(aka:The Book of the Gnôsis of the Invisible God.)
contained in the Codex Brucianus
with Introduction and Notes
"I have loved you, and have longed to give you Life."
"Blessed is he who crucifieth the World and hath not suffered the World to crucify him."
"Blessed is the man who knoweth these things, who hath brought Heaven down upon Earth and hath taken Earth and hath lifted it up unto Heaven, and hath so wrought that the Midst is a Nothing."
by Peter Stafford-Sumner
In presenting this ancient Gnôstic text on this site, I would like to make it clear that we are not advocating any gnostic philosophy or belief system. It is here simply as an fascinating and sometimes insightful example of Gnôstic literature, but one that is not typical of all.
To our minds today, the complex symbology in this document may seem bizarre or fantastic but it is no more so than the symbolism in the book of Revelation which just made it into the New Testament.
This treatise, like so many esoteric texts, was not meant to be read literally, but rather to be interpreted by a master or hierophant to an initiate face to face.
Perhaps, like the famous Zen koans, the symbolism was made deliberately impenetrable to arrest the cognitive processes of the mind so that intuition or apperception could break through for the seeker after truth.
Whether this is so or not, we can assume that the strange expressions and fantastical systems that sparkle through the codex were meant to point to a Reality not bound by space and time, and that can be known or seen by those given the key of understanding.
Apart from anything else, I heartily commend to you R. A. Gilbert's preface which gives some excellent background on the Gnôstics in general; and also Lamplugh's Introduction below as he seems to have tasted of That whereof he speaks.
For those interested in the primordial nondual wisdom, or Gnôsis, of which this codex is but one very specific cultural expression, we speak of the Gnôsis of Light elsewhere on this site.
by Fletcher Lamplugh
This translation of the ancient Gnôstic work, called by Schmidt, the Untitled Apocalypse, is based chiefly on Amélineau's French version of the superior MS. of the Codex Brucianus, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
In making the rendering I have studied the context carefully, and have not neglected the Greek words interspersed with the Coptic; also I have availed myself of Mr Mead's translation of certain important passages from Schmidt's edition, for purposes of comparison.
Anything that I have added to bring out the meaning of the Gnôstic author now and again, I have enclosed in brackets. Such suggestions have always arisen from the text. I fancy my English version will be found to give a reasonably accurate idea of the contents of one of the most abstruse symbolical works in the world.
The notes that I have added are not intended to be final or exhaustive, but to give the general reader some guidance towards understanding the intensely interesting topics with which the powerful mind of the ancient mystical writer was preoccupied.
I have endeavoured to show myself a sympathetic "Hierophant" or expounder of some of the mysteries, not without study of the Gnôsis, both of the Christianised and purely Hellenistic type, for the key to the understanding of symbolism is only given into the hands of sympathy.
The Codex Brucianus was brought to England from Upper Egypt, by the famous traveller Bruce, in 1769, and bequeathed by him to the care of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It contains several Gnôstic works translated into the Upper Egyptian dialect from the Greek, and probably is as old as the 6th century C.E.
The Greek originals were of course much older, that is to say, the MSS. to which the codex ultimately goes back were much older. We are only concerned with one of them here, the so-called Untitled Apocalypse, which is markedly distinct from the others in character and style.
Schmidt dates it well in the 2nd century C.E., and with this estimate I am inclined to agree. It shows, as I have endeavoured to make clear in the notes, marked affinities in some respects to the Gospel of Mary (Codex Akhmim), which we know to have been in existence before 180 C.E., and its philosophical basis is the Platonism of Alexandria.
If it is by one writer, I think it may be dated from 160 or 170 to 200 C.E., and belongs to the period of Basilides and Valentinus.
Before venturing upon any discussion of the authorship and contents of our document, it would be as well to say a few words as to the meaning of that much misunderstood technical term "Gnôsis" in Hellenistic and early Christian theology.
For a fuller exposition I would refer the reader to the admirable essay upon the subject by Mr G. R. S. Mead in his volume Quests Old and New. Gnôsis was not "philosophy" in the generally accepted sense of the term, or even religio-philosophy.
"It was immediate knowledge of God's mysteries received from direct intercourse with the Deity—mysteries which must remain hidden from the natural man, a knowledge at the same time which exercises decided reaction on our relationship to God and also on our nature or disposition" (Reitzenstein).
It was the power or gift of receiving and understanding revelation, which finally culminated in the direct unveiled vision of God and the transformation of the whole man into spiritual being by contact with Him.
The ground of the idea of Gnôsis does not seem to be very different from that of the later "Mystical Theology," "which originally meant the direct, secret, and incommunicable knowledge of God received in contemplation" (Dom John Chapman).
The revelation sought for was not so much a dogmatic revelation as a revelation of the processes of "transmutation" of Rebirth, of Apotheosis or "Deification." Its aim was dynamic rather than static.
But while the followers of the Gnôsis, both Christian and Hellenistic, would have agreed that the direct knowledge of God is incommunicable to others, they undoubtedly seem to have held that there were what may be described as intermediate or preparatory processes or energisings which could be communicated:
- by initiation into a holy community;
- by a duly qualified master;
- under the veils of symbols and sacraments.
The Gnôstic movement began long before the Christian era (what its original historical impulse was we do not know), and only one aspect of it, and that from a strictly limited point of view, has been treated by ecclesiastical historians.
Recent investigations have challenged the traditional outlook and the traditional conclusions and the traditional "facts."
With some to-day, and with many more to-morrow, the burning question is, or will be—not how did a peculiarly silly and licentious heresy rise within the Church—but how did the Church rise out of the great Gnôstic movement, and how did the dynamic ideas of the Gnôsis become crystallised into Dogmas?
I do not indicate a solution; I do not express an opinion. I call attention to a fact in the world of scholarship that will not be without its decided reaction upon the plain man. But the study of the ancient Gnôsis, and indeed of mysticism generally, has left another suggestion that seems laden with limitless possibilities.
Let us first go back to what I said as to the communication of certain processes," "leavenings," or "energisings" under a sacramental veil. These processes were held to modify the nature of the person who submitted to them in a peculiar manner that was likened to the impress or "character" of a seal upon wax.
These seals or "characters" could not only be acquired through formal rites and by the laying on of the hands of a master, but also, I am disposed to believe, by a certain mode of study—I am developing the Gnôstic theory, not stating one of my own—namely, that of a highly symbolic literature.
The objection of the Gnôstic to a plain statement of facts would probably be somewhat as follows:
"What you say is very good and true as far as it goes, but it is 'Pistis,' not Gnôsis; Faith, not Knowledge. You desire to be a changed man. Pistis will change you to a certain extent. I have nothing to say against it, but it will not change you in the radical way that Gnôsis does."
If you went on to argue that your statement was reasonable and received admirable support from logic and philosophy, he would probably reply:
"Philosophy of the kind you mention is excellent, and forms a basis for Gnôsis which is not contrary to reason, though it is above it. Gnôsis is a rebirth by which you become a god, and then you will have no need to find out things by talking and discursive reasoning, for everything will be within yourself and you will know all things in a vital way, by an act of simple intuition in the end.
'The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.'
If you tie yourself down to logic, you will not know the real things, the 'Things that are,' by getting inside them. Your knowledge will be external, superficial. Gnôsis, you may be surprised to learn, is not just 'knowing,' it is light and 'life,' living and being as well.
This must not be taken as an attacking reason; if you join our school you will have a stiff course of Plato. You ought to know the 'Things that are' from the ordinary point of view, from outside, before you approach them with the idea of getting inside them, and so raising them up within yourself as far-shining lives.
Afterwards you will study in a new manner that will seem madness to the common-sensed; and a Divine Madness indeed it is, for it will lead you to the secret of the Cross."
Hence the disciple was confronted in due time with a document that would not yield its secrets to dialectic, a kind of ritual in words that initiated his intuition into self-knowledge. Intense devotion was needed, imagination, and will-power.
The Gnôsis came gradually, perhaps after the manuscript had been laid aside; it was the effort towards a sympathetic understanding that mattered, that was rewarded with life and light from God.
The mere success of the logical mind in unravelling a puzzle was as nothing, for the readings of these monstrous, many-faceted stars of symbolism were infinite. That the intuition should enter into self awareness as into a sacred place of the mysteries—that was a process of the Gnôsis.
Now this strange way of teaching, which was really a "Cloud of Unknowing," was the real basis and point, as it were, of the Alexandrine method of interpreting Scripture. Think of Philo and what he says of the teaching of his Gnôstic Therapeuts. Think of Clement, and of Origen with his "Eternal Gospel."
This quickening of the intuition into knowledge of itself and God, through allegory and symbol based on philosophy, was the Everlasting Gospel.
So Gnôstic documents were not merely intended to puzzle the outsider, but the insider as well. This fact will enable us to appreciate better Basilides' famous remark about the one or two only who could understand his system. His frame of mind was a little like that of a university examiner after setting a paper.
We need not think that these people were altogether destitute of humour. It would be a gross exaggeration, of course, to say that all the Gnôstic systems described in Irenaeus and Hippolytus might have been devised by the same man, but it would be a useful exaggeration, illustrating the extreme anti-literalist point of view.
Our knowledge of the schools rests for the most part on reports made upon documents such as these, the purport of which was entirely missed by those that made them. They treated Gnôsis as if it were another kind of "Pistis," or another system of philosophy.
One doubts very much the correctness of the traditional classification of schools, which was made by people who were not in very close touch with them. One doubts if there was much hostility between these schools, however much their symbolism may appear to differ on the surface.
What was the result of these processes "initiated" or "started" by sacramental rites, by symbolism, by masters of Gnôsis? Was the result something purely "subjective" at best? The answer of the Masters of the Gnôsis to this question, which is characteristic of the modern mind and expresses the doubt which is gnawing at the heart of much modern religious life, would have been
"No. There are certain physical changes as well. The body is spiritualised."
They might possibly have added,
"It is assumed, in part at least, by the Body of Stars  which has been awakened within it. This is the Body by means of which Union with God takes place, and then still more wonderful changes happen. We can awaken the Body of Stars or Rays, but to unite it with Himself, that depends upon the Will of God above, but all is a mystery of Grace."
This awakening of the Body of Stars, this assumption, or partial assumption, by immortality of the inner flesh, is the interesting possibility to which I referred earlier. Let me here quote two Catholic writers. Says Döllinger (First Age, p. 235, quoting Rom. 7:22, 1 Cor. 6:14, Eph. 3:16 and 30, in support),
"Saint Paul not only divides man into body and spirit, but distinguishes in the bodily nature, the gross, visible, bodily frame and a hidden, inner 'spiritual' body not subject to limits of space or cognisable by the senses; this last, which shall hereafter be raised, is alone fit for and capable of organic union with the glorified body of Christ, of substantial incorporation with it."
Dom John Chapman, O.S.B., in his excellent article on "Catholic Mysticism" in Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. ix., writes: "It is not to be denied that this psycho-physical side demands scientific investigation.
It seems certain that St John of the Cross is justified in his view that the body is somehow 'spiritualised' by contemplation. Such facts as the power of saints over the animal world and the power of reading thoughts, e.g., are proved beyond cavil."
Here, then, we have a consistent tradition held by many schools, and I think that it is by investigation along the lines suggested by Dom John Chapman that there is the greatest chance of arriving at some proof of immortality that will satisfy the scientific mind.
For the claim of mystics is that here and now it is possible to participate consciously in that which is immortal, and the "spiritualising" of the body is an outward sign of the substantiality of that claim, the standard set up upon a hill to testify that the human consciousness is not planetary merely, not "hylic," nor "psychic," but has its root in the wisdom that issues from an inconceivable Abyss of Life and Light.
I believe that the original source of the document I have translated belonged to an Egyptian community or school of contemplation whose name has been forgotten in the night of time; that it was connected with the preparation of a candidate for the Baptism of Light.
What form this rite really took it is impossible to say, but that it had outward signs of some kind is extremely probable. We have an old Gnôstic ritual preserved in the compilation generally known as the "Acts of John."
Perhaps this may give us some idea of the sort of ceremony that was worked. I fancy there was an Eucharistic side, and that the Baptism of Light was connected with the mystic crucifixion alluded to so often in the notes.
