Another concept that’s well expounded upon in ApJohn is the counterfeit spirit. An initial thought regarding this entity, for lack of a better word, is that sin generally begins to work itself out of one’s system as knowledge is acquired in a step-by-step fashion to weed out the elements this counterfeit spirit is constantly throwing at you. In this Realm, unfortunately, the counterfeit spirit is alive and well, and it’s woven into this aeon’s (small case!) fabric such that people are conflicted.
In The Gospel of Thomas (GosThom) Saying 77, Jesus says “Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.” Unfortunately, the same hold’s true in this aeon with the counterfeit spirit! Perhaps it’s “The Universe’s” grand Yin/Yang as it were, or said another way akin to the Manichaean belief system of Good vs. Evil.
Regarding Saying 77, where Jesus said, “It is I who am the light (that presides) over all. It is I who am the entirety: it is from me that the entirety has come, and to me that the entirety goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you (plur.) will find me there,” there’s much scholarly attention, and the commentary in the Collection of Inspiring Sayings in GosThom Section is noteworthy as is the following:
- Funk and Hoover write: “In this complex, Jesus speaks of himself in highly exalted terms, as he often does in The Gospel of John (for example, John 8:12; 10:7). But such self-reference is not characteristic of the Jesus of the synoptic parables and aphorisms. The term ‘light’ has special significance in The Gospel of Thomas (11:3b; 24:3; 50:1; 61:5; 83:1-2), and the ‘All’ is a technical gnostic term for the whole of cosmic reality (note Thomas 67). Such ideas, of course, had currency elsewhere in early Christian circles as well (note John 8:12; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6). But they are not characteristic of Jesus.” (The Five Gospels, p. 515)
- Gerd Ludemann writes: “Jesus identifies himself with light (cf. John 8.12; 9.5), which is tremendously important in Thomas: 11.3b; 24.3; 50.1; 61.5; 83.1-2. Jesus claims to be mediator at creation (cf. Romans 11.36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16). All this recalls the role of wisdom. The presence of Jesus as it is described in vv. 2-3 echoes Matt 18.20; 28.20 – but in that passage, too, there is a wisdom background.” (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 629)
Given the character in ApJohn named Saklas (Yaltabaoth or Ialdabaoth, Samael) is the Demiurge, not in the platonic vein, the difference (whether real or metaphorical) with Orthodox Christianity’s Satan becomes irrelevant. Is the Demiurge Satan or is Satan the Demiurge? Wikipedia provides the following basic summary of this figure: “[It’s the] distinction between the highest, unknowable God and the demiurgic “creator” of the material. Several systems of [Sethian] thought present the Demiurge as antagonistic to the will of the Supreme Being: his act of creation occurs in an unconscious semblance of the divine model, and thus is fundamentally flawed, or else is formed with the malevolent intention of entrapping aspects of the divine in materiality. Thus, in such systems, the Demiurge acts as a solution to (or, at least possibly, the problem or cause that gives rise to) the problem of evil.”
However, Wikipedia very well could be incorrect as the Demiurge did not create matter as in the Platonic school, Sophia’s (Wisdom’s) rupture did according to the Johannine secessionists, along with creating Yaltabaoth. That’s why she’s stuck in this Realm’s Ninth Heaven. Saklas might have shaped the matter, but I believe the initial rupture created it (and if it’s not clear at this point, I am a Johannine secessionist.)
If the above is not clear, please see the following Verse, TriProt 47:
- “The Third time I revealed myself to them in their tents as Word, and I revealed myself in the likeness of their shape. And I wore everyone’s garment, and I hid myself within them, and they did not know the one who empowers me. For I dwell within all the Sovereignties and Powers, and within the angels, and in every movement that exists in all matter. And I hid myself within them until I revealed myself to my brethren. And none of them (the Powers) knew me, although it is I who work in them. Rather, they thought that the All was created by them, since they are ignorant, not knowing their root, the place in which they grew.”
Per ApJohn 13:
- “Then the mother [Sophia] began to move to and fro. She became aware of the deficiency when the brightness of her Light diminished. And she became dark because her consort had not agreed with her.”
- “And I said, ‘Lord, what does it mean that she moved to and fro?’ But he smiled and said, ‘Do not think it is, as Moses said, ‘above the waters.’ No, but when she had seen the wickedness which had happened, and the theft which her son had committed, she repented. And she was overcome by forgetfulness in the darkness of ignorance and she began to be ashamed. (IV 21, 13-15: And she did not dare to return, but she was moving) about. And the moving is the going to and fro.'”
