Most Christians will follow the lead of the new elected Pope in Rome and celebrate Easter in four weeks. This article will try to summarise the narrative of Jesus’ Passion (the period between Easter and Ascension) based on some Gnostic writings. We will particularly view the 1500 year old scripts of the Nag Hammadi library discovered in Egypt in 1945 and show strange repeating tracks in a supposedly pathless world of truth. On the other and is the recent development in Africa and Latin America, where population growth and contraction look poised to reduce European domination radically while a boom in many southern states continues apace. When turning to religious indicators, all of them suggest that the surge in southern Christianity has barely begun – and raises another problem, largely ignored by a self centered Chatholic Curie . The surge in Christanity in Africa and Lation America is due to Pentecostalism, Protestant renewal movement that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Pentecost reminds to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.Will be 2013 the Easter of Abraxas or Pentecostal?
The time between Easter and Ascension of Jesus has an important place in Christian Gnosticism. And, what is perhaps more surprising is that Gnosis and Easter are not mutually exclusive, although most secrets of the faith are virtually nonexistent in Gnosticism.
Easter marks the beginning of the Christian Church calendar, namely in recollection of the resurrection by Jesus after his crucifixion. Easter weekend is the culmination of the Christian faith, every other aspect of the religion being merely a footnote. But the Easter celebration is actually timeless, since the dying and rising is a classic motif found in many cultures representing the renewal of various aspects of Creation and nature. The Christian story, however, is very powerful: “O Death where is thy sting? O Hell where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.” Lets see how the Gnostic versions compare to this.
The Gnostics derived their leading doctrines and ideas from Plato and Philo of Alexandria, the Zend-avesta (Zoroastrianism), the Kabalah, and the Sacred books of India and Egypt; and thus introduced into the core of Christianity the cosmological and theosophical speculations. Those had formed the larger portion of the ancient religions of the Orient, joined to those of the Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish doctrines and were adopted by the Neo-Platonists. Mythologists have revealed strong Gnostic similarities with the Egyptian and Persian gods and Easter derive from very ancient times, including the holiday known as Sham el Nessim, which may have been celebrated as early as 4,500 years ago. It falls immediately on the first Monday following the Coptic Easter and it was related to agriculture in ancient Egypt which contained fertility rites that were later attached to Christianity and the celebration of Easter. Christians celebrate Easter on Sunday after the first spring full moon, which ties Easter to the vernal equinox (spring equal night). Linguistically the name “Easter” seems to be older than the Christianity itself. It can be derived from germanic “Ostara”, in the Anglo-Saxon it is Eastre or Eostre, the goddess of fertility and also a derivation of the name Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of the love and fertility.
Gnostics and Plato
In Plato’s work we recognize dualism already. Platon makes a distinction between the world of the ideas and the discernible empiric world in the famous cage metaphor. However, the shadow is an effigy of the world of ideas, and thus the difference to the Gnosis becomes clear. For Plato both worlds hang together because of its dynamism (“prototype effigy theory”). Therefore, with Plato there is no radical separation of both worlds of each other and no refusal of the discernible world. Plotinus works from the 2nd century A.D. makes this particularly clear: “This world is so nice that there can be no one else who would be nicer.” A Gnostic could never say this.
The dualism of the Gnostics
The dualism of the Gnostics is more radical with two conflicting principles which are radically opposed. Good and fair stand against bad and evil, namely from the outset. Therefore for the Gnostic exits also a good and a bad world. Both worlds are separated radically of each other. A harmonization of the prototype and from the effigy does not succeed in the Gnosis. On the contrary: both worlds are intervened in a constant fight. Like in Buddhism to Gnosis all life is filled with suffering.
The dualism of the Christian Gnostics
Before Christianity was stamped out Gnosis this radicalism has not taken over completely by Christian Gnosis. Christian Gnosis lets the world at the beginning be still a unity, a single entity. This state shows a sort of pre-beginning. It decreases to a divine principle which is not, however, identically with our God. This pre-beginning has an ancestor not at all known to the imperfect creator. Nevertheless, the unity of the world in its old state is actually meaningless. Since directly a part of this world from this monistic origin fell out. Cause for it was a fight in these first ones, the divine world at whose end a part from the divine Pleroma left this world in free choice. Secondly, the sensuous, earthly world, a world fallen from the outset originates from it from the first world. This is an image which can be also found in the New Testament, the second major part of the Christian biblical canon theology with several strong statements. The empire clearly hit back.
Gnosis is defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia as follows: “Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge.”