Possibly in the midst of the sacred dance, at the breaking of the Bread, there was a certain laying on of hands by an adept Master, one who had himself attained to the autoptic vision, and then the candidate was left alone to immerse himself in the Dark Ray of the Divine Mind.
I think also that the original MS. was based upon the work of one Master, whose name, like that of the order to which he belonged, is lost in the night of time, but that it also contains amplifications and additions by at least one later hand.
It will thus represent the mind of a grade of teaching, and possibly contains material dating back to the period of the Therapeutae that Philo knew. In other words, the community may have been an old one before it was Christianised.
In any case, it remains the record of a stupendous spiritual adventure, the attempt to produce a race of Divinised men, that is not without the splendour of tragedy, for at some time, like the Holy Cup of Legend, the presence of Masterhood departed, and the external house fell into ruin and its place knew it no more.
Perhaps, in the desire to propagate, it admitted unworthy candidates; perhaps it turned to the by-ways of magic in an attempt to arrest the external course of nature and to defy necessity; perhaps there came a day when none could understand the inner meaning of the high and far-shining mysteries, and so amidst party strife the building word was lost.
Many a man, no doubt, who called himself a "Gnôstic" was but a sorry rogue; many another was but a student of the letter, not of the life; many another was but a spiritual swashbuckler, pompous in his demeanour and cryptic in his utterance; some, led by an abhorrent fantasy, may have wandered along the path that goes to the Venus-berg and have striven to lisp a formula that would transform the earth into Gehenna rather than into Heaven.
But, beside this mass of imposture, of folly, of elegant idleness and of corruption, the à rebours of a spiritual outpouring, there was a real mysticism that could present the Authentic Spectacle and could utter comfortable words in tongues not of this world utterly.
There was a Gnôsis that strove to give the Peace of God to those within and to those without, because in Peace all things were made, that yearned to bring forth children, quickened fiery souls, æons, gods, in bodies of light for the love of God; that saw in all things Grace, the Sponsa Dei, the Mother most pure and immaculate.
"No creature was ever wronged of Thee," no spark ever quenched, no hope defrauded and hurled eternally from the sky with shattered wings by Thee. Such is the fair Faith that chanted its prayer beneath a heaven set with such strange galaxies, and whispers to us now through the disremembered symbols of a forgotten book.
It is pleasant, in these days of strife, to be able to quote Dr Schmidt's appreciation of the Untitled Apocalypse with a cordial agreement:
"What a different world, on the contrary, meets us in our thirty-one leaves! We find ourselves in the pure spheres of the highest Plêrôma; we see, step by step, this world, so rich in heavenly beings, coming into existence before our eyes; each individual space with all its inmates is minutely described, so that we can form for ourselves a living picture of the glory and splendour of this Gnôstic heaven.
The speculations are not so confused and fantastic as those of the Pistis Sophia and our two Books of Jeu.... The author is imbued with the Greek spirit, equipped with a full knowledge of Greek philosophy, full of the doctrine of the Platonic ideas, an adherent of Plato's view of the origin of evil—that is to say, Hyle....
We possess in these leaves a magnificently conceived work by an old Gnôstic philosopher, and we stand astonished, marvelling at the boldness of the speculations, dazzled by the richness of the thought, touched by the depth of soul of the author.
This is not, like the Pistis Sophia, the product of declining Gnôsticism, but dates from a period when Gnôstic genius, like a mighty eagle, left the world behind it and soared in wide and ever wider circles towards pure light, towards pure knowledge, in which it lost itself in ecstasy.
In one word, we possess in this Gnôstic work, as regards age and contents, a work of the very highest importance, which takes us into a period of Gnôsticism, and therefore of Christianity, of which very little knowledge has been handed down to us."
Finally, I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the scholarship of Mr G. R. S. Mead, whose labours in the field of Hellenistic Theology have to my mind received insufficient recognition, and whose admirable translations I have often used in the notes.
Footnote 1. Not to be confused with the "astral body" of modern theosophy. back
The Gnôsis of the Light
This is the Father of all Fathers, the God of all ... Gods, Lord of all Lords, Sonship of all Sons, Saviour of all Saviours, Invisible of all Invisibles, Infinity of all Infinities, Uncontainable of all Uncontainables, Beyond-the-Deep of all Beyond-the-Deeps, Space of all Spaces.
This is the Spiritual Mind which existed before all Spiritual Minds, the Holy Place comprehending all Holy Places, the Good comprehending all Goods. This is the Seed of all good things.
It is He who has brought them all forth, this Autophues or Being who has produced Himself, who existed before all the beings of the Plêrôma which He Himself has brought forth, Who is in all time.
This is that Ingenerable and Eternal One who has no name and who has all names; who was the first to know those of the Universe, who has looked upon those of the Universe, who has heard those of the Universe.
He is mightier than all might, upon whose incomprehensible Face no one is able to gaze. Beyond all mind does He exist in His own Form, Solitary and Unknowable. The Universal Mystery is He, the Universal Wisdom, of all things the Beginning.
In Him are all Lights, all Life, and all Repose. He is the Beatitude of which all in the Universe are in need, for that they might receive Him they are.
All beings of the Universe does He behold within Himself, that One Uncontainable, who parts those of the Universe and receives them all into Himself. Without Him is nothing, for all the worlds exist in Him, and He is the boundary of them all.
All of them has He enclosed, for in Him is all. No Space is there without Him, nor any Intelligence; for without that Only One there exists nothing. The Eternities (æons) contemplate His incomprehensibility which is within them all, but understand it not.
They wonder at it because He limits them all. They strive towards the City in which is their Image.
In this City (1) it is that they move and live [and have their true being]; for it is the House of the Father, the Robe of the Son, and the Power of the Mother, the Image of the Plêrôma.
He is the First Father of all things, the First Eternal, the King of those that None can Touch; He in whom all things lose themselves, He who has given all things form within Himself; the Space which has grown from Itself, He who is born of Himself, the Abyss of all being, the Great and True One who is in the Deep; He in whom the Fullnesses (Plêrômata) did come, and even they are silent before Him.
They have not named Him, because Unnamable and beyond thought is He, that First Fount whose Eternity stretches through all Spaces, that First Tone (2) whereby all things hearken and understand.
He it is whose limbs make a myriad, myriad Powers, and every Power is a being in itself.
The Second Space is that which is called Creator, Father, Word, Source, Mind, Man, Eternal, Infinite. He is the Pillar, the Overseer, the Father of all. He it is upon whose Head the æons form a crown, darting forth their rays.
The Fullness of His Countenance is unknown to the external worlds who seek His Face, for evermore yearning to know It; for unto them His Word has run forth and to behold It is their desire.
The Light of His Eyes pierces to the spaces of the external Plêrôma and the Word goes forth from His Mouth to those who dwell in Heaven and to those who dwell beneath it.
The hairs of His Head are the number of the Hidden Worlds, and the Features of His Face are the type of the Eternities; the hairs of His Beard are the number of the External Worlds. The stretching out of His Hands is the manifestation of the Cross (3).
The strain of the Cross is the Ennead, the Ninefold Being. He who springs up [? or is nailed] to the right and to the left of the Cross is the Man whom no man can comprehend.
He is the Father, the Fount whence Silence wells, He for whom the Quest is everywhere. The Father is He from whom went forth the Monad and the Spark of Light, and before this all the Worlds were dark nothings.
For it is that Spark of Light which has placed all things in the rays of Its Splendour, so they have received Knowledge [Gnôsis], Life, Hope, Peace, Faith, Love and Resurrection, the Second Birth and the Seal.
Now these things are the Ennead, the Ninefold Being, which has come forth from the Father without beginning, who alone has been His own Father and His own Mother, whose Plêrôma surrounds the twelve (4) Deeps.
The First Deep is the Universal Fount, from whom all fountains have gone forth.
The Second Deep is the Universal Wisdom, from whom all wisdoms have gone forth.
The Third Deep is the Universal Mystery, from whom all mysteries have gone forth.
The Fourth Deep is the Universal Gnôsis, from whom all Gnôses have gone forth.
The Fifth Deep is the Universal Purity, from whom all purity has gone forth.
The Sixth Deep is the Silence that contains all silences.
The Seventh Deep is the Universal Super-essential Essence, from whom all essences have gone forth.
The Eighth Deep is the Forefather from whom and by whom all forefathers exist.
The Ninth Deep is the All-Father, Self-Father, in whom is the All-Paternity of those who are Self-Fathers of the all.
The Tenth Deep is the All-Power, from whom all powers have gone forth.
The Eleventh Deep is that in which there is the First Invisible, from whom have gone forth all invisibles.
The Twelfth Deep is the Truth, from whence all truths have sped forth.
Now the Truth (5) which envelops all things is the Image of the Father, the End of all things.
She is the Mother of all Eternities, who surrounds all Deeps, the Monad beyond knowledge who cannot be known, without seal-mark and having all seal-marks within, blessed for ever and ever.
To the Father Ineffable, Inconceivable, Unthinkable, Unchangeable, all things have been made like in their being. They rejoiced and have been filled with life-giving powers.
They engendered myriads and myriads and myriads of æons, and in Joy, because they rejoiced with the Father (6).
These are the worlds from which the Cross upsprang, and from their incorporeal limbs the Man has come forth. It is the Father and Fount of all being who has produced the limbs.
Now from the Father are all names (7), whether Ineffable One, or Incorruptible One, or Invisible One, or Simple One, or Solitary One, or Powerful One, or Triple-powered One, or the names that in Silence alone are named.
In the Father are they all, and He it is whom the Outer Worlds behold [as men behold] the starry sky at night. Even as men [so gazing into the night] desire to see the Sun, so do the Outer Worlds desire to see Him because of the very Invisibility which surrounds Him.
He it is who to the æons gives life perpetually, and by His Word hath the Indivisible ... the Monad in order to know it. For it is by His Word that the Holy Plêrôma exists.
This is the Father, the Second Creator, by the breath of whose Mouth Providence (Pronoia) has been in travail of those who were not, and it is by His Will that they are....
This is the Father, Ineffable, Unspeakable, Beyond Knowledge, Invisible, Immeasurable, Infinite. He has produced those that are in Him within Himself.
The Thought of His Greatness has He brought forth from non-being that He might make them to be. Incomprehensible is He in His limbs. A Space has He made for His limbs that they might dwell in Him and know Him for their Sire.
From His First Thought (8) has He made them come forth, and she has become a Space for them and given them being .... In this wise has He created the Temple of the Plêrôma.
At the four gates of the [Temple of] the Plêrôma are four Monads, a Monad at each gate, and six Supporters at each gate, in all four and twenty Supporters, and four and twenty myriads of powers at each gate, nine Enneads at each gate, ten Decads at each gate, twelve Dodecads at each gate, and five Pentads of Powers at each gate.
At each gate there is an Overseer of triple aspect having countenances Ingenerable, True, and Ineffable. Of these faces one gazes upon the external æons without the gate; another beholds Sêtheus, and the third looks upward to the Sonship contained in every Monad.
There it is that Aphrêdon is discovered with his twelve Holy Ones and the Forefather, and in that Space abides also Adam, the Man of the Light, with his three hundred æons. There also is the Perfect Mind. All these surround a Basket (9) that knows no death.
The Ineffable face of the Overseer, who is the Warden of the Holy Place, gazes into the Holy of Holies upon the Boundless One. Now this Warden has faces twain. One is disclosed from the side of the Deep, the other from the side of the Overseer called the Child (or Servant).
For there is a Deep [within the Holy of Holies] which is named "Light" (10), or "He who gives the Light," and in this Abyss there is concealed an Alone-begotten Son. He it is who manifests the Three Powers, who is mighty amongst all Powers.
This (? the Holy of Holies) is the Indivisible One, [the atom—Body or Church] that can never be divided, in whom the All is discovered, because all powers are hers.
He who is the Triple Power has three faces, an Aphrêdonian face that is called Aphrêdon Pêxos, in which is found a latent Only-begotten One.
When the (?) Idea comes out of the Deep, Aphrêdon takes the Thought to conduct her to the Alone-begotten of Alone-begottens, to lead her to the Child, so that she may be brought to the Space of the Triple Power for self-perfecting, and be escorted in the Space of the Five Ingenerables.
There is also another Space called the Deep, where there are three Paternities. In the first thereof is Kaluptô, the Hidden God. In the Second Paternity there are Five Trees, and in the midst of them an altar.
