The Apocryphal Books

The Nag Hammadi Library

On the Origin of the World
(“The Untitled Text”)

Translated by Hans-Gebhard Bethge and Bentley Layton

Seeing that everybody, gods of the world and mankind, says that nothing existed prior to chaos, I, in distinction to them, shall demonstrate that they are all mistaken, because they are not acquainted with the origin of chaos, nor with its root. Here is the demonstration.

How well it suits all men, on the subject of chaos, to say that it is a kind of darkness! But in fact it comes from a shadow, which has been called by the name ‘darkness’. And the shadow comes from a product that has existed since the beginning. It is, moreover, clear that it existed before chaos came into being, and that the latter is posterior to the first product. Let us therefore concern ourselves with the facts of the matter; and furthermore, with the first product, from which chaos was projected. And in this way the truth will be clearly demonstrated.

After the natural structure of the immortal beings had completely developed out of the infinite, a likeness then emanated from Pistis (Faith); it is called Sophia (Wisdom). It exercised volition and became a product resembling the primeval light. And immediately her will manifested itself as a likeness of heaven, having an unimaginable magnitude; it was between the immortal beings and those things that came into being after them, like […]: she (Sophia) functioned as a veil dividing mankind from the things above.

Now the eternal realm (aeon) of truth has no shadow outside it, for the limitless light is everywhere within it. But its exterior is shadow, which has been called by the name ‘darkness’. From it, there appeared a force, presiding over the darkness. And the forces that came into being subsequent to them called the shadow ‘the limitless chaos’. From it, every kind of divinity sprouted up […] together with the entire place, so that also, shadow is posterior to the first product. It was <in> the abyss that it (shadow) appeared, deriving from the aforementioned Pistis.

Then shadow perceived there was something mightier than it, and felt envy; and when it had become pregnant of its own accord, suddenly it engendered jealousy. Since that day, the principle of jealousy amongst all the eternal realms and their worlds has been apparent. Now as for that jealousy, it was found to be an abortion without any spirit in it. Like a shadow, it came into existence in a vast watery substance. Then the bile that had come into being out of the shadow was thrown into a part of chaos. Since that day, a watery substance has been apparent. And what sank within it flowed away, being visible in chaos: as with a woman giving birth to a child – all her superfluities flow out; just so, matter came into being out of shadow, and was projected apart. And it did not depart from chaos; rather, matter was in chaos, being in a part of it.

And when these things had come to pass, then Pistis came and appeared over the matter of chaos, which had been expelled like an aborted fetus – since there was no spirit in it. For all of it (chaos) was limitless darkness and bottomless water. Now when Pistis saw what had resulted from her defect, she became disturbed. And the disturbance appeared, as a fearful product; it rushed to her in the chaos. She turned to it and blew into its face in the abyss, which is below all the heavens.

And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance, androgynous, having great authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being. Now when Pistis Sophia saw him moving about in the depth of the waters, she said to him, “Child, pass through to here,” whose equivalent is ‘yalda baoth’.

Since that day, there appeared the principle of verbal expression, which reached the gods and the angels and mankind. And what came into being as a result of verbal expression, the gods and the angels and mankind finished. Now as for the ruler Yaltabaoth, he is ignorant of the force of Pistis: he did not see her face, rather he saw in the water the likeness that spoke with him. And because of that voice, he called himself ‘Yaldabaoth’. But ‘Ariael’ is what the perfect call him, for he was like a lion. Now when he had come to have authority over matter, Pistis Sophia withdrew up to her light.

When the ruler saw his magnitude – and it was only himself that he saw: he saw nothing else, except for water and darkness – then he supposed that it was he alone who existed. His […] was completed by verbal expression: it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro upon the waters. And when that spirit appeared, the ruler set apart the watery substance. And what was dry was divided into another place. And from matter, he made for himself an abode, and he called it ‘heaven’. And from matter, the ruler made a footstool, and he called it ‘earth’.

Next, the ruler had a thought – consistent with his nature – and by means of verbal expression he created an androgyne. He opened his mouth and cooed to him. When his eyes had been opened, he looked at his father, and he said to him, “Eee!” Then his father called him Eee-a-o (‘Yao’). Next he created the second son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, “Eh!” His father called him ‘Eloai’. Next, he created the third son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, “Asss!” His father called him ‘Astaphaios’. These are the three sons of their father.

Seven appeared in chaos, androgynous. They have their masculine names and their feminine names. The feminine name is Pronoia (Forethought) Sambathas, which is ‘week’.
And his son is called Yao: his feminine name is Lordship.
Sabaoth: his feminine name is Deity.
Adonaios: his feminine name is Kingship.
Elaios: his feminine name is Jealousy.
Oraios: his feminine name is Wealth.
And Astaphaios: his feminine name is Sophia (Wisdom).
These are the seven forces of the seven heavens of chaos. And they were born androgynous, consistent with the immortal pattern that existed before them, according to the wish of Pistis: so that the likeness of what had existed since the beginning might reign to the end. You will find the effect of these names and the force of the male entities in the Archangelic (Book) of the Prophet Moses, and the names of the female entities in the first Book of Noraia.

Now the prime parent Yaldabaoth, since he possessed great authorities, created heavens for each of his offspring through verbal expression – created them beautiful, as dwelling places – and in each heaven he created great glories, seven times excellent. Thrones and mansions and temples, and also chariots and virgin spirits up to an invisible one and their glories, each one has these in his heaven; mighty armies of gods and lords and angels and archangels – countless myriads – so that they might serve. The account of these matters you will find in a precise manner in the first Account of Oraia.

And they were completed from this heaven to as far up as the sixth heaven, namely that of Sophia. The heaven and his earth were destroyed by the troublemaker that was below them all. And the six heavens shook violently; for the forces of chaos knew who it was that had destroyed the heaven that was below them. And when Pistis knew about the breakage resulting from the disturbance, she sent forth her breath and bound him and cast him down into Tartaros. Since that day, the heaven, along with its earth, has consolidated itself through Sophia the daughter of Yaldabaoth, she who is below them all.

Now when the heavens had consolidated themselves along with their forces and all their administration, the prime parent became insolent. And he was honored by all the army of angels. And all the gods and their angels gave blessing and honor to him. And for his part, he was delighted and continually boasted, saying to them, “I have no need of anyone.” He said, “It is I who am God, and there is no other one that exists apart from me.” And when he said this, he sinned against all the immortal beings who give answer. And they laid it to his charge.

Then when Pistis saw the impiety of the chief ruler, she was filled with anger. She was invisible. She said, “You are mistaken, Samael,” (that is, “blind god”). “There is an immortal man of light who has been in existence before you, and who will appear among your modelled forms; he will trample you to scorn, just as potter’s clay is pounded. And you will descend to your mother, the abyss, along with those that belong to you. For at the consummation of your (pl.) works, the entire defect that has become visible out of the truth will be abolished, and it will cease to be, and will be like what has never been.” Saying this, Pistis revealed her likeness of her greatness in the waters. And so doing, she withdrew up to her light.

Now when Sabaoth, the son of Yaldabaoth, heard the voice of Pistis, he sang praises to her, and he condemned the father […] at the word of Pistis; and he praised her because she had instructed them about the immortal man and his light. Then Pistis Sophia stretched out her finger and poured upon him some light from her light, to be a condemnation of his father. Then when Sabaoth was illumined, he received great authority against all the forces of chaos. Since that day he has been called “Lord of the Forces”.

He hated his father, the darkness, and his mother, the abyss, and loathed his sister, the thought of the prime parent, which moved to and fro upon the waters. And because of his light, all the authorities of chaos were jealous of him. And when they had become disturbed, they made a great war in the seven heavens. Then when Pistis Sophia had seen the war, she dispatched seven archangels to Sabaoth from her light. They snatched him up to the seventh heaven. They stood before him as attendants. Furthermore, she sent him three more archangels, and established the kingdom for him over everyone, so that he might dwell above the twelve gods of chaos.

Now when Sabaoth had taken up the place of repose in return for his repentance, Pistis also gave him her daughter Zoe (Life), together with great authority, so that she might instruct him about all things that exist in the eighth heaven. And as he had authority, he made himself first of all a mansion. It is huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all those that exist in the seven heavens.

And before his mansion he created a throne, which was huge and was upon a four-faced chariot called “Cherubin”. Now the Cherubin has eight shapes per each of the four corners, lion forms and calf forms and human forms and eagle forms, so that all the forms amount to sixty-four forms – and seven archangels that stand before it; he is the eighth, and has authority. All the forms amount to seventy-two. Furthermore, from this chariot the seventy-two gods took shape; they took shape so that they might rule over the seventy-two languages of the peoples. And by that throne he created other, serpent-like angels, called “Seraphin”, which praise him at all times.

Thereafter he created a congregation of angels, thousands and myriads, numberless, which resembled the congregation in the eighth heaven; and a firstborn called

Israel – which is, “the man that sees God”; and another being, called Jesus Christ, who resembles the savior above in the eighth heaven, and who sits at his right upon a revered throne. And at his left, there sits the virgin of the holy spirit, upon a throne and glorifying him. And the seven virgins stand before her, […] possessing thirty harps, and psalteries and trumpets, glorifying him. And all the armies of the angels glorify him, and they bless him. Now where he sits is upon a throne of light <within a> great cloud that covers him. And there was no one with him in the cloud except Sophia <the daughter of> Pistis, instructing him about all the things that exist in the eighth heaven, so that the likenesses of those things might be created, in order that his reign might endure until the consummation of the heavens of chaos and their forces.

Now Pistis Sophia set him apart from the darkness and summoned him to her right, and the prime parent she put at her left. Since that day, right has been called justice, and left called wickedness. Now because of this, they all received a realm in the congregation of justice and wickedness, […] stand […] upon a creature […] all.

Thus, when the prime parent of chaos saw his son Sabaoth and the glory that he was in, and perceived that he was greatest of all the authorities of chaos, he envied him. And having become wrathful, he engendered Death out of his death: and he (viz., Death) was established over the sixth heaven, <for> Sabaoth had been snatched up from there. And thus the number of the six authorities of chaos was achieved. Then Death, being androgynous, mingled with his (own) nature and begot seven androgynous offspring. These are the names of the male ones: Jealousy, Wrath, Tears, Sighing, Suffering, Lamentation, Bitter Weeping. And these are the names of the female ones: Wrath, Pain, Lust, Sighing, Curse, Bitterness, Quarrelsomeness. They had intercourse with one another, and each one begot seven, so that they amount to forty-nine androgynous demons. Their names and their effects you will find in the Book of Solomon.

