CHRISTIAN - GNOSTIC GOSPELS TEXT
From the NAG HAMMADI Discovery of 1945
Most Christians are not aware that other Gospels and Christian writings exist besides those in the New Testament. In 1945 some Bedouins discovered some clay urns buried in the sand near the town of Nag Hammadi, about a hundred miles south of Cairo, Egypt. The writings inside the urns were buried during the fourth century after Christ. They are a collection of materials, some of which were written by Gnostics who were an early Christian sect. But, some of the writings were not written by Gnostics, and purport to be authentic writings of some of the apostles. If you examine all the writings of this Nag Hammadi collection, you will quickly understand that most of them are mythological speculations about the process of creation of this world, and about the identity of God. While they were sincerely trying to understand the reason that the world is so evil, they drifted into Greek style mythologizing; it was a wicked God who created a wicked world. Whether I Timothy 6:20 warns against this particular group or not cannot be determined for certain. Nevertheless, those who considered themselves to be Gnostics also considered themselves to be good Christians and they recognized Jesus as their Lord. The name of their movement, Gnosticism, comes from the Greek word for knowing. Those people believed that it was the responsibility of each person to come to know God by listening to the Holy Spirit for insights. Unfortunately, that method of relating to God was crushed by the early church which organized into a hierarchy of authorities like priests and bishops who would tell the people what was right and what was wrong. Even worse is that they set up a doctrinal system that was mostly wrong, and which placed God at a distance again, just as though they had repaired the Temple Veil which hid a God behind it. The Gnostics were effectively excommunicated from the organization, and only a rare mystic would ever seek God through Holy Spirit insights. And that is still true today in modern Christianity which promises heaven to those who simply do the church rituals.
It is my conviction that God preserved a few writings in those precious urns that stayed buried until 1945. Clearly, the early church would have rejected these writings from the canon (list of approved writings) which it announced at the Council of Hippo in 393 AD. Until then, Christians had to think for themselves regarding what was inspired of God and what was not. Since the canon was set, Christians haven't had to think for themselves about anything. If you are brave enough to risk the adventure of thinking for yourself, you might find some wonderful revelations in these few pieces which I am putting on this website.
A caution which I would suggest for you is this; that you keep in mind it was Jesus' method of teaching to use parables, analogies, metaphors, and allegories. Why did He do that? So that the true meanings will be available to only those in whom the Holy Spirit works an understanding. These things are to be spiritually discerned.
Here is the text of five selections, from the 52 tractates found in 1945. For further information about these and the other materials in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, see the book THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY, edited by James M. Robinson, available in most bookstores.
THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS
THE BOOK OF THOMAS THE CONTENDER
THE APOCRYPHON OF JAMES (James was one of Jesus' four brothers)
THE TREATISE ON THE RESURRECTION
(Missing words from damaged manuscripts are designated by three dots: ...)
THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS
These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.
(1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."
(2) Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the all."
(3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
(4) Jesus said, "The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same."
(5) Jesus said, "Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest."
(6) His disciples questioned him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?"
Jesus said, "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered."
(7) Jesus said, "Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man."
(8) And he said, "The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
(9)Jesus said, "Now the Sower went out, took a handful of seeds, and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on rock, did not take root in the soil, and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure."
(10) Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes."
(11) Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"
(12) The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the Righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
(13) Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out."
And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."
(14) Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits. When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth - it is that which will defile you."
(15) Jesus said, "When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father."
(16) Jesus said, "Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary."
(17) Jesus said, "I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind."
(18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."
Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."
(19) Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you become my disciples and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death."
(20) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like."
He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky."
(21) Mary said to Jesus, "Whom are your disciples like?"
He said, "They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Let us have back our field.' They will undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them. Therefore I say, if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig through into his house of his domain to carry away his goods. You, then, be on your guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you, for the difficulty which you expect will surely materialize. Let there be among you a man of understanding. When the grain ripened, he came quickly with his sickle in his hand and reaped it. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
(22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom."
They said to him, "Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?"
Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in place of any eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom."
(23) Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."
(24) His disciples said to him, "Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it."
He said to them, "Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness."
(25) Jesus said, "Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye."
(26) Jesus said, "You see the mote in your brother's eye, but you do not see the beam in your own eye. When you cast the beam out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to cast the mote from your brother's eye."
(27) Jesus said, "If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father."
(28) Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
(29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."
(30) Jesus said, "Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him."
(31) Jesus said, "No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician heals those who know him."
(32) Jesus said, "A city being built on a high mountain and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
(33) Jesus said, "Preach from your housetops that which you will hear in your ear. For no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, nor does he put it in a hidden place, but rather he sets it on a lampstand so that everyone who enters and leaves will see its light."
(34) Jesus said, "If a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into a pit."
(35) Jesus said, "It is not possible for anyone to enter the house of a strong man and take it by force unless he binds his hands; then he will be able to ransack his house."
(36) Jesus said, "Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear."
(37) His disciples said, "When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?"
Jesus said, "When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid."
(38) Jesus said, "Many times have you desired to hear these words which I am saying to you, and you have no one else to hear them from. There will be days when you will look for me and will not find me."
(39) Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge (gnosis) and hidden them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves."
(40) Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted outside of the father, but being unsound, it will be pulled up by its roots and destroyed."
(41) Jesus said, "Whoever has something in his hand will receive more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little he has."
(42) Jesus said, "Become passers-by."
(43) His disciples said to him, "Who are you, that you should say these things to us?"
Jesus said to them, "You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for they either love the tree and hate its fruit or love the fruit and hate the tree."