Many Gods of panentheism, either polytheism or monotheism had been conceived in various degrees of abstraction. The character Gnosis being mystic rather than religion, however, is inherently parasitic and syncretistic. Apparently like a virus, its construct of ideas cannot exist without a host. Gnosticism holds on to existing ideas and enters a connection with them. There is – as mentioned in other articles – for example, a Jewish (Cabals) and Islam Gnosis (Sufi). The Gnosis need a substrate around for its speculations. Accordingly it also came to a connection of gnostic body of thought with the Christianity two times in history ( the Templars being a secondary infection). As one of many variants, the Gnosis a Christian-gnostic announcement developed. The Roman Church acknowledged after struggling more to the divine or the human side with clear simplicity and crisp definition the concept of Trinity in Pope Leos creed. In opposition to Gnostic idealism, the Church avowed its faith in the real historical facts, that the Son of God truly became man, was born of the Virgin Mary, was truly crucified and died, truly rose again. Thus the Church rescued Christianity (See the review of Jesus Wars).
Gnostic concept of Christ
It has no interest in Jesus as a saviour and bearer of human redemption by taking away our sins by ding on the cross. In the Christian Gnosis the divine revelation is sufficient and equated quite simply with the of person Jesus Christ. For Gnostics Jesus Christ is nothing more than the personification of this divine revelation and the historic (and human) Jesus plays basically no role. He can’t, actually, because otherwise the saviour would be tied too strongly to this imperfect world in the the negative gnostic worldview. From there it is not surprising that for the Gnosis the earthly life of Jesus is rather dull. Above all, only the period between Easter and Ascension is important here and highlighted in primarily by gnostic texts.
In gnostic view Jesus has brought in a hermaphroditic shape revelation exactly during this tim to a select circle. The historic Jesus is almost counter productive for the role of a gnostic redeemer, and therefore is suppressed in most gnostic strains until almost nothing more is left. It is simply not comprehensible for the Gnosis that there should be a connection of God with this discernible world. With that the incarnation of Jesus Christ as Good into a Human could only be a an illusion. Which of course, in Christian terminology is called Docetism, according to which the phenomenon of Christ, his historical and bodily existence, and thus above all the human form of Jesus and his death, was altogether merely an illusion without any true. reality. The name comes from the Greek word [“dokein”], “seem”, and although Christ appears in the flesh, however, he is no “incarnation in flesh”. He seems only in such a way, the body of Jesus is completely thought as a false body or somebody else. Of course the atonement of the death of Christ in the Gnosticism caused by refusal of the worldly flesh.
Gnostic concept of redemption
The redemption takes place in Gnosis completely by the revelation. Only the Greek word [“logos”], “word” is authoritative. The central concern of the Gnosis the knowledge and redemption given to the person on the way, who is trapped within a body thrown in an imperfect world. Besides, Gnosticism not about an intellectual and holistic knowledge processes. The object of the knowledge is first of all the person. The person recognises himself (better his divine spark) in the Gnosis, his origin and meaning. Accordingly the basic questions of the Gnosis can be outlined with Clemens of Alexandria:
“Who were we? What have we become?
Where were we? Where have we thrown into?
Where do we hurry? What are we released from?
What is birth, and what is rebirth?”
It is important that the answers to these questions can’t be answered simply by a person. Gnosis is not rational and logical. The individual cannot find the answers to these questions by personal enlightenment either. One wins knowledge only if it is given to one, by being initiated. Therefore, Gnosis is about recognising revealed message. It is significant that the knowledge is intended for all people, but not all will receive it. Therefore Gnosticism defines itself as an “elitarian” knowledge which is given only to few chosen.
The gnostic world
Therefore, for the purposes of the Gnosis the sensuous world is something what was not planned, actually, not at all, rather something what might not have been. The second world is actually, something what should not be. The completely anti-cosmic position of the Gnosis arises from this. While the first world from divine (Pleroma) is surrounded so by the divine fullness, the second world is a world absolutely divorced from the divine space. This world is original nothing else than an emptiness. Now, however,from the first world sparks of the Pleroma got in us, parts from the divine world fell in the sensuous world.
Gnostic concept of Men
Divine sparks represent – one can probably say with restrictions – the human souls. According to Gnosis we are fallen souls caught within the body, within the flesh. The person carries a spark from the world of the divine Pleroma which is caught in the visible world, living dazed and ignorant, knowing nothing of it. Humans are like “a light ray in the darkness” or “woman in the brothel” or like “gold in the dirt”. The divine revelation releases the soul with it call from the world, coming from the space of the divine Pleroma and releasing Gnosis, knowledge.