What exactly was her deficiency? Regarding Yaltabaoth’s creation and domain, ApJohn 9-10; I will stress that much of this description could represent an extended metaphor or allegory, if not parody:
- “And the Sophia of the Epinoia, being an aeon, conceived a thought from herself and the conception of the invisible Spirit and foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit – he had not approved – and without her consort, and without his consideration. And though the person of her maleness had not approved, and she had not found her agreement, and she had thought without the consent of the Spirit and the knowledge of her agreement, (yet) she brought forth. And because of the invincible power which is in her, her thought did not remain idle, and something came out of her which was imperfect and different from her appearance, because she had created it without her consort. And it was dissimilar to the likeness of its mother, for it has another form.”
- “And when she saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place [thus in the matter that she herself created,] that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance. And she surrounded it with a luminous cloud, and she placed a throne in the middle of the cloud that no one might see it except the holy Spirit who is called the mother of the living. And she called his name Yaltabaoth.”
- “This is the first archon who took a great power from his mother. And he removed himself from her and moved away from the places in which he was born. He became strong and created for himself other aeons with a flame of luminous fire which (still) exists now. And he joined with his arrogance which is in him and begot authorities for himself. The name of the first one is Athoth, whom the generations call the reaper. The second one is Harmas, who is the eye of envy. The third one is Kalila-Oumbri. The fourth one is Yabel. The fifth one is Adonaiou, who is called Sabaoth. The sixth one is Cain, whom the generations of men call the sun. The seventh is Abel. The eighth is Abrisene. The ninth is Yobel. The tenth is Armoupieel. The eleventh is Melceir-Adonein. The twelfth is Belias, it is he who is over the depth of Hades. And he placed seven kings – each corresponding to the firmaments of heaven – over the seven heavens, and five over the depth of the abyss, that they may reign. And he shared his fire with them, but he did not send forth from the power of the light which he had taken from his mother, for he is ignorant darkness.”
- “And the archons created seven powers for themselves, and the powers created for themselves six angels for each one until they became 365 angels. And these are the bodies belonging with the names: the first is Athoth, a he has a sheep’s face; the second is Eloaiou, he has a donkey’s face; the third is Astaphaios, he has a hyena’s face; the fourth is Yao, he has a serpent’s face with seven heads; the fifth is Sabaoth, he has a dragon’s face; the sixth is Adonin, he had a monkey’s face; the seventh is Sabbede, he has a shining fire-face. This is the sevenness of the week.”
- “But Yaltabaoth had a multitude of faces, more than all of them, so that he could put a face before all of them, according to his desire, when he is in the midst of seraphs. He shared his fire with them; therefore he became lord over them. Because of the power of the glory he possessed of his mother’s light, he called himself God. And he did not obey the place from which he came. And he united the seven powers in his thought with the authorities which were with him. And when he spoke it happened. And he named each power beginning with the highest: the first is goodness with the first (authority), Athoth; the second is foreknowledge with the second one, Eloaio; and the third is divinity with the third one, Astraphaio; the fourth is lordship with the fourth one, Yao; the fifth is kingdom with the fifth one, Sabaoth; the sixth is envy with the sixth one, Adonein; the seventh is understanding with the seventh one, Sabbateon. And these have a firmament corresponding to each aeon-heaven. They were given names according to the glory which belongs to heaven for the destruction of the powers. And in the names which were given to them by their Originator there was power. But the names which were given them according to the glory which belongs to heaven mean for them destruction and powerlessness. Thus they have two names.”
Continuing, ApJohn 11-12 extensively discusses the Demiurge:
- “And when the light had mixed with the darkness, it caused the darkness to shine. And when the darkness had mixed with the light, it darkened the light and it became neither light nor dark, but it became dim.”
- “Now the archon who is weak has three names. The first name is Yaltabaoth, the second is Saklas, and the third is Samael. And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, ‘I am God and there is no other God beside me,’ for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come.”
- “They [Yaltabaoth & his Archons] created a counterfeit spirit, who resembles the Spirit who had descended, so as to pollute the souls through it. And the angels changed themselves in their likeness into the likeness of their mates (the daughters of men), filling them with the spirit of darkness, which they had mixed for them, and with evil. They brought gold and silver and a gift and copper and iron and metal and all kinds of things. And they steered the people who had followed them into great troubles, by leading them astray with many deceptions. They (the people) became old without having enjoyment. They died, not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth. And thus the whole creation became enslaved forever, from the foundation of the world until now. And they took women and begot children out of the darkness according to the likeness of their spirit. And they closed their hearts, and they hardened themselves through the hardness of the counterfeit spirit until now.”
- ApJohn 28 And I said, “Lord, from where did the counterfeit spirit come?” Then he said to me, “The Mother-Father who is rich in mercy, the Holy Spirit in every way, the One who is merciful and who sympathizes with you, i.e. the Epinoia of the foreknowledge of Light, he raised up the offspring of the perfect race and its thinking and the eternal Light of man. When the chief Archon realized that they were exalted above him in the height–and they surpass him in thinking–then he wanted to seize their thought, not knowing that they [the Immovable Race] surpassed him in thinking and that he will not be able to seize them.”