(44) Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven."
(45) Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things."
(46) Jesus said, "Among those born of women, from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered before him. Yet I have said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John."
(47) Jesus said, "It is impossible for a man to mount two horses or to stretch two bows. And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously. No man drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine. And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into a new wineskin, lest it spoil it. An old patch is not sewn into a new garment, because a tear would result."
(48) Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move away,' and it will move away."
(49) Jesus said, "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return."
(50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image. If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, and we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"
(51) His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come about, and when will the new world come?"
He said to them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it."
(52) His disciples said to him, "Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and all of them spoke in you."
He said to them, "You have omitted the one living in your presence and have spoken only of the dead."
(53) His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision beneficial or not?"
He said to them, "If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable."
(54) Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven."
(55) Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me."
(56) Jesus said, "Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world."
(57) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a man who had good seed. His enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weeds; he said to them, 'I am afraid that you will go intending to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.' For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be plainly visible, and they will be pulled up and burned."
(58) Jesus said, "Blessed is the man who has suffered and found life."
(59) Jesus said, "Take heed of the living one while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him and be unable to do so."
(60) They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his disciples, "That man is round about the lamb."
They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it."
He said to them, "While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse."
They said to him, "He cannot do so otherwise."
He said to them, "You too, look for a place for yourselves within repose, lest you become a corpse and be eaten."
[Roger's comment: "round about the lamb" means he is focused upon the lamb at the center; Jesus is referring to Himself as the Lamb of focus. The Lamb must be killed before it can be shared with all Israel. So must every person be killed (die to this world), -- unless he can find the kingdom of Heaven that is within himself (repose); then he doesn't have to become a corpse.]
(61) Jesus said, "Two will rest on a bed: the one will die and the other will live."
Salome said, "Who are you, man, that you ... have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?"
Jesus said to her, "I am he who exists from the undivided. I was given some of the things of my father."
<...> "I am your disciple."
<...> "Therefore I say, if he is destroyed he will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness."
(62) Jesus said, "It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries. Do not let your (sg.) left hand know what your (sg.) right hand is doing."
(63) Jesus said, "There was a rich man who had much money. He said, 'I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.' Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear."
(64) Jesus said, "A man had received visitors. And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. He went to the first one and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said, 'I have claims against some merchants. They are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master has invited you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a house and am required for the day. I shall not have any spare time.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the dinner.' He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.' The servant returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.' Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father."
(65) He said, "There was a good man who owned a vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they might work it and he might collect the produce from them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his servant and beat him, all but killing him. The servant went back and told his master. The master said, 'Perhaps he did not recognize them.' He sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as well. Then the owner sent his son and said, "Perhaps they will show respect to my son.' Because the tenants knew that it was he who was heir to the vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who has ears hear."
(66) Jesus said, "Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone."
(67) Jesus said, "If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient."
(68) Jesus said, "Blessed are you when you are hated and persecuted. Wherever you have been persecuted they will find no place."
(69) Jesus said, "Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled."
(70) Jesus said, "That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you."
(71) Jesus said, "I shall destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it ...
(72) [A man said] to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."
He said to him, "O man, who has made me a divider?"
He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I am not a divider, am I?"
(73) Jesus said, "The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest."
(74) He said, "O Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern."
(75) Jesus said, "Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber."
(76) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a merchant who had a consignment of merchandise and who discovered a pearl. That merchant was shrewd. He sold the merchandise and bought the pearl alone for himself. You too, seek his unfailing and enduring treasure where no moth comes near to devour and no worm destroys."
(77) Jesus said, "It is I who am the Light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
(78) Jesus said, "Why have you come out into the desert? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men? Upon them are the fine garments, and they are unable to discern the truth."
(79) A woman from the crowd said to him, "Blessed are the womb which bore you and the breasts which nourished you."
He said to her, "Blessed are those who have heard the word of the father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Blessed are the womb which has not conceived and the breasts which have not given milk.'"
(80) Jesus said, "He who has recognized the world has found the body, but he who has found the body is superior to the world."
(81) Jesus said, "Let him who has grown rich be king, and let him who possesses power renounce it."
(82) Jesus said, "He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom."
(83) Jesus said, "The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the Light of the Father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his Light."
(84) Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into being before you, and which neither die nor become manifest, how much you will have to bear!"
(85) Jesus said, "Adam came into being from a great power and a great wealth, but he did not become worthy of you. For had he been worthy, he would not have experienced death."
(86) Jesus said, "The foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head and rest."
(87) Jesus said, "Wretched is the body that is dependent upon a body, and wretched is the soul that is dependent on these two."
(88) Jesus said, "The angels and the prophets will come to you and give to you those things you already have. And you too, give them those things which you have, and say to yourselves, 'When will they come and take what is theirs?'"
(89) Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?"
(90) Jesus said, "Come unto me, for my yoke is easy and my Lordship is mild, and you will find repose for yourselves."
(91) They said to him, "Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you."
He said to them, "You read the face of the sky and of the earth, but you have not recognized the one who is before you, and you do not know how to read this moment."
(92) Jesus said, "Seek and you will find. Yet, what you asked me about in former times and which I did not tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not inquire after it."
(93) Jesus said, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, lest they throw them on the dung heap. Do not throw the pearls to swine, lest they ... it ..."
(94) Jesus said, "He who seeks will find, and he who knocks will be let in."
(95) Jesus said, "If you have money, do not lend it at interest, but give it to one from whom you will not get it back."