Since, to the best of my ability, I have explained the unknown Gnosis, it seemed expedient likewise to give an example. The difference in the translation is strikingly. This psalm of theirs has been composed to celebrate all Gnostic mysteries in a Christianized psalm, the Psalm of the Nazarene ;
Homesick, drunken, sleepy and ignorant live the humans in our sensual world.
The world’s producing law was Primal Mind, And next was First-born’s outpoured Chaos; And third, the soul received its law of toil: Encircl’d, therefore, with an acqueous form, With care overpowered it succumbs to death. Now holding sway, it eyes the light, And now it weeps on misery flung; Now it mourns, now it thrills with joy; Now it wails, now it hears its doom; Now it hears its doom, now it dies, And now it leaves us, never to return.
Werdegesetz von allem war der erste Nous, Der zweite nach dem ersten war das Chaos, ausgeschüttet. Als drittes nahm die Psyche das Gesetz der Arbeit. Drum ist sie wie der Hirsch ins Fell gehüllt. Gepackt von Todesangst hetzt sie dahin.Bald hat sie Raum, sieht Licht, Bald weint ins Elend sie geworfen, bald lacht sie auf und weint doch schon. Bald weint sie auf und wird verdammt.Bald dann verdammt, fühlt sie das Sterben. Bald wird ihr Rückkehr. Die Unselige!
The godly revelation frees the soul with a call of the other world. Coming from the realm of Plemora it leads to the secret knowledge.
It, hapless straying, treads the maze of ills. But Jesus said, Father, behold, A strife of ills across the earth Wanders from thy breath (of wrath); But bitter Chaos (man) seeks to shun, And knows not how to pass it through.
Sie lief verwirrt ins Labyrinth.Da sprach Jesus: ” Schau doch, Vater! Als Beute des Bösen schweift`s über die Erde, Und doch von Deinem Hauch gebildet, Versucht`s zu fliehen bitteres Chaos, Und weiss doch nicht, wie durchzukommen.
On this account, O Father, send me; Bearing seals, I shall descend; Through ages whole I’ll sweep, All mysteries I’ll unravel, And forms of Gods I’ll show; And secrets of the saintly path, Styled “Gnosis,” I’ll impart.
Aus diesem Grunde schick mich, Vater. Mit Siegeln will herab ich steigen,Will jeden der Äonen überwandern, Mysterien, sie all offen machen.Die Gottgestalten will ich weisen: Das Abgetretene des heiligen Weges, Gnosis rufend, will ich bereiten”.
It needs a revelation to reveal the truth. But the Jesus of the Gnostic is quite different from the Jesus one knows from Christianity. According to Vaentinus: The compassionate, faithful Jesus was patient in his sufferings until he took that book, since he knew that his death meant life for many. Just as in the case of a will which has not yet been opened, for the fortune of the deceased master of the house is hidden, so also in the case of the All which had been hidden as long as the Father of the All was invisible and unique in himself, in whom every space has its source. For this reason Jesus appeared. He took that book as his own. He was nailed to a cross. He affixed the edict of the Father to the cross.’
In other words, the death of Jesus and Gnosis are truly in many Valentinian belief systems. In a sense, The Cross is the Tree of Knowledge (Gnosis)
The passion narrative in Gnosis
Many Gnostic texts, like The Letter of Peter to Phillip and The Gospel of Mary simply see the death and resurrection drama as a small intermission in the imparting of Gnosis by Jesus, as well as a test of faith for his followers. The great mysteries are truly passed on after Jesus has returned in an angelic shape and can no longer be harassed by the Archons. Some Gnostics were simply against the idea that Jesus Christ could suffer on Earth (or that he even possessed a human form). In The Apocalypse of Peter, Jesus mocks his execution and the spectacle around it, stating that it is actually Jehovah who has been replaced on the Cross: ‘Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking at those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind.’
In The Acts of John, Jesus appears to the Apostle John after the crucifixion. He explains to the ‘Beloved Disciple’ that there were two crosses at Golgotha. One was the Cross of Light that stands above the material world and is the doorway to faith, hope, wisdom and the Pleroma itself. The other was the Cross of Wood that represents the lower nature of humanity dominant within all those who witnessed the crucifixion of nothing more than a phantom.
A person is no longer part of the crowds under the Cross of Wood staring at phantoms but within the Cross of Light, filled with faith, hope, wisdom and even the Pleroma: “Understand me then as the slaying of a Word, wound of a Word, hanging of a Word, suffering of a Word, fastening of a Word, death of a Word, resurrection of a Word, and defining this Word, I mean every man!”
Christ and human had become one.