And in the presence of these, Zoe, who was with Sabaoth, created seven good androgynous forces. These are the names of the male ones: the Unenvious, the Blessed, the Joyful, the True, the Unbegrudging, the Beloved, the Trustworthy. Also, as regards the female ones, these are their names: Peace, Gladness, Rejoicing, Blessedness, Truth, Love, Faith (Pistis). And from these are many good and innocent spirits. Their influences and their effects you will find in the Configurations of the Fate of Heaven That Is Beneath the Twelve.

And having seen the likeness of Pistis in the waters, the prime parent grieved very much, especially when he heard her voice, like the first voice that had called to him out of the waters. And when he knew that it was she who had given a name to him, he sighed. He was ashamed on account of his transgression. And when he had come to know in truth that an immortal man of light had been existing before him, he was greatly disturbed; for he had previously said to all the gods and their angels, “It is I who am god. No other one exists apart from me.” For he had been afraid they might know that another had been in existence before him, and might condemn him. But he, being devoid of understanding, scoffed at the condemnation and acted recklessly. He said, “If anything has existed before me, let it appear, so that we may see its light.”

And immediately, behold! Light came out of the eighth heaven above and passed through all of the heavens of chaos. When the prime parent saw that the light was beautiful as it radiated, he was amazed. And he was greatly ashamed. As that light appeared, a human likeness appeared within it, very wonderful. And no one saw it except for the prime parent and Pronoia, who was with him. Yet its light appeared to all the forces of the heavens. Because of this they were all troubled by it.

Then when Pronoia saw that emissary, she became enamored of him. But he hated her because she was on the darkness. But she desired to embrace him, and she was not able to. When she was unable to assuage her love, she poured out her light upon the earth. Since that day, that emissary has been called “Adam of Light,” whose rendering is “the luminous man of blood,” and the earth spread over him, holy Adaman, whose rendering is “the Holy Land of Adamantine.” Since that day, all the authorities have honored the blood of the virgin. And the earth was purified on account of the blood of the virgin. But most of all, the water was purified through the likeness of Pistis Sophia, who had appeared to the prime parent in the waters. Justly, then, it has been said: “through the waters.” The holy water, since it vivifies the all, purifies it.

Out of that first blood Eros appeared, being androgynous. His masculinity is Himireris, being fire from the light. His femininity that is with him – a soul of blood – is from the stuff of Pronoia. He is very lovely in his beauty, having a charm beyond all the creatures of chaos. Then all the gods and their angels, when they beheld Eros, became enamored of him. And appearing in all of them, he set them afire: just as from a single lamp many lamps are lit, and one and the same light is there, but the lamp is not diminished. And in this way, Eros became dispersed in all the created beings of chaos, and was not diminished. Just as from the midpoint of light and darkness Eros appeared and at the midpoint of the angels and mankind the sexual union of Eros was consummated, so out of the earth the primal pleasure blossomed. The woman followed earth. And marriage followed woman. Birth followed marriage. Dissolution followed birth.

After that Eros, the grapevine sprouted up out of that blood, which had been shed over the earth. Because of this, those who drink of it conceive the desire of sexual union. After the grapevine, a fig tree and a pomegranate tree sprouted up from the earth, together with the rest of the trees, all species, having with them their seed from the seed of the authorities and their angels.

Then Justice created Paradise, being beautiful and being outside the orbit of the moon and the orbit of the sun in the Land of Wantonness, in the East in the midst of the stones. And desire is in the midst of the beautiful, appetizing trees. And the tree of eternal life is as it appeared by God’s will, to the north of Paradise, so that it might make eternal the souls of the pure, who shall come forth from the modelled forms of poverty at the consummation of the age. Now the color of the tree of life is like the sun. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like those of the cypress. Its fruit is like a bunch of grapes when it is white. Its height goes as far as heaven. And next to it (is) the tree of knowledge (gnosis), having the strength of God. Its glory is like the moon when fully radiant. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig leaves. Its fruit is like a good appetizing date. And this tree is to the north of Paradise, so that it might arouse the souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that they might approach the tree of life and eat of its fruit, and so condemn the authorities and their angels. The effect of this tree is described in the Sacred Book, to wit: “It is you who are the tree of knowledge, which is in Paradise, from which the first man ate and which opened his mind; and he loved his female counterpart and condemned the other, alien likenesses and loathed them.”

Now after it, the olive tree sprouted up, which was to purify the kings and the high priests of righteousness, who were to appear in the last days, since the olive tree appeared out of the light of the first Adam for the sake of the unguent that they were to receive.

And the first soul (psyche) loved Eros, who was with her, and poured her blood upon him and upon the earth. And out of that blood the rose first sprouted up, out of the earth, out of the thorn bush, to be a source of joy for the light that was to appear in the bush. Moreover, after this the beautiful, good-smelling flowers sprouted up from the earth, different kinds, from every single virgin of the daughters of Pronoia. And they, when they had become enamored of Eros, poured out their blood upon him and upon the earth. After these, every plant sprouted up from the earth, different kinds, containing the seed of the authorities and their angels. After these, the authorities created out of the waters all species of beast, and the reptiles and birds – different kinds – containing the seed of the authorities and their angels.

But before all these, when he had appeared on the first day, he remained upon the earth, something like two days, and left the lower Pronoia in heaven, and ascended towards his light. And immediately darkness covered all the universe. Now when she wished, the Sophia who was in the lower heaven received authority from Pistis, and fashioned great luminous bodies and all the stars. And she put them in the sky to shine upon the earth and to render temporal signs and seasons and years and months and days and nights and moments and so forth. And in this way the entire region upon the sky was adorned.

Now when Adam of Light conceived the wish to enter his light – i.e., the eighth heaven – he was unable to do so because of the poverty that had mingled with his light. Then he created for himself a vast eternal realm. And within that eternal realm he created six eternal realms and their adornments, six in number, that were seven times better than the heavens of chaos and their adornments. Now all these eternal realms and their adornments exist within the infinity that is between the eighth heaven and the chaos below it, being counted with the universe that belongs to poverty. If you want to know the arrangement of these, you will find it written in the Seventh Universe of the Prophet Hieralias.

And before Adam of Light had withdrawn in the chaos, the authorities saw him and laughed at the prime parent because he had lied when he said, “It is I who am God. No one exists before me.” When they came to him, they said, “Is this not the god who ruined our work?” He answered and said, “Yes. If you do not want him to be able to ruin our work, come let us create a man out of earth, according to the image of our body and according to the likeness of this being, to serve us; so that when he sees his likeness, he might become enamored of it. No longer will he ruin our work; rather,we shall make those who are born out of the light our servants for all the duration of this eternal realm.” Now all of this came to pass according to the forethought of Pistis, in order that man should appear after his likeness, and should condemn them because of their modelled form. And their modelled form became an enclosure of the light.

Then the authorities received the knowledge (gnosis) necessary to create man. Sophia Zoe – she who is with Sabaoth – had anticipated them. And she laughed at their decision. For they are blind: against their own interests they ignorantly created him. And they do not realize what they are about to do. The reason she anticipated them and made her own man first, was in order that he might instruct their modelled form how to despise them, and thus to escape from them.

Now the production of the instructor came about as follows. When Sophia let fall a droplet of light, it flowed onto the water, and immediately a human being appeared, being androgynous. That droplet she molded first as a female body. Afterwards, using the body she molded it in the likeness of the mother, which had appeared. And he finished it in twelve months. An androgynous human being was produced, whom the Greeks call Hermaphrodites; and whose mother the Hebrews call Eve of Life (Zoe), namely, the female instructor of life. Her offspring is the creature that is lord. Afterwards, the authorities called it “Beast”, so that it might lead astray their modelled creatures. The interpretation of “the beast” is “the instructor”. For it was found to be the wisest of all beings.

Now, Eve is the first virgin, the one who without a husband bore her first offspring. It is she who served as her own midwife. For this reason she is held to have said:

It is I who am the part of my mother; and it is I who am the mother.
It is I who am the wife; it is I who am the virgin.
It is I who am pregnant; it is I who am the midwife.
It is I who am the one that comforts pains of travail.
It is my husband who bore me; and it is I who am his mother.
And it is he who is my father and my lord.
It is he who is my force; What he desires, he says with reason.
I am in the process of becoming; yet I have borne a man as lord.

Now these through the will <…> The souls that were going to enter the modelled forms of the authorities were manifested to Sabaoth and his Christ. And regarding these, the holy voice said, “Multiply and improve! Be lord over all creatures.” And it is they who were taken captive, according to their destinies, by the prime parent. And thus they were shut into the prisons of the modelled forms until the consummation of the age.

And at that time, the prime parent then rendered an opinion concerning man to those who were with him. Then each of them cast his sperm into the midst of the navel of the earth. Since that day, the seven rulers have fashioned man with his body resembling their body, but his likeness resembling the man that had appeared to them. His modelling took place by parts, one at a time. And their leader fashioned the brain and the nervous system. Afterwards, he appeared as the one prior to him. He became a soul-endowed man. And he was called Adam, that is, “father”, according to the name of the one that existed before him.

And when they had finished Adam, he abandoned him as an inanimate vessel, since he had taken form like an abortion, in that no spirit was in him. Regarding this thing, when the chief ruler remembered the saying of Pistis, he was afraid lest the true man enter his modelled form and become its lord. For this reason he left his modelled form forty days without soul, and he withdrew and abandoned it. Now on the fortieth day, Sophia Zoe sent her breath into Adam, who had no soul. He began to move upon the ground. And he could not stand up.

Then, when the seven rulers came, they saw him and were greatly disturbed. They went up to him and seized him. And he (viz., the chief ruler) said to the breath within him, “Who are you? And whence did you come hither?” It answered and said, “I have come from the force of the man for the destruction of your work.” When they heard, they glorified him, since he gave them respite from the fear and the anxiety in which they found themselves. Then they called that day “Rest”, in as much as they had rested from toil. And when they saw that Adam could stand up, they were glad, and they took him and put him in Paradise. And they withdrew up to their heavens.

After the day of rest, Sophia sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an instructor, in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise, so that those whom he should engender might become containers of light. When Eve saw her male counterpart prostrate, she had pity upon him, and she said, “Adam! Become alive! Arise upon the earth!” Immediately her word became accomplished fact. For Adam, having arisen, suddenly opened his eyes. When he saw her, he said, “You shall be called ‘Mother of the Living’. For it is you who have given me life.”

Then the authorities were informed that their modelled form was alive and had arisen, and they were greatly troubled. They sent seven archangels to see what had happened. They came to Adam. When they saw Eve talking to him, they said to one another, “What sort of thing is this luminous woman? For she resembles that likeness which appeared to us in the light. Now come, let us lay hold of her and cast our seed into her, so that when she becomes soiled she may not be able to ascend into her light. Rather, those whom she bears will be under our charge. But let us not tell Adam, for he is not one of us. Rather let us bring a deep sleep over him. And let us instruct him in his sleep to the effect that she came from his rib, in order that his wife may obey, and he may be lord over her.”