(96) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman. She took a little leaven, concealed it in some dough, and made it into large loaves. Let him who has ears hear."
(97) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking [on the] road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her [on] the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty."
(98) Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man."
(99) The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside."
He said to them, "Those here who do the will of my father are my brothers and my mother. It is they who will enter the kingdom of my father."
(100) They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "Caesar's men demand taxes from us."
He said to them, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."
(101) Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate his father and his mother as I do cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not love his father and his mother as I do cannot become a disciple to me. For my mother ... , but my true mother gave me life."
(102) Jesus said, "Woe to the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat."
(103) Jesus said, "Fortunate is the man who knows where the brigands will enter, so that he may get up, muster his domain, and arm himself before they invade."
(104) They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today and let us fast."
Jesus said, "What is the sin that I have committed, or wherein have I been defeated? But when the bridegroom leaves the bridal chamber, then let them fast and pray."
(105) Jesus said, "He who knows the father and the mother will be called the son of a harlot."
(106) Jesus said, "When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say, 'Mountain, move away,' it will move away."
(107) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for that one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep, 'I care for you more than the ninety-nine.'"
(108) Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."
(109) Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know about the treasure. He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."
(110) Jesus said, "Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world."
(111) Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will be rolled up in your presence. And the one who lives from the living one will not see death." Does not Jesus say, "Whoever finds himself is superior to the world"?
(112) Jesus said, "Woe to the flesh that depends on the soul; woe to the soul that depends on the flesh."
(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying, 'here it is' or 'there it is'. Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
(114) Simon Peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." [Comment by Helmut Koester, in the Introduction to The Gospel of Thomas. He says: "Salvation is obtained in stripping off everything that is of this world (cf. sayings 21a, 37, 56). The disciples must "pass by" the present corruptible existence (saying 42). The existence of the ideal gnostic disciple is characterized by the term "solitary one," which describes one who has left behind everything that binds human beings to the world (cf. sayings 16, 23, 30, and 76). Even women can obtain this goal, if they achieve the "maleness" of the solitary existence (saying 114).]
THE BOOK OF THOMAS THE CONTENDER
The secret words that the savior spoke to Judas Thomas which I, even I Mathaias, wrote down, while I was walking, listening to them speak with one another.
The savior said, "Brother Thomas, while you have time in the world, listen to me, and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind.
"Now since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood, because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending, you have in fact already come to know and you will be called 'the one who knows himself.' For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the all. So then, you, my brother Thomas, have beheld what is obscure to men, that is, what they ignorantly stumble against."
Now Thomas said to the lord, "Therefore I beg you to tell me what I ask you before your ascension, and when I hear from you about the hidden things, then I can speak about them. And it is obvious to me that the truth is difficult to perform before men."
The savior answered, saying, "If the things that are visible to you(pl.) are obscure to you, how can you hear about the things that are not visible? If the deeds of the truth that are visible in the world are difficult for you to perform, how indeed, then, shall you perform those that pertain to the exalted height and to the pleroma which are not visible? And how shall you be called 'laborers'? In this respect you are apprentices, and have not yet received the height of perfection."
Now Thomas answered and said to the savior, "Tell us about these things that you say are not visible, but are hidden from us."
The savior said, "All bodies ... the beasts are begotten ... it is evident like ... ... ... this, too, those that are above ... things that are visible, but they are visible in their own root, and it is their fruit that nourishes them. But these visible bodies survive by devouring creatures similar to them with the result that the bodies change. Now that which changes will decay and perish, and has no hope of life from then on, since that body is bestial. So just as the body of the beasts perishes, so also will these formations perish. Do they not derive from intercourse, like that of the beasts? If it, (the body) too derives from intercourse, how will it beget anything different from beasts? So, therefore, you are babes until you become perfect."
And Thomas answered, "Therefore I say to you, lord, that those who speak about things that are invisible and difficult to explain are like those who shoot their arrows as anyone would - since they shoot at the target - but it is not visible. Yet when the light comes forth and hides the darkness, then the work of each will appear. And you, your light, enlighten, O lord."
Jesus said, "It is in light that light exists."
Thomas spoke, saying, "Lord, why does this visible light that shines on behalf of men rise and set?"
The savior said, "O blessed Thomas, of course this visible light shines on your(pl.) behalf - not in order that you remain here, but rather that you might come forth - and whenever all the elect abandon bestiality, then this light will withdraw up to its essence, and its essence will welcome it, since it is a good servant."
Then the savior continued and said, "O unsearchable love of the light! O bitterness of the fire that blazes in the bodies of men and in their marrow, kindling in them night and day, and burning the limbs of men and making their minds become drunk and their souls become deranged ... them within males and females ... night and moving them, ... secretly and visibly. For the males move ... upon the females and the females upon the males. Therefore it is said, "Everyone who seeks the truth from true wisdom will make himself wings so as to fly, fleeing the lust that scorches the spirits of men.' And he will make himself wings to flee every visible spirit."
And Thomas answered, saying, "Lord, this is exactly what I am asking you about, since I have understood that you are the one who is beneficial to us, as you say."
Again the savior answered and said, "Therefore it is necessary for us to speak to you(pl.), since this is the doctrine for the perfect. If, now, you(pl.) desire to become perfect, you shall observe these things; if not your name is 'Ignorant,' since it is impossible for an intelligent man to dwell with a fool, for the intelligent man is perfect in all wisdom. To the fool, however, the good and bad are the same - indeed the wise man will be nourished by the truth and 'will be like a tree growing by the meandering stream' - seeing that there are some who, although having wings, rush upon the visible things, things that are far from truth. For that which guides them, the fire, will give them an illusion of truth, and will shine on them with a perishable beauty, and it will imprison them in a dark sweetness and captivate them with fragrant pleasure. And it will blind them with insatiable lust and burn their souls and become for them like a stake stuck in their heart which they can never dislodge. And like a bit in the mouth it leads them according to its own desire.
