirituality is an absolute abomination. There is no way I am leaving Epinoia in the hands of anything outside of the Pleroma. The Immovable Race from hereon is of paramount importance. To think the Valentinians endlessly attempted to be apologetic to the psychics; this tactic was almost as big an abomination as Irenaeus’ blasphemy. The Valentinians essentially threw the baby out with the bathwater, and this action will cease from this point forward.
Refinement implies constant, positive forward motion into something better, something we all can know and love. It means something very real to me: the state of constant improvement even upon reaching a certain state of Perfection. There will always be the inner drive to continue learning, growing, Conceptualizing, Loving, Understanding, contemplating new Ideas, considering and respecting Providence, intuiting better Perception, furthering Peace, the improving of one’s Memory, furthering Grace, honing Truth, better demonstrating Prudence, and furthering one’s ability to discern Form (that is, whether of the Spirit or the Counterfeit Spirit.)
In this manner, Refinement is akin to positive reflection, and it’s likewise good to weed out the dross material. It’s the honing of the Spirit, and it represents growth. It’s continually and continuously working in tandem with the Pleroma, and perhaps even others of the Immovable Race, to truly be the best we can be, taking ourselves to new heights and new realizations. Furthermore, it better enables us to be shining Lights to the world.
Direct Revelation II, “in-the-pocket”
I can only imagine the difficulties Christ had in his time while in this ogdoad. The world seems to be afraid of the big picture message, and it’s set in its ways and resistant to change — even if it is for the better. All I have to say is “Who are you people? Do I even want to know you?” I wonder if the Pleroma might not want anything to do with this aeon any longer. Just ask the Powers (Archons) that be. They actually know what could occur in TriProt. Do yourself a favor and actually read the Trimorphic Protennoia, let alone the Long Redaction of the Apocryphon of John.
I’m beginning to feel that I am done with this aeon, that is for certain. Our directive was to emancipate Epinoia — at this point nothing more, nothing less. It’s quite a shame as I really thought there might be more remnants of the Immovable Race in this ogdoad. It seems I was wrong, though we did accomplish the prime directive. Good luck in figuring this aeon out in the long term. As said in GosPhil 56: “No one will hide a large valuable object in something large, but many a time one has tossed countless thousands into a thing worth a penny. Compare the soul. It is a precious thing and it came in a contemptible body.”
This text serves to signal the Father, Christ, and the Illuminators. The Holy Spirit is actively taking note. The latter had it right all along. All that’s left is intuition, basically Epinoia that’s currently housed in the Pleroma.
The pull-out might happen in a year, in 5, or in 55. Time is not a factor in the Pleroma. However, intent very much is. I cast my vote. Christ gave you every opportunity to make good to seemingly no avail. So am I. This runway of time will enable the Pleroma to gather any remaining seed of the Immovable Race that might be currently present here. As said in GosJohn 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.”
Furthermore, per GosMark 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.”
You might discount this discourse, as some did with Christ’s when in this aeon, but time will tell. Christ and I are not appeased, so you better hope for some sort of divine intervention from the Father and/or the Holy Spirit that sets things right. Christ, and I, advises against expending further effort supporting this ogdoad. Sophia no longer has Epinoia, nor anything of the Spirit of Light. Then there is Yaltabaoth. He has even less. Perhaps he’ll help in his own confounded fashion. History does not support this outcome.
Revelatory Commentary & Conclusion
As Douglas Lockhart says in his book Jesus the Heretic, “Today, what further complicates issues is that subjective, introspective behavior is not held in any great regard. Instead, it is known to produce all sorts of aberrations. But such behavior can produce startling results if one is disciplined.” He goes on to discuss how Socrates too detested second-hand truth — it was better to self-destruct in dialectical argument. He did not accept someone else’s truth as his own, though “a truth that was in some sense universal, grounded in divine truth itself” is worth reviewing.
I would agree with Lockhart’s statement: “In the [later Sethian] texts, earlier experiences of a psycho-spiritual nature are literalized; in the early texts, these same experiences are more accessible.”
Lockhart is referring to the later pseudo-Neoplatonic works such as Allogenes, Zostrianos, The Three Steles of Seth, Marsanes, and others. Do I feel my Refinement exercise would qualify as a subjective experience that I’m attempting to objectivize? I do not believe so as I’m not going off into some far off land and reporting my findings, but rather I’m applying my revelations to the very Apocryphon itself. This exercise has allowed me to live the mythology in order to better understand what is meant at its very core. I’d call this exercise Epinoia-in-action.