- “He [Yaltabaoth] made a plan with his authorities, which are his Powers, and they committed together adultery with Sophia, and bitter fate was begotten through them, which is the last of the changeable bonds. And it is of a sort that is interchangeable. And it is harder and stronger than she with whom the gods united and the angels and the demons and all the generations until this day. For from that fate came forth every sin and injustice and blasphemy and the chain of forgetfulness and ignorance and every severe command and serious sins and great fears. And thus the whole creation was made blind, in order that they may not know God who is above all of them. And because of the chain of forgetfulness, their sins were hidden. For they are bound with measures and times and moments, since it (fate) is lord over everything.”
Incidentally, Sophia is identified with Epinoia in both ApJohn and TriProt. The two are related, but not one-in-the-same. Epinoia is one of the highest spiritual concepts in the Pleroma, and the term is Greek. Some of the better translations include Direct Revelation, Divine Insight, and Divine Inspiration.
The Valentinians would have it that since Sophia represents Wisdom, she could not have helped herself from instigating the impossible regarding the Father. The Sethians have it quite differently in their Apocryphon. As mentioned, some call her act wanton, some (such as TriProt) call it innocent. The key is that she did not have her consort’s consent, let alone the invisible Spirit’s, in seeking out The Father. Thus, in ApJohn she’s stuck in this Realm’s Ninth Heaven, for lack of a better term, one that was created for her within both the texts of ApJohn & TriProt (and note the Ninth is not in the Pleroma.) Epinoia, not Sophia, asked Yaltabaoth for it to be created in the latter work:
“Now when the Epinoia of the Light realized that he (Yaltabaoth) had begged him (the Light) for another order, even though he was lower than she, she said, “Give me another order, so that you may become for me a dwelling place, lest I dwell in disorder forever.” And the order of the entire house of glory was agreed upon her word. A blessing was brought for her and the higher order released it to her.”
Thus, TriProt further elaborates on the creation of ApJohn’s 9th by explicitly stating this order was granted to Epinoia; by virtue of their identification with one another, Sophia accompanied the emanation. Ironically, Sophia was Epinoia’s custodian! Per ApJohn 23:
“Then the Epinoia of Light hid herself in him (Adam.) And the chief archon wanted to bring her out of his rib. But the Epinoia of the light cannot be grasped [note: perhaps a double-entendre.] Although darkness pursued her, it did not catch her. And he brought a part of his power out of him. And he made another creature in the form of a woman according to the likeness of the Epinoia which had appeared to him. And he brought the power which he had taken from the power of the man into the female creature, and not as Moses said, ‘his rib-bone.'” Note that Sophia is explicitly not referenced in this later section, only Epinoia.
Furthermore, as Harvard’s Karen King states in her book The Secret Revelation of John (SecJohn,) on p. 233: “The wisdom of the lower world is folly. Just as The Secret Revelation of John satirizes Genesis by exposing the creator as an arrogant, theriomorphic pretender [as we shall see in the next Section,] so it takes equal pleasure in parodying Jewish wisdom tradition by portraying Divine Wisdom [Sophia] as an ignorant and foolish female.”
As Alastair Logan goes on to say in Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, there is much confusion, even within the text of the Apocryphon:
“Now the combination in the ‘Ophite’ system of Sophia’s continuing revelatory/redemptive activity which is yet incomplete, with the decisive eschatological revelatory/redemptive descent of Christ, seems to find an echo–if a confused one–in the Apocryphon with its plethora of redeeming figures and final Pronoia hymn. Thus not only do we hear of the Mother-Father or Pronoia in a redeeming capacity, but also of the Holy Spirit, Zoe ‘the Mother of the living,’ the Epinoia of light, Christ, and even Sophia, in that she has to correct her own deficiency. But textual evidence suggests that plethora may conceal an earlier, simpler picture in that the Holy Spirit, the Epinoia of light, and Zoe appear to ultimately be one and the same figure, originally to be equated with Sophia, as Janssens has claimed.”
However, I’d add that even this discussion could be partially incorrect, depending on the redaction, in that the Apocryphon explicitly equates the Holy Spirit with Pronoia, though this could have been added in a later recension. Continuing in Mr. Logan’s work:
- “The characteristic ambivalence over Sophia is well expressed, as we saw, in the confusion over the existence and descent of her consort; the earlier myth has no need of this, but the figure is added both through Valentinian influence and to ease the paradox by representing the erring Sophia as entirely passive. And the figure/figures of the Epinoia/Zoe/Holy Spirit are similarly presented in terms of Sophia’s helper, better half, or consort. Not surprisingly we find various interpretations of this basic ambivalence in texts we would see as dependent on the Apocryphon. Thus Trimorphic Protennoia stresses the more passive aspect of both figures in that it identifies the Epinoia of light with the guileless Sophia who descends, produces Ialdabaoth, and then begs to be elevated.