Then Eve, being a force, laughed at their decision. She put mist into their eyes and secretly left her likeness with Adam. She entered the tree of knowledge and remained there. And they pursued her, and she revealed to them that she had gone into the tree and become a tree. Then, entering a great state of fear, the blind creatures fled.

Afterwards, when they had recovered from the daze, they came to Adam; and seeing the likeness of this woman with him, they were greatly disturbed, thinking it was she that was the true Eve. And they acted rashly; they came up to her and seized her and cast their seed upon her. They did so wickedly, defiling not only in natural ways but also in foul ways, defiling first the seal of her voice – that had spoken with them, saying, “What is it that exists before you?” – intending to defile those who might say at the consummation (of the age) that they had been born of the true man through the Word. And they erred, not knowing that it was their own body that they had defiled: it was the likeness that the authorities and their angels defiled in every way.

First she was pregnant with Abel, by the first ruler. And it was by the seven authorities and their angels that she bore the other offspring. And all this came to pass according to the forethought of the prime parent, so that the first mother might bear within her every seed, being mixed and being fitted to the fate of the universe and its configurations, and to Justice. A prearranged plan came into effect regarding Eve, so that the modelled forms of the authorities might become enclosures of the light, whereupon it would condemn them through their modelled forms.

Now the first Adam, (Adam) of Light, is spirit-endowed and appeared on the first day. The second Adam is soul-endowed and appeared on the sixth day, which is called Aphrodite. The third Adam is a creature of the earth, that is, the man of the law, and he appeared on the eighth day […] the tranquility of poverty, which is called “The Day of the Sun” (Sunday). And the progeny of the earthly Adam became numerous and was completed, and produced within itself every kind of scientific information of the soul-endowed Adam. But all were in ignorance.

Next, let me say that once the rulers had seen him and the female creature who was with him erring ignorantly like beasts, they were very glad. When they learned that the immortal man was not going to neglect them, rather that they would even have to fear the female creature that had turned into a tree, they were disturbed, and said, “Perhaps this is the true man – this being who has brought a fog upon us and has taught us that she who was soiled is like him – and so we shall be conquered!”

Then the seven of them together laid plans. They came up to Adam and Eve timidly: they said to him, “The fruit of all the trees created for you in Paradise shall be eaten; but as for the tree of knowledge, control yourselves and do not eat from it. If you eat, you will die.” Having imparted great fear to them, they withdrew up to their authorities.

Then came the wisest of all creatures, who was called Beast. And when he saw the likeness of their mother Eve he said to her, “What did God say to you? Was it ‘Do not eat from the tree of knowledge’?” She said, “He said not only, ‘Do not eat from it’, but, ‘Do not touch it, lest you die.'” He said to her, “Do not be afraid. In death you shall not die. For he knows that when you eat from it, your intellect will become sober and you will come to be like gods, recognizing the difference that obtains between evil men and good ones. Indeed, it was in jealousy that he said this to you, so that you would not eat from it.”

Now Eve had confidence in the words of the instructor. She gazed at the tree and saw that it was beautiful and appetizing, and liked it; she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she gave some also to her husband, and he too ate it. Then their intellect became open. For when they had eaten, the light of knowledge had shone upon them. When they clothed themselves with shame, they knew that they were naked of knowledge. When they became sober, they saw that they were naked and became enamored of one another. When they saw that the ones who had modelled them had the form of beasts, they loathed them: they were very aware.

Then when the rulers knew that they had broken their commandments, they entered Paradise and came to Adam and Eve with earthquake and great threatening, to see the effect of the aid. Then Adam and Eve trembled greatly and hid under the trees in Paradise. Then the rulers did not know where they were and said, “Adam, where are you?” He said, “I am here, for through fear of you I hid, being ashamed.” And they said to him ignorantly, “Who told you about the shame with which you clothed yourself? – unless you have eaten from that tree!” He said, “The woman whom you gave me – it is she that gave to me and I ate.” Then they said to the latter, “What is this that you have done?” She answered and said, “It is the instructor who urged me on, and I ate.”

Then the rulers came up to the instructor. Their eyes became misty because of him, and they could not do anything to him. They cursed him, since they were powerless. Afterwards, they came up to the woman and cursed her and her offspring. After the woman, they cursed Adam, and the land because of him, and the crops; and all things they had created, they cursed. They have no blessing. Good cannot result from evil.

From that day, the authorities knew that truly there was something mightier than they: they recognized only that their commandments had not been kept. Great jealousy was brought into the world solely because of the immortal man. Now when the rulers saw that their Adam had entered into an alien state of knowledge, they desired to test him, and they gathered together all the domestic animals and the wild beasts of the earth and the birds of heaven and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. When he saw them, he gave names to their creatures.

They became troubled because Adam had recovered from all the trials. They assembled and laid plans, and they said, “Behold Adam! He has come to be like one of us, so that he knows the difference between the light and the darkness. Now perhaps he will be persuaded, as in the case of the Tree of Knowledge, and also will come to the Tree of Life and eat from it, and become immortal, and become lord, and despise us and disdain us and all our glory! Then he will denounce us along with our universe. Come, let us expel him from Paradise, down to the land from which he was taken, so that henceforth he might not be able to recognize anything better than we can.” And so they expelled Adam from Paradise, along with his wife. And this deed that they had done was not enough for them. Rather, they were afraid. They went in to the Tree of Life and surrounded it with great fearful things, fiery living creatures called “Cheroubin”, and they put a flaming sword in their midst, fearfully twirling at all times, so that no earthly being might ever enter that place.

Thereupon, since the rulers were envious of Adam they wanted to diminish their (viz., Adam’s and Eve’s) lifespans. They could not (, however,) because of fate, which had been fixed since the beginning. For to each had been allotted a lifespan of 1,000 years, according to the course of the luminous bodies. But although the rulers could not do this, each of the evildoers took away ten years. And all this lifespan (which remained) amounted to 930 years: and these are in pain and weakness and evil distraction. And so life has turned out to be, from that day until the consummation of the age.

Thus when Sophia Zoe saw that the rulers of the darkness had laid a curse upon her counterparts, she was indignant. And coming out of the first heaven with full power, she chased those rulers out of their heavens, and cast them down into the sinful world, so that there they should dwell, in the form of evil spirits (demons) upon the earth.

[…], so that in their world it might pass the thousand years in Paradise – a soul-endowed living creature called “phoenix”. It kills itself and brings itself to life as a witness to the judgment against them, for they did wrong to Adam and his generation, unto the consummation of the age. There are […] three men, and also his posterities, unto the consummation of the world: the spirit-endowed of eternity, and the soul-endowed, and the earthly. Likewise, the three phoenixes <in> Paradise – the first is immortal; the second lives 1,000 years; as for the third, it is written in the Sacred Book that it is consumed. So, too, there are three baptisms – the first is the spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water. Just as the phoenix appears as a witness concerning the angels, so the case of the water hydri in Egypt, which has been a witness to those going down into the baptism of a true man. The two bulls in Egypt possess a mystery, the sun and the moon, being a witness to Sabaoth: namely, that over them Sophia received the universe; from the day that she made the sun and the moon, she put a seal upon her heaven, unto eternity.

And the worm that has been born out of the phoenix is a human being as well. It is written (Ps 91:13 LXX) concerning it, “the just man will blossom like a phoenix”. And the phoenix first appears in a living state, and dies, and rises again, being a sign of what has become apparent at the consummation of the age. It was only in Egypt that these great signs appeared – nowhere else – as an indication that it is like God’s Paradise.

Let us return to the aforementioned rulers, so that we may offer some explanation of them. Now, when the seven rulers were cast down from their heavens onto the earth, they made for themselves angels, numerous, demonic, to serve them. And the latter instructed mankind in many kinds of error and magic and potions and worship of idols and spilling of blood and altars and temples and sacrifices and libations to all the spirits of the earth, having their coworker fate, who came into existence by the concord between the gods of injustice and justice.

And thus when the world had come into being, it distractedly erred at all times. For all men upon earth worshiped the spirits (demons) from the creation to the consummation – both the angels of righteousness and the men of unrighteousness. Thus did the world come to exist in distraction, in ignorance, and in a stupor. They all erred, until the appearance of the true man.

Let this suffice so far as the matter goes. Now we shall proceed to consideration of our world, so that we may accurately finish the description of its structure and management. Then it will become obvious how belief in the unseen realm, which has been apparent from creation down to the consummation of the age, was discovered.

I come, therefore, to the main points regarding the immortal man: I shall speak of all the beings that belong to him, explaining how they happen to be here.

When a multitude of human beings had come into existence, through the parentage of the Adam who had been fashioned, and out of matter, and when the world had already become full, the rulers were master over it – that is, they kept it restrained by ignorance. For what reason? For the following: since the immortal father knows that a deficiency of truth came into being amongst the eternal realms and their universe, when he wished to bring to naught the rulers of perdition through the creatures they had modelled, he sent your likenesses down into the world of perdition, namely, the blessed little innocent spirits. They are not alien to knowledge. For all knowledge is vested in one angel who appeared before them; he is not without power in the company of the father. And <he> gave them knowledge. Whenever they appear in the world of perdition, immediately and first of all they reveal the pattern of imperishability as a condemnation of the rulers and their forces. Thus when the blessed beings appeared in forms modelled by authorities, they were envied. And out of envy the authorities mixed their seed with them, in hopes of polluting them. They could not. Then when the blessed beings appeared in luminous form, they appeared in various ways. And each one of them, starting out in his land, revealed his (kind of) knowledge to the visible church constituted of the modelled forms of perdition. It (viz., the church) was found to contain all kinds of seed, because of the seed of the authorities that had mixed with it.

Then the Savior created […] of them all – and the spirits of these are manifestly superior, being blessed and varying in election – and also (he created) many other beings, which have no king and are superior to everyone that was before them. Consequently, four races exist. There are three that belong to the kings of the eighth heaven. But the fourth race is kingless and perfect, being the highest of all. For these shall enter the holy place of their father. And they will gain rest in repose and eternal, unspeakable glory and unending joy. Moreover, they are kings within the mortal domain, in that they are immortal. They will condemn the gods of chaos and their forces.

Now the Word that is superior to all beings was sent for this purpose alone: that he might proclaim the unknown. He said, “There is nothing hidden that is not apparent, and what has not been recognized will be recognized.” And these were sent to make known what is hidden, and the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And thus they were condemned to death.

