Apocryphote of the Day: 8-6-09

I'm still "away" on "vacation" for the couple of weeks before school starts, but I thought I'd drop in with an apocryphote, and to let you know I'm still around. Once I return to my office at the end of August, I'll begin posting more regularly again.

"But I say to you, what you seek and ask about, look, it is in you!"

Dialogue of the Savior 16

Apocryphote of the Day: 7-10-09

I am going to be starting the Apocryphote of the Day again after a several month hiatus.

"All that makes for a soul's perfection follows in their train, for nobody who professes faith will commit sin, and nobody who possesses love can feel hatred. As the tree is known by its fruits, so they who claim to belong to Christ are known by their actions."

Ignatius of Antioch, letter to the Ephesians 14

Apocryphote of the Day: 4-14-09

A poem that Mani wrote about his syzygos, his angelic twin (the great male angel who visited Mani and who Mani called the Paraclete or counselor spirit):
He who is the most protected
I received him piously
and I took him as my own.
I believed him,
that he belongs to me
and that he is a good and useful counselor.
I recognized him,
and understood that I am he
from whom I was separated.
I have borne witness,
that I myself am he
and am the same.
Cologne Mani Codex 24

Apocryphote of the Day: 3-26-09

"There are two ways: one to life and one to death, but the difference between the two ways is great. The way to life is this: First, you shall love God, who has created you; second, your neighbor as yourself. Whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to another."

Didache 1.1-2 (liturgical handbook; 90 CE, although contains very early traditions from the Jerusalem church)

Apocryphote of the Day: 3-25-09

O soul, backslider,
sober up and shake off your drunkenness
which is the work of ignorance!

If you backslide and are governed by the body,
you dwell in savageness.

When you descended,
when you were embodied,
you were born.

Come into being inside the bridal chamber.
Be enlightened in the mind.

Teachings of Silvanus 94.19-29 (Alexandrian Christian text, late second century)

Apocryphote of the Day: 3-5-09

The Father reveals his bosom. His bosom is the Holy Spirit. He reveals through it what is hidden. What is hidden through it is his Son. So through the mercies of the Father, the aeons may know him and cease laboring in search of the Father, resting there in him, knowing that this is rest.

Gospel of Truth 24.10-20 (early Valentinian sermon)

Commentary: This passage is commenting on John 1:18 : "No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father has brought forth that one." Irenaeus says in Adv. Haer. 3.11.9 that the Gospel of Truth was written by the Valentinians who had more gospels than Irenaeus' church did, and at his time was a "comparatively recent" composition. Since he is writing between 180 and 190 CE, this would place the text's composition early to mid-second century at a time when Valentinus was still alive and teaching and writing. Pseudo-Tertullian reports that Valentinus had "a gospel of his own" (Adv. Haer. 4). Since the style of the Gospel of Truth reflects the style of the fragments of writing attributed to Valentinus, I am of the opinion that this Gospel was likely written by him as well and used as part of their catechism.

In the case of exegesis, note how the Prologue of John is understood to refer to the creation of the Godhead itself - the Pleroma - that the Son is hidden in God's bosom, the Holy Spirit, and is revealed to the aeons by the Holy Spirit. The revelation of the Son is the revelation of the Father, so the aeons can rest peacefully rather than continuing to be disturbed by Sophia's aborted attempt to know the unknown God.

And so our thinking about the Gospel of John continues.

Apocryphote of the Day: 3-3-09

Jesus said, "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Where does this saying of Jesus come from? I've decided to present a paper on it at SBL in New Orleans.

Apocryphote of the Day: 2-25-09

"You are white-washed sepulchres, which are filled with dead men's bones because there is not in you the Living Man. The dead shall leap from the grave, from their earthly bodies, being regenerated as spiritual men, not carnal. This is the resurrection which comes to pass through the gate of heaven, and those who do not enter by it all remain dead."

A Naassene tribute to Ash Wednesday (Hipp., Ref. 5.8,23-24).

Apocryphote of the Day: 2-19-09

"He who seeks will find me in children from seven years onwards. For there I am found, who am hidden, in the fourteenth aeon."

Hippolytus of Rome, quoting from the Naassene's version of the Gospel of Thomas, Refutation 5.7,20

Commentary: I have no doubt that the Naassenes had their own version of the Gospel of Thomas. Much of their system is based on certain ideologies present in the Gospel of Thomas, such as the encratic lifestyle (=celibacy), and the primal hermaphodite Man as the original image of God and goal of human existence. They used altered versions of certain sayings in the Gospel of Thomas to support their own Gnostic ideologies and rituals. Fascinating how a Syrian encratic gospel of Jesus' sayings becomes adapted by a later Gnostic Christian group in Rome (?). Its use by these sorts of groups may be one of the reasons that it was not a favored gospel in Roman Christianity and did not manage to make the big "4".

Apocryphote of the Day: 2-11-09

And he kissed my mouth. He took hold of me, saying, "My beloved! Look, I shall reveal to you that which neither the heavens nor their archons have known. Look, I shall reveal to you that which he did not know, he who boasted, 'There is no other God except me. Am I not alive? Because I am a father, do I not have power over everything?' Look, I shall reveal to you everything, my beloved. Understand and know them, that you may come forth just as I am. Look, I shall reveal to you the Hidden One. But now, stretch out your hand. Take hold of me."

2 Apocalypse of James 56.15-57.10 (Jesus purportedly speaking to James his "milk" brother)

Apocryphote of the Day: 2-3-09

"The passion which is a delight to them constrains the souls of those who are begotten in this place...and they turn away from the light, unable to pass by the ruler of darkness until they pay the last penny."

Testimony of Truth (Alexandrian gnostic text, second century)

Commentary: an interesting use of Matthew 5:25-26, "Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny." The ruler of darkness is the judge of the dead who shuts the soul up in the body (=the prison) unless the soul pays it debt for its sins. This is a doctrine and support text from Matthew is attributed by the church fathers to Carpocrates, the infamous libertine. But the Testimony of Truth is encratic or body-denying throughout the document.

Apocryphote of the Day: 1-6-09

Matthew said, " Lord I want to see that place of life [...] where there is no wickedness, but there is pure light!"
The Lord said, "Brother Matthew, you can't see it as long as you are enfleshed."
Matthew said, "Lord, even if I will not be able to see it, let me know it!"
The Lord said, "Whoever has known himself has seen it in everything given to him to do [...]."

Dialogue of the Savior 132.6-17 (encratic text from mid-second century Edessa, probably representative of the Syrian Church associated with the apostle Thomas)

Commentary: a reminder as we start the New Year and set our goals.