"And it has fettered them with its chains and bound all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of lust for those visible things that will decay and change and swerve by impulse. They have always been attracted downwards; as they are killed, they are assimilated to all the beasts of the perishable realm."
Thomas answered and said, "It is obvious and has been said, 'Many are ... those who do not know ... soul.'"
And the savior answered, saying, "Blessed is the wise man who sought after the truth, and when he found it, he rested upon it forever and was unafraid of those who wanted to disturb him."
Thomas answered and said, "Is it beneficial for us, lord, to rest among our own?"
The savior said, "Yes, it is useful. And it is good for you(pl.) since things visible among men will dissolve - for the vessel of their flesh will dissolve, and when it is brought to naught it will come to be among visible things, among things that are seen. And then the fire which they see gives them pain on account of love for the faith they formerly possessed. They will be gathered back to that which is visible. Moreover, those who have sight among things that are not visible, without the first love they will perish in the concern for this life and the scorching of the fire. Only a little while longer, and that which is visible will dissolve; then shapeless shades will emerge and in the midst of tombs they will forever dwell upon the corpses in pain and corruption of soul."
Thomas answered and said, "What have we to say in the face of these things? What shall we say to blind men? What doctrine should we express to these miserable mortals who say, 'We came to do good and not to curse,' and yet claim, 'Had we not been begotten in the flesh, we would not have known iniquity'?"
The savior said, "Truly, as for those, do not esteem them as men, but regard them as beasts, for just as beasts devour one another, so also men of this sort devour one another. On the contrary, they are deprived of the kingdom since they love the sweetness of the fire and are servants of death and rush to the works of corruption. They fulfill the lusts of their fathers. They will be thrown down to the abyss and be afflicted by the torment of the bitterness of their evil nature. For they will be scourged so as to make them rush backwards, whither they do not know, and they will recede from their limbs not patiently, but with despair. And they rejoice over ... ... madness and derangement ... They pursue this derangement without realizing their madness, thinking that they are wise. They ... ... their body ... Their mind is directed to their own selves, for their thought is occupied with their deeds. But it is the fire that will burn them!"
And Thomas answered and said, "Lord what will the one thrown down to them do? For I am most anxious about them; many are those who fight them."
The savior answered and said, 'What is your own opinion?"
Judas - the one called Thomas - said, "It is you, lord, whom it befits to speak, and me to listen."
The savior replied, "Listen to what I am going to tell you(sg.) and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in their fire - within the fire and the water - and they will hide in tombs of darkness. And after a long time they shall show forth the fruit of the evil trees, being punished, being slain in the mouth of beasts and men at the instigation of the rains and winds and air and the light that shines above."
Thomas replied, "You have certainly persuaded us, lord. We realize in our heart, and it is obvious, that this is so, and that your word is sufficient. But these words that you speak to us are ridiculous and contemptible to the world since they are misunderstood. So how can we go preach them, since we are not esteemed in the world?"
The savior answered and said, "Truly I tell you(pl.) that he who will listen to your word and turn away his face or sneer at it or smirk at these things, truly I tell you that he will be handed over to the ruler above who rules over all the powers as their king, and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place. Moreover, he can neither turn nor move on account of the great depth of Tartaros and the heavy bitterness of Hades that is steadfast ... ... them to it ... ... they will not forgive ... ... pursue you(pl.). They will hand ... over to ... angel Tartarouchos ... fire pursuing them ... fiery scourges that cast a shower of sparks into the face of the one who is pursued. If he flees westward, he finds the fire. If he turns southward, he finds it there as well. If he turns northward, the threat of seething fire meets him again. Nor does he find the way to the east so as to flee there and be saved, for he did not find it in the day he was in the body, so that he might find it in the day of judgment."
Then the savior continued, saying, "Woe to you, godless ones, who have no hope, who rely on things that will not happen!
"Woe to you(pl.) who hope in the flesh and in the prison that will perish! How long will you be oblivious? And how long will you suppose that the imperishables will perish too? Your hope is set upon the world, and your god is this life! You are corrupting your souls!
"Woe to you(pl.) within the fire that burns in you, for it is insatiable!
"Woe to you because of the wheel that turns in your minds!
"Woe to you within the grip of the burning that is in you, for it will devour your flesh openly and rend your souls secretly, and prepare you for your companions!
"Woe to you, captives, for you are bound in caverns! You laugh! In mad laughter you rejoice! You neither realize your perdition, nor do you reflect on your circumstances, nor have you understood that you dwell in darkness and death! On the contrary, you are drunk with the fire and full of bitterness. Your mind is deranged on account of the burning that is in you, and sweet to you are the poison and the blows of your enemies! And the darkness rose for you like the light, for you surrendered your freedom for servitude! You darkened your hearts and surrendered your thoughts to folly, and you filled your thoughts with the smoke of the fire that is in you! And your light has hidden in the cloud of ... and the garment that is put upon you, you ... ... And you were seized by the hope that does not exist. And whom is it you have believed? Do you not know that you all dwell among those who that ... ... you as though you ... You baptized your souls in the water of darkness! You walked by your own whims!