An Alone-begotten Word stands upon the altar, having the twelve countenances of the Mind of all things, and before him are the prayers of all beings placed. The Universe rejoices over him because he has manifested himself.
He it is that the Invisible World has struggled to know, and it is on his account that the Man has appeared. In the Third Paternity is Silence and the Fount which twelve Anointed Ones contemplate, beholding themselves therein.
In him are also found Love and the Universal Mind and furthermore the Universal Mother from whom has gone forth that Ennead whose names are Prôtia, Pantia, Pangenia, Loxophania, Loxogenia, Loxokrateia, Lôia, and Iouêl.
She is the First Beyond Knowledge, the Mother of the Ennead, who completes a Decad, come forth from the Monad of the Unknowable. Following there is another Space, more stretched out, where is hidden a great treasure which the Universe surrounds.
[This Space] is the Immeasurable Deep where is an altar whereon three Powers are gathered a Solitary being, an Unknowable being, and an Infinite being, in the midst of whom is revealed a Sonship called the Anointed Glorifier.
This is he who glorifies everyone and impresses upon him the seal of the Father, who brings everybody into the eternity of the First Father who is the One, He for whose sake all is and without whom nothing is.
Now this Anointed One has twelve faces, visages Unbounded, Uncontainable, Ineffable, Simple, Imperishable, Solitary, Unknowable, Invincible, Thrice-powerful, Unshakable, Ingenerable, and Pure.
These Spaces, where are these twelve founts, named Founts of Reasons, full of eternal life, are called Deeps as well as the Twelve Countenances, because they have received in them all Spaces of Paternity on behalf of the Plêrômata and the Fruit which the Plêrôma emanated, who is Christ who has received the Plêrôma in Himself.
Beyond all these Spaces comes the Deep of Sêtheus. This he who is in them all and is surrounded by twelve Paternities, even in the midst of these is he. Each Paternity has three faces.
The first of them is an Indivisible One, and three faces has he, Infinite, Invisible, and Ineffable faces. The Second Father has Uncontainable, Unshakable, and Incorruptible faces.
The Third Father has faces Beyond Knowledge, Imperishable, and Aphrêdonian. The Fourth Father has a countenance of Silence, a face of Founts, and a visage Impalpable. The Fifth Father has Solitary, Omnipotent, and Ingenerable faces.
The Sixth Father has the face of an All-Father, the face of a Self-Father, and the face of a Forefather. The Seventh Father has countenances of Universal Mystery, of Universal Wisdom and Universal Origin. Visages has the Eighth Father of Light, Repose, and Resurrection.
The Ninth Father has faces Knowable, First Visible, and... The Tenth Father has Triple-fleshed, Adamic, and Pure faces. The Eleventh Father has faces Triple-powered, Perfect, and Sparkling.
The Twelfth Father has a face of Truth, a face of Fore-thought, and a face of After-thought. These are the twelve Paternities which encircle Sêtheus. [Their faces] make in all a [mystic] number thirty-six.
These are they from whom those of the exterior have received a seal-mark, that is why they glorify them for evermore (11).
In that Space there are yet twelve other paternities who encircle the head [of Sêtheus] and support a crown there. They dart out rays upon the surrounding worlds by the Grace of the Alone-begotten Word, concealed in him, He that is sought for.
[The passage enclosed within brackets has been so mutilated by the Coptic scribe that what follows is of the nature of a paraphrase rather than of a translation]:—(As to the mysteries of the Word that are so much beyond us, it is not possible to describe them otherwise than as follows.
Not possible for us, that is. It is impossible to describe Him as He really is with a tongue of flesh. There are glories too exalted for descriptions moved by thought and for intuition that comes through symbols, except one finds a master who is a kinsman of the deathless race yonder.
From such an one can be learned something of the Spaces from whence he came; for he finds the root of all things. The mighty powers of the great æons of the Power that was in Marsanes have said in adoration, "Who is he who hath seen aught in the presence of His Face?"
That is because thus does He manifest Himself [? the Alone to the Alone], Nicotheos has spoken of Him [the Alone-begotten] and seen Him, for he is one of these. He [Nicotheos] said, "The Father exists exalted above all the perfect."
Nicotheos has revealed the Invisible and the perfect Triple-power. All perfect men have seen Him, they have declared Him and have given Him glory with their own lips) (12).]
That is the Alone-begotten Word hidden in Sêtheus, He who is called the Dark Ray (13), for it is the excess of His light alone that is darkness. Sêtheus reigns by Him.
The Alone-begotten holds in His right hand twelve Paternities, the types of the twelve Apostles (14), while in His left hand are thirty Powers. Each of them emanates twelve two-faced æons after the type of Sêtheus.
One of these faces beholds the Deep which is in the Interior [of the Temple of the Plêrôma]; the other looks without upon the Triple-Power.
Each of the Paternities in His right hand emanates three hundred and sixty-five powers, according to the word that David spake, saying, "I will cherish the crown of the year in Thy Righteousness."
For all these Powers encircle the Alone-begotten Son as a crown, illuminating the æons with the light of the Alone-begotten, as it is written, "In Thy light shall we see light."
And the Alone-begotten is lifted up upon [the powers], as again it is written, "The Chariot of God is a myriad of multiplications"; and again, "There are millions of beings who rejoice; the Lord is in them" (15).
This is He who dwells in the Monad in Sêtheus, which comes from the place concerning which one does not ask, "Where is it?" She comes from Him who is before these Fullnesses.
From the One and Only, even from Him has come forth the Monad, as a ship laden with all good things, or as a full field planted with every manner of tree, or as a city filled with men of every race and with all the statues of the king.
Thus it is with the Monad where the Whole is found.
Upon her head twelve Monads form a crown; each has emanated another twelve. Ten Decads encircle her neck, nine Enneads are about her heart, and seven Hebdomads are under her feet, and each has emanated a Hebdomad.
The firmament which surrounds her is like a tower with twelve gates, and at every gate are twelve myriads of powers; archangels are they called, or angels. This is the metropolis of the Alone-begotten Son (16).
Now it is of the Alone-begotten that Phôsilampes (17) has said, "Before all things is He." He it is who has come forth from the Infinite; He who has engendered Himself there and has no seal nor form and has given birth to Himself.
This is He who is come forth from the Ineffable One, the Immeasurable One, who truly is, and in whom is found all that truly is, who is the Father Incomprehensible.
He is in His Alone-begotten Son, while the All reposes in the Ineffable and Unspeakable King, whom none can move and whose Divinity no one can declare, whose kingdom is not of this world.
Meditating upon Him, Phôsilampes has said, "Through Him is That-which-really-is and That-which-really-is-not, through which the Hidden-which-really-is and the Manifest-which-really-is-not exists."
He is the true Alone-begotten God, and all the Fullnesses (Plêrômata) know that it is by Him that they have become gods and that they have become rulers in this name—God.
This is He of whom John has said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in God and the Word was God, and without Him was not anything made. That which was made in Him was Life."
The Alone-begotten is found in the Monad, dwelling in her as in a city, and the Monad is in Sêtheus as a concept, and Sêtheus dwells in the Temple as King and as God.
He is the Word creative, who has commanded the Fullnesses to labour; the Creative Mind after the order of God the Father, whom all creation worships as God and Lord, to whom all is subjected. The Fullnesses wonder at Him [Sêtheus] because of His beauty and grace.
Around His head those of the Inner Spaces of the Universe form a crown; those of the external spaces are beneath His feet, while those of the middle spaces encircle Him, all praising Him and saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, AAA, HHH, EEE, III, OOO, YYY, ΩΩΩ"—that is to say, "Thou art the Living One of Living Ones, Holy of Holies, Being of Beings, Father of Fathers, God of Gods, Lord of Lords, Space of Spaces" (18).
They praise Him, saying, "Thou art the House and the Dweller in the House." They praise Him, saying unto the Son concealed in Him, "Thou art: Thou art, O Alone-begotten, Light and Life and Grace."
When Sêtheus sent the Light-Spark from the Indivisible [Body], it burned and gave light to all the Space of the Temple of the Plêrômata.
And they, beholding the light of the Spark, rejoiced and uttered myriads and myriads of praises in honour of Sêtheus and of the Light-Spark which was manifested, seeing that in it were all their images, and they fashioned the Spark among themselves as a Man light-giving and true.
They named Him "Pantomorphos," and Pure, and Unshakable, and all the eternities also called him "All-powered." He is the Servant of the Æons and serves the Fullnesses (19).
And the Father sealed the Man His Son in their interior so that they might know Him interiorly, and the Word moved them to contemplate the Invisible One beyond knowledge, and they gave glory to this One and Only One, to the Concept which is in Him and to the Intelligible Word, praising these Three who are One, because by Him have they been made essential beings.
The Father took their total image and made of it a City or a Man and figured in Him all those of the Plêrôma, that is to say, all the powers.
Each one of them knew his image in the City, for everyone of the myriads of glories found himself in the Man or City of the Father which is in the Plêrôma. The Father took His radiant glory and made thereof an outer vesture for the Man....
He created in Him the type of the Temple of the Plêrôma. He made His shoulders, which came out one from the other, after the type of those hundred myriads of powers, less four myriads. He created His fingers and toes like the two Decads, the hidden Decad and the manifest Decad.
He created His organ like the Monad concealed in Sêtheus. He created the great reins like Sêtheus.
He made His breast like the Interior of the Temple and His feet after the type of the Solitary and Unknowable Ones who serve the Plêrôma, rejoicing with those that rejoice.
He made His limbs after the type of the Deep which encloses three hundred and sixty-five Paternities after the type of the Paternities.
He fashioned His hair after the type of the Worlds of the Plêrôma and filled Him with wisdom like the Universal Wisdom, and filled Him with interior mystery like Sêtheus and with exterior mystery like the Indivisible [Body].
Incomprehensible created He Him like the Incomprehensible One, who is in every Space, unique in the Plêrôma. His sides created He after the type of the Four Gates and His two thighs after the type of the Myriarchs who are to the right and left, and His members after the type of those who go forth and those who enter.
He created companions surrounding Him after the type of concealed mysteries ....
[This was the Man or City that the Plêrômata beheld in the Light-Spark and saw their likenesses therein. They fashioned the Man called Pantomorphos in His likeness, or clothed the Light-Spark in the Star-body.]
The Indivisible Point sent the Light-Spark without the Plêrôma, and [He] descended [as] the Triple-Power into the Spaces of Autogènes, the Self-generated One, and [these Spaces] beheld the grace of the Eternities of Light which had been given unto them, and they rejoiced because that-which-is had come among them.
Then they opened the firmaments and the Light descended below to the lower regions and to those who were without form, having no [true] likeness. It was thus that they got the likeness of the Light for themselves.
Some rejoiced because the Light had come to them, and that they had been made rich thereby.
Others mourned because they were made poor and that which [they thought] they had was taken away from them. Thus came He, who went forth full of grace, and was taken captive with a captivity (20) .
A light of glory was given to the æons who had received the Spark, and guardian spirits were sent to them who are Gamanêl, Etrempsouchos, and Agramas, and those who are with them. They bring help to those who have believed in the Spark of Light.
Now in the Space of the Indivisible Atom are twelve Founts, above which are the twelve Paternities who surround the Indivisible [Queen] like Deeps or like Skies and make for Her a crown in which is every kind of life: all modes of Triple-powered life, of Uncontainable life, of Infinite life, of Ineffable life, of Silent life, of Unknown life, of Solitary life, of Unshakable life, of First-manifested life, of Self-born life, of True life. All is therein.
Every species is in it, all Gnôses and every power which has received the Light, yea, all Mind manifests itself therein. This is the Crown which the Father of the Universe has placed upon the Indivisible [Queen] with three hundred and sixty-five kinds in it, brilliant and filling the Universe with an incorruptible and unfailing light.
This is the Crown which crowns all dominion, the Crown that the Deathless pray for, and by it and in it they will become Invisible Ones [in the world beyond manifestation] on the Day of Joy, who by the Will of the Inscrutable One have from the first been manifested, that is to say, Prôtia, Pantia, Pangenia, and their company.
Then shall all the Invisible Eternities receive from Him their crown, so that they may cast themselves among the Invisibles, who shall receive there their crown in the Crown of the Indivisible [Queen], and the Universe shall receive its perfection of incorruption.