So when all the perfect appeared in the forms modelled by the rulers, and when they revealed the incomparable truth, they put to shame all the wisdom of the gods. And their fate was found to be a condemnation. And their force dried up. Their lordship was dissolved. Their forethought became emptiness, along with their glory.

Before the consummation of the age, the whole place will shake with great thundering. Then the rulers will be sad, […] their death. The angels will mourn for their mankind, and the demons will weep over their seasons, and their mankind will wail and scream at their death. Then the age will begin, and they will be disturbed. Their kings will be intoxicated with the fiery sword, and they will wage war against one another, so that the earth is intoxicated with bloodshed. And the seas will be disturbed by those wars. Then the sun will become dark, and the moon will cause its light to cease. The stars of the sky will cancel their circuits. And a great clap of thunder will come out of a great force that is above all the forces of chaos, where the firmament of the woman is situated. Having created the first product, she will put away the wise fire of intelligence and clothe herself with witless wrath. Then she will pursue the gods of chaos, whom she created along with the prime parent. She will cast them down into the abyss. They will be obliterated because of their wickedness. For they will come to be like volcanoes and consume one another until they perish at the hand of the prime parent. When he has destroyed them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to exist.

And their heavens will fall one upon the next and their forces will be consumed by fire. Their eternal realms, too, will be overturned. And his heaven will fall and break in two. His […] will fall down upon the […] support them; they will fall into the abyss, and the abyss will be overturned.

The light will […] the darkness and obliterate it: it will be like something that has never been. And the product to which the darkness had been posterior will dissolve. And the deficiency will be plucked out by the root (and thrown) down into the darkness. And the light will withdraw up to its root. And the glory of the unbegotten will appear. And it will fill all the eternal realm.

When the prophecy and the account of those that are king becomes known and is fulfilled by those who are called perfect, those who – in contrast – have not become perfect in the unbegotten father will receive their glory in their realms and in the kingdoms of the immortals: but they will never enter the kingless realm. For everyone must go to the place from which he has come. Indeed, by his acts and his knowledge, each person will make his (own) nature known.


The Apocalypse of Adam

Translated by George W. MacRae

The revelation which Adam taught his son Seth in the seven hundreth year, saying:

Listen to my words, my son Seth. When God had created me out of the earth, along with Eve, your mother, I went about with her in a glory which she had seen in the aeon from which we had come forth. She taught me a word of knowledge of the eternal God. And we resembled the great eternal angels, for we were higher than the god who had created us and the powers with him, whom we did not know.

Then God, the ruler of the aeons and the powers, divided us in wrath. Then we became two aeons. And the glory in our heart(s) left us, me and your mother Eve, along with the first knowledge that breathed within us. And it (glory) fled from us; it entered into […] great […] which had come forth, not from this aeon from which we had come forth, I and Eve your mother. But it (knowledge) entered into the seed of great aeons. For this reason I myself have called you by the name of that man who is the seed of the great generation or from whom (it comes). After those days, the eternal knowledge of the God of truth withdrew from me and your mother Eve. Since that time, we learned about dead things, like men. Then we recognized the God who had created us. For we were not strangers to his powers. And we served him in fear and slavery. And after these things, we became darkened in our heart(s). Now I slept in the thought of my heart.

And I saw three men before me whose likeness I was unable to recognize, since they were not the powers of the God who had created us. They surpassed […] glory, and […] men […] saying to me, “Arise, Adam, from the sleep of death, and hear about the aeon and the seed of that man to whom life has come, who came from you and from Eve, your wife.”

When I had heard these words from the great men who were standing before me, then we sighed, I and Eve, in our heart(s). And the Lord, the God who had created us, stood before us. He said to us, “Adam, why were you (both) sighing in your hearts? Do you not know that I am the God who created you? And I breathed into you a spirit of life as a living soul.” Then darkness came upon our eyes.

Then the God who created us, created a son from himself and Eve, your mother. I knew sweet desire for your mother, for […] in the thought of my […] I knew a sweet desire for your mother. Then the vigor of our eternal knowledge was destroyed in us, and weakness pursued us. Therefore the days of our life became few. For I knew that I had come under the authority of death.

Now then, my son Seth, I will reveal to you the things which those men whom I saw before me at first revealed to me: after I have completed the times of this generation and the years of the generation have been accomplished, then […] slave […]. (p.68 blank)

For rain-showers of God the almighty will be poured forth, so that he might destroy all flesh [of God the almighty, so that he might destroy all flesh] from the earth on account of the things that it seeks after, along with those from the seed of the men to whom passed the life of the knowledge which came from me and Eve, your mother. For they were strangers to him. Afterwards, great angels will come on high clouds, who will bring those men into the place where the spirit of life dwells […] glory […] there, […] come from heaven to earth. Then the whole multitude of flesh will be left behind in the waters.

Then God will rest from his wrath. And he will cast his power upon the waters, and he will give power to his sons and their wives by means of the ark along with the animals, whichever he pleased, and the birds of heaven, which he called and released upon the earth. And God will say to Noah – whom the generations will call ‘Deucalion’ – “Behold, I have protected <you> in the ark, along with your wife and your sons and their wives and their animals and the birds of heaven, which you called and released upon the earth. Therefore I will give the earth to you – you and your sons. In kingly fashion you will rule over it – you and your sons. And no seed will come from you of the men who will not stand in my presence in another glory.”

Then they will become as the cloud of the great light. Those men will come who have been cast forth from the knowledge of the great aeons and the angels. They will stand before Noah and the aeons. And God will say to Noah, “Why have you departed from what I told you? You have created another generation so that you might scorn my power.” Then Noah will say, “I shall testify before your might that the generation of these men did not come from me nor from my sons. […] knowledge.

And he will […] those men and bring them into their proper land, and build them a holy dwelling place. And they will be called by that name and dwell there six hundred years in a knowledge of imperishability. And the angels of the great Light will dwell with them. No foul deed will dwell in their heart(s), but only the knowledge of God.

Then Noah will divide the whole earth among his sons, Ham and Japheth and Shem. He will say to them, “My sons, listen to my words. Behold, I have divided the earth among you. But serve him in fear and slavery all the days of your life. Let not your seed depart from the face of God the Almighty. […] I and your […] son of Noah, “My seed will be pleasing before you and before your power. Seal it by your strong hand, with fear and commandment, so that the whole seed which came forth from me may not be inclined away from you and God the Almighty, but it will serve in humility and fear of its knowledge.”

Then others from the seed of Ham and Japheth will come, four hundred thousand men, and enter into another land and sojourn with those men who came forth from the great eternal knowledge. For the shadow of their power will protect those who have sojourned with them from every evil thing and every unclean desire. Then the seed of Ham and Japheth will form twelve kingdoms, and their seed also will enter into the kingdom of another people.

Then […] will take counsel […] who are dead, of the great aeons of imperishability. And they will go to Sakla, their God. They will go in to the powers, accusing the great men who are in their glory.

They will say to Sakla, “What is the power of these men who stood in your presence, who were taken from the seed of Ham and Japheth, who will number four hundred <thousand> men? They have been received into another aeonfrom which they had come forth, and they have overturned all the glory of your power and the dominion of your hand. For the seed of Noah through his sons has done all your will, and (so have) all the powers in the aeons over which your might rules, while both those men and the ones who are sojourners in their glory have not done your will. But they have turned (aside) your whole throng.”

Then the god of the aeons will give them (some) of those who serve him […]. They will come upon that land where the great men will be who have not been defiled, nor will be defiled, by any desire. For their soul did not come from a defiled hand, but it came from a great commandment of an eternal angel. Then fire and sulphur and asphalt will be cast upon those men, and fire and (blinding) mist will come over those aeons, and the eyes of the powers of the illuminators will be darkened, and the aeons will not see them in those days. And great clouds of light will descend, and other clouds of light will come down upon them from the great aeons.

Abrasax and Sablo and Gamaliel will descend and bring those men out of the fire and the wrath, and take them above the aeons and the rulers of the powers, and take them away […] of life […] and take them away […] aeons […] dwelling place of the great […] there, with the holy angels and the aeons. The men will be like those angels, for they are not strangers to them. But they work in the imperishable seed.

Once again, for the third time, the illuminator of knowledge will pass by in great glory, in order to leave (something) of the seed of Noah and the sons of Ham and Japheth – to leave for himself fruit-bearing trees. And he will redeem their souls from the day of death. For the whole creation that came from the dead earth will be under the authority of death. But those who reflect upon the knowledge of the eternal God in their heart(s) will not perish. For they have not received spirit from this kingdom alone, but they have received (it) from a […] eternal angel. […] illuminator […] will come upon […] that is dead […] of Seth. And he will perform signs and wonders in order to scorn the powers and their ruler.

Then the god of the powers will be disturbed, saying, “What is the power of this man who is higher than we?” Then he will arouse a great wrath against that man. And the glory will withdraw and dwell in holy houses which it has chosen for itself. And the powers will not see it with their eyes, nor will they see the illuminator either. Then they will punish the flesh of the man upon whom the holy spirit came.

Then the angels and all the generations of the powers will use the name in error, asking, “Where did it (the error) come from?” or “Where did the words of deception, which all the powers have failed to discover, come from?”

Now the first kingdom says of him that he came from […]. A spirit […] to heaven. He was nourished in the heavens. He received the glory of that one and the power. He came to the bosom of his mother. And thus he came to the water.

And the second kingdom says about him that he came from a great prophet. And a bird came, took the child who was born, and brought him onto a high mountain. And he was nourished by the bird of heaven. An angel came forth there. He said to him “Arise! God has given glory to you.” He received glory and strength. And thus he came to the water.

The third kingdom says of him that he came from a virgin womb. He was cast out of his city, he and his mother. He was brought to a desert place. He was nourished there. He came and received glory and strength. And thus he came to the water.

The fourth kingdom says of him that he came from a virgin. […] Solomon sought her, he and Phersalo and Sauel and his armies, which had been sent out. Solomon himself sent his army of demons to seek out the virgin. And they did not find the one whom they sought, but the virgin who was given them. It was she whom they fetched. Solomon took her. The virgin became pregnant and gave birth to the child there. She nourished him on a border of the desert. When he had been nourished, he received glory and power from the seed from which he was begotten. And thus he came to the water.

And the fifth kingdom says of him that he came from a drop from heaven. He was thrown into the sea. The abyss received him, gave birth to him, and brought him to heaven. He received glory and power. And thus he came to the water.

And the sixth kingdom says that […] down to the aeonwhich is below, in order to gather flowers. She became pregnant from the desire of the flowers. She gave birth to him in that place. The angels of the flower garden nourished him. He received glory there, and power. And thus he came to the water.