"Woe to you(pl.) who dwell in error, heedless that the light of the sun which judges and looks down upon the all will circle around all things so as to enslave the enemies. You do not even notice the moon, how by night and day it looks down, looking at the bodies of your slaughters!
"Woe to you who love intimacy with womankind and polluted intercourse with them!
"Woe to you in the grip of the powers of your body, for they will afflict you!
"Woe to you in the grip of the forces of the evil demons!
"Woe to you who beguile your limbs with fire! Who is it that will rain a refreshing dew on you to extinguish the mass of fire from you along with your burning? Who is it that will cause the sun to shine upon you to disperse the darkness in you and hide the darkness and polluted water?
"The sun and the moon will give a fragrance to you, together with the air and the spirit and the earth and the water. For if the sun does not shine upon these bodies, they will wither and perish just like weeds or grass. If the sun shines on them, they prevail and choke the grapevine; but if the grapevine prevails and shades those weeds and all that other brush growing alongside and spreads and flourishes, it alone inherits the land in which it grows; and every place it has shaded it dominates. And when it grows up, it dominates all the land and is bountiful for its master, and it pleases him even more, for he would have suffered great pains on account of these plants until he uprooted them. But the grapevine alone removed them and choked them, and they died and became like the soil."
Then Jesus continued and said to them, "Woe to you for you did not receive the doctrine, and those who are ... will labor at preaching ... And you are rushing into ... ... will send them down ... ... you kill them daily in order that they might rise from death.
"Blessed are you who have prior knowledge of the stumbling blocks and who flee alien things.
"Blessed are you who are reviled and not esteemed on account of the love their lord has for them.
"Blessed are you who weep and are oppressed by those without hope, for you will be released from every bondage.
"Watch and pray that you not come to be in the flesh, but rather that you come forth from the bondage of the bitterness of this life. And as you pray, you will find rest, for you have left behind the suffering and the disgrace. For when you come forth from the sufferings and passions of the body, you will find rest, for you have left behind the suffering and the disgrace. For when you come forth from the sufferings and passions of the body, you will receive rest from the good one, and you will reign with the king, you joined with him and he with you, from now on, for ever and ever. Amen."
THE APOCRYPHON OF JAMES
[Note: James became the leader of the Jerusalem group of Christians after Jesus was gone. It was in Jerusalem that the new Hebrew alphabet was just being developed, and that was by the Temple scribes. The Temple was governed by Edomite/Herodian/Jews, but there were still some of Jesus Israelite sheep connected with it; Paul was one. That quickly changed after Jesus was gone, and His sheep left the Temple to follow their Shepherd and become Christians. This piece must have been written very early, soon after Jesus ascended.]
"James writes to ...thos: Peace be with you from Peace, love from Love, grace from Grace, faith from Faith, life from Holy Life!
Since you asked that I send you a secret book which was revealed to me and Peter by the Lord, I could not turn you away or gainsay you; but I have written in in the Hebrew alphabet and sent it to you and you alone. But since you are a minister of the salvation of the saints, endeavor earnestly and take care not to rehearse this text to many - this that the Savior did not wish to tell to all of us, his twelve disciples. But blessed will they be who will be saved through the faith of this discourse.
I also sent you, ten months ago, another secret book which the Savior had revealed to me. Under the circumstances, however, regard that one as revealed to me, James; but this one ... the twelve disciples were all sitting together and recalling what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether in secret or openly, and putting it in books - But I was writing that which was in my book - lo, the Savior appeared, after departing from us while we gazed after him. And five hundred and fifty days since he had risen from the dead, we said to him, "Have you departed and removed yourself from us?"
But Jesus said, "No, but I shall go to the place from whence I came. If you wish to come with me, come!" They all answered and said, "If you bid us, we come."
He said, "Verily, I say unto you, no one will ever enter the kingdom of heaven at my bidding, but only because you yourselves are full. Leave James and Peter to me that I may fill them." And having called these two, he drew them aside and bade the rest occupy themselves with that which they were about.
The Savior said, "You have received mercy ... . Do you not, then, desire to be filled? And your heart is drunken; do you not, then, desire to be sober? Therefore be ashamed! Henceforth, waking or sleeping, remember that you have seen the Son of Man, and spoken with him in person, and listened to him in person. Woe to those who have seen the Son of Man; blessed will they be who have not seen the Man, and they who have not consorted with Him, and they who have not spoken with Him, , and they who have not listened to anything from Him; yours is life! Know, then, that He healed you when you were ill that you might reign. Woe to those who have found relief from their illness, for they will relapse into illness. Blessed are they who have not been ill, and have known relief before falling ill; yours is the kingdom of God. Therefore, I say to you, 'Become full and leave no space within you empty, for he who is coming can mock you.'"
Then Peter replied, "Lo, three times you have told us, 'Become full'; but we are full."
The Savior answered and said, "For this cause I have said to you 'Become full,' that you may not be in want. They who are in want, however, will not be saved. For it is good to be full, and bad to be in want. Hence, just as it is good that you be in want and, conversely, bad that you be full, so he who is full is in want, and he who is in want does not become full as he who is in want becomes full, and he who has been filled, in turn, attains due perfection. Therefore, you must be in want while it is possible to fill you and be full while it is possible for you to be in want, so that you may be able to fill yourselves the more. Hence become full of the Spirit, but be in want of reason, for reason belongs to the soul; in turn it is the nature of soul."
But I answered and said to him, "Lord, we can obey you if you wish, for we have forsaken our fathers and our mothers and our villages and followed you. Grant us, therefore, not to be tempted by the devil, the evil one."