Because of this it is that those who have taken bodies pray, desiring to abandon the body that they may receive the crown laid up for them in the Incorruptible Eternity.
This is the Indivisible [Queen and Mother], the first æon of all, who has been given all good things by Him who is above all good things, and she has been given the Immeasurable Deep, wherein are found innumerable Paternities, whereof is the Ennead without seal-mark and having in her the seal-marks of all creatures, and by whom the Ennead emanates twelve Enneads.
She [the Indivisible Mother it is] who has in the midst a Space called "The Land productive of Gods," or "The Land which gives birth to the Gods" (21).
This is the land of which it has been said, "He who ploughs his soil shall be satisfied with bread and he shall make large his threshing floor," and also, "The Master of the Field, when they shall plough it, shall possess all good things."
And all those Powers which are in this land which brought forth the God have received the Crown.
That is why they know, because of the Crown upon their heads, if the Inheritors of the Kingdom of Light have [? in truth] been born from the Indivisible Body or not: that is, from Her who is the Universal Mother (22).
She has within Her seven Wisdoms, nine Enneads, ten Decads, and in the midst a great Basket is revealed.
A mighty Invisible [Hierarch] stands above it with a mighty Ingenerable [Hierarch] and a mighty Unbounded [Hierarch], each one triple-countenanced, and the prayer, the blessing, and the hymn of creatures are given place in this Basket which is in the midst of the Universal Mother, in the midst of the seven Wisdoms, in the midst of the nine Enneads, and in the midst of the ten Decads.
For all these [creatures] stand upright in the Basket, made perfect by the Fruit of the Æons, He who has been ordained for them by the Alone-begotten concealed in the Indivisible [Atom].
He [the Fruit of the Æons] has a Fount before Him surrounded by twelve Holy Ones, each one wearing a Crown on his head and having twelve powers, who surround Him within, praising the Alone-begotten king and crying, "It is because of Thee that we ray forth glory, and it is by Thee that we behold the Father of the Universe, AAA, ΩΩΩ (23), and the Mother of all the good, She who is hidden in every space"—that is to say, the contriving thought (Epinoia) of all the Eternities, the conceiving thought of all gods and of all lords—"She is the Gnôsis of all the Unseen beings, and Thy Image is the Mother of all the Boundless Ones, the Power of all the Infinites."
Praising the Alone-begotten, they cry, "It is because of Thy Image (24) that we have seen Thee, that we have run to Thee, that we have clung to Thee, that we have received the Incorruptible Crown which is known through Her.
Glory be to Thee, O Alone-begotten, for ever and ever."
Then together do they all say Amen.
For [? Jesus, the Fruit of the Æons] became a Body of Light, He crossed the Æons of the Indivisible [Body] until He came to the Alone-begotten who is in the Monad and who dwells in Peace and Solitude.
He received the Grace of the Alone-begotten—that is to say, His Christhood or His Perfecting. Also He received the Eternal Crown. He is the Father of all Light-Sparks, the chief of all Immortal bodies, and this is He for whose sake resurrection is given to the body (25).
But besides the Indivisible Queen and besides her Ennead without seal-mark, in which is found all seal-marks, there are three other Enneads, of which each emanates nine Enneads.
In the first of these is revealed a Basket round which three Fathers are gathered: an Infinite Father, an Ineffable Father, and an Uncontainable Father.
In the middle of the second Ennead is a Basket, and three Fathers are there: an Invisible Father, an Ingenerable Father, and an Unshakable Father.
In the third Ennead is also revealed a Basket which encloses three Paternities: a Solitary Father, an Unknown Father, and a Triple-Powered Father. It is through these that the Universe has known God. They ran towards Him and have engendered an innumerable multitude of æons, and in each Ennead they offered myriads and myriads of praises.
In each of these Enneads there is a Monad, and in each Monad a Space called "Incorruptible": that is to say, "Holy ground."
There is a Fount in the ground of each of these Monads, and myriads and myriads of Powers who have received on their heads a crown of the Crown of the Triple-Power.
In the middle of these Enneads and of these Monads is an immeasurable Deep towards which all the Universe looks, those that are internal as well as those that are external, having above it twelve Paternities, each surrounded by thirty Powers.
The First Paternity is a face of the Infinite One, and thirty infinite powers surround him.
The Second paternity is a face of the Invisible One and thirty invisible powers surround him.
The Third paternity is a face of the Uncontainable One, and thirty uncontainable powers surround him.
The Fourth paternity is a face of the Invincible One and thirty invincible powers surround him.
The Fifth Paternity is a face of the All-powerful One and thirty all-powerful powers surround him.
The Sixth paternity is a face of the All-Wise One and thirty all-wise powers surround him.
The Seventh paternity is a face of the Unknown One and thirty unknown powers surround him.
The Eighth paternity is a face of the Solitary One and thirty solitary powers surround him.
The Ninth paternity is a face of the Ingenerable One, and thirty ingenerable powers surround him.
The Tenth paternity is a face of the Unshakable One and thirty unshakable powers surround him.
The Eleventh Paternity is a face of the Universal Mystery, and thirty universal mysteries surround him.
The Twelfth Paternity is a face of the Triple-Powered One, and thirty triple-powers surround him.
And in the midst of the Immeasurable Deep there are five Powers which are called by these ineffable names:
The first is called Love, and from her comes all love.
The second is called Hope, and it is by her that we hope in the Alone-begotten, the Son of God.
The third is called Faith, and it is by her that we believe the mysteries of the Ineffable One.
The fourth is called Gnôsis, and it is by her that we know the First Father, Him because of whom we live that we may know Him.
[Gnôsis] the Mystery of Silence, who spake before all things, that which is hidden, the First Monad, for whom the Universe became being.
It is upon the head of this Mystery that the three hundred and sixty-five substances form a crown like the hair of human kind, and the Temple of the Plêrôma is as a stairway beneath her feet. This is the Gate of God (26).
The fifth is called Peace, and it is by her that we give Peace to all, to those within and to those without, for it is in her that all things have been created.
This is that Abyss Immeasurable in which is found three hundred and sixty-five Paternities, thanks to whom they have devised the year.
This is the Abyss which surrounds the Temple of the Plêrôma, where is revealed the Triple-Power with his branches and his trees, and Mousanios and those which belong to him.
There also is Aphrêdon and his twelve Holy Ones, and a Basket is in the midst of them.
They come to carry in it the praises, the hymns, the prayers and supplications of the Mother of the Universe, the Mother of the (manifested?) worlds who is called Phanerios (27), and to give them a form, thanks to the twelve Holy Ones.
They send them into the Plêrôma of Sêtheus, by which act they call to mind those of the external world in which there is matter.
This is the Deep where the Triple-Power rayed out the splendours of His glory, after He had been to the Indivisible Mother and had received the Grace of the One Beyond Knowledge, by which He had gotten such a Sonship that the Fullnesses were not able to stand upright before Him because of the excess of His light and brilliancy thereof.
The whole Plêrôma was troubled, the Abyss and all it contained was moved, and the [æons] fled to the world of the Mother [Phanerios], and the Mystery ordained that the veils of the æons should be drawn until the Overseer had established them once more.
And the Overseer established the æons once more, as it is written, "He has established the Earth, and it shall not be moved," and again, "The Earth has been dissolved and all that therein is" (28) .
Then the Triple-Power went forth: the Son was concealed in him, and the crown of confirmation was upon his head, making myriads and myriads of glories.
They cried, "Make straight the way of the Lord and receive the grace of God: every æon which is empty shall be filled with the grace of the Alone-begotten Son."
The Father holy and all-perfect stood above the Deep Immeasurable. It is in Him that all perfection is found, and in His fullness have we received grace.
Then the world was established; it ceased to shake; the Father fashioned it so that it might nevermore be shaken, and the æon of the Mother remained full of those that were in it until the ordering came from the Mystery concealed in the First Father, He from whence came the Mystery; when His Son re-established the Universe once more in His Gnôsis, that which re-enforms the Universe.
Then Sêtheus sent the Logos Dêmiourgos, having with him a multitude of Powers, wearing the crowns on their heads; and their crowns darted forth rays.
The brilliancy of their bodies is as the life of the Space into which they are come; the word that comes out of their mouths is life Æonian, and the light that comes from their eyes is a rest for them; the movement of their hands is their flight to the place from whence they have come, and their gazing on their own faces is Gnôsis of their interior nature; their going towards them is their return once more within; the stretching forth of their hands establishes them; the hearing of their ears is the intuition in their hearts; the union of their limbs is the regathering of the dispersal of Israel; their self-understanding is their contemplation of the Logos; the writing upon their fingers is the number which has gone forth, even as it is written, "He counteth the number of the Stars and calleth them all by their names."
And the whole union was made by the Logos Dêmiourgos with those who had come out of the turmoil that had been: altogether they became one and the same body, as it has been written, "They have all become one and the same body in this One and Only One."
Then this Logos Dêmiourgos became a mighty God, Lord, Saviour, Christ, King, the Good, Father, Mother. This is He whose work was good: He was glorified and became Father to those that believed: He became Law in Aphrêdonia and mighty.
Then went forth Pandêlos [All-manifest]; she had a crown on her head, and she placed it upon them who had believed (29).
The Power of the Æons [? the Indivisible Queen, the Mother within the Plêrôma] ordered the Hierarchy of the World of the Virgin Mother [Phaneia, the Mother without the Plêrôma, she who brings into manifestation] according to the Order of the Inner Space.
She placed in it the Light-Spark after the pattern of the Monad and placed therein the concealment which surrounds Him. She ordained the Propatôr after the Order of the Indivisible Body and the twelve Holy Ones which surround it, having crowns on their heads and seals of glory in their right hands, after the type found in the Indivisible Point.
In the midst of these is Love; a face of the Triple-Power is in the Fount, and there is a Basket which twelve Paternities surround, in whom a Sonship is concealed.
She ordained the Autopatôr according to the order of the Ennead without seal-mark and gave him authority over all that is only self-fathered, and gave him a crown of all-glory and love, and Peace, Truth, and myriads of powers, so that he might gather together those who had been dispersed by the troubling which had taken place when the [Light Spark] went forth with joy.
As for the Prince of the Universe, he who has the triple-power to make alive and to destroy, she ordained the Son Prôtogennêtôr after the order of the Triple-Power. She gave him a ninefold Ennead and five tenfold Decads, and that he might have power to accomplish the warfare imposed upon him, she gave him the first-fruits of the Sonship concealed in her that he might be able to become a Triple-Power.
He received the Vow of the Sonship because the Universe (30) had been sold [? into slavery], and took upon him the warfare entrusted to him and made arise all that was pure in matter.
A world made he, an æon, a town; the world which is called "Incorruptibility" and "Jerusalem." It is also called "The New Earth," and "Self-Perfect," and "Without King." This earth is an earth that brings forth gods, a life-giving earth indeed.
This is the earth that the Mother (? Phaneia) asked to have established. That is why she (? the Mother Above) has placed orders or hierarchy in this earth and has placed in it Providence and Love.
This is the earth of which it has been written, "The earth which drank the rain a multitude of times": that is to say, which has multiplied the light in her multitudes and multitudes of times, since the (light) went forth until its return; that is to say, it is that from which the Man is named "Sensible."
He is fashioned, He has been created according to the type of this earth, He who has been saved from His Self dispersion by the Prôtogennêtôr (31).
Because of that, the Father of all those of the Universe, He who has no [bridal] bed has sent [Him,? the Man] a crown bearing the names of all those of the Universe, whether Infinite or Ineffable, or Uncontainable, or Incorruptible, or Unknown, or Solitary, or All-powerful, or Indivisible.
This is the crown of which it is written, "They gave it unto Solomon on the day of his exultation of heart."
The First Monad sent Him [the Man] an ineffable vesture which is all Light, all Life, all Love, all Hope, all Faith, all Wisdom, all Gnôsis, all Truth, all Peace, all Witness, all Universal Mother, all Universal Mystery, all Fount, all Universal Perfection, all Invisible, all Unknown, all Infinite, all Ineffable, all Abyss, all Uncontainable, all Fullness, all Silence, all Unshakable, all Unengendered, all Universal Solitary, all Monad, all Ennead, all Dodecad, all Ogdoad, all Decad, all Hebdomad, all Hexad, all Pentad, all Tetrad, all Triad, all Dyad, all Monad.