And the seventh kingdom says of him that he is a drop. It came from heaven to earth. Dragons brought him down to caves. He became a child. A spirit came upon him and brought him on high to the place where the drop had come forth. He received glory and power there. And thus he came to the water.

And the eighth kingdom says of him that a cloud came upon the earth and enveloped a rock. He came from it. The angels who were above the cloud nourished him. He received glory and power there. And thus he came to the water.

And the ninth kingdom says of him that from the nine Muses one separated away. She came to a high mountain and spent (some) time seated there, so that she desired herself alone in order to become androgynous. She fulfilled her desire and became pregnant from her desire. He was born. The angels who were over the desire nourished him. And he received glory there, and power. And thus he came to the water.

The tenth kingdom says of him that his god loved a cloud of desire. He begot him in his hand and cast upon the cloud above him (some) of the drop, and he was born. He received glory and power there. And thus he came to the water.

And the eleventh kingdom says that the father desired his own daughter. She herself became pregnant from her father. She cast […] tomb out in the desert. The angel nourished him there. And thus he came to the water.

The twelfth kingdom says of him that he came from two illuminators. He was nourished there. He received glory and power. And thus he came to the water.

And the thirteenth kingdom says of him that every birth of their ruler is a word. And this word received a mandate there. He received glory and power. And thus he came to the water, in order that the desire of those powers might be satisfied.

But the generation without a king over it says that God chose him from all the aeons. He caused a knowledge of the undefiled one of truth to come to be in him. He said, “Out of a foreign air, from a great aeon, the great illuminator came forth. And he made the generation of those men whom he had chosen for himself shine, so that they could shine upon the whole aeon”

Then the seed, those who will receive his name upon the water and (that) of them all, will fight against the power. And a cloud of darkness will come upon them.

Then the peoples will cry out with a great voice, saying, “Blessed is the soul of those men because they have known God with a knowledge of the truth! They shall live forever, because they have not been corrupted by their desire, along with the angels, nor have they accomplished the works of the powers, but they have stood in his presence in a knowledge of God like light that has come forth from fire and blood.

“But we have done every deed of the powers senselessly. We have boasted in the transgression of all our works. We have cried against the God of truth because all his works […] is eternal. These are against our spirits. For now we have known that our souls will die the death.”

Then a voice came to them, saying “Micheu and Michar and Mnesinous, who are over the holy baptism and the living water, why were you crying out against the living God with lawless voices and tongues without law over them, and souls full of blood and foul deeds? You are full of works that are not of the truth, but your ways are full of joy and rejoicing. Having defiled the water of life, you have drawn it within the will of the powers to whom you have been given to serve them.

“And your thought is not like that of those men whom you persecute […] desire […]. Their fruit does not wither. But they will be known up to the great aeons, because the words they have kept, of the God of the aeons, were not committed to the book, nor were they written. But angelic (beings) will bring them, whom all the generations of men will not know. For they will be on a high mountain, upon a rock of truth. Therefore they will be named “The Words of Imperishability and Truth,” for those who know the eternal God in wisdom of knowledge and teaching of angels forever, for he knows all things.”

These are the revelations which Adam made known to Seth, his son, And his son taught his seed about them. This is the hidden knowledge of Adam, which he gave to Seth, which is the holy baptism of those who know the eternal knowledge through those born of the word and the imperishable illuminators, who came from the holy seed: Yesseus Mazareus Yessedekeus, the Living Water.

The Apocalypse of Adam

Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.


The Apocryphon of John
(The Secret Book of John – The Secret Revelation of John)

Translated by Frederik Wisse

The teaching of the savior, and the revelation of the mysteries and the things hidden in silence, even these things which he taught John, his disciple.

And it happened one day, when John, the brother of James – who are the sons of Zebedee – had come up to the temple, that a Pharisee named Arimanius approached him and said to him, “Where is your master whom you followed?” And he said to him, “He has gone to the place from which he came.” The Pharisee said to him, “With deception did this Nazarene deceive you (pl.), and he filled your ears with lies, and closed your hearts (and) turned you from the traditions of your fathers.”

When I, John, heard these things I turned away from the temple to a desert place. And I grieved greatly in my heart, saying, “How then was the savior appointed, and why was he sent into the world by his Father, and who is his Father who sent him, and of what sort is that aeon to which we shall go? For what did he mean when he said to us, ‘This aeon to which you will go is of the type of the imperishable aeon, but he did not teach us concerning the latter, of what sort it is.”

Straightway, while I was contemplating these things, behold, the heavens opened and the whole creation which is below heaven shone, and the world was shaken. I was afraid, and behold I saw in the light a youth who stood by me. While I looked at him, he became like an old man. And he changed his likeness (again), becoming like a servant. There was not a plurality before me, but there was a likeness with multiple forms in the light, and the likenesses appeared through each other, and the likeness had three forms.

He said to me, “John, John, why do you doubt, or why are you afraid? You are not unfamiliar with this image, are you? – that is, do not be timid! – I am the one who is with you (pl.) always. I am the Father, I am the Mother, I am the Son. I am the undefiled and incorruptible one. Now I have come to teach you what is and what was and what will come to pass, that you may know the things which are not revealed and those which are revealed, and to teach you concerning the unwavering race of the perfect Man. Now, therefore, lift up your face, that you may receive the things that I shall teach you today, and may tell them to your fellow spirits who are from the unwavering race of the perfect Man.”

And I asked to know it, and he said to me, “The Monad is a monarchy with nothing above it. It is he who exists as God and Father of everything, the 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. 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 illimitable, since there is no one prior to him to set limits to him. He is unsearchable, since there exists no one prior to him to examine him. He is immeasurable, since there was no one prior to him to measure him. He is invisible, since no one saw him. He is eternal, since he exists eternally. He is ineffable, since no one was able to comprehend him to speak about him. He is unnameable, since there is no one prior to him to give him a name.

“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.

“How am I to speak with you about him? 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. For it is he who looks at himself in his light which surrounds him, namely the spring of the water of life. And it is he who gives to all the aeons and in every way, (and) who gazes upon his image which he sees in the spring of the Spirit. It is he who puts his desire in his water-light which is in the spring of the pure light-water which surrounds him.

“And his thought performed a deed and she came forth, namely she who had appeared before him in the shine of his light. This is the first power which was before all of them (and) which came forth from his mind, She is the forethought of the All – her light shines like his light – the perfect power which is the image of the invisible, virginal Spirit who is perfect. The first power, the glory of Barbelo, the perfect glory in the aeons, the glory of the revelation, she glorified the virginal Spirit and it was she who praised him, because thanks to him she had come forth. This is the first thought, his image; she became the womb of everything, for it is she who is prior to them all, the Mother-Father, the first man, the holy Spirit, the thrice-male, the thrice-powerful, the thrice-named androgynous one, and the eternal aeon among the invisible ones, and the first to come forth.

“<She> requested from the invisible, virginal Spirit – that is Barbelo – to give her foreknowledge. And the Spirit consented. And when he had consented, the foreknowledge came forth, and it stood by the forethought; it originates from the thought of the invisible, virginal Spirit. It glorified him and his perfect power, Barbelo, for it was for her sake that it had come into being.

“And she requested again to grant her indestructibility, and he consented. When he had consented, indestructibility came forth, and it stood by the thought and the foreknowledge. It glorified the invisible One and Barbelo, the one for whose sake they had come into being.

“And Barbelo requested to grant her eternal life. And the invisible Spirit consented. And when he had consented, eternal life came forth, and they attended and glorified the invisible Spirit and Barbelo, the one for whose sake they had come into being.

“And she requested again to grant her truth. And the invisible Spirit consented. And when he had consented, truth came forth, and they attended and glorified the invisible, excellent Spirit and his Barbelo, the one for whose sake they had come into being.

“This is the pentad of the aeons of the Father, which is the first man, the image of the invisible Spirit; it is the forethought, which Barbelo, and the thought, and the foreknowledge, and the indestructibility, and the eternal life, and the truth. This is the androgynous pentad of the aeons, which is the decad of the aeons, which is the Father.

“And he looked at Barbelo with the pure light which surrounds the invisible Spirit, and (with) his spark, and 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.

“And the invisible, virginal Spirit rejoiced over the light which came forth, that which was brought forth first 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. And it attended him as he poured upon it. And immediately when it had received from the Spirit, it glorified the holy Spirit and the perfect forethought, for whose sake it had come forth.

“And it requested to give it a fellow worker, which is the mind, and he consented gladly. And when the invisible Spirit had consented, the mind came forth, and it attended Christ, glorifying him and Barbelo. And all these came into being in silence.

“And the mind wanted to perform a deed through the word of the invisible Spirit. And his will became a deed and it appeared with the mind; and the light glorified it. And the word followed the will. For because of the word, Christ the divine Autogenes created everything. And the eternal life <and> his will and the mind and the foreknowledge attended and glorified the invisible Spirit and Barbelo, for whose sake they had come into being.

“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 forth through the forethought. And the invisible, virginal Spirit placed the divine Autogenes of truth over everything. And he subjected to him every authority, and the truth which is in him, that he may know the All which had been called with a name exalted above every name. For that name will be mentioned to those who are worthy of it.

“For from the light, which is the Christ, and the indestructibility, through the gift of the Spirit the four lights (appeared) from the divine Autogenes. He expected that they might attend him. And the three (are) will, thought, and life. And the four powers (are) understanding, grace, perception, and prudence. And grace belongs to the light-aeon Armozel, which is the first angel. And there are three other aeons with this aeon: grace, truth, and form. And the second light (is) Oriel, who has been placed over the second aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: conception, perception, and memory. And the third light is Daveithai, who has been placed over the third aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: understanding, love, and idea. And the fourth aeon was placed over the fourth light Eleleth. And there are three other aeons with him: perfection, peace, and wisdom. These are the four lights which attend the divine Autogenes, (and) these are the twelve aeons which attend 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. And all things were established by the will of the holy Spirit through the Autogenes.

“And from the foreknowledge of the perfect mind, through the revelation of the will of the invisible Spirit and the will of the Autogenes, <the> perfect Man (appeared), the first revelation, and the truth. It is he whom the virginal Spirit called Pigera-Adamas, and he placed him over the first aeon with the mighty one, the Autogenes, the Christ, by the first light Armozel; and with him are his powers. And the invisible one gave him a spiritual, invincible power. And he spoke and glorified and praised the invisible Spirit, saying, ‘It is for thy sake that everything has come into being and everything will return to thee. I shall praise and glorify thee and the Autogenes and the aeons, the three: the Father, the Mother, and the Son, the perfect power.’