The Lord answered and said, "What is your merit if you do the will of the Father and it is not given to you from Him as a gift while you are tempted by Satan? But if you are oppressed by Satan and persecuted and you do His (i.e. the Father's) will, I say that He will love you, and make you equal with Me, and reckon you to have become beloved through His providence by your own choice. So will you not cease loving the flesh and being afraid of sufferings? Or do you not know that you have yet to be abused and to be accused unjustly; and have yet to be shut up in prison, and condemned unlawfully, and crucified without reason, and buried shamefully, as was I myself, by the evil one? Do you dare to spare the flesh, you for whom the Spirit is an encircling wall? If you consider how long the world existed before you, and how long it will exist after you, you will find that your life is one single day and your sufferings one single hour. For the good will not enter into the world. Scorn death, therefore, and take thought for life! Remember my cross and my death an you will live!"
But I answered and said to him, "Lord, do not mention to us the cross and death, for they are far from you."
The Lord answered and said, "Verily I say unto you, none will be saved unless they believe in my cross. But those who have believed in my cross, theirs is the kingdom of God. Therefore, become seekers for death, like the dead who seek for life; for that which they seek is revealed to them. And what is there to trouble them? As for you, when you examine death, it will teach you election. Verily I say unto you, none of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom of God belongs to those who put themselves to death. Become better than I; make yourselves like the son of the Holy Spirit!"
Then I asked him, "Lord, how shall we be able to prophesy to those who request us to prophesy to them? For there are many who ask us, and look to us to hear an oracle from us."
The Lord answered and said, "Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with John?"
But I said, "Lord, can it be possible to remove the head of prophecy?"
The Lord said to me, "When you come to know what 'head' means, and that prophecy issues from the head, then understand the meaning of 'Its head was removed.' At first I spoke to you in parables and you did not understand; now I speak to you openly, and you still do not perceive. Yet it was you who served me as a parable in parables, and as that which is open in the words that are open.
"Hasten to be saved without being urged! Instead, be eager of your own accord and, if possible arrive even before me; for thus the Father will love you.
"Come to hate hypocrisy and the evil thought; for it is the thought that gives birth to hypocrisy; but hypocrisy is far from truth.
"Do not allow the kingdom of heaven to wither; for it is like a palm shoot whose fruit has dropped down around it. They (i.e., the fallen fruit) put forth leaves, and after they had sprouted, they caused their womb to dry up. So it is also with the fruit which had grown from this single root; when it had been picked(?), fruit was borned by many(?). It (the root) was certainly good, and if it were possible for you to produce the new plants now, you would find it.
"Since I have already been glorified in this fashion, why do you hold me back in my eagerness to go? For after the [labor], you have compelled me to stay with you another eighteen days for the sake of the parables. It was enough for some to listen to the teaching and understand 'The Shepherds' and 'The Seed' and 'The Building' and 'The Lamps of the Virgins' and 'The Wage of the Workmen' and 'The Didrachmae' and 'The Woman.'
Become earnest about the word! For as to the word, its first part is faith; the second, love; the third, works; for from these comes life. For the word is like a grain of wheat; when someone had sown it, he had faith in it; and when it had sprouted, he loved it because he had seen many grains in place of one. And when he had worked, he was saved because he had prepared it for food, and again he left some to sow. So also can you yourselves receive the kingdom of heaven; unless you receive this through knowledge, you will not be able to find it.
"Therefore, I say to you, be sober; do not be deceived! And many times have I said to you all together, and also to you alone, James, have I said, 'Be saved!' And I have commanded you to follow me, and I have taught you what to say before the archons. Observe that I have descended and have spoken and undergone tribulation and carried off my crown after saving you(pl.). For I came down to dwell with you(pl.) so that you(pl.) in turn might dwell with me. And, finding your houses unceiled, I have made my abode in the houses that could receive me at the time of my descent.
"Therefore, trust in me, my brethren; understand what the great light is. The Father has no need of me, - for a father does not need a son, but it is the son who needs the father - though I go to him. For the Father of the Son has no need of you.
"Hearken to the word; understand knowledge; love life, and no one will persecute you, nor will anyone oppress you, other than you yourselves.
"O you wretches; O you unfortunates; O you pretenders to the truth; O your falsifiers of knowledge; O you sinners against the Spirit; can you still bear to listen, when it behooved you to speak from the first? Can you still bear to sleep, when it behooved you to be awake from the first, so that the kingdom of heaven might receive you? Verily I say unto you, it is easier for a pure one to fall into defilement, and for a man of light to fall into darkness, than for you to reign or not reign.
"I have remembered your tears and your mourning and your anguish, while you say 'They are far behind us.' But now, you who are outside of the Father's inheritance, weep where it is necessary and mourn and preach what is good, as the Son is ascending as he should. Verily I say unto you, had I been sent to those who listen to me, and had I spoken with them, I would never have come down to earth. So, then, be ashamed for these things.
"Behold, I shall depart from you and go away, and do not wish to remain with you any longer, just as you yourselves have not wished it. Now, therefore, follow me quickly. This is why I say unto you, 'for your sakes I came down.' You are the beloved; you are they who will be the cause of life in many. Invoke the Father, implore God often, and he will give to you. Blessed is he who has seen you with Him when He was proclaimed among the angels and glorified among the saints; yours(pl.) is life. Rejoice and be glad as sons of God. Keep his will that you many be saved; accept reproof from me and save yourselves. I intercede on your behalf with the Father, and he will forgive you much."