The whole Universe is in it, and the Universe has found itself therein and knows itself therein. It gave light to all in its ineffable light, and it was given myriads and myriads of powers, so that the Universe might be established once and for all.
It gathered together its skirts and gave them the form of a veil which surrounded it [the Universe] on every side. It poured itself over all things, raised them up and divided them according to the Hierarchies, according to the orders, and according to Providence.
Then that-which-was separated itself from that-which-was-not, and that-which-was-not was the evil manifested in matter; and the Robe of Power severed that-which-was from that-which-was-not. That-which-was it called Æonian, and that-which-was-not it called Hyle (matter).
It separated by the Midst that-which-was from that-which-was-not, and placed veils between these twain. It placed purifying powers, so that they might purge them and make them clean.
It gave in this manner an order to that-which-is and made of the Mother the chief. It gave it ten æons, and each æon has a myriad powers; there is also a Monad and an Ennead in each æon.
The [Robe of Power] placed in her [? Phaneia] an Universal Motherhood and therewith a Power that had hitherto been concealed therein, so that none knew thereof.
[? The Robe] placed a great Basket, above which stand three Powers, an Ingenerable One, an Unshakable One, and the Great Pure One. It gave to [? the world order] the twelve other Powers who have received the crown and who surround it.
It gave it also the Seven Stratelatai (32), who have the seal of the All-completing [Panteleios], and have on their heads crowns in which there are twelve stones of Adamant, which come from Adam, the Man of Light.
[The Robe of Power] established the Propatôr in all the æons of the Mother of [the Manifestation] of all things, and gave him the full power of Paternity, and Powers to obey him as Father and as First Father of all that exists.
It placed upon his head a crown of twelve kinds; it gave him a Power which is Triple-powered and All-powered; it gave him Sonship and myriads and myriads of Glories.
It turned the Plêrôma towards him and gave him power to make live and to destroy. It gave him a power of the æon so that he might manifest it, with the myriads and myriads of out-rayed Glories, like the other æons that were with him.
The Power which has been given to the Propatôr is called Prôtophanes, because he is the first to be manifested, and Agennêtos, because no one has engendered him.
Also Ineffable and "Without Name" is he called, and also Autogênes and Autotheletos, because he has manifested himself by his own will.
Yet again is he named Autoloxastos, for he manifested himself with the Glories that were his. Yet again is he termed Invisible, for he is hidden and none can see him.
Now [the Robe of Power] gave unto the Propatôr another Power, that which since the beginning has caused the Light-Spark to appear in this Space, and who is named with names Holy and All-perfecting.
Who is Prôtia, that is to say, the First, and is also called Pantia—she who is found in all—and Pangenia—she who has brought forth all in the world—and Loxogenia—she who has brought Glory to birth—and Loxophania—Manifester of Glory—and Loxokrateia—she who has dominion over Glory—and Arsenogenia—she who brings forth males—and Lôia—of which the interpretation is God with us—and Jouêl—of which the interpretation is God for ever—she it is who has ordained that these Powers should appear whose name is called Phaneia, of which the translation is Manifestation.
The angel who has appeared with them is he whom the Glories name Loxogenes and Loxophanes, of which the interpretation is "He who engenders Glory" and "He who manifests Glory," for he is one of those Glories who stand about that mighty power called Loxokrator, because in his manifestation he has had dominion over the great Glories.
Such are the Powers that were given to the Propatôr when he was placed in the æon of the Mother, and myriads and myriads of Glories, Angels, Archangels, and Liturgies were bestowed upon him, so that they might serve him, those of matter. They gave him power over everything.
He made for himself a mighty æon and placed therein a mighty Plêrôma and a great temple and all the Powers that he had taken and placed within himself, and he rejoiced with them, bringing forth his creatures again according to the commandment of the Father hidden in the Silence, Who had sent him these riches; and the Crown of Fatherhood was given to him because he had been made the Father of all those who came after him.
Then he cried out and said, "My children, with whom I travail again until Christ be formed in you"; and again he cried, "Yea, I would set beside a holy virgin an only husband, Christ."
But when he had seen the Grace that the Father in secret had given unto him (that is Himself a Propatôr), he wished to turn the Universe to the Father in secret, for it is His will that the Universe should turn to Him.
And when the Mother saw all the grandeurs which had been given unto her Propatôr, she rejoiced greatly, she exulted; that is why she said, "My heart has rejoiced and my tongue has been in exultation."
Then she cried to the Power Infinite who stands hard by the æon of the Father, that mighty Power of Glory that the Glories call Trigenielos (33), that is to say, Three Engendered, and who is named also Trigenes and also Harmes.
She prayed also unto Him who is concealed in every Space that He would send him the Mother of Him who has withdrawn Himself.
The Father in secret sent him the Mystery who reclothes all the æons like the Glories who form the Crown Panteles, that is to say, of Perfection, so that he [the Propatôr] might place the Crown upon the head of the Indivisible [Body] hidden within her, Incorruptible and Unengendered.
With [her He sent] the mighty Power which is in her company, she who is called Arsenogenia, who replenishes all the æons of Glory. Thus from him shall the Universe receive the Crown.
Then she established the Autopatôr Father and Æonian One; and gave unto him the æon of the Concealed One in which are found all things, such as species, faces, images, forms, questions, dissemblances, and changes, that which counts and that which is counted, that which thinks and that which is thought.
She made a vesture thereof over all which is in him, so that he might give to him who asked him.
She gave unto him ten Powers, and nine Enneads, five Æons, and she gave unto him Light; and that gave him power over all secret things, so that he might show mercy to those who had fought, who had towards the æon fled from matter, leaving it behind them.
They have fled to the æon of the Autopatôr; they have made their own the promise which has been promised by Him who said, "He who forsakes father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, and riches, and takes up his cross and follows Me, shall receive the promises that I have promised unto him, and I will give unto them the Mystery of the Father in Secret, because they have loved that which was truly theirs and have fled from him who pursues them with injustice."
And he [Autopatôr] gave them Glory, Joy, Exaltation, Jubilation, Peace, Hope, Faith, Love, and the Truth which changes not.
This is the Ennead with which he rewarded those that fled from matter; they became happy, they became perfect, they knew God and the Truth, they comprehended the Mystery which works in the Man; for what cause He has revealed Himself, that they might see Him, for He is in truth Invisible; and for their sakes He has revealed in words His Logos, so that they might know Him and become gods and perfect.
When the Mother established the Prôtogennêtôr as her son, she gave unto him the Power of the Sonship; she gave unto him armies of Angels and Archangels; she gave unto him twelve Powers who served him; she gave unto him a robe to consummate all things in him, for in it is revealed every kind of body: the body of fire, the body of water, the body of air [? spirit], the body of earth, the body of wind, the body angelic, the body archangelic, the body of Powers, the body of Dominions, the body of Gods, the body of Lords—in a word, every kind of body, so that nothing might hinder him from mounting into the heights or descending into the depths of Noun.
This is the Prôtogennêtôr to whom those of the internal and external Spaces have promised all things that please him, and it is he who separates all matter; for he brooded over it like a bird who stretches her wings over her eggs.
Even thus did the Prôtogennêtôr unto matter, and made myriads and myriads of species and kinds come forth. When Matter was warmed she produced the multitudes of Powers that were in her, and he separated them into species and kinds.
He gave them a law to love one another, to honour God and to praise Him, and to seek for Him, who He is and what He is, and to wonder at the place from whence they had come forth, so narrow and so sad, and not to return thither again, but to follow him who had given them a law and made them come out of the darkness; of Matter, their Mother.
He had said to them, "Let there be light." For they did not know if there were such a thing as light or not.
Then he gave them the command not to hurt one another, and left them to go to the Space of the Mother of the Universe beside the Propatôr and the Autopatôr, so that together they might draw up those who had come forth from matter.
Then the Mother of the Universe (34), the Propatôr, the Autopatôr, the Prôtogennêtôr, and the Powers of the æon of the Mother sang a great hymn to the One and Only God, praising Him and saying:
"Thou alone art Boundless, Thou only art the Deep, Thou only art the Incomprehensible One, for Thou art He whom all beings seek and [without Thy grace] find Thee not, for none can know Thee against Thy will, and none can praise Thee against Thy will. For Thy will only is a Space for Thee, for nothing can contain Thee who art the Space for all.
Thee I pray that Thou mayest give an holy ordering to those of the World, that Thou mayest dispose my offspring according to Thy will.
Grieve not my offspring, for never has anything been grieved by Thee; yet no one knows Thy Counsel.
Of Thee all beings of the Inner and the Outer Worlds have need, Thou only Incomprehensible, Thou only beyond All vision, beyond All mind.
Thou only hast given character to all creatures and hast manifested them in Thyself. Of that which is not yet manifested art Thou the Creator, and Thou alone dost know these things, for we know them not [of ourselves].
Thou alone revealest them unto us [through Symbols and Images], so that we may supplicate Thee on their behalf, so that Thou mayest make them manifest, and we may know them [as they are in themselves apart from all Symbols] by Thy Grace alone.
Thou alone hast raised up the Secret Worlds to Thyself, so that they might know Thee, for Thou hast given unto them the boon of knowing Thee, for Thou hast given birth unto them from Thy Incorporeal Body and hast taught them that from Thy Self- productive Mind Thou hast the Man brought forth in Contemplation and in a perfect Concept, yea, even the Man brought forth by Mind to whom Contemplation has given a form.
Thou it is who hast bestowed all good things upon the Man, and He weareth them like vestures. He putteth them on like garments and wrappeth Himself with Creation as with a robe (35).
This Man is He whom all the Universe yearneth to know, for Thou alone it is who hast ordained unto the Man to manifest Himself, so that in Him Thou mightest be known and that all might learn that it is Thou who hast brought Him forth and that Thou art manifested according to Thy Will.
"Thee do I invoke, and I pray Thee, O Father of all Fatherhood, Lord of all Lords, to give an holy ordering unto my kinds and to my offspring, that I may rejoice in Thy Name and in Thy goodness, O Thou Sole King, O Thou who changest not. Bestow upon me from Thy goodness, and I will make known unto my children that Thou art their Saviour" (36).
When the Mother had finished praying to the Boundless One Beyond Knowledge, who fills the whole Universe and gives life unto all, He heard her and those with her, for all of them were His own, and He sent unto her a Power who came forth from the Man whom they desired to behold.
From Being Unbounded came forth the Infinite Spark of Light, at whom all the æons wondered, asking themselves where He had been concealed before manifesting Himself from the Infinite Father, He from whom the Universe was manifested and who was latent therein. The Powers of the Secret Worlds followed Him when they were manifested and came into the Temple of the Plêrôma. He hid Himself amidst the Powers who came forth from the Father in Secret (37).
He made a world and bore it into the Temple.
Then the Powers of the Plêrôma beheld Him and loved Him and praised Him in hymns ineffable, unspeakable to tongues of mortal flesh, and good to dream of in the heart of man.
He received their hymn and made a veil surrounding their world like a wall; then went He to the borders of the Universal Mother [without] and stood above the Universal Æon (38). The Universe was moved at the presence of the Lord of the whole Earth; the Æon was troubled and in suspense because it had seen that which it knew not.
The King of Glory was seated, He divided matter into two halves and into two parts (39).
He fixed the borders of each part and taught them that they came from One Father and from One Mother. To those who ran unto Him and adored Him He gave the place at the right hand, and gave them Life for ever and ever and Immortality.
He named the place on the right "The Land of Life," and the place on the left "The Land of Death"; He named the Earth on the right "The Earth of Light," and the Earth on the left "The Earth of Darkness"; He named the Earth on the right "The Earth of Repose," and the Earth on the left "The Earth of Sorrow."
He placed boundaries between them and veils, so that they might not see each other; He gave many Glories to those who had adored Him and gave them dominion over those who had resisted and opposed Him.
He extended the World of the Right into many places and placed them [who followed Him] in each hierarchy, in each æon, in each world, in each heaven, in each firmament, in many heavens, in each region, in each space, in each receptacle.
He gave them [who had followed Him] laws and delivered unto them commandments, saying, "Keep My sayings and I will give unto you eternal life; I will send Powers unto you, yea, I will strengthen you with mighty spirits, and will give unto you the dominion of your desire: no one shall hinder your will, and you shall bring forth æons, worlds, and heavens.