“And he placed his son Seth over the second aeon in the presence of the second light Oriel. And in the third aeon the seed of Seth was placed over the third light Daveithai. And the souls of the saints were placed (there). And in the fourth aeon the souls were placed of those who do not know the Pleroma and who did not repent at once, but who persisted for a while and repented afterwards; they are by the fourth light Eleleth. These are creatures which glorify the invisible Spirit.

“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, 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. He whom the generations of men call the sun is the seventh, 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 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.

“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.

“And having created […] everything, he organized according to the model of the first aeons which had come into being, so that he might create them like the indestructible ones. Not because he had seen the indestructible ones, but the power in him, which he had taken from his mother, produced in him the likeness of the cosmos. And when he saw the creation which surrounds him, and the multitude of the angels around him which had come forth from him, he said to them, ‘I am a jealous God, and there is no other God beside me.’ But by announcing this he indicated to the angels who attended him that there exists another God. For if there were no other one, of whom would he be jealous?

“Then the mother 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. And she did not dare to return, but she was moving about. And the moving is the going to and fro.

“And the arrogant one took a power from his mother. For he was ignorant, thinking that there existed no other except his mother alone. And when he saw the multitude of the angels which he had created, then he exalted himself above them.

“And when the mother recognized that the garment of darkness was imperfect, then she knew that her consort had not agreed with her. She repented with much weeping. And the whole pleroma heard the prayer of her repentance, and they praised on her behalf the invisible, virginal Spirit. And he consented; and when the invisible Spirit had consented, the holy Spirit poured over her from their whole pleroma. For it was not her consort who came to her, but he came to her through the pleroma in order that he might correct her deficiency. And she was taken up not to her own aeon but above her son, that she might be in the ninth until she has corrected her deficiency.

“And a voice came forth from the exalted aeon-heaven: ‘The Man exists and the son of Man.’ And the chief archon, Yaltabaoth, heard (it) and thought that the voice had come from his mother. And he did not know from where it came. And he taught them, the holy and perfect Mother-Father, the complete foreknowledge, the image of the invisible one who is the Father of the all (and) through whom everything came into being, the first Man. For he revealed his likeness in a human form.

“And the whole aeon of the chief archon trembled, and the foundations of the abyss shook. And of the waters which are above matter, the underside was illuminated by the appearance of his image which had been revealed. And when all the authorities and the chief archon looked, they saw the whole region of the underside which was illuminated. And through the light they saw the form of the image in the water.

“And he said to the authorities which attend him, ‘Come, let us create a man according to the image of God and according to our likeness, that his image may become a light for us.’ And they created by means of their respective powers in correspondence with the characteristics which were given. And each authority supplied a characteristic in the form of the image which he had seen in its natural (form). He created a being according to the likeness of the first, perfect Man. And they said, ‘Let us call him Adam, that his name may become a power of light for us.’

“And the powers began: the first one, goodness, created a bone-soul; and the second, foreknowledge, created a sinew-soul; the third, divinity, created a flesh-soul; and the fourth, the lordship, created a marrow-soul; the fifth, kingdom created a blood-soul; the sixth, envy, created a skin-soul; the seventh, understanding, created a hair-soul. And the multitude of the angels attended him and they received from the powers the seven substances of the natural (form) in order to create the proportions of the limbs and the proportion of the rump and the proper working together of each of the parts.

“The first one began to create the head. Eteraphaope-Abron created his head; Meniggesstroeth created the brain; Asterechme (created) the right eye; Thaspomocha, the left eye; Yeronumos, the right ear; Bissoum, the left ear; Akioreim, the nose; Banen-Ephroum, the lips; Amen, the teeth; Ibikan, the molars; Basiliademe, the tonsils; Achcha, the uvula; Adaban, the neck; Chaaman, the vertebrae; Dearcho, the throat; Tebar, the right shoulder; […], the left shoulder; Mniarcon, the right elbow; […], the left elbow; Abitrion, the right underarm; Evanthen, the left underarm; Krys, the right hand; Beluai, the left hand; Treneu, the fingers of the right hand; Balbel, the fingers of the left hand; Kriman, the nails of the hands; Astrops, the right breast; Barroph, the left breast; Baoum, the right shoulder joint; Ararim, the left shoulder joint; Areche, the belly; Phthave, the navel; Senaphim, the abdomen; Arachethopi, the right ribs; Zabedo, the left ribs; Barias, the right hip; Phnouth the left hip; Abenlenarchei, the marrow; Chnoumeninorin, the bones; Gesole, the stomach; Agromauna, the heart; Bano, the lungs; Sostrapal, the liver; Anesimalar, the spleen; Thopithro, the intestines; Biblo, the kidneys; Roeror, the sinews; Taphreo, the spine of the body; Ipouspoboba, the veins; Bineborin, the arteries; Atoimenpsephei, theirs are the breaths which are in all the limbs; Entholleia, all the flesh; Bedouk, the right buttock (?); Arabeei, the left penis; Eilo, the testicles; Sorma, the genitals; Gorma-Kaiochlabar, the right thigh; Nebrith, the left thigh; Pserem, the kidneys of the right leg; Asaklas, the left kidney; Ormaoth, the right leg; Emenun, the left leg; Knyx, the right shin-bone; Tupelon, the left shin-bone; Achiel, the right knee; Phnene, the left knee; Phiouthrom, the right foot; Boabel, its toes; Trachoun, the left foot; Phikna, its toes; Miamai, the nails of the feet; Labernioum – .

“And those who were appointed over all of these are: Zathoth, Armas, Kalila, Jabel, (Sabaoth, Cain, Abel). And those who are particularly active in the limbs (are) the head Diolimodraza, the neck Yammeax, the right shoulder Yakouib, the left shoulder Verton, the right hand Oudidi, the left one Arbao, the fingers of the right hand Lampno, the fingers of the left hand Leekaphar, the right breast Barbar, the left breast Imae, the chest Pisandriaptes, the right shoulder joint Koade, the left shoulder joint Odeor, the right ribs Asphixix, the left ribs Synogchouta, the belly Arouph, the womb Sabalo, the right thigh Charcharb, the left thigh Chthaon, all the genitals Bathinoth, the right leg Choux, the left leg Charcha, the right shin-bone Aroer, the left shin-bone Toechtha, the right knee Aol, the left knee Charaner, the right foot Bastan, its toes Archentechtha, the left foot Marephnounth, its toes Abrana.

“Seven have power over all of these: Michael, Ouriel, Asmenedas, Saphasatoel, Aarmouriam, Richram, Amiorps. And the ones who are in charge over the senses (are) Archendekta; and he who is in charge over the receptions (is) Deitharbathas; and he who is in charge over the imagination (is) Oummaa; and he who is over the composition Aachiaram, and he who is over the whole impulse Riaramnacho.

“And the origin of the demons which are in the whole body is determined to be four: heat, cold, wetness, and dryness. And the mother of all of them is matter. And he who reigns over the heat (is) Phloxopha; and he who reigns over the cold is Oroorrothos; and he who reigns over what is dry (is) Erimacho; and he who reigns over the wetness (is) Athuro. And the mother of all of these, Onorthochrasaei, stands in their midst, since she is illimitable, and she mixes with all of them. And she is truly matter, for they are nourished by her.

“The four chief demons are: Ephememphi, who belongs to pleasure, Yoko, who belongs to desire, Nenentophni, who belongs to grief, Blaomen, who belongs to fear. And the mother of them all is Aesthesis-Ouch-Epi-Ptoe. And from the four demons passions came forth. And from grief (came) envy, jealousy, distress, trouble, pain, callousness, anxiety, mourning, etc. And from pleasure much wickedness arises, and empty pride, and similar things. And from desire (comes) anger, wrath, and bitterness, and bitter passion, and unsatedness, and similar things. And from fear (comes) dread, fawning, agony, and shame. All of these are like useful things as well as evil things. But the insight into their true (character) is Anaro, who is the head of the material soul, for it belongs with the seven senses, Ouch-Epi-Ptoe.

“This is the number of the angels: together they are 365. They all worked on it until, limb for limb, the natural and the material body was completed by them. Now there are other ones in charge over the remaining passions whom I did not mention to you. But if you wish to know them, it is written in the book of Zoroaster. And all the angels and demons worked until they had constructed the natural body. And their product was completely inactive and motionless for a long time.

“And when the mother wanted to retrieve the power which she had given to the chief archon, she petitioned the Mother-Father of the All, who is most merciful. He sent, by means of the holy decree, the five lights down upon the place of the angels of the chief archon. They advised him that they should bring forth the power of the mother. And they said to Yaltabaoth, ‘Blow into his face something of your spirit and his body will arise.’ And he blew into his face the spirit which is the power of his mother; he did not know (this), for he exists in ignorance. And the power of the mother went out of Yaltabaoth into the natural body, which they had fashioned after the image of the one who exists from the beginning. The body moved and gained strength, and it was luminous.

“And in that moment the rest of the powers became jealous, because he had come into being through all of them and they had given their power to the man, and his intelligence was greater than that of those who had made him, and greater than that of the chief archon. And when they recognized that he was luminous, and that he could think better than they, and that he was free from wickedness, they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter.

“But the blessed One, the Mother-Father, the beneficent and merciful One, had mercy on the power of the mother which had been brought forth out of the chief archon, for they (the archons) might gain power over the natural and perceptible body. And he sent, through his beneficent Spirit and his great mercy, a helper to Adam, luminous Epinoia which comes out of him, who is called Life. And she assists the whole creature, by toiling with him and by restoring him to his fullness and by teaching him about the descent of his seed (and) by teaching him about the way of ascent, (which is) the way he came down. And the luminous Epinoia was hidden in Adam, in order that the archons might not know her, but that the Epinoia might be a correction of the deficiency of the mother.

“And the man came forth because of the shadow of the light which is in him. And his thinking was superior to all those who had made him. When they looked up, they saw that his thinking was superior. And they took counsel with the whole array of archons and angels. They took fire and earth and water and mixed them together with the four fiery winds. And they wrought them together and caused a great disturbance. And they brought him (Adam) into the shadow of death, in order that they might form (him) again from earth and water and fire and the spirit which originates in matter, which is the ignorance of darkness and desire, and their counterfeit spirit. This is the tomb of the newly-formed body with which the robbers had clothed the man, the bond of forgetfulness; and he became a mortal man. This is the first one who came down, and the first separation. But the Epinoia of the light which was in him, she is the one who was to awaken his thinking.

“And the archons took him and placed him in paradise. And they said to him, ‘Eat, that is at leisure,’ for their luxury is bitter and their beauty is depraved. And their luxury is deception and their trees are godlessness and their fruit is deadly poison and their promise is death. And the tree of their life they had placed in the midst of paradise.