And when we had heard these words, we became glad, for we had been grieved at the words we have mentioned before. But when he saw us rejoicing, he said, "Woe to you(pl.) who lack an advocate! Woe to you, who stand in need of grace! Blessed will they be who have spoken out and obtained grace for themselves. Liken yourselves to foreigners; of what sort are they in the eyes of your city? Why are you disturbed when you cast yourselves away of your own accord and separate yourselves from your city? Why do you abandon your dwelling place of your own accord, making it ready for those who want to dwell in it? O you outcasts and fugitives, woe to you, for you will be caught! Or do you perhaps think that the Father is a lover of mankind, or that he is won over without prayers, or that he grants remission to one on another's behalf, or that he bears with one who asks? - For he knows the desire and also what it is that the flesh needs! - Or do you think that it is not this flesh that desires the soul? For without the soul the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul is saved when it is without evil and the spirit is also saved, then the body becomes free from sin. For it is the spirit that raises the soul, but the body that kills it; that is, it is (the soul) which kills itself. Verily I say unto you, he will not forgive the soul the sin by any means, nor the flesh the guilt; for none of those who have worn the flesh will be saved. For do you think that many have found the kingdom of heaven? Blessed is he who has seen himself as a fourth one in heaven!"
When we heard these words, we were distressed. But when he saw that we were distressed, he said, "For this cause I tell you this, that you may know yourselves. For the kingdom of heaven is like an ear of grain after it had sprouted in a field. And when it had ripened, it scattered its fruit and again filled the field with ears for another year. You also, hasten to reap an ear of life for yourselves that you may be filled with the kingdom!
"And as long as I am with you, give heed to me and obey me; but when I depart from you, remember me. And remember me because when I was with you, you did not know me. Blessed will they be who have known me; woe to those who have heard and have not believed! Blessed will they be who have not seen, yet have believed!
"And once more I prevail upon you, for I am revealed to you(pl.) building a house which is of great value to you when you find shelter beneath it, just as it will be able to stand by your neighbors' house when it threatens to fall. Verily I say unto you, woe to those for whose sakes I was sent down to this place; blessed will they be who ascend to the Father! Once more I reprove you, you who are; become like those who are not, that you may be with those who are not.
"Do not make the kingdom of heaven a desert within you. Do not be proud because of the light that illumines, but be to yourselves as I myself am to you. For your sakes I have placed myself under the curse, that you may be saved."
But Peter replied to these words and said, "Sometimes you urge us on to the kingdom of heaven, and then again you turn us back, Lord; sometimes you persuade and draw us to faith and promise us life, and then again you cast us forth from the kingdom of heaven."
But the Lord answered and said to us, "I have given you faith many times; moreover, I have revealed myself to you(sg.), James, and you(pl.) have not known me. Now again I see you(pl.) rejoicing many times; and when you are elated at the promise of life, are you yet sad, and do you grieve, when you are instructed in the kingdom? But you, through faith and knowledge, have received life. Therefore, disdain the rejection when you hear it, but when you hear the promise, rejoice the more. Verily I say unto you, he who will receive life and believe in the kingdom will never leave it, not even if the Father wishes to banish him.
"These are the things that I shall tell you so far; now, however, I shall ascend to the place from whence I came. But you, when I was eager to go, have cast me out, and instead of accompanying me, you have pursued me. But pay heed to the glory that awaits me, and, having opened your heart, listen to the hymns that await me up in the heavens; for today I must take my place at the right hand of the Father. But I have said my last word to you, and I shall depart from you, for a chariot of spirit has borne me aloft, and from this moment on I shall strip myself that I may clothe myself. But give heed; blessed are they who have proclaimed the Son before his descent that, when I have come, I might ascend again. Thrice blessed are they who were proclaimed by the Son before they came to be, that you might have a portion among them."
Having said these words, he departed. But we bent our knees, I and Peter, and gave thanks and sent our hearts upwards to heaven. We heard with our ears, and saw with our eyes, the noise of wars and a trumpet blare and a great turmoil.
And when we had passed beyond that place, we sent our minds farther upwards and saw with our eyes and heard with our ears hymns and angelic benedictions and angelic rejoicing. And heavenly majesties were singing praise, and we too rejoiced.
After this again, we wished to send our spirit upward to the Majesty, and after ascending we were not permitted to see or hear anything, for the other disciples called us and asked us, "What did you hear from the Master? And what has he said to you? And where did he go?"
But we answered them, "He has ascended and has given us a pledge and promised life to us all and revealed to us children who are to come after us, bidding us love them, as we would be saved for their sakes."
And when they heard this, they indeed believed the revelation, but were displeased about those to be born. And so, not wishing to give them offense, I sent each one to another place. But I myself went up to Jerusalem, praying that I might obtain a portion among the beloved, who will be made manifest.
And I pray that the beginning may come from you, for thus I shall be capable of salvation, since they will be enlightened through me, by my faith - and through another faith that is better than mine, for I would that mine be the lesser. Endeavor earnestly, then, to make yourself like them and pray that you may obtain a portion with them. For because of what I have said, the Savior did not make the revelation to us for their sakes. We do, indeed, proclaim a portion with those for whom the proclamation was made, those whom the Lord has made his sons.
THE TREATISE ON THE RESURRECTION
[Unknown author. He claims a Christ-given knowledge about a subject which concerned much of the early Christian movement. Whether this is truly inspired by God or not, it is a nice example of early struggles toward clarifying some confusions among Christians. He teaches that the personal resurrection has already occurred and is realizable by faith. He encourages one to practice one's release from the inimical power of this cosmos through correct thought, and to realize the mystical unity between the experience of the Savior and that of the believer. Scholars think this was written in late 100s, but could be earlier.]