When the intellectual spirits come to dwell in you then shall ye become gods, then shall ye know that ye came forth from God, and then shall ye behold Him within yourselves, in your eternities shall He dwell."
These words spake the Lord of the Universe unto them; then He withdrew Himself from them and hid Himself from them.
And those who had been the births of matter rejoiced that their thought had been accomplished; they rejoiced because they had come forth from the narrow and the sad.
They prayed unto the Hidden Mystery, saying, "Give us power to create æons and worlds according to the word which Thou hast sworn unto Thy servants, for Thou alone art He who changest not, Thou alone art the Infinite and Boundless One, Thou only art unengendered, born of Thyself, Self-Father, Thou only art Unmoved and Unknowable, Thou only Silence art and Love and Fount of the Universe, Thou only art immaterial and hast no stain, ineffable in Thy generation and inconceivable in Thy manifestation. Hear us, then, O Father Incorruptible, Father Immortal, God of Hidden Beings, sole Light and Life, Alone beyond Vision, only Unspeakable, only Unstainable, only [Foundation] stone of Adamant (40) , sole Primal Being, for before Thee nothing was.
Hearken unto this prayer which we make unto Him who is concealed in every place.
Hear us, send unto us incorporeal spirits that they may dwell with us and teach us that which Thou hast promised unto us; that they may dwell in us and that we may become bodies for them, for it is Thy will that it should thus be. So may it be.
Give law unto our work and strengthen it according to Thy will and according to the order of the hidden æons; dispose us according to Thy will, for we are Thine" (41).
And He heard them and sent unto them discerning Powers which knew the order of those who are hidden.
He established the Hierarchy like the Hierarchies above and according to the concealed order.
They began from the base to the summit, so that the building might unite them to their companions.
He created the aerial earth as a place of habitation for those who had come forth, so that they might dwell therein until the strengthening of those who are below them; then created He the true habitation in the interior of that, the place of repentance in the interior of that, the antitype of Aerodios; then the place of repentance in the interior of that, the antitype of Autogênes: in this place they baptise themselves in the name of Autogênes, who is God over them, and there are Powers placed in this place over the Fount of the Waters of Life which they make go forth.
These are the names of the Powers who are over the Waters of Life: Michar and Micheu; and they baptise in the name of Barpharanges.
In the interior of these Spaces are the æons of Sophia; in the interior of these Spaces is the True Truth, and Pistis Sophia is found there and also the pre-existent Jesus the Living, Aerodios and his twelve æons.
O Alone-begotten of Light, I praise Thee.
O Light unengendered, I praise Thee.
O Light self-begotten, I praise Thee.
O Forefather of Light, more excellent than every Forefather, I praise Thee.
O Light Invisible, who art before all those beyond vision, I praise Thee.
O Thought of Light surpassing all Thought, I praise Thee.
O God of Light above all gods, I praise thee.
O Gnôsis of Light passing all knowledge, I praise Thee.
O Unknowable One of Light, who art beyond all that is unknown, I praise Thee.
O Hermit of the Light, who art above all solitaries, I praise Thee.
O All-mighty of the Light, more excellent than the all-powered ones, I praise Thee.
O Thou Thrice-mighty of the Light, greater than them of Triple-might, I praise Thee.
O Light that none can separate, for Thou dividest all light, I praise Thee.
O Thou Pure Light, surpassing all purity, I praise Thee.
O Thou who hast begotten [Thyself] in the absence of all generation, Whom none has engendered, I praise Thee.
O Fount of the Universality of Æons, I praise Thee.
O True Self-born of Light, who art before all those self-born, I praise Thee.
O Thou True Unmoved One of Light, who by Thy Will movest all things, I praise Thee.
O Silence of all things, Silence of Light, I praise Thee.
O Saviour of all things, Saviour of Light, I praise Thee.
O Thou Unconquerable One of Light, I praise Thee.
O Thou Sole Space of all the places of the Universe, I praise Thee.
O Thou Only Universal Mystery, I praise thee.
O Thou Only All-perfect Light, I praise Thee.
O Thou Only Wise One and Sole Wisdom, I praise Thee.
O Thou Only Intangible, I praise Thee.
O Thou True Goodness, who hast made appear all good things, I praise Thee.
O Thou True Light, who hast made all lights to shine, I praise Thee.
O Thou who sustainest all light and givest life to every soul, I praise Thee.
O Thou Repose of them [? who seek repose], I praise Thee.
O Thou [Father] of all Paternity from the beginning unto this day, I praise Thee.
They [? Thy children] search for Thee because Thou art their [Father]. Hear the prayer of [Thy children], for [Thou art He who is hidden] in every place, He who is the [Desire] of all hearts.
Footnote 2. The title and the opening part of the work are lost. back
(1) The centre of the Universe, which is everywhere and nowhere; the ideal unity in diversity, from which all things flow out and into which all things return. Just as Jerusalem was held to be the centre of the earth, so was this "City" held to be the hidden centre of the Universe; hence it is often named "Jerusalem Above, who is the Mother of us all."
(It is the principle at once of universality and individuality, the real "ground" or centre of the soul. It is called the "House of the Father" because it is the abiding place of the Presence; the "Robe of the Son" because it is His Body of Manifestation (cp. 2 Clem. xiv.); the "Power of the Mother" because it is the "Energy" by which man is reborn into Divine consciousness; and the "Image or Archetype of the Plêrôma" (the World of Eternal Ideas in their "Fullness"), because it is the Wisdom which is the basis of all consciousness. back
(2) This term rather suggests the use of a vibratory formula to induce certain interior states as a practice of the School to which the Greek MS. belonged. Perhaps this may have been ÏAÔ, the meaning of which is given elsewhere as "I, because the All (or Plêrôma) hath gone forth. A, because it will turn itself back again. Ô, because the consummation of all consummations will take place."
This may be taken to mean exoterically, "Ï, the Incarnation of Jesus, Who is the Plêrôma. A, the Crucifixion. Ô, the Ascension." Taken esoterically, it may mean, "Ï, the Soul, has come forth from God into generation. A, it is started or "Initiated" on its return journey through the Life of the Cross. Ô, there is union with God in the Eternity of Eternities as the consummation of all things" (cp. note 18).
The work we are studying might almost be considered an exposition of this formula, though I do not suggest that it literally is so. We begin by reading it from right to left, beginning with the God "beyond Name," that is He whose being cannot be expressed by any name, Ô. We pass to the Logos, the Divine Mind, He who can be named, and His Plêrôma, A, from which is "started" the Visible World by the going forth of the "Light-Spark" or "Man," Ï.
After this we read from left to right, but this is the expounding of the mystical life, the "return," under a veil of symbolism. ÏAÔ is the great Name of God in three vowels, derived historically, no doubt, from the Great Name in Judaism, and is the counterpart of the Indian AUM. Probably, like this latter, it was pronounced in three ways: (1) audibly; (2) inaudibly to others, but with the lips; (3) mentally.
It was a formula of a sacramental kind by which the life of the disciple was mystically identified with the Life of the Master, so that the knowledge of the real nature of the soul is given or restored by God. During its use the mind was, of course, concentrated on its inner meanings. Various aspects of mystical truth could be expressed by its permutations; ÏAÔ, ÔAÏ, AÔÏ, etc. back
The Cross of Calvary was taken, by the Gnôstics, to be the outward and visible sign of a concealed or Cosmic Cross, another aspect of the "City" or Monad, upon which the Logos or Light-Spark, as the "Son of Man," or the "Man," was crucified perpetually in an ineffable manner, thus communicating His Life and Light to the Universe.
The substance or "strain" of this Cross is symbolised here by the Ennead or Ninefold Being, the members of which, Knowledge, Life, Hope, etc., are each in themselves Ideal Beings, Eternities, or Gods. Yet these Nine, a number typical of Initiation, are also one, as the Master and the Cross are also one.
The Mystery is that of an Unbloody Sacrifice once and perpetually offered and also of Divine Espousal. [See further the "Hymn of Jesus" and the "Gnôstic Crucifixion" texts and commentaries by G. R. S. Mead, who renders the passage in the text by "The Source of the Cross is the Man whom no man can comprehend."] back
(4) "Twelve" seems to symbolise the Powers creative of all kinds of life in their totality, the creative imagination or raying forth power. back
(5) "Truth" is another name for the Bride of the Logos, His "Great Surround" or Body. It is the Divine Concept or Conceiving Thought of the Cosmos and its processes, and hence it is also the seal of perfection or Body of Glory, the Life with which the Risen and Ascended Master is clad.
While conferring character on all things, it is entirely transcendent, modeless, and "un-walled." Through it God is immanent in the Universe, hence it is also called "Mother." This is what the symbolism seems to imply. back
(6) This implies the doctrine of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, of the Universe and of the individual soul as a perfect compendium thereof. All the great cosmic processes are to be found within the soul. back
(7) A "name" was held to be that which manifests the innermost essence of a thing. Hence it symbolised the spiritual body or ideal vehicle of manifestation, the life clothing. The bestowal of a new name is therefore the sacramental sign of the gift of a new body or mode of life.
The real and ineffable Name of God is the Concept or Conceiving Thought referred to in note 5. But this is the Name "Mother" or "Bride" of the Logos, Providence. To "name" was a sacramental way of invoking a presence or "spiritual vehicle." back
(8) Cp. Codex Akhmim: "Of Him it is said, He thinketh His Image alone and beholdeth it in the Water of Pure Light which surroundeth Him. And His Thought energised and revealed herself, and stood before Him in the Light- Spark—which is the Power which existed before the All—which is the perfect Forethought of the All—the Barbêlô, the Æon perfect in glory—glorifying Him, because she hath manifested herself in Him and thinketh Him (i.e. gives Him birth). She is the first Thought, His Image." Barbêlô seems to mean "In the Four is God": in other words, it is the personified Tetragrammaton or Great Name commonly rendered by Jehovah. back
(9) Kanoun. This is a flat, broad basket, originally made of rush or cane, but often manufactured in precious metals in later times. It was used in the sacrificial rites of the gods and was hence classed among sacred things (v. "Basket" in Hastings' Ency. of Rel. and Ethics).
What it signifies exactly I am unable to say. Possibly the rites of the school, if we only knew them, would throw some light upon the question. The offerings of bread and wine at the Eucharist may have been made in the Kanoun. Sometimes in the MS. it seems to be connected with prayer. back
(10) The Temple of the Plêrômata or Fullnesses seems to be pictured as being in the manner of that in Jerusalem. The Æons of the Inner Space correspond to the Holy of Holies, the Æons of the Middle Space to the Holy Place, and the Æons of the Outer Space to the Court.
The various Æons and their powers now described seem to be those of the Inner Space. "Æon" and "Space" are practically equivalent terms, only Æon is on the Mind or Spiritual side of things, Space or Extension (Topos) is on the Life or Body side of things.
"Space" is purely the space of mind. It is a Spiritual Body with many members, each of which is a god, having his own individual consciousness and being, and yet partaking perfectly and wholly of a common consciousness or life.
Each Æon is a mighty Hierarchy in himself, and his "topos" is a Church or Holy Assembly. The ideal union of these Spaces is in the Monad or Indivisible Point, which is therefore the Church of Churches, the Body of the Man whom no man can comprehend. back
((11) Sêtheus and the twelve three-faced Paternities seem to be the paradigms, or heavenly patterns, of the Sun, the signs of the Zodiac, and the thirty-six Decans. He is the Invisible Sun of Righteousness behind the visible flame which measures time.
In other words, he is the symbol of the Æon of Æons, the Æon par excellence. What time is to the ordinary mundane mind that Sêtheus is to the Alone-begotten and the Monad, whose ineffable union he encompasses. For he is the manifested Sun of Eternity, ☉.
The Monad is the Indivisible Point within the circle or sphere, and the Light-Spark or Logos is within the Point, while Sêtheus himself is, strictly speaking, the circle or sphere, the well-known symbol of Eternity. All the æons are found in the "topos" of Sêtheus, as their divinity is not innate, but comes from conscious participation, hence the name æon.
I suggest the name "Sêtheus" is formed from that of the god Seth, who was a solar deity in some Egyptian traditions. No doubt the differentiation of the name is intentional.
The twelve Paternities about the head are referable to the rays, to the creative powers, the "Divine Imaginings" of the Mystic Sun in their totality. back
The whole passage seems to be a definite appeal to the experiences of attained mystics concerning the Dark Ray. The "Perfect" was a technical name, applied to those whose initiation or start had been consummated or perfected.