The Gnostic Sage Basilides also believed that the crucifixion was a hoax to mock Jahweh, except that Simon of Cyrene was nailed to a cross. The Second Treatise to the Great Seth has a Simon replacing Jesus, but it’s unclear which Simon. This idea of Jesus avoiding his death by a slight of divine hand was later adopted by Islam, raising additional arguments to claims od historians that Mohammed might have been in contact with Gnostic sects and that the Koran itself was an amalgam of some heresies circulating among some Christians in the Seventh Century.
Despite the varied beliefs in Gnosticism, there is a common thread on most versions of the Passion narrative: The Savior arrives in a form recognizable to humans; his form is destroyed by the demons who rule the universe and lastly he returns in an astral manifestation to impart his greatest teachings to those who both had faith and understood his message from the beginning.
And because Gnostics believe in becoming Christlike while alive, the death and resurrection of The Savior symbolizes part of the process of Gnosis itself. You might remember my article and Death of the Ego as prerequisite to find God or C.G. Jung’s Self in Quaternio Series of Aion – Jesus or Abraxas? An individual who seeks ultimate spiritual freedom must get over his Ego, which is attached to the material world to reach the Self. This is found very differently in C.G. Jung’s thoughts, here the Ego must establish a channel to the Self. It has to be noted that C.G. Jung sees this Self also as Christlike.
Barbelo is the primary goddess of Gnostic Magic. She equates to the Egyptian Nut, and also to Babalon, the Enoch’s goddess. The worship of Barbelo was so great, that one of the names given to the Gnostics was the Barbeloites. She is the first reflex of divinity, called the Invisible Spirit. As the Invisible Spirit is pure subjectivity, so Barbelo is pure objectivity, the two forming the first and most fundamental of all dualities.
The Egyptian Set and the Gnostic Seth are both equivalent to the Hindu Siva (sometimes spelled Shiva), the god of destruction, but also the god of mystics, yogis, and magicians. Christian theologians have equated Seth with Satan, but mythical he represents the spiritual impulse that opposes all material manifestation. The four letters of his name represent a synthesis (S) of science (E) and the reasoning processes (T) within the mind (H), identical with gnosis; an direct awareness and understanding of knowledge.
Norea , the Gnostic equivalent of the Egyptian goddess, Nephthys, is the name of Seth’s sister, the fourth child of Adam and Eve. Norea is always shown in Gnostic literature as highly intelligent and given to spiritual insight. In the Hypostasis of the Archons she is “an assistance for many generations of humankind.” However, Jewish tradition has equated Norea with wickedness, and, like Set/Seth, having a demonic nature.
The Greek word Sophia means wisdom. Sophia was a goddess assigned to the thirteenth Aeon under the great Angel Eleleth . The Gnostics taught that it was Sophia who, on her own and without a masculine consort, gave birth to the material universe by creating the demiurge, Ialdabaoth. She then repented of her deed, but meanwhile the material world had come into existence. She represents spiritual capability and desire for expression that created . It is also interesting Sophia takes the form of The Tree of Knowledge in The Secret Book of John).
This is the demiurge or archdemon who rules the worlds of manifestation below the Abyss. He was created by Sophia. The Gnostics equated Ialdaboth with the Hebrew Jehovah. Ialdabaoth represents physicality, the logic and reason of the human mind.
The son of Ialdabaoth who saw the wickedness of his father and repented. Because his repentance was sincere, the gods granted him divine assistance.
Abraxas, is a Gnostic solar deity associated Yeshu (Jesus) and by the ancients with Yahweh, Mithras and the Celtic Belenus. Amulets and seals bearing with a figure of a cock head and the legs of serpents were used in the thirteenth century in the seals of the Knights Templar. A god of time and ruler of the days of the year, Abraxas bestows gifts on those who call to him; especially protection from all manner of harm. By medieval times, Abraxas was relegated to the ranks of demons. The image most associated with Abraxas is that of a composite creature with the head of a rooster, the body of a man, and legs made of serpents or scorpions. He carries a whip and shield, called wisdom and power, respectively. The word Abraxas was first proposed by the Alexandrian Gnostic scholar Basilides, and is created using the first letters of the names of the seven visible planets. The letters in Abraxas add to 365, the number of days in a solar year, and the number of Aeons, or divine emanations, in Gnostic cosmology. Each of the seven letters represents one of the seven planetary powers. Church father Tertullian, speaking of Basilides’ and Abraxas:
“Afterwards broke out the heretic Basilides. He affirms that there is a supreme Deity, by name Abraxas, by whom was created Mind, which in Greek he calls Nous; that thence sprang the Word; that of Him issued Providence, Virtue, and Wisdom; that out of these subsequently were made Principalities, powers, and Angels; that there ensued infinite issues and processions of angels; that by these angels 365 heavens were formed, and the world, in honour of Abraxas, whose name, if computed, has in itself this number. Now, among the last of the angels, those who made this world, he places the God of the Jews latest, that is, the God of the Law and of the Prophets, whom he denies to be a God, but affirms to be an angel.”
