Trimorphic Protennoia‘s Relation with ApJohn

TriProt very much expounds upon the many wonders associated with the Land of the Spirit, and it’s a supremely important treatise. Again, it’s directly attributable to Father himself according to the text. The entire work resonates with me to the point that I see how this message is being conveyed—and I agree with the presentation. In a manner of speaking, the text also serves to fuse both ApJohn and GosJohn into one cohesive unit or body that stands for the fullness of time. In another sense, this treatise very effectively objectivizes the subjective—the Land of the Spirit—and the infusion of one’s being into the Pleroma upon effectively receiving ApJohn’s Spirit of Light via the Autogenes process. Even at the beginning of my indoctrination into these esoteric concepts, I made the connection that the Pronoia Monologue in ApJohn is the model, and of course the entire TriProt is written in the exact same voice.

Regarding Trimorphic Protennoia‘s drafting: interestingly Alastair Logan of the University of Exeter believes the Apocryphon was originally a Christian work, quite unlike Turner. I agree with Logan. As appears on p. 46 of Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy: 

  • “But the Apocryphon with the Pronoia hymn undoubtedly underlies and structures Trimorphic Protennoia, which may be roughly contemporary with the (a3) recension of the Apocryphon (circa 200CE) but which, intriguingly, seems unaware of the Sethian [Sethite] material. Thus it seems to mark a fascinating moment of transition in that it presupposes and develops the Barbelognostic theogony, cosmology, and soteriology (the triad Father, Mother, and Son; Christ identified with Autogenes; the four Illuminators and servants, baptizers, etc.; and the Five Seals,) identifies Sophia with the Epinoia of light as a passive figure, assigns Aeons to the four Illuminators but does not structure them hierarchically or temporally as abodes of Adamas, Seth and his seed: all these are conspicuously absent from this supposedly ‘Sethian’ work. Turner’s detailed literary analysis, although sophisticated and ingenious, is vitiated by his assumptions that this work is Sethian, that the Sethians were a pre-Christian breakaway Jewish sect, and that one of their fundamental ideas was tripartition of history involving the triple scheme of a savior figure.
  • It seems simpler to assume that the redactors of Trimorphic Protennoia knew of the (a2) version of the Apocryphon with the Pronoia hymn (circa 160CE,) and developed the pattern of the three interventions/rebukes/descents of the female savior figure as respectively Voice (Father,) Sound (Mother,) and Word (Son.) The glosses we find added to Barbelo in the (a2) version (e.g. ‘primordial Man,’ ‘triple male,’ ‘with three powers, three names,’ etc.) form the basis of an expansion of the former’s doctrine into the three main sections of the work and concluding revelation. That the redactors developed an already existing myth involving cosmology, eschatology, and soteriology, adding aretalogies, etc. seems more likely than Turner’s supposition that they expanded the original Pronoia hymn by aretalogies and added doctrinal passages to them. The revealer figure Protennoia is obviously an extrapolation of Barbelo/Pronoia.” I’d for the most part agree with this last statement, though I believe the entire treatise is written in the voice of the Father; Pronoia is his reflection according to the Sethian treatises.
  • “One might find Turner’s redaction theory of the Protennoia overelaborate and flawed by its Sethian presuppositions, and be led to reject his claim of secondary Christianization, but his interpretation of the third subtractate as a polemic, in light of John’s Gospel and the Prologue in particular, against certain non-Gnostic understandings of Christ is attractive and persuasive. Yet here again one must reject his claim that this was part of an explicit Christianization: the mythology underlying the work is, as I have argued, at bottom of Christian origin. The echoes of the Fourth Gospel derive from some awareness of it and reinterpretation of it in a Gnostic context. Such a reinterpretation might well have been suggested by the reworking of the Apocryphon as a dialogue between the risen Christ (who appears in three forms!) and John about past, present, and future. The final reference to the Protennoia placing her seed in the holy light in silence may mark the beginnings of Sethianization.”

The two works collectively (that is ApJohn & TriProt,) or three as we will see with GosJohn, essentially weed out any “puffed up” nature that Irenaeus attributed to the Valentinians. Add in GosThom & GosPhil and you have one extremely strong canon of knowledge. GosTruth actually reinforces this canon rather well, the quite powerful treatise we can most likely thank Valentinus for having written.

As Harvard’s Dr. King states regarding ApJohn on p.243 of her work: “Through their very particular reading of shared cultural resources, the framers and readers of The Secret Revelation of John produced a powerful social-political critique and a utopian vision of reality. The Secret Revelation of John represents itself as having the key to the true meaning of all of human history, the truth finally available only through revelation. Christ’s teaching illumines the most prestigious cultural traditions by throwing them into the light of revelation. The traditions of the past can now be seen for what they are: deceptions, counterfeit images, and partial truths. But one can now also see in them the real truth. The Secret Revelation of John provides a paradigm for distinguishing between the true and the seeming, the model and the copy, the real and the deceptive.”

Further support for Dr. King’s position solidly comes from Tuomas Rasimus in Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking at the end of Chapter 9, on p. 279: “The Pronoia hymn in LR of ApJohn is formally and thematically parallel to the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel. The parallel developments of this interpretation in the Johannine and Classic Gnostic [Barbeloite] communities; the many Johannine elements in both recensions of ApJohn without clear quotations of the gospel; and the possibility that SR of ApJohn [the so called short version] predates the final version of the gospel, suggest that the Johannine schismatics may have been involved in the composition of ApJohn. If the authors of ApJohn did have some sort of connection with the historical Johannine community, and if SR predates the final version of the gospel, then the Sethianization of the Ophite [Barbeloite] mythology (presupposed in ApJohn) could be dated to the time the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles were written, ca. 90-125CE.”