Some there are, my son Rheginos, who want to learn many things. They have this goal when they are occupied with questions whose answer is lacking. If they succeed with these, they usually think very highly of themselves. But I do not think that they have stood within the Word of Truth. They seek rather than their own rest, which we have received through our Savior, our Lord Christ. We received it (i.e. Rest) when we came to know the truth and rested ourselves upon it. But since you ask us pleasantly what is proper concerning the resurrection, I am writing you to say that it is necessary. To be sure, many are lacking faith in it, but there are a few who find it. So then, let us discuss the matter.
How did the Lord proclaim things while he existed in flesh and after he had revealed himself as Son of God? He lived in this place where you remain, speaking about the Law of Nature - but I call it "Death!" Now the Son of God, Rheginos, was Son of Man. He embraced them both, possessing the humanity and the divinity, so that on the one hand he might vanquish death through his being Son of God, and that on the other through the Son of Man the restoration to the Pleroma might occur; because he was originally from above, a seed of the Truth, before this structure of the cosmos had come into being. In this structure many dominions and divinities came into existence.
I know that I am presenting the solution in difficult terms, but there is nothing difficult in the Word of Truth. But since the Solution appeared so as not to leave anything hidden, but to reveal all things openly concerning existence - the destruction of evil on the one hand, the revelation of the elect on the other. This Solution is the emanation of Truth and Spirit, Grace is of the Truth.
The Savior swallowed up death - of this you are not reckoned as being ignorant - for he put aside the world which is perishing. He transformed himself into an imperishable Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us the way of our immortality. Then, indeed, as the Apostle said, "We suffered with him, and we arose with him, and we went to heaven with him." Now if we are manifest in this world wearing him, we are that one's beams, and we are embraced by him until our setting, that is to say, our death in this life. We are drawn to heaven by him, like beams by the sun, not being restrained by anything. This is the spiritual resurrection which swallows up the psychic in the same way as the fleshly.
But if there is one who does not believe, he does not have the capacity to be persuaded. For it is the domain of faith, my son, and not that which belongs to persuasion: the dead shall arise! There is one who believes among the philosophers who are in this world. At least he will arise. And let not the philosopher who is in this world have cause to believe that he is one who returns himself by himself - and that because of our faith! For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from among the dead. This is he of whom we say, "He became the destruction of death, as he is a great one in whom they believe." Great are those who believe.
The thought of those who are saved shall not perish. The mind of those who have known him shall not perish. Therefore, we are elected to salvation and redemption since we are predestined from the beginning not to fall into the foolishness of those who are without knowledge, but we shall enter into the wisdom of those who have known the Truth. Indeed, the Truth which is kept cannot be abandoned, nor has it been. "Strong is the system of the Pleroma; small is that which broke loose and became the world. But the All is what is encompassed. It has not come into being; it was existing." So, never doubt concerning the resurrection, my son Rheginos! For if you were not existing in flesh, you received flesh when you entered this world. Why will you not receive flesh when you ascend into the Aeon? That which came into being on your account, is it not yours? Does not that which is yours exist with you? Yet, while you are in this world, what is it that you lack? This is what you have been making every effort to learn.
The afterbirth of the body is old age, and you exist in corruption. You have absence as a gain. For you will not give up what is better if you depart. That which is worse has diminution, but there is grace for it.
Nothing, then redeems us from this world. But the All which we are, we are saved. We have received salvation from end to end. Let us think in this way! Let us comprehend in this way!
But there are some who wish to understand, in the enquiry about those things they are looking into, whether he who is saved, if he leaves his body behind, will be saved immediately. Let no one doubt concerning this. ... indeed, the visible members when are dead shall not be saved, for only the living members which exist within them would arise.
What, then, is the resurrection? It is always the disclosure of those who have risen. For if you remember reading in the Gospel that Elijah appeared and Moses with him, do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is more fitting to say that the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ.
But what am I telling you now? Those who are living shall die. How do they live in an illusion? The rich have become poor, and the kings have been overthrown. Everything is prone to change. The world is an illusion! - lest, indeed, I rail at things to excess!
But the resurrection does not have this aforesaid character, for it is the Truth which stands firm. It is the revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a transition into newness. For imperishability descends upon the perishable; the light flows down upon the darkness, swallowing it up; and the Pleroma fills up the deficiency. These are the symbols and the images of the resurrection. He (Christ) it is who makes the good.
Therefore, do not think in part, O Rheginos, nor live in conformity with this flesh for the sake of unanimity, but flee from the divisions and the fetters, and already you have the resurrection. For if he who will die knows about himself that he will die - even if he spends many years in this life, he is brought to this - why not consider yourself as risen and already brought to this? If you have the resurrection but continue as if you are to die - and yet that one knows that he has died - why, then, do I ignore your lack of exercise? It is fitting for each one to practice in a number of ways, and he shall be released from this Element that he may not fall into error but shall himself receive again what at first was.
These things I have received from the generosity of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I have taught you and your brethren, my sons, concerning them, while I have not omitted any of the things suitable for strengthening you(pl.) But if there is one thing written which is obscure in my exposition of the Word, I shall interpret it for you(pl.) when you ask. But now, do not be jealous of anyone who is in your number when he is able to help. Many are looking into this which I have written to you. To these I say: peace be among them and grace. I greet you and those who love you in brotherly love.
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