Basilides wrote, “God and devil are distinguished by the qualities fullness and emptiness, generation and destruction. Effectiveness common to both. Effectiveness joined them. Effectiveness, therefore, standeth above both; ia a god above god, since in its effect it united fullness and emptiness. This is a god whom ye knew not, for mankind forgot it. We name it by its name ABRAXAS.” And later he writes, “In this world is man Abraxas, the creator and the destroyer of his own world.”
The Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung wrote a Gnostic treatise in 1916 called Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas a God higher than the Christian God and Devil, that combines all opposites into one Being. under the pen name of the ancient Gnostic sage called Basilides of Alexandria, who was a strong proponent of Abraxas. The Nobel prize winning novelist Herman Hesse uses Abraxas in his novel Demian, which explores the themes of good and evil. And the popular jazz guitarist Carlos Santana called an album Abraxas in the 70s.
Religion or a psychology?
C. G. Jung had shown a pronounced and informed interest in Gnosticism and Alchemy. This is evident in the Quaternio Series of the Self in his book. “Aion“. Was Jung really a Gnostic? I seems to me, that “Aion” and another late work The “Answer to Job” give some evidence to the assertion: No, he wasn’t.
Throughout the twentieth Century the new scientific discipline of depth psychology has gained much prominence. The depth psychologists who have shown a pronounced and informed interest in Gnosticism was to C. G. Jung. Jung was instrumental in calling attention to the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings in the 1950’s because he perceived the outstanding psychological relevance of Gnostic insights. His Red Book and the mentioned Seven Sermons to the Dead are famous psychoanalytical Gnostic texts.
In pantheism the universe is God whereas in deism the supreme deity is cold and indifferent (and unaware) to its creation like Abraxas. This main symbol (or word) for the Gnostic God, Abraxas, is known from the Gnostic writings of Simon Magus, father of the Gnostics and Basilides of Egypt. C.G. Jung described a three stages of human perception of God. The first stage was that God appears undifferentiated. The second stage is the moral dualism perception of personal benevolent God(s) and evil Devil(s) in which they are separated. The final stage is the integration of the good and the evil. One example for a thoroughly dualistic view is Abraxas. The name stands in connection with Mithras, also with one of Homer’s solar horses, and in Greek the magic name contains the numerical of its seven letters (weekdays) adding up to 365 days of the year. In numerous representations of Abraxas is shown with serpent feet and the bird head. He symbolizes creator, thus destructive force and saviour, the unknown and unnamed God of Revelation.In The Seven Sermons to the Dead C. G. Jung says
Jung’s reflections had long been immersed in the thought of the ancient Gnostics to such an extent that he considered them the as on of many form where religion is applied of ‘depth psychology’ . Gnosis, albeit in its form of universal religion helped him to clarify, if not invent, the nature of Jungian spiritual therapy.
Is Gnosticism a religion or a psychology? The answer is that for Sufism or spiritual Catholicism it may very-well be both. Gnostic scriptures as the Bible possess psychological relevance and applicability. For instance the blind and arrogant creator-demiurge bears a close resemblance to the alienated human ego that has lost contact with the ontological Self. Also, the myth of Sophia resembles closely the story of the human psyche that loses its connection with the collective unconscious and needs to be rescued by the Self. Analogies of this sort exist in great profusion.
C.G. Jung said once,
[Abraxas] is… a thousand-armed polyp, coiled knot of winged serpents… the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning… the lord of toads and frogs, which live in the water… abundance that seeketh union with emptiness.”
Hesse derived his understanding of the Western and Eastern religious foundation and Gnostic thoughts from C.G. Jung’s psychology. It opened a new thinking and a new, modern and fascinating way to interpret and to make his personal experiences fruitful for his poetic work. C.G. Jung’s teaching gives him the key for the synopsis of the world religions and specifically for the combination of psychology and religion, specifically in “Demian”. Even more C.G. Jung’s psychology of religion provides the theoretical justification for the central message of Hesse in his poetry: the identity of raising consciousness and experiencing God. It confirms his own hunches and insights on the common psychological and anthropological understanding of the world religions. For Hesse Abraxas this view in the nihilistic ‘chaos’ initiates innovative and the cyclic revelation, like the ‘everlasting mother’ in his poems . Soon after he meet C. G. Jung in 1917, he originates his Demian, partly inspired from dream analyses, with symbols like the young eagle who struggles from the nest, a dark and bi-polar God similar to the bird-like demiurge Abraxas from the Gnosis which must be overcome by love.