- Thus it may be that the ‘Ophite’ picture of Sophia as responsible for initial and continuing revelation/redemption, yet ultimately requiring the decisive redemptive Christ event, finds an echo in earlier versions of the Apocryphon, which later, under the influence of a Pronoia-Epinoia scheme developed round Barbelo, demoted Sophia to a more passive figure, and replaced her with a more active one (Epinoia/Zoe/Holy Spirit.)”
Some rather lurid works refer to Sophia as Pronoia’s lower half, but I’d like to explore two possibilities:
- Did her wanton act represent independent action, one that was later accepted by the Father & The Totalities (i.e. the Pleroma?)
- Was the outcome of this act deliberate, foreknown, and expected?
In other words, as a good Valentinian might say, was Error pre-generated thought by the Father or was it systematic malfunction? I don’t agree with their ultimate reasoning that since she’s Wisdom, she could not help it.
One way to approach this baseline issue is starting with Christ’s Illuminators. Armozel, to me, represents structure, with his Grace, Truth, and Form. Though a solid base is important, to me Daveithai’s Aeons might in fact be the highest ideals overall: Understanding, Love, and Idea. Perhaps he’s sandwiched in at Position III for camouflage purposes. Armozel could in fact solidify this entire conceptualization, Oroiael could represent the natural transition between Armozel and Daveithai with his Conception (Pronoia in some versions,) Perception, and Memory. Eleleth, the fourth and last, very well could represent the ultimate goal in one’s spiritual quest with his Aeons of Perfection, Peace, and Wisdom. As we will see in the Direct Revelations at the end of this work, the spiritual concepts shift somewhat among the Illuminators, though preliminarily a true luminary should ascertain that those included in Daveithai are what it’s all about at the base level. Wisdom (Sophia) was the last Aeon of the group, the twelfth, and you might recall that this is where the rupture occurred. Perhaps the Aeon was too far out from the Father in the Pleroma, though that seems to be suspect as all are divine. I’ll quickly mention that there’s one Pleroma in ApJohn & the TriProt (let alone GosJohn,) and this was a quite egregious error included toward the end of GosTruth: there are not multiple Pleromas. This line of thought is clearly associated with the Valentinians, not the Sethians.
At this point, I will take a moment to mention how in my opinion GosTruth was an initial Valentinian attempt to trinitize ApJohn, and the language included therein does support many of the concepts. As we shall see, parts of the text are very well presented. Moreover, the Tripartite Tractate (TriTrac) was a desperate, and much later, attempt to trinitize the Apocryphon, most likely written well past Irenaeus’ Against Heresies—and most likely as a response. The Valentinians went through mental gymnastics in order to rewrite this most important treatise. Even ApJohn was redacted after the copy Irenaeus likely used when composing Book I, Ch 29 & 30, but there’s a difference between a redaction and a rewrite. The Sethian The Hypostasis of the Archons offers yet another perspective, and though several of the details have been shifted, it’s true to the spirit of the Apocryphon. The same goes for On the Origin of the World; it’s not as cohesively related, though it is stronger than many of the Valentinian works. For example, in this treatise Sophia is in the 6th ‘Heaven’ of this Realm, or ‘ogdoad,’ not the 9th as in ApJohn.
The anthropological/anthropomorphic principles included in the likes of ApJohn are, more or less, focused on the human race by definition. I don’t want to unduly bore the reader with discussion about other potential alien races as there are plenty of sources one can reference. However, I will stress that these elements apply across the different races across the world, hence often times scholars make the connection of Original Christianity’s close relation with Buddhism, Taoism, Orthodox Christianity, and the general category of mystery religions. In essence, Original Christianity is a fusion of all, plus the addition of some of the tenets of Greek Philosophy, Jewish Wisdom Traditions, and Astrology. As Rice University’s April DeConick has pointed out, even elements of Roman Mysticism can apply—the Hermetics, the Mithraic mysteries. The Egyptian’s Atum provides another such example.
ApJohn’s discussion of Christ has him first and foremost a spark that was the only begotten Spirit of the Father & Barbelo. GosJohn equates Christ with Logos in the Prologue. Others would include Autogenes—a process in my opinion, not a thing. More on this later. Additionally, one must keep in mind that opposed to the Archons’ Fate, the Immovable Race is subject to Divine Providence. Universal energy still exists, but Providence trumps fate.