“And I shall teach you (pl.) what is the mystery of their life, which is the plan which they made together, which is the likeness of their spirit. The root of this (tree) is bitter and its branches are death, its shadow is hate and deception is in its leaves, and its blossom is the ointment of evil, and its fruit is death and desire is its seed, and it sprouts in darkness. The dwelling place of those who taste from it is Hades, and the darkness is their place of rest.

“But what they call the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which is the Epinoia of the light, they stayed in front of it in order that he (Adam) might not look up to his fullness and recognize the nakedness of his shamefulness. But it was I who brought about that they ate.”

And to I said to the savior, “Lord, was it not the serpent that taught Adam to eat?” The savior smiled and said, “The serpent taught them to eat from wickedness of begetting, lust, (and) destruction, that he (Adam) might be useful to him. And he (Adam) knew that he was disobedient to him (the chief archon) due to light of the Epinoia which is in him, which made him more correct in his thinking than the chief archon. And (the latter) wanted to bring about the power which he himself had given him. And he brought a forgetfulness over Adam.”

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. For also he said through the prophet, ‘I will make their hearts heavy, that they may not pay attention and may not see’ (Is 6:10).

“Then the Epinoia of the 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. 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 part which he had taken from the power of the man into the female creature, and not as Moses said, ‘his rib-bone.’

“And he (Adam) saw the woman beside him. And in that moment the luminous Epinoia appeared, and she lifted the veil which lay over his mind. And he became sober from the drunkenness of darkness. And he recognized his counter-image, and he said, ‘This is indeed bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’ Therefore the man will leave his father and his mother, and he will cleave to his wife, and they will both be one flesh. For they will send him his consort, and he will leave his father and his mother … (3 lines unreadable)

“And our sister Sophia (is) she who came down in innocence in order to rectify her deficiency. Therefore she was called Life, which is the mother of the living, by the foreknowledge of the sovereignty of heaven. And through her they have tasted the perfect Knowledge. I appeared in the form of an eagle on the tree of knowledge, which is the Epinoia from the foreknowledge of the pure light, that I might teach them and awaken them out of the depth of sleep. For they were both in a fallen state, and they recognized their nakedness. The Epinoia appeared to them as a light; she awakened their thinking.

“And when Yaltabaoth noticed that they withdrew from him, he cursed his earth. He found the woman as she was preparing herself for her husband. He was lord over her, though he did not know the mystery which had come to pass through the holy decree. And they were afraid to blame him. And he showed his angels his ignorance which is in him. And he cast them out of paradise and he clothed them in gloomy darkness. And the chief archon saw the virgin who stood by Adam, and that the luminous Epinoia of life had appeared in her. And Yaltabaoth was full of ignorance. And when the foreknowledge of the All noticed (it), she sent some and they snatched life out of Eve.

“And the chief archon seduced her and he begot in her two sons; the first and the second (are) Eloim and Yave. Eloim has a bear-face and Yave has a cat-face. The one is righteous but the other is unrighteous. (Yave is righteous but Eloim is unrighteous.) Yave he set over the fire and the wind, and Eloim he set over the water and the earth. And these he called with the names Cain and Abel with a view to deceive.

“Now up to the present day, sexual intercourse continued due to the chief archon. And he planted sexual desire in her who belongs to Adam. And he produced through intercourse the copies of the bodies, and he inspired them with his counterfeit spirit.

“And the two archons he set over principalities, so that they might rule over the tomb. And when Adam recognized the likeness of his own foreknowledge, he begot the likeness of the son of man. He called him Seth, according to the way of the race in the aeons. Likewise, the mother also sent down her spirit, which is in her likeness and a copy of those who are in the pleroma, for she will prepare a dwelling place for the aeons which will come down. And he made them drink water of forgetfulness, from the chief archon, in order that they might not know from where they came. Thus, the seed remained for a while assisting (him), in order that, when the Spirit comes forth from the holy aeons, he may raise up and heal him from the deficiency, that the whole pleroma may (again) become holy and faultless.”

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.”

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 (pl.), 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 surpassed him in thinking, and that he will not be able to seize them.

“He 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.

“And he (the chief archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man. But the greatness of the light of the foreknowledge informed Noah, and he proclaimed (it) to all the offspring which are the sons of men. But those who were strangers to him did not listen to him. It is not as Moses said, ‘They hid themselves in an ark’ (Gn 7: 7), but they hid themselves in a place, not only Noah, but also many other people from the immovable race. They went into a place and hid themselves in a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his authority, and she who belongs to the light was with him, having shone on them because he (the chief archon) had brought darkness upon the whole earth.

“And he made a plan with his powers. He sent his angels to the daughters of men, that they might take some of them for themselves and raise offspring for their enjoyment. And at first they did not succeed. When they had no success, they gathered together again and they made a plan together. They 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.

“I, therefore, the perfect Pronoia of the all, changed myself into my seed, for I existed first, going on every road. For I am the richness of the light; I am the remembrance of the pleroma.

“And I went into the realm of darkness and I endured till I entered the middle of the prison. And the foundations of chaos shook. And I hid myself from them because of their wickedness, and they did not recognize me.

“Again I returned for the second time, and I went about. I came forth from those who belong to the light, which is I, the remembrance of the Pronoia. I entered into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades, since I was seeking (to accomplish) my task. And the foundations of chaos shook, that they might fall down upon those who are in chaos and might destroy them. And again I ran up to my root of light, lest they be destroyed before the time.

“Still for a third time I went – I am the light which exists in the light, I am the remembrance of the Pronoia – that I might enter into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades. And I filled my face with the light of the completion of their aeon. And I entered into the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. And I said, ‘He who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.’ And he wept and shed tears. Bitter tears he wiped from himself and he said, ‘Who is it that calls my name, and from where has this hope come to me, while I am in the chains of the prison?’ And I said, ‘I am the Pronoia of the pure light; I am the thinking of the virginal Spirit, who raised you up to the honored place. Arise and remember that it is you who hearkened, and follow your root, which is I, the merciful one, and guard yourself against the angels of poverty and the demons of chaos and all those who ensnare you, and beware of the deep sleep and the enclosure of the inside of Hades.

“And I raised him up, and sealed him in the light of the water with five seals, in order that death might not have power over him from this time on.

“And behold, now I shall go up to the perfect aeon. I have completed everything for you in your hearing. And I have said everything to you that you might write them down and give them secretly to your fellow spirits, for this is the mystery of the immovable race.”

And the savior presented these things to him that he might write them down and keep them secure. And he said to him, “Cursed be everyone who will exchange these things for a gift or for food or for drink or for clothing or for any other such thing.” And these things were presented to him in a mystery, and immediately he disappeared from him. And he went to his fellow disciples and related to them what the savior had told him.

Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Apocryphon According to John

Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.


The Second Treatise of the Great Seth

Translated by Roger A. Bullard and Joseph A. Gibbons

And the perfect Majesty is at rest in the ineffable light, in the genuine mother of all these, and all of you that attain to me because of the Word, to me alone who am perfect. For I exist with all the greatness of the Spirit, which is a friend to us and our kindred alike, since I brought forth a word to the glory of our Father, through his goodness, as well as an imperishable thought; that is, the Word within him – it is slavery that we shall die with Christ – and an imperishable and undefiled thought, an incomprehensible marvel, the writing of the ineffable water which is the word from us. It is I who am in you, and you are in me, just as the Father is in you in innocence.

Let us gather an assembly together. Let us visit that creation of his. Let us send someone forth in it, the regions below, just as he visited (the) Ennoias. And I said these things to the whole multitude of the multitudinous assembly of the rejoicing Majesty. The whole house of the Father of Truth rejoiced that I am the one who is from them. I produced thought about the Ennoias which came out of the undefiled Spirit, about the descent upon the water, that is, the regions below. And they all had a single mind, since it is out of one. They charged me since I was willing. I came forth to reveal the glory to my kindred and my fellow spirits.

For those who were in the world had been prepared by the will of our sister Sophia – she who is a whore – because of the innocence which has not been uttered. And she did not ask anything from the All, nor from the greatness of the Assembly, nor from the Pleroma. Since she was first, she came forth to prepare monads and places for the Son of Light and the fellow workers which she took from the elements below to build bodily dwellings from them. But, having come into being in an empty glory, they ended in destruction in the dwellings in which they were, since they were prepared by Sophia. They stand ready to receive the life-giving word of the ineffable Monad and of the greatness of the assembly of all those who persevere and those who are in me.

I visited a bodily dwelling. I cast out the one who was in it first, and I went in. And the whole multitude of the archons became troubled. And all the matter of the archons, as well as all the begotten powers of the earth, were shaken when it saw the likeness of the Image, since it was mixed. And I am the one who was in it, not resembling him who was in it first. For he was an earthly man, but I, I am from above the heavens. I did not refuse them even to become a Christ, but I did not reveal myself to them in the love which was coming forth from me. I revealed that I am a stranger to the regions below.

There was a great disturbance in the whole earthly area, with confusion and flight, as well as (in) the plan of the archons. And some were persuaded, when they saw the wonders which were being accomplished by me. And all these, with the race, that came down, flee from him who had fled from the throne to the Sophia of hope, since she had earlier given the sign concerning us and all the ones with me – those of the race of Adonaios. Others also fled, as if from the Cosmocrator and those with them, since they have brought every (kind of) punishment upon me. And there was a flight of their mind about what they would counsel concerning me, thinking that she (Sophia) is the whole greatness, and speaking false witness, moreover, against the Man and the whole greatness of the assembly.

It was not possible for them to know who the Father of Truth, the Man of the Greatness, is. But they who received the name because of contact with ignorance – which (is) a burning and a vessel – having created it to destroy Adam, whom they had made, in order to cover up those who are theirs in the same way. But they, the archons, those of the place of Yaldabaoth, reveal the realm of the angels, which humanity was seeking in order that they may not know the Man of Truth. For Adam, whom they had formed, appeared to them. And a fearful motion came about throughout their entire dwelling, lest the angels surrounding them rebel. For without those who were offering praise – I did not really die lest their archangel become empty.

And then a voice – of the Cosmocrator – came to the angels: “I am God and there is no other beside me.” But I laughed joyfully when I examined his empty glory. But he went on to say, “Who is man?” And the entire host of his angels, who had seen Adam and his dwelling, were laughing at his smallness. And thus did their Ennoia come to be removed outside the Majesty of the heavens, i.e.,the Man of Truth, whose name they saw since he is in a small dwelling place, since they are small (and) senseless in their empty Ennoia, namely their laughter. It was contagion for them.