Gnostic and Christianity in the view of the Gospels
The church and the Gnostics continued to reinterpret Jesus, such as to strengthen (or weaken) apocalyptic eschatology. In the first place we find within Luke a complete new interpretation of the oral traditions. He treats it as historical, like in 19.11 “they supposed that the kingdom of God was coming immediately ” – indicating they did not understand Jesus. Besides the synoptic gospels, a complete different matter is the Gospel of John.-
Gospel of John(Johannes)
Critical opinions a have gone back and forth and interpretation moved like the tides. In the Gospel of John, there is little of the historical Jesus and clear strains of these gnostic systems are already found. Quite clearly visible in radical separation of God’s area and world, the way of the saviour as a descent and rise, the predetermination of the released and the remedial individualism are all striking signs of gnostic mentality. Of big importance has been the the question is the Johannes Gospel seduced by thee Gnosis of was a refute of it.
Indeed, remains to note that during the long discussion some concepts has been introduced to Christian apprenticeship from gnostic philosophy, particularly this is to be felt with the speech of spirit and flesh. It is the mind who brings life; the flesh is useless:The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (Joh 6.63).
This could also have formulated quite similar from a gnostic. However, well-chosen anti-gnostic points are already visible in the first half of the Johannes Gospel :
- the confession of the creator’s God immediately at the beginning in the prologue of the Gospel (Joh 1.3),
- the confession of the incarnation of the saviour (Joh 1.14),
- the proclamation of the atonement death of the lamb (Joh 1.29).
The sequence is informative in Joh 3,13-14: the statement of the need of the suffering is followed by a strongly gnostic sentence. It is, however, paradoxical for us, that some Gnostics have made the Gospel of John to a favorite target in the New Testament, although it is by far insufficient to confirm non-Christian doctrines, in fact rather contradicts them. One sees his father in a wonderful representation giving a clear and convincing picture, especially in the prologue, which is in fulfillment of old testament prophecies. The glory of the risen Lord is so closely connected with his earthly Ministry, that the literary freedom gives a prophetic image of uniqueness. The key, therefore, is the beautiful prologue. Logos is usually translated with “the word (of God) but could be also reason, matter, thought. I apologize, but I prefer for aesthetic and other reasons the German version (my Greek is not sufficient).
1Im Anfang war der Logos,
und der Logos war bei Gott, (kai theos en ho logos)
und Gott war der Logos,
2dieser war im Anfang bei Gott.
3Alles ist durch ihn geworden
und ohne ihn ist nichts geworden, was geworden ist.
4In ihm war das Leben,
und das Leben war das Licht der Menschen.
5Und das Licht scheint in der Finsternis,
und die Finsternis hat’s nicht erfasst.
And it ends with the unseen God.
18Keiner hat Gott je gesehen.
Der Eingeborene, Gott,
der im Schoß des Vaters ruht,
er hat Kunde gebracht.
John is clearly imitating the Genesis, attempting a complex Midrashic speculation. The first verse of the song are verse 1-5. They are a Christological recap of the book of Genesis. Two quatrains frame a central couplet illuminates the theological requirements of the creation: God is the one and only, the father; He is from eternity. Before all the time, always has logos (as it is said in Greek: the word) ben part from God being the father. The second part of verse (1.3) is defined in the horizon John’s Christology that the world of God is a good creation. The third part of verse (1.4) brings to the people, and with him the dualism of light and darkness: there is darkness. But the light is stronger. That is not Gnostic. To me that Gospel was a well designed answer to the fight between Christianity and Gnosis. It has been said, that the Christian Gnostics were the first theologians – the posted the problems at least, which were solved differently by others. Church has been never a democracy, nor is truth found by majority vote. Under the leadership of the Roman Church Christian orthodoxy was victorious so was the Good Creation over the Aeons. The Church developed the weapons in the struggle of history over free imagination, objectivity over subjectivity which in essence enabled the Renaissance ( “re-birth”, “Rinascimento”) that spanned the period roughly a millennium later spreading to the rest of Europe. Yes, something was lost, but it was a good trade off, which is unfortunately in the danger of getting lost in a very similar fight today.
The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Thomas does not refer to Jesus as “Christ” or “Lord,” as the New Testament does, but does call him “Jesus,” and “Son of Man,” which are concurrent with the canonical Gospels. The Gospel of Thomas also lacks any mention of Jesus’ birth, baptism, miracles, travels, death, and resurrection However, some of the sayings in Thomas are similar to sayings and parables found in the canonical gospels. Oddly, this most popular Gnostic Scripture, The Gospel of Thomas, makes no mention of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In saying #55, Jesus does call for those to carry a cross as he does, but some scholars believe it was a common expression in those days of widespread Jewish executions by the Romans.