Having been regenerated, they were "gods" or "æons," conscious of their kinship with the Plêrômata. Each was now a hierarchy in himself, a race, as it were. The passage is probably by a later hand. back
(13) Cp. Pseudo Dionysius Myst. Theol.: "The super-unknown, the super-luminous and loftiest height wherein the simple and absolute and unchangeable mysteries are cloaked in the super-lucent darkness of hidden mystic silence, which super-shines most super-brightly in the blackest night, and in the altogether intangible and unseen, superfills the eyeless understanding with super-beautiful brightnesses.
And thou, dear Timothy, in thy intent and practice of the mystical contemplations, leave behind both thy senses and thy intellectual operations, and all things known by sense and intellect, and set thyself, as far as may be, to unite thyself in unknowing with Him who is above all being and knowledge; for by being purely free and absolute, out of self and all things, thou shalt be led up to the Ray of the Divine Darkness, stripped and loosed of all."
The above version is by Dom John Chapman, O.S.B., who says that this passage was "cited throughout the Middle Ages as the locus classicus for method of contemplation." This is, except for our text, the earliest mention of the "Dark Ray" in literature.
Evidently Pseudo Dionysius did not invent the term himself, but followed a much older Christian tradition. This fact is important for the history of Christian mysticism. back
(14) This seems to imply a doctrine of pre-existence. Perhaps the passage is related to John 17:16: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.... As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so sent I them into the world." back
(15) Cp. Psalm 68:17 (R.V.): "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands. The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the sanctuary." back
(16) Further descriptions of this, "the oldest of the Æons," are given later on. From these it will be gathered that the crown is the Crown of Life, and that the twelve gates are also twelve deeps or firmaments, over each of which a Paternity presides.
She is called the Indivisible One, either "Point," "Atom," or perhaps even "Body" or "Raiment." As she is both the Spouse and Mother of the Light-Spark within the Æon, I have generally called her the Indivisible Queen. back
(17) Mr Mead suggests that Phôsilampes may be a mystery name of Basilides. Has a commentary on the Gospel of St John been used here, or a commentary on the prologue by Basilides [containing perhaps the teachings of the alleged instructor of Basilides, Glaucias, whose name, rather suggesting the "shining one," may equal "Phôsilampes"], which interpreted "In the beginning" as meaning "In the First Concept or in the Monad was the Word"? back
(18) This repetition of the Seven Vowels gives the following meanings to them:—AAA = Living of Living Ones, HHH = Holy of Holy Ones, EEE = Being of Beings, III = Father of Fatherhoods, OOO = God of Gods, YYY=Lord of Lords, ΩΩΩ = Space of Spaces or Æon of Æons.
The High and Holy One, together with His Bride and Mother, the "Universal Church or First Concept," are one in and with the Eternity that they inhabit. Hence "Thou art the House and the Dweller in the House." Time (Æon) and Space (Topos) are here one, or different aspects of the same mode of being. back
(19) Cp. "The Mind unto Hermes," 16: "The Cosmos is all-formed [Pantomorphos]—not having forms external to itself, but changing them, itself within itself"; also the "Perfect Sermon," xix. 3: "The thirty- six, who have the name of Horoscopes, are in the self-same space as the fixed stars; of these the essence chief or Prince is he whom they call Pantomorph and Omniform, who fashioneth the various forms for various species."
The Pantomorphic Body is the Augoeidês or Astroeidês, the ray-like or star-like glory (not to be confused with the "astral body" of modern theosophy).
Cp. Origen, Ep. 38 ad Pammach: "Another body, a spiritual and aetherial one, is promised us: a body that is not subject to physical touch, nor seen by physical eyes, nor burdened with weight, and which shall be metamorphosed according to the variety of regions in which it shall be.... In that spiritual body the whole of us will see, the whole hear, the whole serve as hands, the whole as feet."
The Star-body is the body of Resurrection and Ascension. Cp. Mark 16:12: "He was manifested in another form unto two of them."
Also it was the body of "the universal" descent, that which transmitted the Æons from the Plêrôma or Ideal World to the Sensible World, hence it was considered to be "scattered" or in a state of latency, or of mystical death in normal man.
To awaken it, to gather it together, or to "raise it from the dead," was one of the first objects of the mystics, who followed the way of the Gnôsis. Its partial resurgence was the first great step in the processes of the Apotheosis. It was the possession of this body, in some degree, which distinguished a man as "spiritual" from the psychic and "hylic" men.
The Astroeidês included the "natural" body in its consummation, under a great transmutation, for it was the "Wisdom" at the basis of material nature.
I have transferred the account of the "City of the Man" from where it stands, at the end of the MS., to this place, as it seems more intelligible here, and the exact order has been obscured by the confusion of the leaves. back
(20) Cp. "Poemandres," 15: "He [the Man], beholding the form like to himself existing in her, in her water, loved it and willed to live in it: and with the will came act, and so he vivified the form devoid of reason.
And Nature took the object of her love and wound herself completely round him, and they were intermingled, for they were lovers.... Thus, though above the Harmony (or Fate sphere), within the Harmony he [The Man] hath become a slave, ... and though he is sleepless from a sleepless Sire, yet is he overcome by sleep."
This is the Mystery of the concealment of God in Nature, a mystery that was sometimes presented under the symbol of a self-scattering, sometimes under the symbol of a magical sleep, or mystic death. back
(21) "The Earth that brought forth the God" is the "ground of the individual soul," and is also the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Universe, the Hidden Sanctuary where the "Man" is raised from mystical death or is reborn. No doubt the symbolism is drawn from Egyptian sources. back
(22) This passage might be paraphrased, "Those who have received Life and Light in the Concealed Sanctuary of the Soul know, through this Crown of Perfection, that the Inheritors of the Kingdom of Light are indeed reborn from the Indivisible Body, who is the Mother of us all. back
(23) AAA ΩΩΩ = The Living Space of Spaces, Æon of Æons. See note 18 and cp. Rev. 1:8, 17-18: "I am Alpha and Omega ... the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and, behold, I am alive unto the æon of æons." back
(24) The Body of Christ, which in its transcendental aspect is also His Bride and Mother. Cp. 2 Clem. xiv.: "I do not suppose that you know not that the living Church is the body of Christ; for the scripture saith, 'God made Man, male and female; the male is Christ, the female the Church; and the books and the Apostles belong not to the Church that now is, but to the Church which is from above.
For it is spiritual, as is our Jesus, but is manifested in these last days to save us. But the Church, being spiritual, is manifested in the flesh of Christ.... Great is the Life and Immortality which this flesh can partake of—that is, of the Holy Spirit which is joined to it—nor can any declare or utter what the Lord has prepared for His chosen.'" back
(25) This extremely interesting and important passage is also one of great difficulty, for it is full of technical terms and allusions which would need a small treatise to elucidate properly. For example, it seems to imply the doctrine of two Logoi that Clement of Alexandria was accused of teaching, and which is found in certain Hellenistic writings.
The "Body of Light" is the Astroeidês in which the "Adept" can cross the "Fate-Sphere," the "Midst," the regions of consciousness where mechanical cause and effect prevail and contact the Plêrôma, or Universe of Divine Freedom and Fullness.
"Charis" or "Grace" is the name of the Bride or Body of the Logos, and the use of it here symbolises a "raiment" or "Body" still more exalted than the Astroeidês. It is the Body beyond the Stars, the Monadic Robe or "Robe of Glory," into which the "Star- like Body" was transformed at the Horos, Limit or Boundary of the Worlds of Difference and of Sameness.
What kind of Peace was that in which the Alone-begotten dwelt in the Monad? A Peace most truly given to those within and those without, for in it all things were created. To realise what is meant we must remember that "Charis" and "Resurrection" were names of "Staurus," the Pillar that made with Horos the Great Cross referred to more than once.
"Peace," then, was the state of the Logos in Mystic crucifixion, the Peace of God which established, reconciled, justified all things. Hence it can be inferred what transformation the Star Body had to undergo to become the Robe of Glory.
The Cross and the Master were one. The Cross of Calvary was to the Gnôstic Teacher the outer and efficacious sign of this Mystery or Sacrament. So also the Pentecostal outpouring recorded in Acts was the outward sign, or sacramental token, of the assumption by the Master of the Robe of Glory, the vesture of the Monad or Transcendental and Universal Church, which could not be assumed here.
From thenceforth the band of disciples became a Church, the Mystic Body of Christ, the outward sign of concealed mysteries; and it will be seen in what manner Jesus was the Father of all Light-Sparks and gave resurrection to the body. Such was the teaching of the Gnôsis.
To make the matter clear to readers interested in mysticism, but unfamiliar with Hellenistic technical terms, it may be said that the "Bodies" so often referred to may be taken as standing for what may be called the Life side of various stages of mystical consciousness, as "Light" stands for the Mind side; but Life and Light are one. back
(26) "The Gate of God." Cp. the Naasene Document in Hippolytus: "This Mystery is the Gate of Heaven, and this is the House of God, where the Good God dwells alone; into which no impure man shall come, no psychic, nor fleshly man, ... but it is kept under watch for the Spiritual alone—where, when they come, they must cast away their garments, and all become bridegrooms, obtaining their true manhood through the Virginal Spirit. For this is the Virgin big with child, conceiving and bearing a Son—not psychic, not fleshly, but a blessed Æon of Æons."
"Gnôsis," then, was the Mystery of Regeneration or Rebirth from above. It will be observed that the text shows no hostility to "Faith." This is an indication of early date. "Mystery" is often, though not always, the equivalent to "Sacrament." back
(27) There is then another "Universal Mother," Phanerios or Phaneia ("Wisdom without the Plêrôma"). In the last resort the two Mothers are one. Phaneia is the Mother of the manifested world in which there is matter, but she does not seem to be in exile, as in the Sophia Myth.
Like Isis in the Osiris legend, she seems to have gone forth to gather together the self-scattered limbs of the Man and to redeem Him from captivity through the efforts of the great hierarchs that are given to her. back
(28) The pre-existence of the soul is taught, also the loss of the memory of its true nature owing to its fall into "Matter" [Hyle]. But this fall is not regarded as either a sin or a mistake, but as a needful step in the mystery of Rebirth or "Re-ordering." The Overseer is the "Mind of all Masterhood," the Logos, the Second Father of all.
It is tempting to connect the Triple-Power with the Triple-Bodied Man of the Naasene Document and see in him the symbol of a simple Universal Consciousness "polarised" into the three states of Spiritual, Psychic, and Material. back
(29) This Vision of the Advent of the Creative Word seems to be in part a summary and anticipation of things described otherwise later in the MS. After it the writer (or writers) goes back and describes the "Re-ordering" from the time that "the veils of the æons were drawn" from various points of view.
Various Cosmic processes are delineated symbolically, and their simultaneous working is not excluded. back
(30) The Universal Man had fallen into bondage in the Fate-Sphere. back
(31) I think that what we are to understand is, that the Man is raised from His state of Mystical Death or Self-dispersion by the Prôtogennêtôr (Son, First Parent), crowned with the Lights of Wisdom by the Hidden Father "Who has no consort," and robed with cosmic life by the Mother. Compare what has already been said about the Robe of Glory and the outward signs of its descent at Pentecost. The work of the Mantle would seem to symbolise the re-ordering work of the Church, the "New Creation," the new impulse on its mystical side. Is Prôtogennêtôr, then, a cryptic title of Christ? In a sense I think it is, but there are other issues which are better discussed at a later point.
The Title "Without King" recalls the Naasene Document and its "One is the Race without a King which is born Above." back
(32) The Seven Stratelatai, leaders or generals, are perhaps the seven Planets. back
(33) Cp. the Akhmim Codex: "She (Barbêlô) is the First Thought, his Image, she becometh the First Man; that is the Virginal Spirit, she of the triple Manhood, the triple-powered one, the triple-named, triple-born, the æon which ages not, the Man-woman." back
The Propatôr, who desires to turn the World to God, and who is, through the descent of a particular power, the Father-Mother of the Spiritual Life to come, may symbolise the process of Purgation and the Baptism of Water; the Autopatôr, who utters the promises of Christ and who has the power of an Ennead of initiation, may typify the Illuminative Life and the Baptism of Fire; while the Prôtogennêtôr, robed in cosmic consciousness, so that he can walk even the waters of the Primal Deep (Noun), who draws forth finally from the material life, may represent the inception of the Life of Union and the Baptism of the Spirit.