The whole greatness of the Fatherhood of the Spirit was at rest in his places. And I am he who was with him, since I have an Ennoia of a single emanation from the eternal ones and the undefiled and immeasurable incomprehensibilities. I placed the small Ennoia in the world, having disturbed them and frightened the whole multitude of the angels and their ruler. And I was visiting them all with fire and flame because of my Ennoia. And everything pertaining to them was brought about because of me. And there came about a disturbance and a fight around the Seraphim and Cherubim, since their glory will fade, and the confusion around Adonaios on both sides and their dwelling – to the Cosmocrator and him who said, “Let us seize him”; others again, “The plan will certainly not materialize.”

For Adonaios knows me because of hope. And I was in the mouths of lions. And the plan which they devised about me to release their Error and their senselessness – I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk. I removed the shame from me and I did not become fainthearted in the face of what happened to me at their hands. I was about to succumb to fear, and I <suffered> according to their sight and thought, in order that they may never find any word to speak about them. For my death, which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. For their Ennoias did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

And I subjected all their powers. For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And therefore, when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was not afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled. And I was speaking with them, mingling with them through those who are mine, and trampling on those who are harsh to them with zeal, and quenching the flame. And I was doing all these things because of my desire to accomplish what I desired by the will of the Father above.

And the Son of the Majesty, who was hidden in the regions below, we brought to the height where I <was> in all these aeons with them, which (height) no one has seen nor known, where the wedding of the wedding robe is, the new one and not the old, nor does it perish. For it is a new and perfect bridal chamber of the heavens, as I have revealed (that) there are three ways: an undefiled mystery in a spirit of this aeon, which does not perish, nor is it fragmentary, nor able to be spoken of; rather, it is undivided, universal, and permanent. For the soul, the one from the height, will not speak about the error which is here, nor transfer from these aeons, since it will be transferred when it becomes free and when it is endowed with nobility in the world, standing before the Father without weariness and fear, always mixed with the Nous of power (and) of form. They will see me from every side without hatred. For since they see me, they are being seen (and) are mixed with them. Since they did not put me to shame, they were not put to shame. Since they were not afraid before me, they will pass by every gate without fear and will be perfected in the third glory.

It was my going to the revealed height which the world did not accept, my third baptism in a revealed image. When they had fled from the fire of the seven Authorities, and the sun of the powers of the archons set, darkness took them. And the world became poor when he was restrained with a multitude of fetters. They nailed him to the tree, and they fixed him with four nails of brass. The veil of his temple he tore with his hands. It was a trembling which seized the chaos of the earth, for the souls which were in the sleep below were released. And they arose. They went about boldly, having shed zealous service of ignorance and unlearnedness beside the dead tombs, having put on the new man, since they have come to know that perfect Blessed One of the eternal and incomprehensible Father and the infinite light, which is I, since I came to my own and united them with myself. There is no need for many words, for our Ennoia was with their Ennoia. Therefore they knew what I speak of, for we took counsel about the destruction of the archons. And therefore I did the will of the Father, who is I.

After we went forth from our home, and came down to this world, and came into being in the world in bodies, we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant, but also by those who think that they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals. They persecuted those who have been liberated by me, since they hate them – those who, should they shut their mouth, would weep with a profitless groaning because they did not fully know me. lnstead, they served two masters, even a multitude. But you will become victorious in everything, in war and battles, jealous division and wrath. But in the uprightness of our love we are innocent, pure, (and) good, since we have a mind of the Father in an ineffable mystery.

For it was ludicrous. It is I who bear witness that it was ludicrous, since the archons do not know that it is an ineffable union of undefiled truth, as exists among the sons of light, of which they made an imitation, having proclaimed a doctrine of a dead man and lies so as to resemble the freedom and purity of the perfect assembly, (and) <joining> themselves with their doctrine to fear and slavery, worldly cares, and abandoned worship, being small (and) ignorant, since they do not contain the nobility of the truth, for they hate the one in whom they are, and love the one in whom they are not. For they did not know the Knowledge of the Greatness, that it is from above and (from) a fountain of truth, and that it is not from slavery and jealousy, fear and love of worldly matter. For that which is not theirs and that which is theirs they use fearlessly and freely. They do not desire, because they have authority, and a law from themselves over whatever they will wish.

But those who have not are poor, that is, those who do not possess authority. And they desire it, and the archons lead astray those who covet their apparent freedom, just as they bought us for servitude and constraint of care and fear. This person is in slavery. And he who is brought by constraint of force and threat has been guarded by God. But the entire elite of the prime parent is not guarded, since God guards only him who is from him, without commandment or constraint, since he is united with his will, he who belongs only to the Ennoia of the Fatherhood, to make it Perfect and ineffable through the living water, to be with you mutually in wisdom, not only in word of hearing but in deed and fulfilled word. For the perfect ones are worthy to be established in this way and to be united with me, in order that they may not share in any enmity, in a good friendship. I accomplish everything through the Good One, for this is the union of the truth, that they should have no adversary. But everyone who brings division – and he will learn no wisdom at all because he brings division and is not a friend – is hostile to them all. But he who lives in harmony and friendship of brotherly love, naturally and not artificially, completely and not partially, this person is truly the desire of the Father. He is the universal one and perfect love.

For Adam was a laughingstock, since he was made a counterfeit type of man by the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and my brothers. We are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. And Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were a laughingstock, since they, the counterfeit fathers, were given a name by the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and my brothers. We are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. David was a laughingstock in that his son was named the Son of Man, having been influenced by the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and the fellow members of my race. But we are innocent with respect to him; we have not sinned. Solomon was a laughingstock, since he thought that he was Christ, having become vain through the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and my brothers. But we are innocent with respect to him. I have not sinned. The 12 prophets were laughingstocks, since they have come forth as imitations of the true prophets. They came into being as counterfeits through the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and my brothers. But we are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. Moses, a faithful servant, was a laughingstock, having been named “the Friend,” since they perversely bore witness concerning him who never knew me. Neither he nor those before him, from Adam to Moses and John the Baptist, none of them knew me nor my brothers.

For they had a doctrine of angels to observe dietary laws and bitter slavery, since they never knew truth, nor will they know it. For there is a great deception upon their soul, making it impossible for them ever to find a Nous of freedom in order to know him, until they come to know the Son of Man. Now concerning my Father, I am he whom the world did not know, and because of this, it (the world) rose up against me and my brothers. But we are innocent with respect to him; we have not sinned.

For the Archon was a laughingstock because he said, “I am God, and there is none greater than I. I alone am the Father, the Lord, and there is no other beside me. I am a jealous God, who brings the sins of the fathers upon the children for three and four generations.” As if he had become stronger than I and my brothers! But we are innocent with respect to him, in that we have not sinned, since we mastered his teaching. Thus he was in an empty glory. And he does not agree with our Father. And thus through our fellowship we grasped his teaching, since he was vain in an empty glory. And he does not agree with our Father, for he was a laughingstock and judgment and false prophecy.

O those who do not see, you do not see your blindness, i.e., this which was not known, nor has it ever been known, nor has it been known about him. They did not listen to firm obedience. Therefore they proceeded in a judgment of error, and they raised their defiled and murderous hands against him, as if they were beating the air. And the senseless and blind ones are always senseless, always being slaves of law and earthly fear.

I am Christ, the Son of Man, the one from you who is among you. I am despised for your sake, in order that you yourselves may forget the difference. And do not become female, lest you give birth to evil and (its) brothers: jealousy and division, anger and wrath, fear and a divided heart, and empty, non-existent desire. But I am an ineffable mystery to you.

Then before the foundation of the world, when the whole multitude of the Assembly came together upon the places of the Ogdoad, when they had taken counsel about a spiritual wedding which is in union, and thus he was perfected in the ineffable places by a living word, the undefiled wedding was consummated through the Mesotes of Jesus, who inhabits them all and possesses them, who abides in an undivided love of power. And surrounding him, he appears to him as a Monad of all these, a thought and a father, since he is one. And he stands by them all, since he as a whole came forth alone. And he is life, since he came from the Father of ineffable and perfect Truth, (the father) of those who are there, the union of Peace and a friend of good things, and life eternal and undefiled joy, in a great harmony of life and faith, through eternal life of fatherhood and motherhood and sisterhood and rational wisdom. They had agreed with Nous, who stretches out (and) will stretch out in joyful union and is trustworthy and faithfully listens to someone. And he is in fatherhood and motherhood and rational brotherhood and wisdom. And this is a wedding of truth, and a repose of incorruption, in a spirit of truth, in every mind, and a perfect light in an unnameable mystery. But this is not, nor will it happen among us in any region or place in division and breach of peace, but (in) union and a mixture of love, all of which are perfected in the one who is.

It also happened in the places under heaven for their reconciliation. Those who knew me in salvation and undividedness, and those who existed for the glory of the father and the truth, having been separated, blended into the one through the living word. And I am in the spirit and the genuine motherhood, just as he has been there; I was among those who are united in the friendship of friends forever, who neither know hostility at all, nor evil, but who are united by my Knowledge in word and peace which exists in perfection with everyone and in them all. And those who assumed the form of my type will assume the form of my word. Indeed, these will come forth in light forever, and (in) friendship with each other in the spirit, since they have known in every respect (and) indivisibly that what is, is One. And all of these are one. And thus they will learn about the One, as (did) the Assembly and those dwelling in it. For the father of all these exists, being immeasurable (and) immutable: Nous and Word and Division and Envy and Fire. And he is entirely one, being the All with them all in a single doctrine, because all these are from a single spirit. O unseeing ones, why did you not know the mystery rightly?

But the archons around Yaldabaoth were disobedient because of the Ennoia who went down to him from our sister Sophia. They made for themselves a union with those who were with them in a mixture of a fiery cloud, which was their Envy, and the rest who were brought forth by their creatures, as if they had bruised the noble pleasure of the Assembly. And therefore they revealed a mixture of ignorance in a counterfeit of fire and earth and a murderer, since they are small and untaught, without knowledge having dared these things, and not having understood that light has fellowship with light, and darkness with darkness, and the corruptible with the perishable, and the imperishable with the incorruptible.

Now these things I have presented to you – I am Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who is exalted above the heavens – O perfect and incorruptible ones, because of the incorruptible and perfect mystery and the ineffable one. But they understand that we appointed them before the foundation of the world, in order that, when we emerge from the places of the world, we may present there the symbols of incorruption from the spiritual union unto knowledge. You do not know it, because the fleshly cloud overshadows you. But I alone am the friend of Sophia. I have been in the bosom of the father from the beginning, in the place of the sons of the truth, and the Greatness. Rest then with me, my fellow spirits and my brothers, forever.

Second Treatise of the Great Seth

Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.

The Nag Hammadi Library