The Gospel of Judas
I certainly find the “new” Judas text fascinating, and understand why it is news. Denounced by Bishop Irenaeus in 180, this “gospel” sheds light on early Gnosticism. The Sethians in The Gospel of Judas express a disdain for any type of atoning death. This is revealed in a passage where Jesus mocks the Apostles and their belief in Jewish Temple rituals that includes blood sacrifice. However, Jesus does not see his fated execution as wholly negative since it means discarding his human clothes and once again becoming an Aeon. But does finding one of those rejected texts really paint a picture of a church that is trying to hide the truth? Or is it merely evidence of — a marketing induced — editing process, something to which all reporters ought to know a thing or two about? In one gnostic gospel, Jesus asks Judas to step away from the other disciples and offers to share with him secret knowledge, which right there should be a clue that this isn’t the Jesus that the Church had known.
The Gospels of Valentinus
There are various interpretations on how the Valentinian viewed the Passion of The Savior. One of the most interesting ones is that at the moment Jesus died, a cosmic explosion erupted that fully awakened the Pneumatic (The Elect) and gave a last choice to the Psychic (those in-between the spiritual and material realms).
In The Gospel of Truth, Valentinus himself wrote a very inspirational passage on the crucifixion:
‘For this reason error was angry with him, so it persecuted him. It was distressed by him, so it made him powerless. He was nailed to a cross. He became a fruit of the knowledge of the Father. He did not, however, destroy them because they ate of it. He rather caused those who ate of it to be joyful because of this discovery.’
The Valentinian Gospel of Philip makes a connection instead between The Cross and The Tree of Life:
‘Philip the apostle said, “Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross.” But the Tree of Life is in the middle of the Garden. However, it is from the olive tree that we got the chrism, and from the chrism, the resurrection.’
In The Secret Book of James, also a Valentinian work, Jesus plainly states ‘Remember my cross and my death, and you will live!’
Not all Gnostic sects viewed the Passion narrative in such positive terms.
Theology has been called an intellectual formalisation around the spiritual kernel of a religion. If this is true, then it is also true that often religions are being strangled and stifled by their wrappings. Gnosticism run the opposite danger, because its world view is stated in myth rather than in theology. Myths, including the Gnostic myths, may be interpreted in diverse ways. Transcendence, numinosity, as well as psychological archetypes along with other elements, play a role in such interpretation. But we have seen how wonderful the prologue introduces the content of the Gospel of John. It refers to God’s plan, his wisdom and power to, to his only begotten (indigenous) son. John points to this intimate relationship between the father and the son, which are a distinct person. In the struggle between light and darkness, the Gospels shows that the darkness is not in the position to win this fight. God became flesh in whom we recognize in the Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection leads to important truths the identity of Jesus which correct the doctrinal errors of the Gnostics.
Of course, the Gnostic world view has always been timely, for it always responded best to the “Zeitgeist”. Abraxas is on his peak now. Two times in history conspiracies, secret meetings, Gnosticism, and heretic thinking became popular with strong attacks on Christianity. During the “Jesus Wars”, around the Crusades and today. Christianity’s foes have argued that the Church has kept the deep mysteries away from the public as a way to enhance its control. Mystery, New Age and patchwork religion is in, but not the kind that requires self-sacrifice, following rules, agape love, and understanding difficult teachings. Which is why seemingly intelligent people will believe just about anything — and there’s nothing new under the sun, and this resurgence of Gnosticism isn’t new either. A major indicator of Gnostic is their strong Dualism. To the lure of knowledge, come easy answers. Yet today, its timeliness is increasing, for the end of the second millennium has seen the radical deterioration of many secular ideologies which and religions, even politics evaded the great questions and those are seemingly addressed and answered by Gnosticism. The mix of ambiguity and frankness, of simplicity and complexity in Gnostic answers to questions of human predicament cannot fail to impress and (in time) to “convince” the multi-media educated. Even more, because there are some pearls hidden in the mud.