All this may be true, but, if I mistake not, there is more behind the veil of symbolism, and it is continual allusions to this more, plain enough to the person for whom it was intended, that renders the MS. so peculiarly difficult.
Who is Phaneia, the Mother without the Plêrôma, who owes her position to the descent of the Royal Robe? She stands for nature in what may be called its sacramental aspect, and she also stands for the Churches, if I mistake not, and more particularly for the community or order to which the writer or writers belonged.
This implies a certain claim to a high mystical self-knowledge on the part of that community. Again, the title "Son Prôtogennêtôr" is most significant. He that bore it must be the Son of the Sacred House, the "Son of the Doctrine," and the First Parent, or Father in God, of those to come after.
He invites comparison not only with the Saviour of the Gospels, but also with figures that appear in the myths of the mystery cults: with Horos, the son of Isis, with Hermes the Thrice-Great, with the "Eagle" or "Father" whose title represented the highest grade of the Mithriaca.
I suggest that he may represent the ideal candidate in the mystery of initiation—that is to say, he who, by entering into himself, has attained to the "unio mystica," has raised up the "Man" within himself, has been "reborn" as a god in Divine consciousness, and so is qualified to hand on the vital processes of the Gnôsis to others, becoming thereby their spiritual parent. So he is called Son Prôtogennêtôr.
He is Christ in the sense that Galahad of the "Quest," and Parsifal of Wagner's great drama are Christ.
The theory of initiation as conceived in the early mystical communities seems, in part at any rate, to rest upon the proposition that he who has himself attained to Union with God is able to "start," to "initiate," in suitable persons, and under certain conditions, those processes which, under Providence, result in a like consummation.
Thus we appear to have a claim in the MS. to a transmitted "Mastership" in the ranks of the order going back to Jesus Himself: "For whose sake resurrection is given to the body. He is the Father of all Light-Sparks,"
The Propatôr and Autopatôr would seem to represent different aspects of this claim. "Gnôsis" was not the possession of a body of secret Doctrine in the sense of having a number of formal propositions containing occult information, but a vital knowledge of the processes of "Regeneration" or "Apotheosis."
Then, again, we have the idea of a "Divine Mind" or "Logos" manifesting Himself through a Body of Universal Consciousness, represented sacramentally (that is to say effectually) in the "physical world" by the bodies of a body of believers.
The rites of this body symbolised, again "effectually," the modes and activities of the Body of Universal Consciousness of which it was the outward sign, just as its doctrines reflected on the plane of mentation and discourse the workings of the Divine Mind, which are above mentation and discourse, though not contrary to it.
The acceptance of these ideas seems to have constituted "Pistis"—"the Faith by which we believe in the Mysteries of the Man"—a mode of the Divine Energy which resulted in good works. "Gnôsis" was the knowledge of the processes by which these ideas passed from the life of formal belief and intellectual assent into the life of realised consciousness.
The "Hylics," men in Hyle or "Matter," were "the children of this world," so absorbed in the life of the senses five that they lived like "brute beasts without understanding." [Hyle as a technical term was not always understood too literally by the Gnôstics and Platonists (see various passages in Codex Bruce), but derived its importance as the symbol of a certain state of consciousness.]
"Psychics" were those whose consciousness was sufficiently aroused to accept a formal belief in viewless Divine Energies and to order their social conduct on the basis of that belief. The "Spiritual," the "Perfect," those perfected in Gnôsis, that is, were those that were actually conscious of participating in a Mind in common and in a Body of transcendental energy in common.
This Mind (Logos), Light-Spark, and Body (Monad) constituted a sole Being, Man, or the Son of Man, neither male nor female, and yet both, who enveloped all things, even those of Hyle (v. the Naasene Document) in His Infinite Perfections, who manifested all things, who was concealed in all things and who was above all things.
An ideal Church or Community of "Spiritual" men, conscious of the whole Man in each of its members, could focus within itself, without any robbery, all the energies of the Universe, and by concentrating and applying them in a certain manner could give birth to the whole order within the consciousness of the called and chosen candidate, who thus became a "Self-Knowing," "Self-Fathered," "Fore-Fathered" god, a "Race without a King in the name God."
His substance was "enformed" by the Sacraments of the Manifested Order (Phaneia), and the substance thus "enformed" was finally "assumed," "translated," "transformed," what you will, in a mode utterly beyond all symbol and image by the "descent" of the Divine "Grace," "First Concept," "Ennead and Monad Without Seal-Mark," "Barbêlô" (again what you will), and given final "Re-birth in the Light of the Mind."
To form an Ideal community of this kind, a community of gods in God, by a series of grades or steps, places of "Repentance" or "change" slowly taken, was, I believe, the purpose of those responsible for the original of the present MS.
"They began from the base upwards that the building might unite them to their companions"—souls that in æonian bliss beheld the Face of God unveiled. Into this building plan the Neophyte was initiated to give thereto his soul and body as a willing oblation and sacrifice.
It seems a reasonable suggestion to offer that this document consists of a series of meditations and spiritual exercises given to the candidate before one of the inner "initiations" or sacramental "starts" that was consummated beyond the veil of signs and symbols.
For such an end not only Faith, not only a reasonable Foundation in an accepted philosophy, that of Plato, but an Imagination intensified into intuition was needed. Hence these strange hieroglyphs on the expressed veil.
The Child of Fire must behold rising within himself from the Immeasurable Abyss of Godhead the five-rayed morning star of Love, Faith, Hope, Gnôsis, and Peace, the herald of the Perfect Dawn of a New Birth.
Possibly "Propatôr," "Autopatôr" and "Prôtogennêtôr" may also have been the official designations of hierophants in the sacramental side of some "Mystery" consummated in solitude, from which the candidate returned an "Epopt." back
(35) Cp. Ps. 104:1, 2: "Thou art clothed with honour and majesty: who coverest thyself with light as with a garment." back
(36) This hymn or prayer seems to be an invocation to the "Dark Ray" on behalf of the candidate (and also for the building up of the "Ideal Order"). The consummation, beyond all signs and images, is in the hands of God alone. A "start" may be effected by duly qualified hierophants under certain conditions, but the crown "Pantelos" is given by the "Father of all Fatherhood" alone. back
(37) This looks as if in this system the Fruit of the Plêrôma was also the Father of the Fullnesses. The phrase "He made a world and bore it into the Temple" seems to mean that He assumed a body of manifestation. back
"Now it is called 'Boundary' because it bounds off the Deficiency from the Fullness [so as to make it] exterior to it. It is called Partaker because it partakes of the Deficiency as well; and it is called 'Cross' because it hath been fixed immovably and unchangeably, so that nothing of the Deficiency should be able to approach the æons within the Fullness."
See also the "Gnôstic Crucifixion," 9, 10, 11 (Acts of John): "[The Cross] is the defining (or delimitation) of all things, both the firm necessity of things fixed from things unstable, and the harmony of wisdom.
And as it is Wisdom in Harmony, there are those on the Right and those on the Left—powers, authorities, principalities and daemons, energies, threats, powers of wrath, slanderings—and the Lower Root from which hath come forth the things in genesis.
This, then, is the Cross which by the Word hath been the means of 'Cross-beaming' all things—at the same time separating off the things that proceed from genesis and those below from those above, and also compacting them all into one."
The "Mantle" in which the Man is clad and which severs and orders all things is evidently another aspect of the same idea.
The use of the term "veil" is suggestive, as the term is so often employed in Hellenistic Mysticism in connection with "Initiation." Finally, it is just worth noting that it is possible that what Origen has to say about the self-limitation of God is influenced by the tradition concerning the Horos or "Boundary." back
(39) This is undoubtedly a reference to the Mystical Crucifixion so often mentioned in previous notes. It is the Master Symbol of the Unitive State, of the reconciliation and union of God and Man, and of the participation of the individual in the Universal. Its presence at this point of the text is most suggestive. The candidate, "the Birth of Matter," stands, mystically at any rate, before the Veil at the Foot of the Cross. To pass the Veil and to enter into the Fullness means being united with the Master in His Passion and Crucifixion.
The Cross is evidently a Tau, and I suggest that the frontispiece may represent this Mystery, the Crucifixion of the Æon, O, upon Staurus, the Cross and the Master being One, AΩ and AΩ. The meaning of XMI is unknown. It has been suggested that it is (with EIC ΘΕΟΣ) a symbol of the Trinity in Unity, or a veil of the Divine Name. back
Readers interested in the legend of the Graal will recall that the Graal is represented as a green stone in the "Parzival" of Von Eschenbach. "Adamantos" is "diamond."
Here and in the account of the Monad as the Metropolis of Monogenes, "filled with men of every race and with all the statues of the king," there is a curious parallel to be found to a happening in the life of Saint Theresa.
"Being once in prayer," she says, "the Diamond was represented to me like a flash; although I saw nothing formed, still, it was a representation with all clearness how all things are seen in God, and how all are contained in Him.... Let us say that the Divinity is like a very lustrous Diamond, larger than all the world, or like a mirror—and all that we do is seen in this Diamond, it being so fashioned that it includes everything within itself, because there is nothing but what is contained in this magnitude."
I have ventured to insert [Foundation] because I think that there is a punning allusion to "Adamas." Cp. Naasene Document: "The 'rock' means Adamas. This is the corner-stone ... which I insert in the foundation of Zion.
By this he means allegorically the plasm of man. For Adamas, who is inserted in the inner Man, and the foundations of Zion are ... the wall and palisade (sc. Horos) in which is the inner Man." back
(41) The prayer seems to be for the transmutation of the members of the order by mystical marriages with their archetypal "selves," that the mysteries of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and of the Descent of the Paraclete may be realised after a certain manner. back
(42) Compare this passage with what has already been said concerning an attempt to form an Ideal Order. "A place of Metanoia" implies here a radical change of the whole being rather than "repentance" as ordinarily understood. The "topos" of Autogênes, the Self-begotten, was the first station of the journey of the Light-Spark without the Plêrôma, and is the last station of the return within.
The extant "Gospel of Mary" (Codex Akhmim), which was "reviewed" by Irenaeus, and was therefore composed before 180 A.D., states that from the Light of the Christ and the Incorruptible proceed forth four great Lights to surround Autogênes.
Their names are Harmozel, Ôroiaêl, Daveithi, and Èlêlêth. Irenaeus says, "Charis [Grace] was conjoined with the great and first Luminary, and this they will have to be the Saviour and call him Harmogen"—the Harmes-begotten.
The name "Harmes" appears in the present MS., and is evidently a name for Barbêlô. These things are important for the date of the Greek original. The allusions to Pistis-Sophia are probably interpolated; there seems to be no room for her adventures in the scheme of the text.
But what are we to make of the mysterious "Baptism in the name of Barpharanges" Does "Barpharanges" (the meaning of which no one seems to know) simply = Harmogenes = the begotten from Barbêlô, "the Virginal Spirit," the Image seen in the "pure water of Light"?
If so, then we have in all probability an allusion to the Gnôstic Baptism with the Holy Spirit or Light. "Harmogenes" will be the Child of the Mystical Marriage with the Virginal Spirit by which the "Spiritual" recover their true manhood, a "blessed æon of æons": that is to say, that the Epopt himself is mystically "Autogênes," the "Self-begotten," having been reborn a god in God.
The rest of the text is missing. back
(43) This Hymn to the Light seems to stand in some close connection with the text we have been discussing. If what has been suggested concerning the contents of the Greek original should prove correct, both the nature and position of the Hymn become plain.
It consists of various acts of the will not altogether unlike some of those prescribed in certain Catholic manuals for those in the Unitive way. It is the form of Prayer given by the "Director" or "Master" to his disciple, to be used together with the MS. as part of his preparation for, what I believe to be, the "Baptism of Light."
A large part of the Hymn seems to be missing owing to the state of the MS., and the order is uncertain. back
THE GNÔSTIC CROSS (Codex Brucianus)
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The Gnosis of the Light: A Translation of the Untitled Apocalypse Contained in the Codex Brucianus
with Introduction and Notes by F. Lamplugh
Ibis Press 2006 (first published March 1994)
Softcover, 80 pp