Less than two weeks after the historic papal resignation, a believe is shared, that the pope emeritus was not abandoning the Church in times of difficulties. Quite the opposite. His reign saw Muslim anger, atheist anger, the usual Western postmodern noise and finally betrayal within the rotten Vatican. What he has done is enough. It seems he inherently points to a “young man” to cope with the inside and outside tide of Abraxas. In the West, a great deal of contemporary Scholarship of hidden Gospels depend on the theory that the Catholic Church has been from its foundation a conspiracy to suppress spirituality, science, women, men – you name it. Ironically this is to a degree true, “Entweltlichung” (as Benedict said) and Pentecostal might bring spirituality back. But that will not come from Europe. In all throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church, no person from Africa or the Indian subcontinent has ever been chosen as pope. It is high time for the current conclave in Vatican City to elect a Black archbishop as Pope Benedict XVI’s successor. In 2011, a document, “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” amounted to a call by the Vatican for a World Political and Financial Authority. It was published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson today still young in church terms at 63. The media was quick—inside and outside Christianity—to see the light side raising its head against “Globals” in power. And this is where things start getting interesting. The Associated Press stated once, “The pope has appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana to head the Vatican’s justice and peace office, a high-profile post that cements his reputation as a possible future papal candidate”. The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the very one who later defended the status quo in the Vatican Bank IOR, complained furiously about Turkson’s paper, precisely when the G20 and EU was coming to its weak and uncertain actions on the global financial crisis.
Vatican watcher and journalist Andrea Tornielli had stated as much earlier, documenting how Bertone had been consolidating his influence in the Vatican: …through a number of actions: he appointed bishops who are well known to him and friends in key roles, especially in positions involving the management and control of the Holy See’s finances. The last individual appointed, was the Bishop of Alexandria Giuseppe Versaldinew, to the position of President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See… On the other hand, Bertone has done away with prelates who had moved against him in some way or another, such as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who had left the Government office to become Nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, or Bishop Vincenzo di Mauro, who left the Office of Economic Affairs to become Archbishop of Vigevano. One might fear with some certainty that Bertone is thus a shoo-in for the New World Order role of Petrus Romanus. However, as we move into Easter 2013, cracks are suddenly appearing in the foundation of his sand castle, and not everybody in the Curia may wind up as eager to support him as they once were. Will be Cardinal Peter Turkson elected as the first Black pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church? There are others in South America. I trust, the next pope will not be an European.
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell – Happy Gnostic or Catholic Easter.
Secondary literature about or around Abraxas and Gnostics
- Abraxas: Studien z. Religionsgeschichte d. späteren Altertums Book digitized by Google from the library of Princeton University
- Introduction ‘The Seven Sermons to the Dead’ with comments
- Historia Mundi Volume IV, Lehnen Verlag, Die Kirche zur Zeit der Apostel und Märtyrer
- Phillip Jenkins, “Jesus Wars” Harper, 2010
- R. M. Grant Gnosticism and Early Christianity
- C.G. Jung, Aion Untersuchungen zur Symbolgeschichte
- Phillip Jenkins, “The Lost History of Christianity“
- The Knight Templar (Pocket Essentials)
Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings:
Codex I (The Jung Codex)
- 1. The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
- 2. The Apocryphon of James:
- 3. The Gospel of Truth:*
- 1. The Apocryphon of John* (long version)
- (See the Aprocryphon of John Collection for more editions and information)
- 2. The Gospel of Thomas:
- (Patterson & Meyer translation)
- (Lambdin translation)
- (Patterson & Robinson Translation)
- (Grondin interlinear translation)
- (See the Gospel of Thomas Collection for more information on the text)
- 3. The Gospel of Philip
- 4. The Hypostasis of the Archons
- 5. On the Origin of the World*
- 6. The Exegesis on the Soul
- 7. The Book of Thomas the Contender
- 1. The Apocryphon of John* (short version)
- 2. The Gospel of the Egyptians*
- 3. Eugnostos the Blessed*
- 4. The Sophia of Jesus Christ
- 5. The Dialogue of the Savior
- 1. Eugnostos the Blessed*
- 2. The Apocalypse of Paul
- 3. The (First) Apocalypse of James
- 4. The (Second) Apocalypse of James
- 5. The Apocalypse of Adam
- 1. The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
- 2. The Thunder, Perfect Mind
- 3. Authoritative Teaching
- 4. The Concept of Our Great Power
- 5. Plato, Republic 588A-589B
- 6. The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth
- 7. The Prayer of Thanksgiving
- 8. Asclepius 21-29
- 1. The Paraphrase of Shem
- 2. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
- 3. The Apocalypse of Peter
- 4. The Teachings of Silvanus
- 5. The Three Steles of Seth
- 1. Marsanes
- 1. The Interpretation of Knowledge
- 2. A Valentinian Exposition
2a. On the Anointing
2b. On the Baptism A
2c. On the Baptism B
2d. On the Eucharist A
2e. On the Eucharist B
- 3. Allogenes
- 4. Hypsiphrone
- 1. The Sentences of Sextus
- 2. The Gospel of Truth:*
- 3. Fragments (translation not provided here)